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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources
Your Questions… Answered

I’m Not Good at Math, and Have a Hard Time Teaching it. Help!

4 minutes

I was not very good in math when I was in school, and am having a difficult time teaching it.

Relax. You should be positive, telling your child that “Solving math problems is not the same as when I was in school, so I am going to learn right along with you.

Together we can learn to solve your math problems.”

Another idea is to involve your husband as well. Ask him to look over the math lessons and help teach them.

Keep in mind that homeschooling is not about math; it is about living a Catholic Family Life. We are homeschooling to save our children so they will be in Heaven for eternity.

Take the math slowly; no one is rushing you. Consider asking a neighbor or retired schoolteacher to come in and help teach math, and you can learn, too!

My friend ordered the Seton program for her 5th grade son, but the math and English books seem too difficult. She did not administer a Seton Placement Test because she wanted the books as soon as possible. What should she do now?

We sometimes receive “trouble” calls from newly-enrolled parents who never sent a Placement Test score sheet from the previous school, nor took a Seton Placement test. Often, they ordered online and never spoke with a counselor. It is also possible your friend never saw the sample pages available on our website for every book in every elementary grade level.

Please tell your friend to phone one of our elementary counselors, or perhaps one of our math counselors, to see if her son should either change books or spend some time doing extra practice with more basic concepts.

Parents of high school students: It is a serious situation when high school students are sent books that exceed their ability.

Because high school students bear the extra burden of fulfilling credit requirements and taking courses that will enable them to gain college admittance, it is crucial that their time be spent effectively.

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Incoming high school students should take Placement Tests for entering Seton to ensure that they are placed in the best courses for their skill levels. We want our students to be successful.

I have been homeschooling several children for five years and I am getting very tired. Do you have any ideas to help me?

Another idea is to cut down on the elementary classes and/or tests for a year.

Take a year off for art and music; for elementary history and/or science, just have your children read the books but not take the tests. Consider having the children do some work in the speller and in the vocabulary book, but not every exercise in every chapter.

Do remember this: Catholic Homeschooling is not primarily about reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is about living the Faith as a family.

Catholic homeschooling is about children growing up practicing the Faith. It is about making sure that our children want to marry a practicing Catholic, with the result that our children continue as practicing adult Catholics.

Our children are more likely to homeschool our grandchildren in the Catholic Faith, which means Heaven will be more heavenly than we can imagine!

You can slow up on the curriculum, but not on practicing and living the Faith.

I am considering taking the whole year for homeschooling and not taking a summer break.

Some families do that by taking quarterly breaks during the year. After two and a half months, the family takes a two-week vacation, often traveling someplace to visit grandparents or traveling to another state to see the sights, especially historical places. It seems to work out pretty well as long as Dad can get the time off.

Costs of travel are usually less during non-summer months.

Homeschooling year round can be very beneficial to children’s education, as children aren’t given as much of a chance to forget what they’ve learned. Just be sure that you don’t overtax yourself or your children.

My 7th-grade daughter says her books are too easy and she is bored.

I am assuming that your daughter is obtaining perfect grades on all her tests. If not, she needs to “prove” to you how easy the books are by obtaining perfect scores on her tests.

One thing you can do is to give her the end of chapter quizzes. If she obtains a perfect score, have her take the appropriate Seton tests for her report card grade. If the first chapters in some books seem too easy, that may be because some books, especially in math, review the previous grade level topics.

However, as the book progresses, new ideas will be introduced and will need to be learned. Tell her as long as she gets perfect or nearly perfect grades for each chapter test, she can progress to the next chapter.

If your daughter finishes up any course in less than a year, you can always order the next level book for that subject. However, she might find she could use the extra time to put more effort into another subject which turns out to be not as easy as she thought!

My mother is in the hospital, and I cannot keep up with the children’s work.

Consider having your older children help with the younger children. For instance, an 8th grader might have a first, second, or third-grade sibling sit beside her as they both work, enabling the 8th grader to help her younger brother or sister with subjects such as math or phonics.

You might even consider paying your older child to be a Teacher’s Helper while you are at the hospital.

If you plan ahead, you and your older children are likely to come up with some workable ideas.

Remember that homeschooling is about Faith and Family. Putting your child in a school may result in his learning his math faster, but he will also learn the values, or lack of values, of the current society. Homeschooling is only secondarily about reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Strange as it may seem to others, when the family practices the Faith together, the academics come much more easily, as older children help out the younger ones.

My daughter is about to go off to college, but she has been such a help to me with the younger children. Would it be too much to ask her to delay college for a year so she can help me with the homeschooling? My husband wants me to ask you.

I recommend that all the time. Consider paying her something for helping to teach the younger children. If she wants, she could enroll in an online college course, but she needs to make sure it is something without the current cultural viewpoint, such as a math course or some science courses.

Even foreign language courses regularly promote secular values, so beware. There may be some good Catholic colleges offering online courses, so check that out.

A year off from serious studies may actually appeal to some students before they embark on the demands of college. Statistics also show that older students in college achieve better grades!

My neighbor says she will homeschool when the children get older when it will be easier. What do you think about that?

Although families do often start homeschooling in high school (when, for example, there is a Catholic elementary school but no Catholic high school in the area), it can be more difficult to start later. After being in a school environment, older students want to be with their friends and all the activities they have enjoyed for so long.

Plus, if students don’t develop good self-motivation skills early on, it can be difficult to start developing them in high school.

But, starting homeschool at any level of high school certainly can be done successfully.

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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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