Who are the McCormicks?
We are a Catholic homeschooling family, currently living in Louisiana. Because my husband, Greg, is in the Army, we move around a lot, but so far, we’ve been stationed mostly in the southeastern states, where we both grew up. Being a homeschooling family significantly reduces the amount of stress we encounter during a move. We don’t need to look for new schools or worry that the kids are missing something during a move. Without having to worry about schooling, we look forward to exploring our country as we move to different areas.
How many children do you have?
We have five children and another one on the way, due to arrive this December. Our oldest, Katie, is 16. We have a 10 year-old, Samantha; a 6 year-old, Brayden; and a 3 year-old, Liesl. Our toddler, Amelia, is 19 months old. We found out that our newest little one is a girl, and we plan to name her Ella.
Our 6 year-old son was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, which is a type of high-functioning Autism. We’ve had him working with different therapies since he was 18 months old, and he still requires a few different therapies each week. His fine motor skills are not up to the level of his peers, but homeschooling enables me to adapt the lessons quickly and easily to suit his needs, such as doing a lesson orally, or writing with colored markers.
When did you begin homeschooling?
We started homeschooling soon after we had to move from Texas to Louisiana. My cousins homeschool their children, so the concept wasn’t foreign to me. The schools in Louisiana weren’t what we had been used to in Texas and we felt our daughter could learn better at home. We were right.
Why has homeschooling remained important for your family?
Homeschooling is critical to our family because we are interested and invested in the growth and development of our children. We are able to tailor presentation and pace to the academic needs of our individual kids. An additional benefit is filtering out some of the inappropriate influences that our kids have experienced in the public and parochial school systems.
What do you like about Seton Home Study School?
Seton provides a complete solution for lesson planning that is simple to organize and present. The materials provided coincide well with our beliefs while they lay out all the important details in the lessons.
Seton’s home study program also has a demonstrated record of performance. Our children’s CCD instructors have all commented on how advanced our children are in their depth of understanding and knowledge.
Furthermore, the kids readily absorb and retain the material because it is presented in an easily digested and understood manner. In fact, the Seton program is ideally suited for both neurotypical and special needs children. The academic requirements are not monolithic and allow for adjustment to suit individual needs.
In particular, our special needs student can keep up with the material because it can be presented and processed in short durations of time, allowing his attention to be retained and the material to be explored. I adapt the lessons as needed so he doesn’t get too frustrated. Seton’s flexibility makes that so easy!
A huge advantage offered by the religion program is that it incorporates all of the doctrinal references in a streamlined product. It enables a holistic approach to teaching that encompasses the biblical text, a Catholic and doctrinal explication of the text, the sacraments, and key lessons in biblical history.
How does the Catholic Faith inform your homeschooling endeavors?
Our Catholic faith forms the cornerstone of all of our family’s activities, so it should come as no surprise that we consider faith the foundation upon which education builds. Catholicism provides not only a structure for religious beliefs, but also a prism through which the world may be viewed and interpreted. It informs ethical and secular education and allows our family to grow and mature as a whole, with each of us learning and growing at different rates and depths, but all focused on the same goals of becoming a better family and better people.
What does a typical school day in the McCormick house look like?
A typical day of home study starts with a group devotional or character development discussion. We then separate into independent subjects (e.g. religion, geography, math, music) until the baby goes down for a nap. While the baby is asleep, the older kids focus on history and science as a group and then diverge again for language arts.
School seems to move along at the same pace whether Dad is home or not. He’s at work on weekdays anyway, and we are usually done by the time he gets home. Whether or not Dad is deployed does change how we spend our weekends. When he’s at home, we usually try to do a field trip or outing that just wouldn’t be feasible with 5 kids and a pregnant mommy by herself.
Do you have any advice for families beginning to homeschool this year?
We’d recommend that parents considering homeschooling should always remember the reasons that led them to the choice in the first place.
Attempting to make homeschool conform to a parent’s preconceived notion or memory of how school “should be” structured may be an exercise in frustration and futility. Accept that each child is different and if yours are effectively absorbing and assimilating the information, there is no need for superfluous structures that are intended to emulate a “regular school environment.” It was our experience that much of the traditional school day was white space (wasted time) that does not need to exist in the home study environment.
Also, patience is still a virtue… When things are challenging or frustrating, take a breath; perhaps ask your spouse to try presenting material in a different way. Sometimes it is simply a matter of repetition.
Most importantly, remember that no one cares more about the success of your child’s education and development as a healthy, productive member of society than you do. We all make mistakes, and will continue to do so—it’s part of the human condition—but never give up trying to make a better life for your family through the education that is provided to its youngest members!