One of the things I have recently come to appreciate is that I was not homeschooled for all thirteen years of school.
The variety of pre-Seton educational experiences I encountered now makes me more grateful for the time and money my parents spent providing me with a quality homeschool education.
Started in Public School
I began as a normal American public schooler who started kindergarten when I was told to do so. I spent a total of three years in the public education system (in two different schools), and my experience left much to be desired.
In addition to the time wasted lining up and getting ready, we threw away hours in class on pointless activities, such as lessons from a dance instructor and a discussion of the fact that sharing needles can cause one to get HIV.
We did quite a bit of “silent reading” time each day while our teacher sat at her desk. One year, we had to grade our own math class work without close supervision, a setup that enticed many of the students to cheat. The examples I just cited were even from a special “challenge” class into which students must test for admittance.
While I did have good teachers for two of the years, they were handicapped by the unavoidable scarcity of opportunities to provide their students with quality one-on-one instruction.
In addition to the academic problems, the school environment was also a problem. In one first grade social studies discussion, my teacher gave the class her (very strong) opinion of the current president. That same year, a teacher came to our classroom to pass out political buttons for other teachers while the students were close enough to see and hear.
Frustrated with Parish School
After becoming frustrated with the public schools, my parents put me in our parish school, hoping that I would finally get a good education. However, the parochial school was mediocre at best.
The kids misbehaved day after day and their behavioral issues wasted our class time. The work we did was very easy, and, when my parents and I requested more challenging work, my teacher’s solution was the occasional extra worksheet.
For reading comprehension, we would read about current events in booklets with an environmentalist slant. Furthermore, despite the fact that I was in fourth grade, I never learned any history. Rather, we spent a substantial chunk of the year discussing landforms in “social studies.”
Yet, the academics were not the only problem. Instead of being an environment that cultivated a love for the Faith, the school adorned the walls with political signs, mostly for anti-life politicians, that some of the older students made in class.
I only remember using my actual watered-down religion textbook a few times, except for when we did a “family life” unit, which devoted a whole chapter to emotions. Needless to say, the parish school did not meet my family’s expectations.
Seton? Apprehensive… At First
That’s when Seton entered the picture. My dad researched homeschooling and requested an information packet from Seton, which my mom and I looked at together. After carefully considering it, my parents decided to enroll me for the next year.
I was very apprehensive, but everything turned out just fine. My mom even let me still go back-to-school clothes shopping (there was a sale on pajamas!)
My year with Seton was a huge change academically. My mom was able to place me at subject levels that fit my abilities, not the one-size-fits-all timeline of the Department of Education. I finally learned history and read real novels, not just politically correct short stories and articles. I had never written a book report that was not a worksheet, so needless to say, Seton’s rigorous English/Reading classes were rather different than what I was used to doing.
Most importantly, Seton was a big change spiritually. Although my mom had taught me a lot at home before, I learned so much more about my Catholic Faith. I learned about the history and doctrine of the Church every day. In addition, I had a better attitude after being removed from the bad influences at school.
Seven years later, as a recent high school graduate, I am glad my parents and I made the switch to Seton. Tackling and then finally finishing Seton work gave me a sense of satisfaction in my work that I rarely felt after fulfilling the other schools’ mediocre expectations.
In addition, I feel very close to my siblings now, a closeness that remaining in school would not have given me. Overall, although the workload and the loneliness were often difficult, I would not trade my homeschool education for any other.