Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Help! My Young Children Have Messy Printing & Handwriting


In this round of Q&A’s from homeschool families, Dr Mary Kay Clark responds to book analyses,  college attendance advice, scheduling activities and more.

My young children have messy printing and handwriting.

Some children develop their printing and handwriting skills rather slowly. Keep your children practicing by writing short one- or two-sentence prayers. Incentivize regular handwriting drills with a small reward for neat and legible (or at least improved) handwriting.

If fine motor skills are a problem, encourage activities that require finger dexterity. Encourage them by having them write thank you notes or invitations, or even simple notes to tell relatives about an event. They can even draw pictures to go with the notes.

This will help your children with writing and have the added benefit of greatly pleasing grandparents, other relatives, and friends.

You may be interested in the Early Literacy for Young Catholics Pre-K Activity Book to help little ones develop their printing and handwriting skills.

Available from our book store, it is full of fun projects that will help your preschooler develop the small muscles of the hand which they need for handwriting.

It will also help you teach necessary skills like the tripod grasp, the correct way to hold a pencil or crayon for the smoothest use.

We are struggling financially, and need some help, not only for tuition, but for supplemental materials as well.

Are there any retired teachers in your parish? They usually have loads of extra materials and would be delighted to give them to some children who could use them.

Many libraries have an abundance of donated books, and they also tend to have huge book sales, where you might be able to find good resources very cheaply!

Check with your local homeschool support group for parents who are no longer homeschooling, and who might be willing to donate their new and used materials.

Do boys learn differently than girls?

Most parents and teachers would say “All the time!” However, in reality, it is not actually all the time, but it does seem to happen frequently.

In some subjects, it might be wise to have fathers teach their sons because they share the same strengths in ways of learning as well as interests in certain subject areas.

However, don’t assume your daughters don’t have the same interests as your husband.

Families with several boys or several girls know that all boys and all girls are not alike. Four girls in a family may have four very different personalities and four different learning styles.

Even if it is true that on the average a boy learns better this way, and a girl learns better that way, remember that you are not teaching the average. You are teaching particular children with particular needs and interests.

The beauty of homeschooling is that you can accommodate the interests, the needs, and the abilities of each student.

As you and your husband work together with the children, you will quickly learn their individual interests and strengths.

How much help may I give my 9th grader for her book analysis assignments?

Review with her all the information in the Lesson Plan, and show her the resources available on our website to help her with her assignment. You can offer her clear but general instructions or comments, such as “I don’t think you are expressing your idea clearly enough,” or “You need more examples.”

What you should not do is generate any of her content. Help her to think about the ideas she wants to express, help her to be clear, help her to understand that some examples are good but others do not work.

Make sure that you’re helping your daughter to think about what she has read. Though the book analyses help students to appreciate good literature and recognize great writing, their main purpose is to develop critical analysis skills that can be applied in all subjects and in personal situations throughout a lifetime.

My son seems bored with the lessons in the math book. Can you send me the next level math book?

Before moving to the next level, we recommend that you quickly review the material which will be on the tests. For instance, most books have “chapter reviews.”

Go over those with your son and make sure he knows the material, and then administer the Seton tests. You may discover that he really does know the lessons in the first five or ten chapters, but you may find that he has not learned the concepts in the last ten chapters.

In such a case, it’s important for you to assign the lessons for the rest of the book.

If your son takes all the chapter tests and does well, you can contact Seton at any time of the year, and enroll him in the next grade level math book.

Some in our homeschooling group stop homeschooling for high school.

Parents usually make this decision because they don’t feel competent to teach the high school subjects. Sometimes, they make this decision because their student wants to make a change.

Statistics and anecdotal evidence both show that parents can do a great job homeschooling through high school.

We have many testimonials from colleges about how well homeschooled students function in the college setting. Christendom College recently ran an ad stating that their valedictorians and salutatorians for 2014 and 2015 were all Seton Home Study School alumni.

Our students tend to do very well on the SAT or ACT tests and often receive generous scholarships.

Important as academics are, we don’t think that’s the main reason to stick with homeschooling through high school. The main reason is that the pressures facing high school students in brick and mortar schools can dramatically affect their ultimate future.

Homeschooled students entering a high school may change their values simply to fit in, and if they don’t, they will certainly struggle as outsiders in the increasingly dangerous high school culture.

Even if the students do stay strong in their faith, it will be hard for them not to be affected in some way by the culture around them. When they are told day after day that good is evil and evil is good, they may begin to mold their own opinions in the same way.

My daughter is quite insistent about the college she wants to attend. I’m concerned because I don’t think it will be good for her spiritually.

Which college to attend is one of the most important decisions that a student and her parents can make. It will impact the rest of her life. At college, her faith will be strengthened or weakened.

At college, she will make lasting friendships that will either help or hurt her. She may very well meet her future spouse at college, and have a happy or unhappy marriage. It’s important to choose wisely.

Because a choice of college is so important, Seton has a College Partner program. The colleges which are part of this program are colleges in which the solid Catholic educational foundation that your children have received already can be built upon and strengthened.

Seton’s college partners are listed here on our current College Partner page.

How can I schedule more hands-on activities and keep up with the schedule?

We don’t schedule many hands-on activities because many families simply don’t have the time or the equipment, especially when several children are being homeschooled.

However, some parents join a homeschool support group that offers opportunities for various art, music, science, or history projects and activities.

Some parents join local library-sponsored or church-sponsored activity programs. Local museums sometimes offer homeschooling-friendly programs, as well.

Regardless of what you choose to add, make sure your children keep up with regular assignments so they understand that “outside” hands-on activities are subject to the fulfillment of primary responsibilities.

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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