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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources
Your Questions… Answered

I have a child with a learning disability: should I try homeschooling?

4 minutes

My friend has a child with a learning disability, so she is reluctant to try homeschooling.

Most parents are nervous to try homeschooling a child with a learning disability, but what they forget is that with a parent’s patient, one-on-one help, the child can progress better and faster than in a group classroom situation. Sometimes parents discover that either the father or the mother had a similar problem in school. As a result, they often can help their child with the successful techniques which they used themselves.

One specialist with a public school LD teaching background declared in writing, “An LD child can succeed in the home school environment. Indeed, there is no better place for many children to realize their full potential.”

At Seton, we long ago made a decision to support families with learning-disabled children, so that homeschooling could be available to as many families as possible. Your friend can make a phone appointment with our LD specialist, Stephen Costanzo, by calling 540-636-9990, Ext. 151, to set up an appointment. He can answer her questions about how Seton can help her and her child.

As a working mother, I want to cover the most important subjects with my daughter, and have my mother teach the other subjects. Which subjects should I teach?

Consider having your mother teach the courses that she likes to teach. If she likes science or loves teaching English, have her teach those courses. Then you can focus on the other main courses: religion, reading, phonics, math, history. Have your child do the spelling, handwriting, and vocabulary with your mother. Of course, there should be no limit to the amount of reading. Your mother might want to take your daughter to the library once a week, but have her focus on biographies or other non-fiction books. The fiction books at the public library tend to promote the secular values of our current “culture.”

My oldest daughter has just finished Seton, but I am hesitant to send her to college until next year. I need her help to teach the other children.

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The experience of helping to teach the other children may prove to be more valuable for her maturity than either of you can imagine. Such help reinforces the idea for her and the other children that family members need to work together. Considering the difficult situations college students often face, some parents believe delaying college for a year after graduation gives them the opportunity to help their son or daughter mature in regard to dealing with current social issues at college.

There are also financial considerations. Colleges are extremely expensive, even with scholarships and aid. You might encourage your daughter to get a job, open a bank account, and learn financial responsibility. Your daughter could help at home and likely save thousands of dollars for college at the same time.

On the other hand, if your daughter feels that she is being unfairly held back, it could cause resentment. So, this should be a decision which is agreed to by all parties.

My children do not want to do any homeschooling during the summer. I would like them to start early on some difficult subjects. What is Seton’s position on “summer school”?

Summertime provides a great opportunity to keep reviewing subjects which need constant review, such as math or reading. Summertime can be used to get an early start on a subject which has proved to be more time-consuming, such as reading the book for the book report and doing the report.

The summer break was originally meant to give students time to help work on the family farm, but today there is really no reason for a summer break for most children. It often proves to be a setback for young students. In fact, studies have consistently shown that students score lower at the end of summer than at the beginning of summer on the same tests, with the greatest “summer learning loss” suffered in mathematics.

Try to schedule a subject or two in the morning before afternoon playtime. Alternatively, have your children study in the afternoons. In some areas, it is too hot to go outside in the afternoon, and this can provide valuable time for math review or for getting a head start on the next year.

Summer is a great time for reading, and many libraries have summer reading programs which give prizes for finishing certain numbers of books. If your local library does not offer such a program, you might suggest it to them, or even start your own family reading program with prizes and awards.

My son has not finished his work for this past year. Should I order the books now for the next grade level?

Sometimes when parents order the next grade level before the previous year’s work is finished, the student starts doing the work with the new curriculum and never finishes the previous year’s work. We have seen this happen especially in high school, when a student is preparing to graduate but, when looking back, we discover a course or two that was never finished from a previous grade.

Sometimes parents will enroll all the children together to get a discount. If you do this, Seton can wait to ship a box for a student until we are notified by the parent that the student has finished the previous grade and is ready to start the next grade. That way, there is no temptation to start the new courses before the current ones are completed.

We parents need to establish proper discipline for our children. Children need to learn to finish one job, and finish it well, before starting the next. This applies in all areas of life, whether it be schoolwork, sports, music lessons, college, or a job.

I am in the middle of a serious family problem and, though I am dedicated to schooling my children at home, I don’t see how I can continue.

There are certainly issues which can come up which make homeschooling difficult or virtually impossible. But you might consider that it is in the middle of a serious family problem when your children need you the most. Your children will be looking for answers to help them get through the situation.  You need to be with them to give them the proper answers and to reassure them that they will be safe and cared for. At a school, no one understands the total situation, nor will they have your Catholic perspective and reliance on spiritual help. Hopefully, you can find a priest or a religious who can help you spiritually to solve your problem.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends or family.  We don’t want to be a “burden” to others, but usually others don’t think of helping as a burden, but rather are glad to have a chance to help.  It is by helping others that we show our Christian love one for another and lay up graces in Heaven.  No one is self-sufficient, and we all need help from time to time.

Why don’t you have Catholic science books in every grade level?

It takes time to find Catholic science writers who can write at the lower levels for younger children and at higher levels for high school students. We are using Christian books in grade levels for which we don’t have a Catholic book. We currently have a 3rd grade teacher, a 5th grade teacher, and a 6th grade teacher writing Catholic science textbooks. These books should become available in the summer of 2015.

The high school science books are very expensive to produce, so we have put a Catholic Earth Science course and a Catholic Biology course online. We have had some difficulties with a Catholic Physical Science course, but we are working on producing an online Physical Science course by a Catholic science teacher.

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About Dr. Mary Kay Clark

Dr. Mary Kay Clark
Director of Seton for more than 25 years. Dr. Clark left Mater Dei Academy and began teaching her children at home at seeing firsthand the opportunities and the pitfalls of private schooling. Meet Dr. Clark | See her book
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