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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

What Advice Do You Have for Homeschooling Several Children at Once?

5 minutes
  1. What advice do you have for homeschooling several children at once?
  2. I have discovered that my son does not learn like my daughter did.
  3. Why can’t my son read any book he wants for a book report?
  4. Why can you not give partial credit for my son’s math test answers?
  5. What does an Incomplete mean on my daughter’s book report?
  6. Some home schooling moms are starting their children with home schooling at 3 or 4 years old? Do you have materials for children this young?

1. What advice do you have for homeschooling several children at once?

From the Magazine

If you are only homeschooling one child, you might be able to get by without a high degree of organization.  With several children, organization is imperative.

Homeschooling mothers need to think of themselves as managers of their families. They need to develop schedules for themselves and their children, and give responsibilities for each child to help with the home making, so as to organize the home to run efficiently.  There are many resources available to help with home management.  One of the best is the book Home Management Essentials by Ginny Seuffert, which can be purchased through Seton Educational Media and is available as an ebook for Kindle and Nook.

Many families teaching several children have found it helpful to assign older children to help with homeschooling the younger children. A fourth grader can benefit from listening to a first grader read her book. In fact, an older child who needs to review math concepts might be assigned to help a younger child in math.

Homeschooling moms certainly have many challenges, but the results of homeschooling are astounding. It allow us to keep our children from the ravages of a dysfunctional secular society, especially evident in schools where children are daily pressured to conform.

2. I have discovered that my son does not learn like my daughter did.

There is no question that children have different ways of learning. Some children like the exactness of math and phonics, but not the process of comprehending a whole paragraph, or putting together ideas in chapters and reaching a conclusion. Some like to memorize and can do it easily, while others struggle with it. Some learn more quickly by listening, some by reading. Some like to learn by pictures; some learn sufficiently by reading.

Usually children learn similarly to their parents. One child may take after his father in certain interests and learning styles, while another may take after his mother.  This shows how important it is for both parents to be involved in the teaching. In most families, the mother is more active in the teaching process, but it can be extremely helpful for fathers to explain certain concepts, because a child’s learning style may be more in tune with Dad than with Mom.

Each person, not just children, has certain abilities and interests. We homeschooling parents and grandparents just need to adapt our teaching to what is best for each child. This is really a process of trial and error, but over time parents should have a pretty good idea of what works and what does not work.  It can take a while, but by the time a student reaches 9th or 10th grade, the student usually has figured out his best learning techniques. So hang on!

3. Why can’t my son read any book he wants for a book report?

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The problem is that in order to grade a book report, the grader needs to be very familiar with the book in question. If a student could use any book for a book report, then obviously the grader would not be able to read all the books. However, please do encourage your son to read other books. We have a list of books in the Reading lesson plans for students at each grade level. Some books are out of print, but may be found on the Internet and printed out.

These days, many “children’s books” reflect the current secular culture. Try to give your son books of some worth which reflect positive Christian values. If you look on our website and click on our book catalog, you can find good fiction as well as historical novels. We try to buy wholesome books with traditional, strong family values, many from Catholic booksellers.

4. Why can you not give partial credit for my son’s math test answers?

We have a problem with giving partial credit because online tests cannot be scored except right or wrong. Some students take paper tests and send in the work, but it takes a rather long time for a grader to “follow” the working-out of each and every problem and then figure out what percentage of the process is correct. We do our best to make comments and show where mistakes are made, but there is a limit to how much we can do.

Remember that the point of taking the math class is to learn math, not to pass tests.  Passing the tests is the result of achieving the goal of learning math. If your student does not know the concepts, there’s not much point in taking the tests and simply failing. If your student is having difficulties, then, as the parent, you should look over the work and suggest that the student redo more carefully some of the problems before sending it to Seton.  If your student is having trouble with algebra or geometry, and you don’t believe you can recognize the mistakes, you might ask someone with a strong math background to look over your student’s work and make suggestions.

Seton offers math tutorial disks for sale, which might help your son to understand some concepts a little better because he can replay the lessons until he understands the concepts.

5. What does an Incomplete mean on my daughter’s book report?

An Incomplete means that the grader cannot give a grade for some reason, and the book report, or paragraph, or test needs to be redone. It is not a failing grade, or any grade; it is simply a “notice” that the assignment needs to be redone because something is missing or needs to be corrected.

The most common Incompletes are given because the book is not on the approved list of books, as noted in the lesson plans. A second reason is because the student used a different topic sentence than the one given by Seton. Seton chooses certain topic sentences for some reports to encourage the student to think about and write about the main theme of the book, usually, or the main characteristic of a character. If the student chooses another topic, the grader is not prepared to grade it, not to mention that the other topic was not the one assigned.

Sometimes an Incomplete is given because the report contains fewer paragraphs than assigned, or simply because the grader wants to give the student another chance.

We want the student to learn the lessons and to do well on tests and assignments. While there should not be continual “second chances,” we know that in many cases, students are not reading the lesson themselves or are misinterpreting the assignment. We encourage work be sent to Seton over the Internet so that if a parent or student phones a counselor, the counselor can access the work on the computer and give specific advice.

6. Some home schooling moms are starting their children with home schooling at 3 or 4 years old? Do you have materials for children this young?

Seton does sell Pre-K materials.  Visit our website to see what we offer: www.setonhome.org/prekenrollment.

We parents want to teach various things to our young children, but we need to be careful not to push them so much that they become unhappy. Young and old are constantly learning; after all, every day we learn something new. But very young children should not be pressured to do math problems or to read or to do certain activities some “expert” has said “every” child should do.

There are many ways we can and should teach very young children.We teach them how to dress, to put their dirty clothes in the basket, to not touch the dials on the stove, to be obedient when parents give instructions, to be satisfied when they cannot play with an expensive violin, to not scream when they don’t get their way.

The best way to help prepare  your young children for school is to read to them often, and to run your finger along the words as you read them. Children quickly learn that words have sounds, and that letters make words, and from one line to another are sentences, and whole ideas are between capital letters and the period.  It all comes together naturally, and usually at the rate that the child can comprehend.

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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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