Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Help! My Mother-in-Law Says I am Over-Protecting My Children from the Real World!

How do I answer my mother-in-law who says I am overly protecting my children from the real world?

Some people may not realize that schools today are nothing like the schools of past generations. The teachers are struggling, trying to keep some semblance of order, trying to protect the children from drugs and other problems, and at the same time, accomplish some academics.

Many children are coming from broken homes, some at near-poverty levels, and some have recently escaped from other lands where violence, sickness, and fear predominate, all of which affects the teaching and learning.

The best thing to do is pray for her but also to see if she would help you by listening to the children read or do their math. Some grandparents who have become involved with homeschooling have been surprised by the achievement level of their grandchildren. Some have found it rewarding and have come to be terrific teachers. Just last week, I saw two families come in with teaching grandparents to pick up their books for the year!

It is curious that people say children should go to a school to learn about the real world. In what other setting in their lives will they be thrown into a group organized solely by age? The home setting, with lots of different ages and maturity levels, is far more of a “real world” than a school.

My neighbor is interested in homeschooling, but she wonders if she can homeschool her son who has a learning disability. Can Seton help her to teach her son?

Seton long ago made a commitment to support students with learning disabilities. Our Special Services Department is led by Stephen Costanzo, who has teaching experience as well as a special education degree. He gives each parent counseling, instructions, and a modified curriculum. He continues to be available for counseling during the entire time the student is enrolled with Seton. We also have available on CDs daily lessons for teaching children with dyslexia how to read.

To read more about the special services programs we offer, please see our website: Special Services.

Sometimes I need to go on errands or to the doctor’s office. How can I keep my teens doing their work while I am gone?

Consider taking them to the library, or to a friend or relative’s house where they won’t have as many temptations to do something else. Libraries do have computers, so you will need to make rules about that. College libraries have more control over non-students using the computers.

The most important thing, however, is to inculcate good habits. Your children and teenagers must follow your instructions, whether you are there to supervise them or not. Obedience is one of the highest virtues, and not only for children. We are all called to respect and obey our lawful superiors, whether they are clergy or civil leaders or our employers. If, on ordinary days, you and your teens are diligent about getting work done, then they will develop a habit of doing their work and will still get it done even when you are not there to push them forward. Once they enter college or get a job, there will be no one there constantly encouraging them to do their work. They will succeed or fail based upon the work habits which they have developed.

If you would like additional suggestions, give us a call. Our counselors are available 9 am to 5 pm EST, Monday through Friday. They can help with academics, scheduling, and general homeschooling issues.

Should I have my older children write their assignments each week in their own plan book?

If you review your children’s plan book each week to make sure they are staying on track, that would be fine. Just be sure that the work is actually being done, and that your child is constantly progressing. Some children take longer to do their assignments, but they should show some progress, even if slowly.

Another option is to use the lesson plan printer from the Seton website, adjusting as necessary for sick days, vacation days, whatever. If you have a three-ring punch, the generated daily or weekly lesson plans can be kept in a three-ring binder. You may want to keep a copy of the lesson plans, at least for the current year. This serves as a reminder and a help to see where some lessons went more slowly, such as in math where review might be necessary.

We notice that your accreditation is from a secular organization that also accredits public schools.  Can you be accredited by a Catholic association?

While we could pursue accreditation by a Catholic accreditation agency, such accreditation would likely be of limited benefit to our families. Accreditation is only as good as the reputation of the accrediting agency. Seton is currently accredited through AdvancED, which is an agency created by the merger of several regional accrediting agencies (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, North Central Association, and Northwest Accreditation Commission). That may sound complicated, but what it means is that we are accredited by the same agency that accredits tens of thousands of schools across the United States and internationally. For this reason, Seton’s accreditation is widely accepted.

We think that Seton’s accreditation helps not only Seton families, but actually all homeschoolers. Our accreditation not only shows that Seton provides a quality education, but it also shows that homeschooling itself is recognized as a valid means of educating children.

For example, our high school credits are accepted by other schools. This makes sense because a school which is accredited by the same agency that accredits us can’t reasonably dispute the validity of Seton credits.

We are now in the home stretch of our re-accreditation process, which occurs every five years. We appreciate all the help that families have given us with such things as filling out surveys. The AdvancED accreditation process is not easy, but we think it is very worthwhile.

How important are the Seton message board and the videos for my high school student? I don’t like him spending too much time on the computer.

The first thing to remember is that Seton provides lessons, books, other materials, and suggestions on how to use them. However, we don’t know your children and cannot know exactly how they should work as well as you do, or what materials will help them. The best thing to do would be to look at some of our message boards and videos yourself, so that you can judge how they would benefit your son, and how much time, if any, he should spend using them.

We provide the message boards and the tutorial videos because we think that they will help many students, and in fact many families attest that they get more out of Seton by using these educational aids. Many problems can be solved by getting ideas, either from other homeschooling families or from one of the Seton counselors who monitor the message boards. If a student does not understand a concept, watching one of our videos, which feature explanations by teachers, can be beneficial.

These are some of the reasons we offer online aids, but it’s up to parents to decide what will help their own, unique children. We know that many parents are wary—with good reason—of children spending a great deal of time on the computer. Even though we are moving more and more toward using technology to help with learning, and toward more and more online courses, we will always also offer courses which can be done completely with books and paper.

The message boards and videos should never be used to replace the full-time God-given teachers: mom and dad!

We just started homeschooling, but the school district keeps asking for all kinds of documents and records. Should I keep trying to give them documents?

State homeschooling laws are usually pretty straightforward, but how each school district implements—or attempts to implement—these laws can be confusing and difficult. School districts sometimes try to make parents go beyond what the state law actually requires.

For this reason, we recommend parents join the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) even if they are not currently facing any problems. HSLDA was founded to provide legal assistance whenever and wherever homeschooling parents run into potential difficulties. The Association has lawyers in every state to handle local situations. HSLDA helps individual parents and state homeschooling organizations to fight troublesome laws or regulations or illegal requests at the state and county levels. They have a reduced annual fee for Seton families. Use the Seton code: 297239. Look on the HSLDA website to find your state’s laws and state homeschooling organizations.

It may be tempting to think that HSLDA is not useful any longer, since the vast majority of families homeschool with no difficulties at all. However, HSLDA provides a valuable service by monitoring state laws and protecting the rights of all homeschoolers.

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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