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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Helps for High School

Last month’s column talked about the importance of perseverance from a spiritual point of view. This month, we will tackle more practical concerns. Here are some real questions and my responses.

My 10th grade son is not staying on schedule. He just doesn’t have time to finish his work.

Is your son spending an hour a day on each subject, and perhaps one more hour in the evening catching up on his reading? Don’t let him whine! Even in public schools, students spend 50 minutes in each class and get another hour of homework. You can’t finish sophomore year in 3 hours a day.

My 11th grade daughter is working lots of hours but she still can’t seem to complete her assignments on time. She is really smart and has always been a good student. Unfortunately, I do not have much time to help her.

There is no way a really smart, good student is spending 9 hours a day cracking the books, and is still seriously behind. My guess is that she is distracted by other things – recreational reading, the Internet, the telephone, other kids, her thoughts and fantasies, whatever. Now is the time to refocus her.

Look over her assignments and give her clear instructions and set reasonable due dates. Make sure she has read the assignments in her lesson plans and understands them thoroughly. Instruct her to put her completed work in one place on her desk, with the page marked by a sticky note, or minimized on her computer screen. Have a set “appointment” with her every day, maybe during the baby’s naptime. It is not necessary to correct the work, but make sure that she is making acceptable progress. She is more likely to stay on task if she knows you are checking.

We have a small house and several children. My older students are having trouble concentrating and staying on task.

Look for an alternative place for your older children to study. Most public libraries are quiet during school hours and librarians are happy to help with research. If you live reasonably close to a community college, that is also a good place to study with less distraction.

Grandma, another relative, or a friend’s house is another option. Often a relative will actually help tutor for a few hours each week. I would pass, however, if someone offers the use of their empty house during the day while they are at work. The TV remote might be too tough a temptation to resist.

My child is very involved in sports. There are just not enough hours in the day to finish schoolwork.

Home schooled children tend to excel in their endeavors, and moms and dads see visions of the next Michael Phelps or Renée Fleming. Realistically, though, only a tiny number of Americans will actually get to the Olympics or sing at the Metropolitan Opera. The rest of them need an alternative way to make a living. Explain to your student that continued participation in this activity depends on finishing assignments in a timely fashion. This is not to say that their activities are unimportant; just that, right now, education must be their primary focus.

Parents and students might dream of athletic scholarships as a way to pay for college. Athletic scholarships are always tenuous, however. Really talented athletes get injured, get cut from the team, or never get picked up in the first place. Only a teeny-tiny, elite bunch get full scholarships anyway. Students who apply themselves to their studies, and get high SAT or ACT scores get lots of scholarship money.

My high school daughter has a job babysitting during school hours. My daughter likes the money, but she is having trouble keeping up with her school assignments.

Pretend that your daughter attends the local public high school and someone calls you up and asks you to keep your daughter out of school for the day to provide childcare. Let’s face it, no one would have the nerve to ask your child to be absent from school, and you would never consider it anyway. Outsiders often do not understand the “school” part of home school, so we must tell them. We do real work during the school day, and our children are not available for employment during those hours.

I am home schooling two children in high school. I am not able to provide any help whatsoever with chemistry, trigonometry, or foreign language. How can my family do a good job home schooling for high school.

It is possible. You have several alternatives to actually relearning Latin declensions while changing diapers and reviewing times tables. Here are a few ideas:

  • By all means, ask extended family members to help. My daughter has been a godsend for upper level math, and my son-in-law has forgotten more about science than I will ever know.
  • If you live close to other home schooled high school students, enroll all your children in the same class. Biology, for example, does not necessarily need to be taken in 10th grade. Get together and hire a tutor.
  • Sometimes a parent with a background in a particular field will teach a weekly class in her home. I taught French for four years to my own daughters and neighboring home schoolers. It helped to keep my own student on schedule.
  • Make sure you check your My Seton page for online resources that might be helpful. Order instructional DVDs for upper level math. Call a Seton high school counselor with questions.

The experience of thousands of our families shows that it is absolutely possible to home school your children successfully through high school. My own experience tells me that the academic training that Seton provides is invaluable. My own students often struggled to stay on schedule in high school, but then went on to be stellar college students. Yours will too!

About Ginny Seuffert

Ginny Seuffert has been a leading writer and speaker about homeschooling and Catholic family life for more than two decades. She has given hundreds of talks at conferences and written three books. Meet Ginny | Ginny's Books
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