Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

My husband reluctantly agreed to homeschooling our children, but I’m afraid he won’t next year.

If you think that homeschooling is God’s plan for your family, then start praying about it. What God wants, God can bring about. Start a novena to St. Joseph as well as to your husband’s patron saint.

1. My 7th grade boy has read his book report book, but wants my help with giving him some ideas for his report. Is that acceptable?

What is acceptable – and encouraged, in fact – is discussing with him the various aspects of the book. You should be asking him questions which help him to think out various ideas. If he is supposed to write about the traits of the main character, ask him to defend his points with specific words or actions or thoughts of the character. After he defends his points orally, then he should make an outline, which you can review. Finally he should write his paragraphs based on his outline.

Certainly you should then make comments of encouragement, but also point out any examples which are weak or which do not prove his topic sentence, and he should reconsider a stronger example. You should not, of course, give him a specific example, but encourage him to find one on his own that is strong enough to prove his point. We do encourage you, however, to point out any grammar or punctuation errors in his report.

2. You will be a vendor at a free Catholic homeschooling conference about an hour’s drive from my home. What might I gain from attending?

There are about as many different reasons to attend a Catholic homeschooling conference as there are families attending. One common reason is that parents want to see what books are for sale that could be helpful for teaching their children, or could be an added resource in their current program. Some come because they are curious about the Seton program. Some enrolled families bring friends or relatives to see the Catholic materials to encourage them to consider homeschooling.

Some moms come to meet other Catholic homeschooling moms, especially if there are only a few in their immediate area. Some come to talk with other parents for suggestions for teaching tips. Sometimes moms hope to meet other moms with children who could become friends with their children. Some come to get “revitalized.”

Some parents attend to listen to the speakers who have some encouraging words for parents who dedicate their lives and time to educating their children. Most conferences have at least one priest as a speaker, which helps parents who need some consolation. Some priests will hear confessions during the conference.

It would be worth your time to attend at least one conference to find out if there might be some kind of help or support which you could use. Perhaps you have an idea you would like to share with other moms.

To find out the specifics of a conference in your area, go to the Seton website, click on the Home Page, then click on Conferences to see the speakers and vendors at the conference in your area. To encourage attendance, Seton offers a discount on the enrollment tuition for those who enroll or re-enroll at the conference.

3. My husband has reluctantly agreed to homeschooling our children, but he is definitely not happy, and I’m afraid he won’t agree next year.

If you think that homeschooling is God’s plan for your family, then start praying about it.  What God wants, God can bring about. Start a novena to St. Joseph as well as to your husband’s patron saint. Try to go to Mass together as a family on five first Saturdays as requested by the Blessed Mother in one of her visions to the three children at Fatima. Your children’s prayers carry much weight in Heaven!

Try to understand why your husband is opposed, but have a conversation only if it can be without bitterness or argumentation. He may be opposed because he thinks you are not qualified to teach, or because the children are not being “socialized,” or because the children do not have opportunities for sports activities. Whatever the reason, try to become more informed about reasonable answers: you are using an accredited curriculum or you will have the children participate in activities with other homeschooled children.

Ask your husband to attend events with you where he can meet other homeschooling fathers, such as a homeschooling conference. If he won’t attend, purchase some audios or videos of homeschooling fathers speaking about their experiences with homeschooling. Purchase books by homeschooling fathers, such as John Clark’s book of easy-reading, humorous short chapters. It is entitled Who’s Got You? and is available through Seton Educational Media.

Be sure to show your husband the work your children are doing every day. Post their spelling tests or math pages on the refrigerator or a cork board. Try to involve him in something he would like, such as taking the children to a science fair or a history museum. Ask him to listen to one of the children read or to help one of the children do an assignment.

Keep your monthly Seton magazine available on the coffee table, especially the center section which shows pictures of families who use our program and write about their homeschooling. You might put one of those picture pages on the refrigerator door!

4. My daughter has been doing very well in 4th grade. I think she could skip 5th and start 6th in September.

There are many problems with skipping a grade level. We never recommend skipping a grade level, even in only one subject. The reason is that courses proceed step by step, even sometimes very small steps at a time. These small steps may seem “too easy,” but that is because the student IS learning step by step and not skipping steps. Skipping a whole year of steps is likely to be a disaster. It is likely to cause unhappiness and frustration.

In a regular school, a student only has two choices: stay at the current pace or skip to the next grade level.  In homeschooling, a student can proceed at his or her own pace. Instead of skipping a grade level, the student can simply forge ahead more quickly. If your daughter learns quickly and easily, and finishes a particular subject a few months ahead of time, she can move on to the next grade level for that subject.

5. When should I order a standardized test from Seton?

The schools usually give the tests in March or April, but we believe that May is a better month since it is closer to the end of the school year. Of course, the standardized test should be given in whichever is the last or near to last month of the actual schooling “year.” As you know, Seton provides the California Achievement Test as part of the tuition cost for enrolled students, but Seton has a few other tests available at an additional cost (due to higher costs by companies). One of the tests being readied now may be taken online by the students. This is great, especially for overseas families. For further details, visit us online at www.setontesting.com to see all the various kinds of standardized tests offered by Seton. Seton Testing provides all these tests to all families, not just those enrolled with Seton.

6. I have been asked to join a group of mothers who are fighting the Common Core curriculum in our parish school.

You may certainly add your name in support of those mothers, but be aware that these decisions about the choice of textbooks for Catholic parish schools and high schools are usually made at the diocesan level, by the diocesan boards of education. I don’t know how much freedom an individual school would have, but I suspect very little. In addition, in most (if not all) Catholic schools, the school is not fully supported by the parish congregation but is helped considerably by the diocese, which receives state funding for their schools. State funding will pay for only the secular textbooks, which, at the present time, are following the Common Core agenda. This is all a long way of saying that it’s going to be a difficult battle for you.

7. What is your thinking about what happened to the German immigrant homeschooling family?

You can find out more details at the HSLDA website at www.hslda.org. It is their front page story, and it is important we read all that HSLDA has written to prepare our families for the future. While the decision by the Department of Homeland Security was wonderful for that family, with no ruling from the Supreme Court, the situation could happen again. In fact, I understand there is already another similar case in progress.
It is also quite troubling that in their writings in this case, the Justice Department stated that the right of society to fight “intolerance” trumps the right of parents to pass on their beliefs to their children.  Since our society increasingly views any and all religious beliefs as “intolerance,” religious believers will need to protect their rights with renewed vigilance.

HSLDA has done fantastic work for homeschooling in this country, and we encourage all our families to join HSLDA, not only for possible help in the future for their own families, but to support the work they do to support any family in trouble with authorities because of their homeschooling.

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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