- 1. Where can I find solid information about the Common Core standards?
- 2. This is my first year homeschooling. Where can I learn more about how to homeschool?
- 3. Should I look over the children’s tests before sending them to Seton?
- 4. How can I help them answer literature questions?
- 5. What advice can you give us for finishing the book reports?
- 6. We are homeschooling an only child. I am concerned that she have some interaction with other children.
- 7. My daughter is a perfectionist. She is terribly upset when she gets even one problem wrong and won’t continue her work. I am even reluctant to tell her if anything is wrong because of her reaction.
- 8. Do you think I should join the Home School Legal Defense Association?
1. Where can I find solid information about the Common Core standards?
Two excellent organizations that have done thorough research are The Heritage Foundation and The Heartland Institute, which you can find on the Internet. Check the Internet for videos of conferences where speakers discuss the issues. Also, there is a discussion going on by Catholic homeschooling parents here on this site for Common Core.
2. This is my first year homeschooling. Where can I learn more about how to homeschool?
Please read my book Catholic Home Schooling. It is filled with ideas. Secondly, you might phone a Seton counselor in the subject area of concern. Thirdly, you might join a local Catholic homeschooling support group. The parents may have many different ideas and tips that you might find helpful.
Don’t overlook family members who can help, such as uncles and aunts and grandparents. They can help with the studies, babysitting, fixing dinner, shopping, driving someone to a dance class or baseball practice. Make a list of all your responsibilities and see who would be willing to help you in some way.
You have chosen to give your children the best in Catholic education and the best of Catholic family life. Many admire you for your efforts, and are willing to help you and your children.
3. Should I look over the children’s tests before sending them to Seton?
We definitely want parents to look over the work on their student’s tests. A parent can tell if the child has not followed directions, or has not completed all the answers, or has not given complete individual answers, or has skipped a question on purpose, or has written the math problem wrong, or has misspelled a person’s name, or has written so poorly a grader could not read it, or has misunderstood the question, or has forgotten to put his name and family number on the paper, etc.
We are happy when students send in a perfect paper or near perfect paper. It is much easier to grade! And we don’t need to send it back because something is wrong or something is missing. We don’t want parents to do the student’s test, but we do appreciate parents reviewing it before sending it.
If the problem is a minor technical issue, such as the student writing the wrong student number on a test, parents can correct it themselves. If the problem is not following directions or not understanding the question, the parent should direct the student to redo whatever is wrong. If the problem is simply a wrong answer, a parent should send the test as is, because a wrong answer can help a grader to determine what the student does not understand.
The ultimate goal is for the student to learn the material. Whatever parents can do to help the student learn the material and pass the test will help the student in the long run to obtain a good Catholic education.
My boys are in 6th and 8th grades.
4. How can I help them answer literature questions?
Encourage your boys to read thoughtfully, engaging their minds in the meanings of the ideas being presented. If they read the words or sentences just to “get through it,” the ideas will not be comprehended.
Help them to read having “second thoughts.” Second thoughts means raising questions, such as, “Why did that character react that way? Was there a clue that could have helped me to predict his reaction?” Guide them to think about seeing differences among the characters; many authors want to “compare and contrast” characters. Aid them to consider the character’s activities in comparison with their own perspective in a similar situation; how would they have reacted if they had been in the character’s situation?
Discuss selections with your children, especially when they seem to struggle with understanding concepts, but make sure the student tells you first what the story is about and what he is thinking. Don’t offer your own views, but rather encourage him with “pointed” questions to think about it himself.
Tell your children not to start writing a report or paragraph without making an outline of the key ideas for the composition. Creating an outline makes the student think through the organization and the orderly presentation of ideas and events. More than just a list of ideas, the outline helps the student recognize the cause and effects of the events.
Gently persuade your boys to read each question thoughtfully, understanding the key words to pinpoint exactly what the question is asking. Is the student supposed to explain reasons, to write a character sketch, to give the theme or the significance?
Nothing should be submitted for grading without being carefully checked over by the student and the parent.
5. What advice can you give us for finishing the book reports?
The best way to handle this is to take time off for several days, maybe even a week, for your child to read the whole book while keeping in mind the questions to be answered. Your student should underline or check in the margins of the book anything which looks like it would be important when answering the questions. Then he should write the report within the same week or on the following weekend. Don’t let your student spend a week or more not writing the report; it should be done in a few days immediately after he finishes reading the book.
6. We are homeschooling an only child. I am concerned that she have some interaction with other children.
There are numerous Catholic homeschooling support groups which usually have regular monthly meetings for parents as well as monthly or weekly social activities for their children. Usually you can find a support group by finding other homeschooling families in your parish. If not, ask your friends if they know any homeschooling families in other parishes. Often, homeschooling groups will sponsor a Book Fair or Homeschooling Day at the Park, so look for those in your parish bulletin. You can phone Cecilia at extension 119 at Seton, and she can give your name and phone number to someone we have on our program who lives in your area.
Besides homeschooling groups, you might look at groups available in your parish, such as choir or the local youth group. If your child is interested in sports, most areas have local children’s sports teams available—in active homeschooling areas, there are usually teams specifically for homeschooled students. You might also look for club-type groups that meet at your local library. Of course, you as the parent need to be watchful and carefully monitor these activities.
7. My daughter is a perfectionist. She is terribly upset when she gets even one problem wrong and won’t continue her work. I am even reluctant to tell her if anything is wrong because of her reaction.
A desire to have perfect papers is admirable, but getting upset, refusing to do any more work because it isn’t perfect, or having an emotional breakdown are signals that problems are developing. If your daughter is young, under 14, you need to constantly work on having her understand that when a problem or answer is wrong, it is an opportunity to discuss the problem or issue. Tell her it is an opportunity to learn more or to see an aspect of the situation that was not noticed before.
Once a student reaches high school age, it can become more serious if this “attitude” affects everything he or she does. Teens need to understand that God made each of us to do the best we can. While wanting to do better is always admirable, being emotionally upset and even unwilling to try new things because of a dramatic fear of imperfection can lead to an emotional disorder. It would be good to see a priest and/or other counselor who has had either courses or some experience with this and see what they would recommend. No one should go through life with this burden.
Do you advise joining the state home schooling organization though it is not Catholic?
Yes, but first join the Catholic state homeschooling organization, if one exists. You need to know what is happening among the other Catholic homeschooling families in your state, and they may be sponsoring events for the children or parent conferences. However, the Christian state organization is usually well-funded and has paid lobbyists at the state capital to keep an eye on any relevant or potentially threatening legislation. They usually publish a newsletter, so be sure to subscribe to that to keep updated.
As for a local group, if you are looking for a group for yourself for teaching ideas or for your children for friends, stick with Catholic support groups. Father John Hardon, now deceased, was a powerful friend of Catholic homeschooling families. He spoke at several Seton homeschooling conferences. He encouraged families to gather with other Catholic homeschooling families. In a corrupt society, it is difficult for children to remain faithful to Church teachings if friends are pulling them in another direction.
8. Do you think I should join the Home School Legal Defense Association?
We do recommend that everyone join HSLDA (www.hslda.org). In the past, the prepaid legal services were most important to homeschooling families. But even now that legal trouble is rare for homeschoolers, HSLDA still works to protect the rights of parents. HSLDA works with homeschooling state lobbyists who serve as watchdogs regarding any relevant pending legislation. Having a group as well-respected and effective as HSLDA on its side is important to the future of homeschooling in the United States and around the world.
You will probably never need HSLDA’s legal services, but the yearly cost of membership is a small price to pay toward safeguarding the rights of parents to direct their children’s education.