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Your Questions… Answered

Do Families Need to Homeschool During the Summer?

4 minutes

Do most Seton families need to homeschool during the summer?

Education should not take a vacation during the summer. In the past, the public schools closed during the summer months so that children could help on the farm, but in these times, is there any reason why schooling should stop over the summer? Perhaps parents and children feel they need a break, but the “break” or vacation need not be for three months.

Some studies suggest that a three month break is somewhat harmful to student learning. That long a break can mean that students forget much of what they learned the previous year. To combat this problem, some schools have adopted several shorter break periods throughout the year. That might work for your family.

If you do plan to take a standard summer vacation, you can still keep the children learning. Summer is a good time to finish courses and a good time for reading books. It is also a great time to review courses, such as math and foreign languages which need strengthening before going on to the next grade level.

Many libraries have reading programs for the summer, with most leaving the reading selections to the parents or students. If your library does not have a summer reading program, you might suggest it. In any case, you can always institute a family summer reading program, with perhaps small prizes the children can win for reading a certain number of books.

What is the best tip you can give me for helping my children study for chapter tests?

Outlining. The student, with your help at first, should outline the chapter. There is no better way to study for a chapter test than to outline. An outline can be as brief as one word per letter and per number, if the student remembers the definitions or the relevant phrases. Perhaps the most helpful outline is one with phrases or key words for phrases or for definitions.
We are trying to help students by adding chapter outlines for some of the English and Science books. These outlines will give you and your student some ideas for outlining that can be applied to other courses.

Your student can find great examples of outlines online. Simply type in something like “Outline of the Civil War” to see excellent examples of outlining.

Will you be doing videos for all the high school courses?

We are beginning to do videos for our most popular courses, and for courses in which we know students could use a little more help. We have elementary level diagramming videos, and soon will start composition videos for the elementary grades.

The high school videos are in the most demand. We have produced about 300 videos, most for high school English. We have produced a video series for Spanish which we aim to have online by fall. We are producing an online tutorial series for the Henle Latin. The Latin teacher has completed the First Year Latin tutoring lessons which should be online shortly.

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Our plan is that some videos will be tutorials to go along with the book assignments, as in the English courses. Some will be the lesson material itself, such as the foreign language courses.
While we continue to produce history videos, we have an amazing set of audio history lectures for both American History and World History. Students and parents have told us how much they like them.

My second grade son has no trouble with his math, but he is struggling with his reading.

Because some young children need extra help in learning to read, Dr. Katie Moran has produced for Seton a series of eleven videos which give parents some ideas about teaching young children to read (available to Seton families).

Consider reviewing or re-teaching the basic phonics in the first grade book. It is not unusual for children this young to need to repeat first grade topics, especially phonics and math; some children are just not ready to learn these concepts. Some parents have found that re-teaching some first grade classes gives their child the solid support to easily succeed in the second grade.

Regarding reading, some children take longer to “internalize” the sounds of the letters so they can read more easily and more fluently. Some children struggle so much with reading the “sounds of the letters,” that they lose the comprehension of the sentence. So take the time to go back and review until the reading becomes fluent.

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

First, review with her all the information in the Lesson Plan Manual. We have several pages of information and instruction. 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.” What you should not do is give her specific sentences or even specific ideas. 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 are unclear.

While the book analyses encourage students to appreciate good literature and come to recognize great writing from the past, more important is the development of critical analysis skills which can be applied in all subjects and in personal situations throughout a lifetime. You want to help your daughter to take the time to think about what she has read.

Am I required to give a standardized test when my children finish their studies for the year?

The standardized test has always been optional, but in the past, in the early day of homeschooling, it was highly recommended just in case any issues arose with local authorities. Some states do require standardized tests (or some other indicator of educational progress) every year, or every few years. Parents should be aware of their own state homeschooling regulations, which can be found on the HSLDA website.

There are advantages to giving your children a yearly standardized test. Such a test is objective and compares your students’ scores with others in the public and private schools in the country. Because of the generally high scores of homeschooling students, it helps when discussing the advantages of homeschooling, and often convinces family and friends that your children are doing well.

Some homeschooling parents are concerned that, going forward, standardized tests may be modified to focus on the Common Core curriculum. The worry is that scores of homeschooling students might be negatively affected by such a change. However, at this time, we have not seen any noticeable difference in the test scores of our Seton students. They are still scoring well, in the eightieth percentile or higher, which is considerably higher than the public school averages.

In the past, Seton has provided the California Achievement Test free of charge to our enrolled families. However, the California Achievement Test is being phased out by the publisher. We will now be offering several alternative tests: Stanford, Iowa, and Terra Nova.

Unfortunately, because of the higher cost of these tests, Seton will not be able to provide them free of charge to families. However, we will provide a discount to families who wish to order a test. Please visit our website at www.setontesting.com to see the variety of tests available at a variety of prices.

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About Dr. Mary Kay Clark

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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