Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

What Lesson Can You Give a Working Homeschooling Mom?


Dr. Mary Kay Clark offers tips for working homeschooling moms, on skipping grades, and when to call academic counselors at Seton Home Study School for help.

I am a working homeschooling mom. I have two homeschooling children, one in Grade 8, one in grade 9. What tips can you give me?

Consider putting both in the same courses, moving one up if she can do the work, and/or moving the other down, even if she does not need it.

They need to be able to help each other in the same courses. Better to have your older one retake some courses to help the younger one, than have either one struggle.

Also: Since you need them to work without your help most of the time, consider paying them for doing the assignments as they are scheduled. Pay them enough to keep them going!

If they are both doing poorly in one subject area, see if a college student or a retired teacher whom you know and trust can help out. Some families have Mom help out a certain time of day, and Dad help out another time of day.

Also, Saturdays can be a day for catching up the week’s assignments. Some students prefer to work on Saturdays so they have a “free” summer.

My daughter has been an A student for this past year. She would like to skip a grade.

Various problems arise when a student skips a grade level of lessons. Redoing some lessons does not cause problems, but going ahead too quickly can end up hurting a child in a variety of ways.

Usually, a student is doing very well in only one or two subjects, so we would suggest, for example, when she finishes up one subject early, such as math, that you call and ask us to send the next level book. That way her final grade in one subject is recorded on the report card, and she can start the next grade level on that particular subject. No one is hurt by repeating some lessons, but often students are “hurt” when they struggle with advancing too soon to unfamiliar lessons.

My two boys struggle with keeping up with the Lesson Plans. What can I do to help my boys?

The Seton Lesson Plans and schedule are only guidelines. We believe children should proceed at the rate that is best for the individual child. Some children learn faster than others in some areas, and should be allowed to do so; some children learn more slowly in certain areas, and should be allowed to do so.

It is important to understand that only the assignments listed in Part B of the Quarter Report Form in the lesson plans are required by Seton. All other assignments and suggestions in the lesson plans, including those listed in Part A, are optional.

Parents can and should tweak the lesson plans in any way they deem necessary to suit the needs of their individual child and family. It is also important to remember that a homeschooled child is never behind nor is he ahead. A homeschooled child is exactly where he should be.

Does my son need to repeat the first semester which he just finished at another school?

We suggest an incoming mid-year student take all the odd-numbered tests for the first semester for cumulative subjects, especially Math and English.

In the younger grades, be sure your student has the necessary reading skills. This will show you if your son can start the second-semester lessons in some subjects, but perhaps needs to go back and start with first and/or second quarter lessons before attempting Seton’s third quarter.

For high school courses, it may be necessary for your son to take a First Semester test, such as in Algebra.

I work a part-time job. Is it okay for my 6th grader to do the work and follow the directions in the lesson plans without my being present?

Certainly, some subjects your son could do without your being present, such as reading a chapter in his history or science book and working on the questions at the end of the chapter. When it comes to Religion, English, and Reading, you want to be sure to spend some time each day to review his work, especially his paragraphs and book reports, and to answer any questions.

If he has a difficult time with a subject, such as math or science, you might schedule one or two evenings to help him. You might ask a family member to meet with him once a week to review the difficult material. We have found grandparents to be especially patient and helpful.

When should I call Seton for help?

Remember, Seton is here to help you in the great work of educating your children. Please do not hesitate to call or email us for help. Oftentimes, what may seem like a big problem has a simple solution. We’ve been assisting parents for over 30 years. Let us help you.

The counseling department is your first line of defense in dealing with any homeschooling troubles. If your question needs to be answered by someone else at Seton, the counselor can transfer your call. Our counseling department is available by phone from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM ET Monday through Friday.

Questions often can be best answered via email. And if your question requires any research, then we can find the answer and get back to you without you waiting on the phone line.

Seton also offers message boards devoted to various topics. Posting a question on the message board can bring a quick response, often from other parents or students.

Can you advise me on scheduling our school day?

Some parents try to adhere very closely to the number of minutes allotted each day for each subject. If your child finishes early, he may read a book, continue the subject with supplemental work, or work more on a major subject such as math, English, reading, or religion.

We do not advise working beyond the stipulated time because the homeschooling day is usually very concentrated. Homeschooling is meant to be a pleasant family experience.

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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