Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Help! My High School Students Can’t Concentrate With Younger Children Around!

Consider asking your older children to start their schoolwork earlier in the day, for instance, at 7:30 a.m., so they can get at least one or two subjects done before the noise begins from the younger children. Since older children usually stay up later than younger ones, they might try doing some of their schoolwork after the little ones are in bed.

My high school students are having trouble concentrating with the noise and activities of the younger children.

Consider asking your older children to start their schoolwork earlier in the day, for instance, at 7:30 a.m., so they can get at least one or two subjects done before the noise begins from the younger children.  Since older children usually stay up later than younger ones, they might try doing some of their schoolwork after the little ones are in bed (Be careful, though, as some kids are too tired for school in the late evening).  Some families have the high school students go to a library for two hours a day to focus on subjects when they need quiet. The public libraries are used to the homeschool students, and college libraries welcome them.

Perhaps the older students may go for an hour or two daily to Grandma or Grandpa’s house, if nearby, where they may be able to get tutoring help in a subject area as well as quiet.

You might like to try setting up a room with sound dampening. You can hang “movers blankets” or other soundproofing equipment on the wall, and perhaps use sound absorbing tiles on the ceiling. Tapestries, with large religious depictions, are great for absorbing sound. Add a carpet and drapes to a study area for the younger children to keep the noise contained away from the rest of the house.

If you have an area in your home apart from the normal flow of people, that can be a good place for older students to study. One homeschooling family converted an attached garage, while another family turned a detached garage into their homeschool. These provided a quiet area for the older students.

My 6th grade son’s study skills are very lacking. What can I do?

Imagine if you decided to mow the lawn, but instead of mowing in nice straight rows, you just mowed aimlessly through the yard.  By the time you finished mowing the lawn, you would have spent much longer than if you had been organized and mowed the right way. Students who have proper study skills can do more in less time and get better grades with less work.

The majority of students who do not accomplish their work have not developed proper study skills, and so they fall behind, get depressed, and don’t even want to stay on schedule. Depending on how bad the situation is, you might put other subjects aside and focus on teaching study skills. You might spend a week or two on study skills but then show your son how to use them in one or two specific subjects. After that, work with him and have him show you how he is applying the study skills to his other subjects.

Seton has produced a Study Skills mini-course online. These ideas should help dramatically if they are applied to his lessons.

We also sell a workbook, “Study Strategies Made Easy,” available through Seton Educational Media.  If you search “study skills” or “study strategies” on the internet, you will find many suggestions.

My daughter will be graduating next year. What does she need to do to attend the Seton graduation?

The main requirement is that the student be finished, or almost finished, with the work for the courses. She might want to start on her courses, or perhaps a single course, over this summer, to get “ahead” so she is not rushed in May. The graduation is always the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend, which is May 23 in 2015.

Over the years, the graduation has turned into quite an event.  Besides the graduation ceremony itself, there is a pizza lunch reception for families Friday afternoon, a Seton Visit Day at Christendom College in the afternoon, and an evening family reception at Christendom College.  For the last couple of years, Seton students put on a dance after the graduation, and for the first time this year a family dance will be officially sponsored by Seton.

My daughter in high school has been having trouble understanding some of the books she needs to read for a book analysis.

We have three options to help high school students in understanding the book analysis books.

Look on our Seton website under Course Resources for the specific course helps: chapter notes for every chapter, audio recordings to cover main points, and videos for motivational commentary. Though not every book has an accompanying video yet, videos for all books should be completed in the next year.

Why do you have students take grammar in every grade level? I never had grammar in school.

Grammar is essentially logical thinking. It teaches analytical skills. In a society in which feelings and emotions are dominant rather than clear thinking, grammar is essential for future leaders. Catholic English Grammar courses have been famous for teaching logical relationships between words, phrases, sentences, and ideas. Using logical thinking skills in reading and in writing is vital for our society to pull out of the current lack of critical thinking skills, which results in poor decision making for many young people.

We have many diagramming lessons online which might help you and your children. Look on our website under Course Resources. If you need extra help, please phone a counselor.

My daughter is taking Spanish, which I am happy about, but I don’t know Spanish. Should I hire a tutor?

Hiring a tutor is one idea. You may find someone in your parish looking for a little income who might be willing to tutor your daughter, along with maybe one or two other homeschoolers. They can speak Spanish together for a little fun, and get experience practicing at the same time.

If your daughter is an older teen, there might be a class at the local community college for high school students, or even a group which meets at the local community college to practice their Spanish. Ask at your local library what opportunities might be available.

Remember that we have on our website all kinds of help for the foreign languages, such as audio tutorials for Spanish and Latin, and video tutorials for Spanish. Online Spanish and French courses are being prepared, and hopefully will be available in a year. We still have some CDs available for the Spanish course.

My son is struggling with the high school science book. Do you have any tips?

Science for the high school years has become much more involved and complex than in the past. Perhaps because American students were falling behind compared to other advanced countries, the textbooks writers have become determined to add plenty of  information. We try to emphasize the most important facts on the tests.

While we don’t believe in “teaching to the test,” at the same time, you should take a look at each chapter test as your student starts studying the chapter. You might highlight or underline those facts which your son should memorize. Of course, there may be other facts which you believe your son should know, so certainly underline those as well.

Keep in mind that the schedule we set up for each chapter, usually two weeks, may not be enough for your student. Consider having your son review the chapter sections on the weekend, just to give your son a little extra time for studying or thinking through the concepts.

Some of the science concepts may be difficult for your son to understand completely. You may need to accept that. (There are plenty of concepts even scientists don’t understand completely.)  It is sufficient for your son to memorize definitions or science concepts, even if they are not totally understood.

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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