SummaryBe not be afraid. Do not let homeschooling your children overwhelm you. Will there be frustration and tears but also joy and laughter? Yes, definitely yes.
The first thing one notices about Kristin Brown is her infectious enthusiasm for speaking about homeschooling, her family, and Seton.
Living about an hour and a half from Seton’s offices in Front Royal, Virginia, Kristin and Rob Brown began using Seton to raise and educate their children from the very beginning. Both are graduates of Christendom College with degrees in history.
Kristin spent the summer of her sophomore year working part-time for Seton as a grader for sixth grade. It was then that she became so impressed with the focus on writing and the encouragement of critical thinking. “When the students are taught to write a book report, they are not just summarizing the book, they are thinking about why characters did what they did and the results of their actions.” She loved what she was seeing.
An Education Centered on the Whole Person
Kristin has definite ideas about the purpose of education.
“I believe that education should be for forming the whole person, not just the subjects in the curriculum. Children should know what truth and beauty look like, and a government school will not show them that.”
Thomas, in tenth grade, is on the autism spectrum. He is able to do his schoolwork because of the support of the counselors, the structure of the program and the environment of home. “He isn’t subjected to noisy hallways, slamming lockers, and loud bells, all of which would be challenging for him. When he has trouble, he calls a counselor, and when he gives our family number something pops up so that they know he has autism, and they take extra time to help him. They are so great with him and because of that he has been able, so far, to complete the standard curriculum.”
After graduating from Seton, Thomas has plans to live at home and study engineering locally. Elizabeth (9th grade), Sara (6th grade), Lauren (4th grade), and Matthew (2nd grade) also benefit from the structure and accountability Seton provides.
Schedules are the Key to a Happy Home
Another appeal of Seton for Kristin is that she thrives on a schedule. “I meal plan out the whole month in advance making sure to always have sandwich fixings, fruit, and chips on hand for nights that I just can’t cook or that are crazy busy.
“I also have a housekeeping schedule. Some tasks are every day (cleaning the kitchen, making beds, sweeping the floor) and others once a week: Monday, deep clean bathroom, Tuesday, strip and wash all linens and towels, Wednesday, mop and vacuum all floors, Thursday, clean out the fridge and grocery shop, Friday, lesson plan for the next week. I also have a quarterly housekeeping schedule. I REALLY like schedules.” This mindset helps keep her house tidy, the work organized, and the school day humming along.
When I asked if she had been born organized or had it been thrust upon her, she was amused. “It was thrust upon me. It was either get organized or die in the chaos!”
Days Begin with Coffee and Prayer
A typical day in the Brown home starts with Rob bringing Kristin her morning coffee and them praying together. After Rob leaves, Kristin has some quiet time for herself to pray and spend some time with her Bible. The children are up by 7:00, dressed, and out the door for a half-hour morning walk, which they make time for every day. Kristin prays her rosary while the children enjoy the flora and fauna of the neighborhood.
After returning home it is time, to begin with, morning prayer and the saint of the day, and by 8:30 school is starting.
Service and Scouting are Family Affairs
“Our schedule leaves a lot of room for outside activities. We are in Trail Life and American Heritage Girls. Rob and I are leaders and the kids are all involved. We love to hike and camp, and we do that often. We celebrate the end of the school year with a three-day-long Memorial Day weekend camping trip. We also do lots of service work. My oldest daughter just led the Catholic female religious vocations for younger girls to get their patch for her level award. We love bringing our Catholicism into our scouting. Between all the kids in scouts, there is not time to do much else. We are active in our church. All seven of us sanitized the church after Mass during these COVID times, and Rob is in the Knights of Columbus. I am a catechist for first and second grade. My teens also serve in the parish food pantry.”
These service activities fuel Kristin for her work as a homeschool mom. “Getting out and helping in my community refreshes me and gives me what I need to keep going every day.” The family charism certainly is to give and to give selflessly.
As our conversation wrapped up, I was able to meet young Sara over Zoom, which was great fun. I then asked Kristin what advice she would give to homeschooling mothers based upon her experience.
Again, her enthusiasm was evident. “If it is on your heart, it is there for a reason, as Saint John Paul II said, ‘Be Not Afraid.’ Do not let the daunting task of homeschooling your children overwhelm you. Is it hard? Yes. Will there be joy and laughter and tears and frustration? Definitely yes. But every day do the next right thing. One step at a time over and over, never give up, and never be afraid. The same Christ who called you to this will help you see it through.”
Wise words from a lovely Seton mom.