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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

How Do I Grade My Son’s Paragraphs?


In this Q & A to families, Dr. Mary Kay Clark helps a mom with paragraph grading, adding that Seton offers videos with extra help on paragraph instruction.

How do I grade my son’s paragraphs?

Instructions are given in the lesson plans. Paragraphs cannot be graded with strict point instruction.

However, the directions in the lesson plans should be the focus for grading. We have videos available for paragraph instruction for grades one, two, three, and four. Videos for other grades will be available soon.

We encourage parents and students to watch them, not only for the grade level of the student but for the earlier grades as well.

Are the Seton online tests timed?

None of our tests are timed. However, parents should give their children a reasonable time, and not allow tests to be taken over several hours or days. One or two hours should be sufficient. Many children will complete tests in less than an hour.

Keep in mind that when students take SAT or ACT tests, or other standardized tests, and when they attend college, tests will be timed. In fact, college professors have told Seton that homeschool students often have problems taking tests within a certain amount of time.

We encourage parents of high school students especially to have their children take tests within a reasonable time frame.

Does my son need to take handwriting? Why can he not print or use the computer, as I have done even with legal documents?

There are many situations in which a person must write by hand, instead of using a computer. Many schools and colleges still use paper tests, and many workplaces make use of hand-written applications and other documents.

Also, handwriting improves brain development, hand-eye coordination, and memory. Students are more likely to remember something they have written than something they have typed on the computer.

We believe the schools will start teaching handwriting again since the state of New York recently declared that handwriting must be taught in elementary schools.

If you look on the internet, you will see studies showing that people need to learn to write and not be limited to the computer.

Can my son take some tests on paper for an online course?

The online courses are not all going to be the same. Some courses will allow tests on paper, but some may not. Tests for the online Economics course, for example, are designed to be taken online.

Assignments for the English courses may be done on the computer and may be sent by email for grading. It will be clear to students which assignments or tests may be online or may be sent by email or by regular mail.

My student is having trouble reading. He may have a reading problem.

We have a Special Needs department with three people ready to help answer your questions. Check our website under Curriculum, Special Learning Needs, for information and to speak to one of our counselors. Some students may need only a few such courses.

We also have a number of videos for parents of special needs students, freely available. The video presenter has a degree in teaching special needs students. The head of the department, Stephen Costanzo, has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and teaching experience with special needs students.

My son received good grades for his book reports in his former school. Why did he receive an “incomplete” from Seton?

Seton graders give an “incomplete” whenever an element of the assignment has not been turned in, or when the directions were not followed. For example, if a book report is only one or two paragraphs long, when the assignment was to write a five-paragraph report, the student will receive an incomplete.

Seton provides special directions for the book reports in the lesson plans for the first and second quarters. In the third and fourth quarters, there are no specific directions. However, students are expected to follow the same style as taught in the first two-quarters.

The directions need to be explicitly followed for each assignment. Be sure to help your son to follow the directions as he writes his report. Discuss the book with him after you have read the directions for the report. Help your son to follow the directions as he writes his topic sentence and middle sentences.

My son in 5th grade struggles with re-writing the math problems clearly and correctly on paper. Will you be offering any math text-workbooks for grades 5 and 6?

In addition to the Saxon textbook, Seton offers a math text-workbook for 5th grade and another one for 6th grade, published by MCP. When you enroll, you can choose MCP Math. Seton has available a 5th-grade math text/workbook which we are making available in limited quantities as a beta test.

If you are interested in testing the Seton 5th grade math text/workbook, please email Cecilia at

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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