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All the Way to Eternity: The Hendershott Family’s Homeschooling Story

I tossed the dish towel over my shoulder and sat down slowly on the bench in the kitchen. The radio announcer was talking about an upcoming interview with a home educator. I had never heard of this before and found it fascinating. My thoughts drifted to the happy sounds of my husband bathing our three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son upstairs.

How much fun it would be to educate our children at home, I mused. We began to research the field of homeschooling materials and searched through Mary Pride’s books on home learning to discern which curriculum to use.

All the Way to Eternity: The Hendershott Family Homeschooling Story

In the end, we found Seton Home Study School. It was the highest-rated, most complete, Catholic curriculum available in the country, with regional accreditation. Seton helps equip our children with good study habits and discipline which prepares them for success in college and for life in the world.

As our years of homeschooling progressed, we periodically reevaluated our decision to continue homeschooling. We methodically discussed the pros and cons, and, without hesitation, we always continued with Seton.

High School

When we reached the threshold of high school, we spent a lot of time discerning our options. In the end, we continued using Seton through high school. Now, twenty-seven years later, six of our eight children have graduated from Seton Home Study High School, and our last two children are well on their way. Over all these years, we opted for Seton because it offers a comprehensive curriculum with high standards of academic excellence, one that fully embraces and teaches the Catholic Faith, and one that is user-friendly.

Seton Home Study School is a comprehensive and challenging curriculum with national credibility. We work through the lessons diligently because we want to give our children the best education we can, expecting them to master every subject. Seton helps us equip our children with good study habits and discipline that prepare them for success in post-secondary education and life in the secular world.

All the Way to Eternity: The Hendershott Family Homeschooling Story

To round out the education and formation of our children, we provide extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and social events because we recognize the need to engage our children with other adults and peers. Rather than turn away from the world, we enter into the world with activities such as scouting, soccer, basketball, swimming, volunteering in the community, and developing special interests and hobbies such as language, music, and art, to develop the whole person, mind, body, and soul.

Solid Catholicity

Another aspect of the Seton Home Study School program that we value is the solid Catholicity. It fully embraces and integrates our Catholic Faith throughout all the courses.  With the help of Seton’s teaching, our home has become centered in prayer.  Over the years, Seton introduced us to Catholic prayers and practices of the Faith that we then incorporated into our day. We learned to begin each day with morning prayers, Mass, and a family Rosary. As time went on, we started to weave in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Angelus or Regina Caeli, grace before and after meals, bedtime prayers, and a blessing from Dad before turning out the lights (Numbers 6:24 – 26). In addition to our home prayers, we adore Our Lord for one hour per week, thanks to perpetual adoration offered by our home parish.

We attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass more often, even daily, and provided the opportunity for our family members to go to Confession every week.  Our sons faithfully serve the altar for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass, and the children are in the church choirs, singing and/or playing the organ.

All the Way to Eternity: The Hendershott Family Homeschooling Story

The catechesis of the Seton program is stellar. The exemplary practice of memorizing the Baltimore Catechism has been a jewel for our family. It has formed our children by laying down a solid foundation of the Faith on which to build. The exposure to the lives of the Saints cannot be underestimated as well.  It is an integral part of the Seton program. The textbooks, book reports and analyses, and lesson plans are laden with model Christian lives to be emulated by the reader.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, each of our children has embraced a saint when they were young and continues to hold that relationship dear as they grow older. Catholic world history rounds out the catechesis of the Seton program for us. It provides a Catholic worldview for the students and gives us a skyline perspective of the events and the people who have made a difference in the world, knowing Our Lord is the major influence in the lives of all.

Another advantage to the Seton Home Study School program is its ease of use. This curriculum has facilitated the administration of our children’s education in so many ways.
First, the daily lesson plans are super. They are very well planned and organized, making them easy to follow, and they improve each year to our amazement. The comprehensive lesson plans are especially important when teaching as many as five, sometimes even seven students at one time, from first graders to seniors in high school. This structure allows the more advanced students to progress at their own pace.

Next, the faculty and staff at Seton offer academic counseling when selecting coursework and dealing with performance and developmental issues.

Thirdly, Seton offers timely and consistent feedback, maintaining high standards of achievement. Assignments are graded promptly, keeping the students engaged and motivated.

Over the years, we have always found Seton Home Study to be an excellent, complete program that embraces and proclaims the Catholic Faith while being easy to use. The curriculum has the ingredients we needed for learning and living an authentic Catholic Faith. It gave us the tools we needed to create a Catholic culture in our home, equips our children to live an authentic Catholic life, and continues to be an important means to reaching our goal: eternal life with God.

Proud of their Paths

Today, we are proud of the paths our children have taken. Our oldest daughter, Christine, is a nurse practitioner married to a pediatrician, and they are newly the parents of our first granddaughter.

Our oldest son, Michael, has been at the Pontifical North American College in Rome for the past several years and he will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Knoxville on June 27, 2015.

Our daughter, Mary, completed a bachelors in interdisciplinary studies along with a paralegal certificate and is now teaching elementary students at a parochial school in Memphis.

Our daughter, Sarah, works as an RN for the NICU at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, and will be marrying an electrical engineer in July.

Anne, a CNA, will be graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Nursing next year, and has already traveled extensively with caregiver programs.

John Paul is currently an intern doing electronics research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and will be entering his freshman year at the University of Tennessee for computer engineering this year.

Andrew is our rising junior with Seton Home Study School, who enjoys outdoors, sports, music, and Latin.

Catherine is our rising 7th grader with Seton, and is a great help to her mother in the kitchen and her father in the gardens, even as she pursues her own interests in sports and music.

All the Way to Eternity: The Hendershott Family Homeschooling Story

How Seton Helped My Vocation

by Rev. Mr. Michael A. Hendershott. He will be ordained in June 27, 2015

For me, the Seton curriculum facilitated a way to not only know, but also to live the Catholic Faith. It made Catholic doctrine pertinent to everyday life, especially in terms of seeing reality with the supernatural eyes of faith. From (attempting to) reconcile an argument in the sandbox to completing chores on a Saturday morning, my holistic Catholic formation helped me try to reform my life, always turning towards the Divine Assistance. I would not return the Catholic culture that the Seton curriculum—with the help of my parents and priests—brought to my childhood-teenage years for anything!

The religious aspect of the Seton program is not merely a subject, and much less a book, but—permeating every aspect of the Seton program—the religious education is cultural beyond compare. It helps not only the individual, but also the family to develop a Catholic culture in their home and a Catholic way of thinking.Realizing that both the family and the individual will encounter the ordinary and perhaps the extraordinary challenges in life—moral, emotional, financial, etc. just like every other family—the Seton curriculum cultivates the Catholic way of dealing with these challenges.

Thus with Christian hope, family members cultivate an atmosphere of Christian charity, beginning in the home and extending to friends, neighbors, other Christians, and fellow citizens. Indeed, the Seton curriculum helps parents, families, and individuals to cultivate a Catholic life of faith, hope, and charity.

The Seton curriculum proposed the various Catholic vocations all in a positive light and each as a good and acceptable way of living the Catholic life and attaining salvation. I chose to pursue the priesthood not only for my own salvation, but more importantly to bring salvation to souls, indeed to bring God to souls in the sacraments and thus to bring as many souls as possible to God.

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