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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Can We Read Any Book We Want for Our Book Report?


Dr. Mary Kay Clark answers Seton Home Study questions about book reports and open book tests and who to call for help with challenges in your homeschooling.

Can my children read any book they want for their book reports?

Seton’s main concern is that the student is reading a good book that illustrates truth and the practice of virtue.

We believe the books about saints and well-accepted classics teach the virtue and value of doing good actions for others, and offering up difficulties in life.

Seton wants students to learn from the lives of the saints and from noble historical people how to accept the situations we face and how to react in prayer and sacrifice. Of course, we encourage parents to find other books for their children to read, especially books that have had a great influence on their own lives.

For an academic assignment, the grader needs to know the particulars of the book to be sure the student has stated the facts correctly and analyzed them properly. The grader can provide helpful comments and has a better insight about how well the student analyzed a book which the grader has read and studied.

Should I help my children finish the workbooks for this quarter?

Remember that the Seton Lesson Plans are guidelines, not the Ten Commandments. We have stated it again and again: Adjust the program to fit the child, not the child to fit the program.

Some children may struggle with their writing, so you might consider having them answer some of the workbook questions orally. If a child answers all the first half of the questions correctly, you might move on to the next lesson.

If your student has adequately learned the particular lesson, have him do only half of the assigned problems, and then move on to the next lesson. In some workbooks, two pages are assigned for a new lesson; perhaps one could be done in writing, and the second one orally. Some parents help younger students by printing some of the answers as the student answers orally.

Is it okay for my child to look up the answers in the book while answering the test questions?

Tell your child that the purpose of the test is to make sure the student knows the answer without looking in the book. Looking up information is a research skill.

The purpose of education is to gain information, doing research, but then be able to move on to higher level studies and thinking skills. Students need to understand what they read, memorize what they read, and retain knowledge for the rest of their lives.

An exception to the rule in elementary school is when taking Reading Comprehension tests. Students may have their book open for the story when taking those tests.

In high school, tests in some Literature courses such as World and American Literature and English 11 and 12, require greater analysis and are noted as open book tests. If you have questions, please contact

Some days I feel so frustrated. Can you help me?

You are making a great sacrifice for your children and there are times when it will be a struggle. But the reward for raising your children in a safe and loving home far exceed the sacrifice.

Always remember that the counselors are here to help. They have many practical suggestions on problems and challenges you might encounter in your homeschooling.

Maybe you feel that you are falling behind. As one homeschooling Dad likes to remind parents:

“The goal of homeschooling isn’t to finish in a certain time frame. The goal is to give your child a good Catholic education that will prepare him or her to live as a Christian in the world. You are only behind if you are not making progress toward accomplishing that goal.”

We all feel frustrated at times. However, our overall happiness comes from living the good life according to the teachings of Jesus, practicing our Faith through daily prayer, and attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion whenever possible.

Be sure your children are a part of your spiritual life. Their simple expressions, their turned-up eyes, their unique questions, and their innocent opinions are jewels to remember and to carry you through the difficult times.

Keeping your children safe at home and safe from problems we read about in the news, should help you sleep at night and survive whatever family difficulties come your way. Check EWTN for shows for children and movies about saints. Praying with your children every day, several times a day, helps our whole family to stay safe in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

How can I encourage my husband to help in the homeschooling?

The work environment is rough for Christian fathers. The work world often pulls at people to omit God in their daily work. Catholic homeschooling is meant to bring the family together in the practice of the Faith. Reading the life of the saint of the day as a family around the dinner table encourages the strengthening of the Faith for everyone.

Ask your husband to lead the family in the prayer before dinner, or in the rosary. Encourage him to be with the children in their sports, music lessons, or other activities. Be sure your children pray every day for every member of the family, but especially for their father. Eventually, he may wish to help with math or science or history lessons.

About 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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