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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Can I Teach One Subject to Two Students in Different Grades?


In this Q & A to families, Dr. Mary Kay Clark explains that In homeschooling, children can be placed on the grade level best for students in each subject.

Can I teach some subjects to two children, even if one is not in the “correct” grade level?

Remember that when school authorities choose the grade level for students, it is based on the student’s age, not the student’s ability. The schools assume the individual student is on the same grade level in all subjects, which is evidently not true!

In home schooling, children can and should be placed on the grade level best for the student in each subject. Some subjects can be done with a lower or higher grade level sibling.

For instance, a higher-level student in math could help a lower-level sibling, or an older student could help a younger sibling in a subject in which the older student needs repetition.

In addition, some subjects could be taught to two siblings simply to make it easier on the parent, such as art, music, religion, history, and science.

In high school, a student in 9th grade could take a foreign language or a science course with an older sibling if the parent believes the younger student would succeed.

I am not interested in having my high school student take online courses. Will you continue to have non-online courses?

Very definitely! We also intend to make some online materials available to students not enrolled in online courses.

For instance, the English professors’ presentations on book reports will continue to be available to all students. We are currently recording video presentations for our Religion 11 Bible course. We believe this will become a very popular presentation.

My son struggles with remembering past lessons. How can we help him do better on tests?

Students at any grade level must review past lessons daily. Some subjects may need review of facts the student has learned over the years, such as basic addition and subtraction facts or the definition of a noun.

When a student in high school is taking a foreign language or geometry or biology, for example, it is possible that nearly every lesson contains a new concept.

In these subjects, especially in high school, students should spend the first 10 minutes of class time reviewing past lessons. Perhaps, not every past lesson must be reviewed every day, but every past lesson should be reviewed at least once a week.

Every May, my children get “spring fever.” What can I do to encourage them to do their school assignments?

This is true even in regular school classrooms. Some families take the children outside in the yard at a picnic table, go outside on the deck or porch, or even have class in a bright sunroom. As your children finish an assignment, you can give them a 10 minute “recess” break.

However, you will need to be firm and enforce the rules regarding time for study and time for recreation.

Where might I find more ideas for teaching my children?

Seton has online Message Boards for parents to share ideas with other parents. Go to your MySeton page and then go to Resources. You will see the Message Board is the first listing. Just click to enter.

Can you help my son with his 6th grade math problems?

We want to help parents teach their children. However, we have been receiving calls from students asking for help with their daily math or science assignments. Students in fifth grade and up often need help from their parents to explain the process for their math problems, such as when to add, subtract, multiply, or divide.

Our counselors can help parents, but we do not offer private tutoring lessons to students. If students need ongoing help with their math, parents should find tutors, retired teachers, or college students to help the student. There are also online tutoring services.

This is where parents share their ideas or ask other moms for help. For other ideas, check Seton’s Parent Handbook and my book, Catholic Home Schooling, which are sent to every newly enrolled family.

I am so busy with the family, the household chores, the little ones, and teaching lessons, how can I help my high school students?

In many families, Dad is in charge of the high school students. He does not necessarily “teach” every lesson, but he oversees that the work is being done and helps where and when it is necessary.

Also, many families have two students taking the same course or courses, so the students can help each other, quiz each other, and discuss the problems.

When Dad is not available, sometimes another relative, a grandparent, an uncle or aunt, or an older sibling can help. Sometimes, a tutor can come by once or twice a week, such as a math or science major in college, for a small fee. It is important to oversee or be aware of the teaching situation when a non-family member is involved.

Some home schooling groups find a college professor to teach or advise a group of high school home schooling students once or twice a week for an advanced math, science, or foreign language course.

This often can be done at the local parish. We notice some college professors offer classes to prepare for the SAT, ACT, or other college entrance-admissions tests. Being confident under pressure and keeping calm in taking timed tests is an important goal for home schooling students.

Do you sell extra books for my son who needs help learning Latin?

Don’t forget the excellent Latin videos available, which present chapter lessons by the long-time Latin teacher Jeff Minick. These are available under Latin Course Resources. We also sell various books from our Seton Educational Media bookstore to help learn Latin at both elementary and high school levels.

Go to our website and click on Book Catalog. Type in Latin, and you will find 80 Latin items listed for sale!

Do you have suggestions for my high school son, who is having trouble taking six subjects in one day?

Some parents arrange for their high school student to do the work for only two courses at a time, for two or three months. This works better for some students. However, for a subject like math or a foreign language, your son would find it difficult to continue with the second year course months later.

If you want this schedule, have him do his first-year Latin, for example, the last two months of the first year, and then immediately follow it with the first two months of the second year. This would be best for any foreign language and math courses.

Another schedule to consider is for your son to take high school courses over five years. Some students do this because they are concerned about obtaining the highest grades to win financial scholarships for college.

Many students aiming for military academies or entering a seminary also take five years.

Who can advise me about my son’s high school courses for Seton graduation?

Nick Marmalejo at Ext. 125, Gene McGuirk at Ext. 117, and Bob Wiesner at Ext. 197 are Seton high school counselors available to help parents and students make decisions regarding required and optional high school courses.

Parents should consult our counselors about optional courses. It is important for students to take courses geared toward the areas in which they are considering for majoring in college.

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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