“The UPS truck just dropped off our school books!” My sisters, Emily and Mary, my brother John, and I race to the door hoping to arrive first at the four brown boxes that hold our new curriculum. Mine is the easiest to find since it is the biggest and heaviest of them all. There is an advantage of being the oldest: I get all the new books! Boxes are sorted, scissors are found, and packing peanuts start to fly as the boxes are opened. Soon, fresh books emerge which captivate our attention. Thus, our family’s thirteenth year of Seton Homeschooling begins and we all eagerly anticipate the new year’s adventures.
As the Catholic Faith is the center of our lives, we appreciate Seton’s enriching Catholic curriculum. One of the reasons we chose Seton was that all the Seton books and lesson plans are filled with Catholicism. English exercises, math word problems, and history stories incorporate Catholic artwork and themes. This year, as I am taking Religion 12, I am reading through the Catechism. Personally, I have found this a beautiful way to discover more deeply the richness of my faith. Emily, a sophomore, is taking Latin 1 and enjoys learning the official language of the Church. Mary’s new 8th grade Church History book includes stories from a Catholic perspective. In John’s 4th grade spelling book, there are Old Testament stories which incorporate his spelling words. Every subject relates to the Catholic Faith, from the examples used to the instructions given.
Seton’s academics challenge us to become better students. We have grown in discipline, have learned to accomplish goals, and possess self-motivation. Our writing skills are greatly enriched and I have come to love writing. I started two bi-monthly Catholic newsletters for girls, which I send to over 100 girls throughout the United States! The accountability from graders other than our mother has encouraged us to strive for A’s and feel confident in our work. Sometimes, people shake their heads at us and comment, “Seton! I hear that’s a difficult program,” but that has not stopped us. We have always finished and passed all our classes successfully and on time. Seton provides high academic standards, which shape our daily goals.
After individual prayers, breakfast, and a generous dose of “Goodbyes” to our dad before he leaves for his job as an Information Technology Coordinator, Mom starts our school day at 8:00 AM. Lunch is at 11:00 AM followed by noon Mass. Weekday Mass, which we have attended daily for 12 years, gives us the necessary grace and strength to homeschool. Without these graces, we would struggle to make it through the week. After Mass and a few occasional errands, we resume our school from 1:30-5:00 PM. Then homework, choir practices, meetings, or Eucharistic Adoration fill the evening hours after dinner. It might seem like there is a lot of available “school time,” but some days don’t go according to our ideal plan!
Dad is the “principal” of our school and also serves as the substitute teacher. He has been a great help to me with anything from Geometry to Economics. Although my mom does most of the teaching, my dad has just as big a role. When he is not directly helping with assignments, he is brainstorming with us to get creative juices flowing, listening to an oral presentation of a book analysis, or just being our #1 fan and supporter. I have fond memories of sitting on our porch with him patiently explaining a difficult concept until that “light bulb moment” occurred. As we are hurriedly finishing our subjects he, being a man of many talents, assists with meal preparation after coming home from work. As the school load gets heavier and to help free my mom’s time, he fills in the gaps by helping to clean and complete household tasks.
We strive for a consistent schedule, but there are times when we benefit from the beautiful flexibility of homeschooling. I have been able to take on part-time jobs, such as babysitting, dog walking, and house cleaning. I’m able to work, earn money, and still get my homework done! Since we are available during the day, we are able to volunteer frequently at our Church. John loves serving at daily Mass, I am a substitute lector, and Emily and Mary wash and iron the altar linens. We also take days off on our birthdays, enjoy special breakfasts with our grandparents, and occasionally take fieldtrips. Not being tied down with a rigid schedule, we take advantage of all the golden opportunities.
Homeschooling has blessed us in so many ways. Studying at home allows us to avoid the stress and time of traveling to and from various schools, giving us the opportunity to spend more time together. We have a lot of family time, which has formed a strong bond between the six of us and we usually “move as a unit.”
If someone asked us to describe our family in two words, we would have to say “musical creativity.” Our family connects through the harmonic tones of music. Our two professionally trained musical parents encourage us and we feel that we have been blessed with their musical genes. This is quite obvious after walking into our “music room” which is the home of a grand piano, multiple instruments hanging on the wall, three guitars, five violins, an electric bass, an electric keyboard, maracas, an autoharp, amps, microphones, picks, and piles of sheet music, as well as a large collection of musical CDs from all genres. During the day, you might find one of us “jamming” on a readily available instrument between classes, perfecting an original composition. My sisters and I have also found that school is a lot more fun when we sing in three-part harmony. Imagine your Catechism questions sung to the tune of “O Susanna!” It doesn’t matter if it is in the shower or the Cathedral Choir, our family loves to sing anywhere. A favorite family activity is family music night, with six instruments and voices blending together, illustrating our family’s joy and love for one another. The family friendly atmosphere of homeschooling allows us to explore and express our talents and join together in the activities that we love.
Looking back on where we started and where we are now, it is amazing to see how we have all grown in faith and love. I have many fond memories of doing school in my pajamas, in clubhouses, on car trips, at the dentist office, in bed, at the park, on my porch, in coffee shops, or at the library. I thank Seton for providing me with an excellent education. I thank my mom for choosing it and both of my parents for supporting me. I thank my sisters and brother for putting up with me and loving me. Most importantly, I thank God for the wonderful gift of life and faith! Graduation, here I come!