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Your Questions… Answered

What are the 3 Most Important Things to Remember Regarding Homeschooling?

4 minutes

What are the three most important things to remember regarding homeschooling?

First, pray every day. Start every single day with family prayer.

Second, make a schedule. Be sure your children are involved in making the schedule and agreeing with it, and then stick with the schedule.

Teach your children the importance of following a schedule in order to accomplish anything. Keeping to a schedule is vital.

Third, keep a chart. As a child finishes an assignment, for example, he can post a star on the chart. Train your children to understand the importance of finishing each assignment. This will serve them well later in life.

My son wants to investigate whatever he wants, rather than do his regular assignments.

You are fortunate to have a boy who wants to learn, who is curious about things around him. Make a deal with him that as he finishes two hours of assigned schoolwork, for instance, he may have a half hour to investigate what he wants on his own.

Take him to the library once a week, so he can find more information on his current interests. Help him learn to use the internet prudently, and allow him a certain amount of time each week to use the family computer for research.

As always, ensure your children are practicing safe and appropriate internet usage.

It would be easier to teach one history or one science to my boys in adjacent grades.

History and science do not teach the same concepts in greater depth from year to year the way Math and English do, so you need to make sure that by teaching two grades together, you do not cause one or the other of the students to miss important content. This is likely to be more of a problem for your younger students.

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It may also be the case that younger students cannot handle the concepts in an higher level.

If your younger boy cannot handle the upper science concepts, you might ask the older boy to postpone taking the upper level course to help you with teaching the lower level course.

Another option is to double up the two boys taking the lower level science course in half a year, and have them both take the upper level science course the second half of the year.

With homeschooling, all kinds of adjustments can be made with the scheduling, but what is most important is that the lessons are adjusted for the ability of the individual student.

Homeschooling is the best kind of education because the lessons can be adjusted for the individual student.

My son is obtaining straight A’s in all his courses. I would like him to skip a grade so he is not bored.

One thing we consistently have heard from adults who skipped a grade is: I wish I had never skipped a grade.

No matter how well your student is performing, never skip a grade level. Inevitably, there are some new concepts he needs to learn, or old concepts he needs to review and practice.

If your student wants to learn faster, that is fine. He can finish his grade level work at an accelerated pace, enabling him to start the next grade earlier.

In fact, start just one or two subjects earlier as soon as he finishes them in the lower grade.

Be careful not to rush your student, however. Younger students in high school often cannot handle certain course requirements that cover more advanced thinking skills. This is especially the case in English, where students read more advanced novels for a book report, and frequently find the ideas are simply “over their heads.”

It is hard to attend daily Mass because the homeschooling begins rather late in the day.

As you’ve undoubtedly realized, children do their schoolwork better in the morning, so try to find a noon, late afternoon, or early evening Mass.

If you don’t have choices, however, do your best to maximize what is left of the morning hours after Mass by scheduling the children’s hardest subjects during this time.

If it simply isn’t working, consider watching the daily Mass on EWTN, instead. God will certainly give graces to families who try their best to attend daily Mass.

Are states placing less emphasis on standardized testing? What do you think about that?

There always has been controversy about standardized tests, how accurate they are, whether children should be forced to take them, whether the material is relevant, and whether the tests encourage teachers to teach to the tests.

Certainly it is true that our homeschooling parents want the tests to reflect factual information that the students have learned, rather than the social values promoted by the establishment.

However, it is important to remember that high schools and colleges often rely on standardized test scores for entering homeschooling students because the colleges are less certain that parents actually are following an accepted educational program.

Standardized tests will be around for a long time to come, especially for homeschooling students whose curriculum has not been in the local school system. Fortunately, Seton students consistently average above the eightieth percentile, considerably above the average scores for public and parochial school students.

My mother is upset that we have decided to homeschool her grandchildren.

Homeschooling is not really thought of as so unusual any more. One way you might help your mother to understand that is to invite her to one of the homeschool parent meetings or to some of the homeschooling group activities. Here in Front Royal, the homeschoolers are active in all kinds of sports.

Consider having a “tea” for grandma, during which the children can show what they are learning in each subject. You might have a display of their schoolwork. Consider having the children work on a project, perhaps preparing something for Easter, such as making a Lamb cake, reciting a poem, or reading a hand-written essay about Easter. Grandparents just want to be reassured that the children are being well educated.

How can I have time to do some of the things that are important to me, such as helping with a political campaign or the Red Cross?

If you want to help on a political campaign or a Red Cross project, your older children could be involved also, working at the polls or locating food for a family. You might have your teens attend a local county political party meeting.

They are not too young to see how the process starts in your local town or county, and the activity will complement what they are learning in high school history and government.

Being involved in community projects can be beneficial for the whole family, an opportunity to spend time together and pass on important values to your children. Furthermore, it is good for your community to have Catholics participating in church, community, and political endeavors. Make connections with the people you meet; there may come a day when you may want their support for your homeschooling.

How can my teen son find a part time job to make money to help pay for his tuition?

With so many people out of work, it can be difficult for teens to find jobs. However, your teen might offer to work for free for a few months, with the idea that if his employer is happy with him, your teen would be hired for a year.

Have him start with safe places that can give meaningful references, like a library, a hospital, a doctor’s office, a law office, a local or county government office, an animal shelter, and so on.

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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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