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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources
Your Questions… Answered

My Friend Tells Me Homeschool Groups Can be Problematic. What do you think?

5 minutes

Might I encounter problems by joining a homeschool group, as my friend tells me?

Sometimes a homeschooling group gets very enthusiastic about activities, such as plays, dances, and sports. While all of them may be great activities, if they keep students away from their needed studies, they may not be so great after all. Parents need to be highly selective in choosing a limited number of activities, and ones which will definitely benefit the individual child and not cause a sense of being inadequate.

Another problem might occur with a mom who is driving several children to activities and becoming so busy, she becomes tired and cannot keep up with managing the homeschooling. Stay in prayer, discuss the situation with your spouse, and you are likely to make the best decisions for your children.

My sister says that I cannot give the quality of education that my child could receive from professional teachers. How do I answer her?

Most Catholics choose homeschooling because we want our family to live a different kind of lifestyle, to live daily the teachings of Jesus Christ. We want to live the Catholic family life that we know God wants us to live. Children attending schools are being influenced by the secular culture, even in Catholic schools. The secular values permeate the secular textbooks being used in all schools, Catholic and otherwise, taking federal funding for their textbooks.

The highest “quality” of education is one that reflects the truth about all things. Since God is the Creator of all things, how can an education in any subject be the best, be truthful, if the courses totally ignore the existence of the Creator! What “quality” does an education have if the students ultimately ignore the existence of God and His commandments? How happy can anyone be without an education which recognizes God and His laws? How happy can “educated” professionals be if they reject God and their children live secular lifestyles?

That being said, studies consistently show that homeschooled children are receiving a better education than public school students. This is mainly due to the personalized attention that parents can give their children which is not possible in a classroom situation. A classroom teacher may be very good and knowledgeable, but the teacher may have thirty students in the classroom, with only a very few minutes for each student.

For research findings on the quality of home education, visit the National Home Education Research Institute at nheri.org.

How can I help my high school daughter keep up with her English assignments?

Before starting any course, it’s a very good idea to look through the entire course and have a good grasp of everything that is required. Sometimes there are bigger assignments which take more time, and it’s good to be aware, for example, that a research paper may be due in the third quarter. Suddenly in mid year, for the English courses especially, the parents and student realize they should have been preparing a little at a time for the final book analysis project or the research report.

Even in the elem-entary grades, the book report book should be read early in the quarter, with notes related to the assigned topics taken down on paper or written in the book margins. The report can be written later after some thought has gone into what needs to be written. Reading and writing the book analysis in the last week of the quarter will result in a quick report but little analysis.

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Some families have a white board on which to write weekly assignments. It can be made interesting with happy faces & with colorful white-board pens. As assignments are completed, students can add their own artistic images to convey success.

Another good way to keep track of assignments and activities is to use an online calendar. That will quickly tell you what is coming up for today, for this week, or for this month. Parents can easily create calendars for themselves and for each of their children. These usually tie into all your devices: laptop computer, desktop computer, tablet, or phone. One free online calendar application is Google Calendar, but others are available as well.

What do you offer to help my son with his American History course?

Probably our most popular high school course is American History. The lesson plans include numerous essays which give in-depth insights into some of the people and events. Students need to read those as well as the textbook. We have a lively American History Message Board for students and counselors. In addition, Mr. Bruce Clark has made about 100 audios which have become extremely popular. In addition, Mr. Clark and Mr. Nick Marmejelo are producing a series of videos, which are proving very popular. While all these additions are not required for studying for the test questions, they do encourage students to be interested and then hopefully to be concerned about studying enough and properly before taking the tests.

History is essentially a story, and as such, should be interesting and exciting for students. If your son thinks history is boring, then see if he can find any person or event in history which does interest him. If his interest can be sparked, then studying history will become much easier for him.

Can I point out to my son which answers he has wrong on his test?

Yes, as long as you don’t tell him the answers but make him rethink what he has written. He should not go back through the textbook, however, and look up the answers. If you see that he has not passed the test because of so many wrong answers, take the test away from him and have him restudy the chapter, without having the questions in front of him. After you believe he has sufficiently studied, give him the test again.

In some subjects, such as in math or English, for which concepts build upon each other, you may need to go back more than one chapter for review. If you see a continuing lack of understanding, you may need for your son to review the material from an earlier grade level.

How can I help my 7th grade son with his assignments now that our family financial situation requires me to go back to work?

It’s definitely not an easy thing to keep up homeschooling when financial realities require both parents to work. The best situation is if you can find work which you can do from home, or at least which you can do from home some days. With the advent of telecommuting and phone-service type jobs, in-home work seems to be more and more available. Employment websites, such as Monster.com, have entire sections devoted to at-home work.

If you must work outside your home, try to find a job so you can work part-time in the afternoon or evening, so that your “best” morning time is given to homeschooling your son.

Some parents have found ways to take their child to work, either in their office or in the same building, or in a college or public library nearby where they can help their child during lunch breaks. Even if you take your child with you to work only a day or two a week, it can actually be a great change of pace for the student, which can lead to the student getting more done.

I am sure my son can skip a grade in math. Why does Seton want to hold him back?

Our thirty-plus years of experience have shown that children are happy and successful when they can do the problems fairly easily. Once you place a student in a higher grade without finishing the lower grade, problems arise as new concepts are presented too soon. We believe a student should finish the normal grade level text and then go on to the next level. The age or grade levels don’t matter, as long as each textbook follows the previous textbook.

If your son knows the math in his current grade level, let him prove it by working out all or most of the problems in every lesson. He should be able to finish the book in half the time, at which time you could order the next grade level. He can enroll in the next level math course in mid-year or at anytime he finishes the current grade level.

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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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