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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

How Can I Motivate My Reluctant Book Report Writer?


In this round of Q & A’s from homeschool families, Dr. Mary Kay Clark responds to the reluctant book report writer, when to call Seton counselors, and more.

My 5th grade son is doing well in his courses, but he does not want to write book reports.

Book reports, essays, paragraphs, and compositions demand inductive thinking.

This means coming up with a main idea and writing examples or proofs for the main idea. It is one of the most important lessons or assignments that our students should do.

Some students may think it is boring or unimportant. They would rather do hands-on activities or quick fill-in answers.

Have a talk with your son about scientists, explorers, and inventors who need to write down their ideas before they do their experiments or investigations, to write down the details as they proceed, and to write a coherent conclusion about the results.

Perhaps if you assign your son to write up these kinds of scientific presentation paragraphs in a logical fashion, he will understand how to approach writing a book report in a “scientific” fashion.

I have phoned the 9th grade math counselor three times for his advice. Is there any limit to how many times I can phone to ask for help?

While we do not put a limit on the number of times you may phone a counselor for help, you might check out some other resources first.

For instance, often the answer is in the lesson plans, if not in the weekly assignment. It might be at the beginning or in the back of the lesson plans; there might be an addendum section. Take the time to browse through the lesson plans to see if you can find the answer to your question.

Be sure to check our website. Go to your My Seton page, then click on All Course Resources, then scroll down to the particular course to see what helps are available.

Most important, don’t let a problem go unresolved for long. Contact a counselor if your child seems to have a problem that is not going away! Contact information is on page 2 of this issue.

You’re now offering several different standardized achievement tests. Which one should I choose?

For detailed information, go to our website and click on the ‘Testing’ tab.

Because different states have different requirements or want different tests, we are offering a variety of end-of-year tests.

You might contact your own state homeschooling organization or check the Homeschool Legal Defense Association website to find out if any particular standardized test is required for homeschoolers. The HSLDA website lists such requirements for each state.

Many states don’t require a standardized test for homeschooling students, but we think it is valuable for children to have the practice of a standardized test, or to have an objective test to show relatives or a potential college.

Sometimes serious high school students like knowing how they are achieving in comparison with other American students.

Seton has its own Placement Tests for new incoming students. These help determine whether or not it’s possible for homeschooled students to take courses on different grade levels, based on the student’s ability subject by subject.

However, Seton placement tests do no fulfull state testing requirements.

When will Seton be offering high school courses online?

Our first course with our new learning management system, Economics for high school students, is currently online. We started with a one semester course in order to beta test the system.

We have been pleased with its success. Students are engaging with the course and seem to be moving through it without questions or problems. We have nearly one hundred students for this trial period.

The second online course will be American Government, a full year’s course, which should be up and available at the time of this publication. The Roe v. Wade paper section was put up for high school students even before the full course was ready, in order to give students the opportunity to access the information as soon as possible.

If your student has not yet finished that assignment, it can be accessed under Course Resources for American Government.

Does Seton offer summer school courses? And if so, may someone not enrolled full time during the year take a summer course?

We do offer summer courses, mainly for high school students, whether they are enrolled during the regular school year or not. Often students who need extra credits or who failed a course during the year like to take a summer school course through homeschooling.

Public school course offerings often are limited, and often inconvenient for a student working during the summer.

Sometimes a student ready to attend college in the fall needs to take a summer course to earn an extra credit or two.

Interested students are encouraged to phone Seton’s high school counselor at 540-636-9990, Ext. 125.

Do all of your students go on to college? I am not sure my children will be attending college.

About 80% of our students go to college. That is not to say that our program is too difficult for non-college-bound students. One of the biggest benefits to all students is learning to learn.

Whatever graduates do in life, they will find their homeschooling a huge asset in being successful.

We need to be doing some schooling in June, which will make my children unhappy. Do you have any tips for keeping the schooling moving ahead during the year?

For the future, I would advise doing schoolwork on Saturday mornings if the kids start to fall behind the schedule you prepared for them. That might even be worthwhile this year.

Remind your kids that next summer will be better if they finish up their weekly assignments on Saturdays during the year.

Sometimes parents have children take a favorite workbook or reader with them when they are traveling in the car, either during the year or even during the summer.

Talk to your husband about helping motivate the children, or maybe even teaching them a little on an evening or two each week.

Your husband should help you emphasize the importance of being on schedule and doing things in a timely manner.

Perhaps he can take the kids to work, at least once, and he can teach them about the importance of his job being done in the appropriate time frame.

I started my son in Seton kindergarten when he was five, but now that he is six in first grade, he seems to be struggling.

Let’s not forget that home schooling is about teaching a child according to the student’s ability subject by subject.

How many of us can discuss diagramming as well as discussing the motion of planets or as well as discussing exponents in multiplication problems as well as writing an excellent letter to our senator about the waste of government spending?

Homeschooling is about individualized learning. Seton has written books in all subjects for each grade level.

We try to write them for the average children in that grade level.

But of course, there is no average child.

If one subject seems too easy for your child, order the next level when he finishes the easy book.

If a subject seems too difficult for your child, put the book away until next year, and order the book for the previous grade level.

This individualized approach is why homeschooling is so successful.

Group education inevitably means some children will be bored in some subjects while other children will struggle to learn certain subjects.

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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