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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

What’s One Recommended, Practical New Year’s Resolution for Homeschooling Moms?

1. What one practical New Year’s Resolution for home schooling moms would you recommend?

Try not to become distracted. Even if you need to stop to put in a load of laundry, go right back to what you were doing with your homeschooling project or teaching lesson. Help your children not to become distracted during the homeschooling class. The children certainly can take off ten minutes for a jump-rope activity, but don’t let it go on or allow it to be a “stepping stone” to run outside and play ball when the math assignment needs to be done.

In the world outside the home, assignments need to be done at certain times. Employees just cannot stop and go out for a hamburger whenever they want. In the same way, it’s good to practice self-control and self-mastery in the home, so that tasks can be completed in a timely way. This is not to say that schooling—or life—needs to be drudgery. It’s actually the case that working hard to get done what needs to be done gives people more time to do what they enjoy.

2. How do I figure out the grade for my students for Section A on the quarter reports?

Usually you should average the weekly quizzes or perhaps two or three end-of-chapter quizzes. If there are not specific quizzes, but only daily work for a course, then you can give a grade that is more like an overall average of the work done during the quarter. The grade does not have to be exact. For example, if a student generally receives a B on daily work, then give a B for the week or the quarter. You don’t need to go through every single daily lesson and average them exactly.

The parent grade is one part of each quarter grade. Seton averages the grades of all quarter tests or assignments sent to Seton with the parent grade to get the final quarter grade.

If there are exceptions to this rule, as sometimes happens in high school courses, it should be explained in the introduction section of the lesson plan manual.

3.I have an active wiggly little boy who does not want to sit still for his schoolwork. What do I do?

Despite the fact that institutional schools expect young children to sit quietly for long periods of time, this is simply not a reasonable expectation for many children, especially for boys. The idea should not be to suppress your son’s natural need for activity, but to work with it.

Sometimes you can incorporate lessons with activity, such as oral work, quizzing on addition and subtraction facts, asking for missing words, assigning any recitation to show his knowledge. Alternate sit-down lessons with “activity” lessons. Give your son active things to do between lessons, even for only five or ten minutes, such as making his bed, putting away his toys or books, gathering or putting away laundry, jumping rope, sweeping the front porch steps, or any other useful activity.

4.Do I need to keep attendance records for my school district or for Seton?

We cannot predict the future of local, state, or federal regulations or controls over homeschooling, but we suggest that all families keep attendance records, especially since some states want the information. Most states now are more concerned about standardized test scores, but that does not mean they won’t want other information in the future. Keep attendance records for your school district in case they are requested later.

For many years, Seton has sent out paper attendance recording sheets. However, we have plans in the near future to create an online attendance record for each student, which will be accessible from your MySeton page. This should be more convenient for families since the records won’t be liable to getting lost or damaged.

5.How many times may I call for counseling? Is my time limited for each call?

There is no specific limit on the number of calls or length of calls. Counselors are happy to help students and parents by explaining assignments, grading policies, and even concepts with which a student may be having problems.

We hope that parents and students understand, however, that our academic counselors are counselors and not tutors. While, for example, a math counselor can explain long division, the math counselor cannot go through an entire page of long division with each student. A student who needs a great deal of personalized attention will likely need a tutor who can spend several hours a week with the student over a long period of time.

Besides the counselors, Seton offers many resources for students to learn the material in the course. The first resource is the lesson plans, which explain how to use the books and other course materials, and contain suggestions for how to proceed through the course. When using the lesson plans, don’t forget to read the introduction, which gives an overview of the course in general and often contains helpful information.

Another great resource for courses is your MySeton page. Almost every Seton course—especially high school—has some online resources, such as study guides for book analyses. It’s a good idea to check what’s available online for each course at the beginning of the year.

For general questions about a course, you can also look at our course-specific message boards. If a parent or student has a general question about a course, it’s entirely possible that someone else had the same question, and an answer has been posted already.

6. My husband says my main problem is that I am not organized.

While it can sometimes be helpful to have one’s shortcomings pointed out, it’s even better to receive assistance in dealing with the problem. If your husband is a great organizer, you should ask him to help you become better organized. He could have some good ideas, but he also needs to be realistic. In addition, it might help if he teaches certain classes, either in the evening or on weekends. He could be especially helpful in subject areas in which he is strong and perhaps you are not. If he cannot help with the teaching, perhaps he could help in other ways, taking the kids for a field trip, or helping the children organize their own schooling areas, or making a schedule for them to do certain jobs around the house that take up your time. When dads are involved in the homeschooling or the housework assignments, schooling goes more smoothly because the children see that both parents are committed to homeschooling.

All the children should have certain responsibilities, not only for their school work, but also for household duties. They should understand that if mother is struggling to get students to do their work, dinner will be late or certainly not prepared as they like. The children cannot expect a timely dinner if you need to spend an extra hour with students who have not done their assignments. Maybe after a few late dinners, or a few quickly-prepared meals, they might be more willing to work on their assignments when they should.

7. Our family recently went through the process of answering two surveys for Seton’s accreditation process. What were the results?

The survey results are currently undergoing analysis, and a more complete report will be available in the coming months. In general, responses were quite positive, though there were certainly some suggestions for how we might improve. It is quite clear that our families appreciate the Catholicism, academic rigor, and support services we provide with our program.

One of the frequent suggestions parents made was that Seton increase the digital resources that we offer. You’ll be happy to hear that there are plans underway for developing our technology, providing interactive components to our online courses, producing more video resources, and generally increasing our online content over the next several years. This will all occur not as a replacement but in addition to our current services.

Regarding surveys generally, they are very helpful to us in determining what is working well and what needs to be improved. There will likely be more accreditation surveys over the next year, but also more surveys to specific groups of families and surveys about specific topics. When we create a survey at Seton, we do so with a concrete goal in mind. We try to make every question on a survey relevant to Seton’s future plans. In other words, we don’t glean information simply for the sake of information, but so that we can act on the information we receive.

For this reason, it is very important that we reach a high participation rate from our families. To be statistically significant, a certain number of responses is necessary. But beyond this minimum, it’s not just the survey responses, but the family comments which are important. We appreciate when families take time not only to check a box, but also to write out what they think.

So, we thank you for your past participation, and hope it will continue in the future.

8. I am so busy teaching my children, I don’t think I should be involved with the state home schooling organization. My friends disagree among themselves about this.

We all need to realize that while our local counties may try to make regulations about homeschooling, they are required to look at the state regulations. County school boards can not go against state regulations (although counties do sometimes try to enforce requirements which go beyond state regulations). So it is important for all homeschooling parents to be aware of what is happening at the state legislative sessions which might concern homeschooling in the state. In some states, there is a Catholic state organization, but if they are not keeping up to date on government regulations, you should join the Christian state organization. These usually are very strong in keeping track of what is happening in state legislatures, and many even have paid lobbyists who report quickly on any proposed bills which could affect homeschoolers.

For many years in the United States, the value of religious freedom was a point of common agreement. In 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which established strong statutory protection for religious freedom, passed the House of Representatives unanimously and passed the Senate 97 to 3. Now, however, with moral issues such as gay marriage and employers being required to provide contraception to employees, the United States seems to be moving away from that commitment. Catholic organizations are now having to file federal lawsuits in hopes of vindicating their religious rights. The state supreme court of New Mexico recently ruled that religious photographers may not refuse to photograph gay marriages, and that giving up one’s religious beliefs is simply “the price of citizenship.” The times being what they are, we all need to stay informed, and even get involved whenever we can.

An easy way to keep up on events in your state is to look on the website of the Home School Legal Defense Association at

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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