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“I Wish We’d Homeschooled Sooner!” | The Whalen Family Story

“I Wish We’d Homeschooled Sooner!” | The Whalen Family Story

3 minutes

When it was time for our oldest to go to school, we knew it had to be a Catholic school. At the time we lived on post in Fort Bragg, NC and we traveled 30 minutes each way so that our son could attend Catholic school.

Raising our children Catholic was of utmost importance to us, so we didn’t see this as a sacrifice. It was a necessity. A couple of years later we moved to Baltimore. As more babies arrived, more children went to our local Catholic school. And then suddenly, we were constantly busy! Between afterschool activities and homework, the nights got longer and longer.

At some point after number seven started school, I started growing interested in homeschooling. I wanted our life to calm down. Our children had become involved in swimming, and as swimmers know, this is a huge time commitment.

Life became a series of running from athletics to boy scouts to everything else. Our Chevrolet Suburban, which we had thoroughly outgrown, had become more our home than our home was.

“I Wish We’d Homeschooled Sooner!” | The Whalen Family Story

 

I’m not a teacher!

As much as I contemplated home-schooling I kept coming back to the same question; how could I possibly do this? I wasn’t a teacher, and I wasn’t even able to make my boys bring home the right books for homework! However, each time I researched homeschooling, I would end up on the Seton website, and I’d find myself reading about another family.

One day I called. I told the counselor from Seton that I was very interested but equally unsure if I was even qualified to teach. She laughed and told me that I was already teaching my children, and that Seton would just provide the resources and support. Well, maybe I could do this. We enrolled.

My children love to receive boxes, so when the Seton boxes arrived, it felt like Christmas! Everyone was excited about the books and the bubble wrap. I remember hoping the excitement would last. A few weeks after we got the books, our first day of homeschooling arrived.

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My husband took the two youngest to the zoo and dropped the two eldest at high school. As five of my children sat at the table, it became very evident that they needed work; they were definitely behind and hadn’t been prepared for the next grade level by their previous school! By the time we had fully figured ourselves out, three kids needed to go back a year in math, and two needed to go back a year in English. I was shocked! Thankfully, Seton helped us navigate the curriculum changes without any problems.

A New Day

The biggest thing you learn when you go from one to two children (or ten) is that somehow, they all will get the attention they need.

The second thing you come to realize is that every day is a new day, no matter how badly the current day is going! We quickly discovered that these principles hold true for homeschooling.

“I Wish We’d Homeschooled Sooner!” | The Whalen Family Story

Everyone needed different amounts of help with different subjects at different times, and sometimes, it didn’t seem possible to keep up. The beginning was hard! My children were not accustomed to so much reading and writing. My boys complained of cramps from writing; my daughter wanted review sheets with the answers. It took work to get everyone onboard! Many days, our only hope lay in starting over the next day.

Now, halfway through our second year, things are a lot smoother. After completing 2 Math books, my daughter aced the Math section of The High School Catholic Exam. I think this was more of a relief for me than for her! My younger kids are sailing along, and my middle-schoolers have adjusted! We take day ski trips and visit the zoo or the science center. We are still running in the evening, but the structure of the day seems to make this easier.

I am not limited to a simple awareness of what the children have to accomplish for homework anymore; now, I fully understand where they are and what they know. I know when they understand and I know when they need extra help. This has been huge!

I wish I had taken the plunge and homeschooled sooner. Our children are learning more about being Catholic than ever before. All of the subjects at Seton are carefully intermingled with Catholic facts, history and saint stories. Our kids are not only learning the commandments and sacraments, but now understand their practical meaning for our lives. Even I am learning more, and I went to 17 years of Catholic school!

Family First

Homeschooling really fits for us in a special way because it places family first. Our children have had the privilege of growing up with many brothers and sisters. The older ones serve as role models every day to the younger ones. In turn they love and support each other. Through adoption our family has grown even closer. Our children know that the miracle of adoption is just as amazing and powerful as the miracle of birth. Each and every child reminds of us of the profound grace and wonder of God.

Homeschooling has given us the privilege of more time with our children. In our quest to raise good moral people with a strong and deeply-rooted Catholic faith, we have learned that we need to talk to them and we need to lead by example. We talk all of the time about being a good person and what that means, and Seton’s materials support our message.

Our children are participating in missions and outreach, and they are happier when they do! Last summer our oldest went on a mission trip to Haiti with the Archdiocese of Baltimore; the things he learned on that trip will affect him forever. He learned what it means to be rich in spirit, no matter how poor you are. Through his pictures and stories, our younger children see his excitement, and they cannot wait until it is their turn to go.

Though no day goes as planned, we get the work done, and our children learn. To say we are fortunate is an understatement; I thank God each morning for everything that we have! I can honestly say that I love what I am doing!

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