Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Help! My (School Teacher) Aunt is Convinced that I Can’t Teach My Children!

My aunt is a school teacher and she is convinced that no parent can adequately teach her own children.

Keep in mind that the main reason many of us homeschool is not because we think we are better teachers, but rather because we think that learning Catholic truths in the home is better than attending a school. Furthermore, we know that an important function of homeschooling is to build families and familial relationships.

However, individualized instruction by parents has turned out to be the best type of academic instruction. We see that at Seton all the time when we review the standardized tests of our students who vastly outperform public school students.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute,“home-educated (students) typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.”

This advantage carries on to high school, where for 2013 Seton students scored 244 points above the national average on the SAT test.

Any classroom teacher will admit that there is nothing better than individualized instruction. Schooling by parents is the most individualized. Any professional teacher will agree that having all the children in a classroom proceed at the same rate with the same instruction is not the best method.

Why do you think public schools are always coming up with new plans to raise achievement? The constant next great plans for public schools show that the “factory model” of large classrooms and little individuality is fundamentally flawed. Seton parents are encouraged to adjust the program, to adjust the lesson plans, subject by subject, to meet the learning ability of the individual child.

While doing this, however, it is important never to lose sight of the fact that homeschooling parents are teaching their own Catholic values, which leads to a special relationship between parents and children as well as a special relationship among the children, who help each other in the learning process.

My children resist their cleaning chores! What do you suggest?

I had all boys, and they were not interested in cleaning the house. I would schedule cleaning or other chores between classes. This gave them activity between their lessons which made them more ready to settle down for the next schooling subject. Studies in schools have shown that children who were given activity between classes were more alert and performed better and more quickly during their academic classes.

When our homeschooling classes were done at the end of the day, they had free time to go outside and ride their bikes or play football, or do whatever activities were of interest.

My parents were Catholic and they sent me to Catholic schools. What I am teaching my children seems so much more than I ever learned. Why is that?

One problem that many parents had in the past, and perhaps some have today, is that they believed if they sent their children to a Catholic school, they would learn all they needed to know. Both in the past and in the present, many mothers have worked outside the home, assuming their children were being taught the Faith in the local Catholic school. The Catholic Faith, however, is not something just to be taught in textbooks. It is to be lived. With busy parents, sometimes there is little discussion of the Faith, and perhaps even little practice of the Faith, except for Sunday Mass.

A particularly concerning fact many people do not know is that most Catholic schools accept public funding for non-religious textbooks. This means that there may be many instances in which Catholic Faith and facts are not even being taught, let alone lived.

We all need to pray for our families, for our children, for the Church, and for our country. Catholic homeschooling families need to do their best to attend daily Mass, or to say the daily Mass along with the priest on EWTN, to say the daily Rosary, to say morning and night prayers, to say prayers before meals, to go to Confession at least once a month, to attend novenas at local churches, and to make the practice of the Faith a daily habit.

We should include in our prayers those Catholics who need to come back to the Church, and those in many countries who have no knowledge of the Faith, as well as those who are suffering for their Faith in the Middle East.

How can I incorporate “the good, the true, and the beautiful” into our daily homeschooling?

While “the good, the true, and the beautiful” seem to have disappeared from the general American culture, here at Seton we try to preserve these values in our Catholic textbooks. Jesus is All Good and He taught All Truth!

Once we recognize the goodness of God, accept the Truths taught by Jesus, and then live by these truths as handed down through Christ’s Church, the result will be a life we can easily call beautiful!

Our particular responsibility as parents is to make sure that our lives give evidence of “the good, the true, and the beautiful” through living the Christian life. Sadly, we see the disappearance of the Ten Commandments from government buildings, references to God being removed from public monuments, prevention of public witness by military chaplains, and many other anti-religious practices becoming more widespread.

These anti-Christian activities and regulations convince us of the importance of not allowing secular culture to influence our children, and of teaching clearly and strongly our Catholic Faith and values.

Practical suggestions include incorporating into your family traditions a celebration of the liturgical year and feasts of the liturgical calendar; making sure every day involves explicit practice of the faith with prayer, conversation about the faith, and development of the virtues; frequent reception of the sacraments; learning and including as much as you can about the vast historical contributions of the Catholic Church to the arts, which display so much of everything that is good, true, and beautiful; and developing a healthy appreciation for the natural world, which has always reflected the beauty and goodness of the Creator.

I don’t like to get on the phone and call a counselor. I get distracted away from watching the little ones. How can you help me?

One thing some of us moms have learned is to do some things either later in the evening or early in the morning when the children are in bed. Many of us take this time for prayer or doing a special project. However, it may be a good time to send an email to a counselor to ask your question or talk about your situation.

Don’t forget to check the Seton Message Board. Moms write in questions and answers, and you may find another mother who discovered an answer for the same issue you have.

I encourage you to take some time to review the whole Seton website. It might take you several early sessions to get through it all, but there may be sections you aren’t familiar with, such as the tutorial videos, which may be of help to you or to some of your children. Don’t overlook the diagram videos which have been popular with parents who never had diagramming when they were in school.

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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