1. What do you consider the most important factor for successful homeschooling?
Living a life of prayer is the single most important factor for successful homeschooling. Living a life of prayer is also the single most important factor for a happy Catholic family life and a happy marriage. Prayer helps us to understand the importance of daily self-sacrifice, patience, and understanding. Children must sometimes be pressured to join in family prayer, but ultimately, the graces from Jesus and Mary do touch their innocent hearts. The graces that your children received at Baptism are still within your children, helping them to be ready to receive the Catholic teachings. Your daily Catholic lifestyle gives the witness to your children that appeals to their hearts and souls. The family that prays together, stays together, as Father Patrick Peyton of the Family Rosary Crusade taught. The family that prays together can withstand the difficulties that inevitably come into all our lives. Our homeschooling families can progress in the spiritual life, often because of the Catholic homeschooling studies which are permeated with the messages of Jesus and His saints. Don’t let anything interfere with your daily family prayer life.
2. My young son in first grade is doing his math work so quickly, I would like to advance him to the next grade level. Would you recommend that?
Is he anxious to keep moving ahead at a quick pace? Some young students think they would like to “advance” to the next grade level. However, while moving to the next grade level gives them a great feeling of success, many quickly become “tired” of the more difficult or time-consuming longer problems. You could start him on those particular subjects or kinds of problems for which he seems to want to move ahead, but be cautious and don’t pressure him. Be alert to a situation where he might become frustrated or uninterested. Often young children find the next level moves at a pace that is just too much in time and/or in effort. You don’t want your son to lose his ambition because he suddenly needs to apply himself more than he anticipated. More students benefit by repetition than by moving ahead to an advanced level. See what kinds of interesting math “games” and other activities you can find to keep him interested and practicing the concepts he has already learned.
3. May I have the answer keys to the Seton tests so I am sure my son has learned all the concepts?
We cannot supply the keys to tests which the students take to be graded by Seton, but certainly as the parent-teacher, you should look over your child’s work and encourage him to review his test answers or compositions before sending them to Seton. In fact, we encourage you to do that, especially to make sure that the student is doing good work. Too many students in the schools today are rushing through their work and not adequately preparing themselves for the work which will be required in later grades. With homeschooling, parents should encourage their children to take the necessary extra time to do the best work possible.
4. My high school student wants to know, what is the best preparation for college, or for obtaining a great job in the future?
The best preparation for college or obtaining a great job is reading and writing. We could put it this way: read, read, read, and then write, write, write. Reading helps a person to become educated about a great number of things, while writing helps a person to develop analytical skills and to advance new ideas.
In addition, do as much as you can to learn all you can from the high school courses you are taking. Not only are good grades important to the colleges, but high SAT or ACT scores are important to them as well. High school is not a time to relax in regard to your studies. You need to see high school as a practice field, a serious preparation for college courses.
College grades on a transcript are important for future jobs. Potential employers like to see good grades for college, but the best preparation for good college grades is good study habits in school.
Don’t forget that Seton offers all kinds of additional resources for many of the high school courses. Be sure to look on our website for what resources are available for each course. Seton has both audios and tutorial videos available for several high school courses, and we are adding more on a regular basis. Seton is working on online high school courses as well, especially in the area of science.
5. My high school son likes to work on the computer, but I am nervous that he will not get his work done.
Seton has many good online helps for high school students, but it is easy for young people to get distracted and not focus on what needs to be done on the computer. Keep the computer in a main room, the family room or the dining room, so that you know when he is doing research or educational work, and not skimming through the Internet where trouble lurks! Some parents limit the amount of time a student can spend on the computer so it does not become addictive.
We have reached a time when high school students do need to know how to find educational material on the computer, but they also need to learn how to control what they are looking at. Cell phones that have access to the internet are dangerous for elementary and high school students, not to mention for everyone else. The dangers lurking on the Internet are so extreme that we all need to use strong will power to stay off the Internet except when necessary. I can testify to crying mothers and wives because of this problem.
6. Why does Seton Home Study School teach phonics up to and including 5th grade? My son is a good reader!
It has been traditional for young American students to learn phonics, even up to 5th and 6th grades. At this stage of our American educational culture, the use of the computer has undermined success in spelling, reading, writing, and vocabulary. The more courses we can teach to strengthen fundamental reading, thinking, and writing skills, the more our students will succeed in all their academics. Seton believes that the very youngest students, even in first grade, should be learning to write sentences and even three or four sentence paragraphs. While we don’t know what elementary courses will be taught in future American schools, Seton intends to continue with our strong reading, thinking, writing, grammar, and phonics curriculum for which the American Catholic schools were famous!
We encourage you to purchase a good dictionary, perhaps even a picture dictionary, and encourage your son to be interested in words. A great dictionary and a great thesaurus can be gifts that are appreciated for years to come. Crossword puzzle books also help with thinking, spelling, and phonics. Encourage students who are interested in a particular area of history or science to find books at the library which contain indexes and glossaries which they can review for their knowledge of the topics.
7. Where can I obtain information on the national public school Common Core program to hand on to my friends?
An organization that is run by Catholics and that has been in the forefront regarding education issues has produced numerous articles and pamphlets on the Common Core program. You can go on the Internet to Phyllis Schlafly’s Education Reporter. Much of the material is free or available for only a couple of dollars. Catholic parents need to be concerned with the Common Core program which has been accepted by many Catholic dioceses. We believe most Catholic parents are not aware of the secular textbooks being used in the Catholic schools that are promoting the current “social” agenda.
8. Sometimes I feel alone in my home schooling. What do you suggest?
Contact someone you know who is homeschooling, and see if there is a support group in your neighborhood. Contact people in your parish and tell them that you are looking for a Catholic homeschooling support group. Contact Cecilia at Seton (540-622-5526) csauer AT setonhome.org who keeps a list of families who have agreed to allow us to give out their names to other families in their area. Ask relatives or close friends if you might “talk over” ideas with them from time to time.
Ask relatives if anyone might be willing to come and help you a few times a week, either teaching or baby-sitting or even grocery shopping or running errands. Find a “retired” homeschooling mom who might be willing to help, or even talk on the phone to offer ideas. Consider starting your own support group with even just one other mother; you could have breakfast or lunch maybe one or two days a month. Consider having a field-trip day once a month with another Catholic homeschooling family. Read the Seton Magazine and online blogs and join the discussions.
The Seton staff prays every day, and our staff priest says Mass every day for our Seton families. We encourage our families as well to pray not only for their own families, but for each other. Start your day with prayer, asking the Blessed Mother and your patron saint to help you throughout the day. Pray with your children every morning before you begin, asking their patron saints to help.