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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources
32 Homeschooling Tips for Newbies & Veterans - from Seton Families!

32 Homeschooling Tips for Newbies & Veterans – from Seton Families!


32 quotes and homeschooling tips from Seton families who jumped to share their top tips on organization, staying holy, family time & more!
Editor’s note: Seton Magazine asked our Facebook page for homeschooling tips from our families. A fantastic number of moms, students and the occasional dad responded with great tips, ideas and suggestions for new homeschooling families. Some veterans may also find these insights helpful.
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1. Organizing is Key!

When writing book reports always make an outline first. It helps keep the student organized and the report is then easier to write.

Remember that everything is a teachable moment, from how to interact with the various people you meet to how roller coasters are designed using physics (used that one yesterday at Six Flags!).

Use “other” tools for teaching, such as cooking or woodworking for Math, trips to historical places for History, and pilgrimages for Religion. Never let these be a substitute for book work, but they are a fun treat every now and then.

Organize their books, workbooks, sheets, papers, records, etc. Find a place for everything. This way it is much easier to locate when you need it. Use milk crates, filing cabinets, folders—even empty cereal boxes decorated can easily hold your important papers.

This is our first year homeschooling and I have to say being organized is our key. I love the lesson plans from Seton so I can add my son’s other activities to it.

Stay organized–with your classes and your house. When things are in their proper order, there is less stress and everyone is happier!

Besides the obvious (organization), have a schedule that is flexible, and pray. I would say do the harder subjects first thing in the morning when the mind is fresh and if all you get done are their core subjects then I’d say it was a successful day.

My children wear “uniforms” for school: polo shirt, khaki bottoms, shoes and socks. I find when they are dressed for school they are more ready to learn. (We’ve added the Seton T-shirt as a uniform option this year). When our school day is finished, they change to their play clothes.

I implemented Susan Patrick’s Workbox system for my kids. It saved my homeschooling life! Every subject and/or activity is placed in a separate clear shoebox ( we have up to 12 for the older kids) and they are numbered on a bookcase. When they are done with a box it goes into a big bin.

The kids see their progress and are motivated—such a wonderful thing. Then every night I set them up again for the next day. Google ‘Susan Patrick Workbox system’ for all the info, and tailor it to your needs. Praise God!

Plan, organize and stick with it. Start each day at the same time and do subjects in the same order. Take breaks (recess) at scheduled points during the day. When you get off track, do not panic. Just adjust and try to get back on track.

If you notice that it seems to be happening a lot, stop and take a look at what is causing you to get off track and either eliminate the cause (TV, computer games, phone, etc.) or discuss it with your children (kids don’t like getting behind in their work any better than we do) and come up with a creative solution. I have found that when I include my children in these types of decisions it is a lot easier for us to stick with it.

Do your homeschooling at one end of a long dinner table and have lunch at the other end so you don’t have to put everything away just to eat.

Write a daily/weekly schedule as well as a menu for as far ahead as you can manage. Then stick to it. Give yourself permission to say no to outside requests; you work fulltime teaching and that has to be your priority. Pick a patron saint for your school and ask for that saint’s prayers.

Staying connected with seasoned Seton home educators, via Facebook, Seton message boards, etc., is invaluable. Between the home educators who have gone before me, and the Seton staff, there is abundant assistance, advice, and prayerful support!

Don’t hesitate to call the Seton counselors for advice. They are wonderful! I have the children write book reports more than necessary so when it is book report time it seems like a piece of cake!

2. Keeping it Holy

Start your day with gratitude. Remind yourself that you have been given a gift to be able to homeschool and this gift is precious and the years go quickly. Look at your precious children, hug them and smile—smiles and hugs go a long way. Have breakfast. And I always say the St. Padre Pio quote, “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry.” Your day will be good. And if it’s not so much, there is always tomorrow!

#1 Tip: Starting the day with our family Rosary. That has been so good for us. If we wait for the evening, it seldom happens, but first thing in the morning, it works out great.

My mom has been homeschooling me since 6th grade. I am just finishing up my Freshman year in high school. What helps me is praying to the Holy Spirit and saying my prayers every day. Also going to daily Mass helps a lot before I start class. You have to work hard and if you can dream it, then you can do it. I also pray especially to Mother Seton, the patron saint of our school.

Each school day begins around the home altar with the lighting of a blessed candle, the Sign of the Cross with Holy Water, morning offering, daily Mass readings, and the Pledge of Allegiance.

As the day progresses, plenty of fresh air and exercise is a necessity. When gathering around the table for the evening meal—the students are given, each in turn, an opportunity to share what they have learned with Dad!!

Pray, try to make daily Mass once a week, be flexible when you can and consistent when you must!

Praise God for the wonderful days when your child has finally gotten through his multiplication facts without any errors, the house is vacuumed, and there is laughter. Let these days remind you on the other days what a treasure it is to have your family together!

Start each and every day by offering your day to God and His Blessed Mother.

3. Staying Focused

I’d have to say teaching time management is our number one help, especially advanced planning of lessons and meals and monitoring “distractions” throughout the day. The older kids are learning to note the distractions (siblings, Internet, iPod, “can you help a minute,” etc.) so we can try to minimize them. Listening to Ginny Seuffert once in a while via mp3 keeps me on my toes!

My mom has been homeschooling me since I started school, and I am now almost done with ninth grade. What has helped me to do well in my schoolwork is always doing my best even when the subject is boring, praying for help before starting my work, and listening to my parents when they tell me to do something.

With my middle school child, we used a schedule of class periods for the day. That way she could tell if she was taking too long on a subject and not miss out on time to get to the next subject.

Meals are cooked once a month and frozen in portions. Chores are charted and delegated to each family member. School schedules are fixed with deadlines. Daily Mass and Adoration are essential to the running of the house and the formation of the Domestic Church.

The best tip I have with regards to home schooling is time management! Although I don’t sound spontaneous on paper, keeping a very smooth-edged schedule with appointments, errands, grocery lists, assignment needs, club schedules, etc., actually gives us more free time as a family (spontaneous fishing trip, a day at the beach or pool, one-on-one time with a child, museums, parks, etc.) and makes date nights possible again.

Having the same basic daily routine helps tremendously! Meals at approximately the same times, naps regularly (for little ones who still need them), etc. Having flexibility is important too, but the routine helps everyone know what to expect each day, and makes planning so much easier!

I had to turn off the ringer on my phone and let people leave messages which I check every day at the end of the school day. I have also explained to people that they will not be able to get ahold of me during the school day. I have noticed that my children are more inclined to stay focused knowing that they have a scheduled break and yes, they do come back in (when recess is done) and get back to work.

4. Family Time!

Make sure to keep the marriage relationship strong! A loving and peaceful home is key to a successful homeschool!

Enjoy your kids. Be open to learning yourself. Relax.

Begin the day with a little jumpstart: morning offering, jumping jacks, pushups and mountain-climbers shakes off any fogginess!

For young kids I have “fun time.” After finishing two subjects (without whining) we get fun time, which consists of turning on fun music, playing learning games, scissor activities, dot-to-dots, etc. They are still learning but do not really know it! It gives me a small break, lets them learn, and is a nice bribe when things are falling apart.

This works really well for those kids who are tough to motivate.

About Contributing Writers

A wide range of authors from priests, educators, parents and students bring insight and inspiration for the homeschooling journey. We would love to hear from you! To submit your story for consideration, visit Submissions. Learn More
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