Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

The Most Important Message for Home Schooling Parents


Mary Kay Clark says the core of Catholic homeschooling is living and loving the Catholic Faith and showing your children that Jesus is the Essence of life.

If you were to give one message to homeschooling parents, what would be your most important message?

Be involved daily with the teaching of your children.

Don’t look for someone else to “take over” your homeschooling.

Your Catholic values, the daily practice of your Catholic Faith and devotion to your Catholic Faith is the essence of Catholic homeschooling for your children.

It is not the responsibility of anyone else!

If you don’t understand something in the science book, or if you feel frustrated that your little one is taking so long to learn phonics or math, all these things are “sidebars” to what homeschooling is all about.

The essence of Catholic home schooling is living and loving the Catholic Faith, the teachings of Jesus, and showing your children that He is the Essence of life itself.

Don’t worry about how fast your children are learning, or that they don’t seem to understand an English rule or a math concept.

All those things will come with time and age and grace.

Trust in Jesus. He is the one Who is really in charge of the learning of all these things by each and every one of us.

Is there a limit to the number of phone calls we may place with the Seton counselors?

We do not limit the number of calls or emails, from the students or from parents of enrolled students, but we do ask that parents or students first recheck the lesson plans, look over the online Course Resources to see what is available in the way of supplementary lessons, alternative resources, and extra practice exercises, and check the Seton Message Board for advice on your topic or problem. We may have answered your question already.

At the present time, we have four elementary academic counselors, as well as several high school counselors.

Our high school counselors specialize in the subject areas, such as math, history, science, religion, English, Latin, and so on.

What is the most frequent recommendation you make so home schooling is easier?

Combine the children in the same courses if at all possible.

The children can help each other and you can teach two children the same subject at the same time.

You don’t want to hold a child back if it would be better for him to move ahead, but this is usually not true in all subjects.

Often a child can benefit from retaking a course that was a struggle the first time. Some children do not mind or even enjoy redoing a course, such as math or science. Such a student may like helping a younger sibling.

More importantly, you don’t want to push a child beyond his ability so he is struggling in an upper grade level. Some children would benefit from taking over again a whole grade level of the major courses [not music or art].

Most children respond very well to any subject Dad is teaching. They know that Dad has an important job to support the family, and when he takes the time to help with the teaching, the children respond in a special way.

Whenever Dad teaches a class, it is more beneficial if he teaches two children at the same time, even if they are in adjacent grades. This can turn out to be an amazing experience for the children as well as for Dad!

There seems to be lots of work on your English Courses…

Developing analysis or thinking skills is not easy for anyone.

However, we receive many letters and emails from parents and students telling us how successful the former Seton students are in college.

Many are offered money by their colleges for helping other students to write essays, research reports, and book reports.

We just received an email from a mother whose son went to the local community college to take a class to prepare for the ACT test.

When he took the test for “readiness” to take the preparation class, the college professor said she had never seen such a high writing score.

This is an example of the kind of letters we receive frequently. If students and parents stick with it and keep trying, the effort and the practice will result in very good writing skills, and the likelihood of future academic success.

What would you recommend I do to help my sixth grade son improve his writing skills?

Have him write every day at least one paragraph about something he did that day, or something he liked that happened that day, or about his thoughts concerning something he heard about or read about that day.

Ask him to write about something he read in a book or in the local newspaper, about how he would have reacted in that certain situation.

Ask him to read his paragraph to you or to Dad or to the family. Consider having a rewards system in place to incentivize his completion of these assignments.

Purchase a colorful spiral bound notebook that your son likes. Let him personalize his notebook with pictures or stickers. When he has filled all the pages with completed writing tasks, talk with him about his achievement from his first paragraph to his last paragraph.

I have a friend with a son at the local high school. His son would like to enroll in just one course at Seton to make up for a course he did not pass.

We have many students who enroll in Seton for one course to make up for a failed course in another school. Because we are accredited, it is usually not a problem for the other school to accept our course for their graduation requirements.

We encourage students to take such courses over the summer, however, when they can focus on the work and put in the time and effort needed to obtain a high grade.

My daughter would like to enroll in the local parish co-op …

First, we have to make a distinction between “Seton credits” and more generally the credits which count toward graduation.

A “Seton credit” is given for a Seton course, meaning a course which uses the Seton books and lesson plans and which is at least partially graded by Seton.

These courses will be recorded on grade reports and transcripts, and the grades students receive in these courses will count toward the student’s official Grade Point Average (GPA).

Students can take other courses as “independent study,” either on their own or at a co-op, and these courses can count toward graduation requirements. If they are, for example, math or science courses, they can take the place of required courses.

You can take other courses, such as a driver’s education or music course, which can count as an elective credit toward the total credits needed for graduation.

The credits for courses which are taken as independent study do not count toward a student’s GPA, but they do count toward graduation and the credits will be listed on the student’s transcript.

Some co-ops groups use Seton textbooks and lessons. In such cases, as long as the student is enrolled in the Seton course and submits the Seton tests, the student will receive Seton credit for the course.

There are some subject areas in which we do not permit students to do independent study: religion, English, history, literature, and government. (An exception to this general rule is that students who are citizens of countries other than the United States may do an independent study of the history or government of their country.)

The reason for this is that we feel that these are areas in which a Catholic perspective is very much needed, and an independent study course is unlikely to provide that perspective.

For more information please see this page: www.setonhome.org/independent-study

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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