by Dr. Mary Kay Clark
Director, Seton Home Study School
I can see that my high school students may need to finish up in the summer. Do you think it is a good idea to try to force them to finish up in the summer?
There are many aspects to think about. One is that education should not be limited to nine months of the year. Working with the brain should not be limited to nine months of the year.
Also, responsibilities not finished in the time planned simply means that the job must be finished as soon as possible and not put off for three months. Fun time comes after finishing the work that needs to be done. Finishing a job late teaches that idleness is not rewarded. Not being disciplined and not finishing on time usually has unpleasant consequences. Hold yourself responsible; never excuse yourself.
Parents need to impress on their high school age students that the next few years are very important for the rest of their lives. If students slack off for several years in high school, then they will either need to suddenly start doing loads of work for 11th and 12th grade, or they will end up needing to get a GED in the hopes of getting into college. Even for students who do not intend to go to college, a high school diploma shows a potential employer that a person has successfully met a challenge.
Someone once said that ninety percent of life is just showing up. This means that intelligence and talent are not as important as persistence. The key to finishing high school is showing up—showing up every day and putting in a reasonable amount of work. If this is done, then the Seton high school program is very manageable.
To encourage showing up, don’t set goals that are too far in the future. Graduating from high school is a long-term goal. Finishing the next quarter of math is a short-term goal. Short-term goals are always easier to achieve and give a positive feedback loop—once a student achieves, then he sees that more achievement is possible.
As always, our counselors are available to help.
My son in ninth grade is bright and does his work quickly, but he does not show all his work, such as in math, and I am not sure he is really learning the process. I am busy with younger children and cannot be monitoring him all the time.
Some parents have bright children who work things out more in their heads than on paper. Because we cannot always figure out how they are doing even when their grades are very good, we should consider having someone else help out.
Fathers often are able to understand the thinking process of their bright children who are following in their father’s footsteps, so to speak. Ask your husband to take over the job of supervising or monitoring the work being done in those subjects where you feel uncomfortable about what learning is actually happening. It may be that the math and science areas are the most likely subjects which need monitoring by your husband.
If your husband cannot help your son for some reason, I suggest you hire a college student who is majoring in math or science or a part-time classroom teacher from your parish. The “tutor” could come once a week and “monitor” your son’s actual understanding of the process, even if it is only in his head and not on paper.
Religion is an area where often bright children can pick up the more in-depth concepts fairly easily after their early years of learning the basics. In this area, you need to be sure there is understanding, and not just memorization.
Obviously, if a bright student can produce his work in English, such as paragraphs, book analyses, and research reports without doing the preparatory work, that is very nice but that will not be acceptable in many situations. He needs to go through the process of outlining and note cards, and so on. You and your husband need to explain that he needs to practice the process of writing papers. Someday it will not be as easy as it is now, especially in college where the lack of a solid foundation can lead to an inability to learn more complex concepts.
We have recently enrolled in Seton and we are all surprised at how little we know about Grammar. My high schoolers are having a difficult time.
Grammar is related to logical thinking, to analytical thinking. Most schools don’t teach logical thinking or analytical thinking. Long ago, the Catholic schools specialized in Grammar. The young nuns taught grammar like it was candy, and we all caught on to how good it “tasted” to be up at the blackboard and diagram those long involved sentences that stretched all across the board. Diagramming was part of the Catholic culture!
At this difficult time in our nation’s history, Catholic citizens who can think, speak, and write clearly and logically are well-prepared for the issues that we must be ready to debate. Automatic usage of good grammar and precise language determine how well one can communicate ideas and how well others can understand us.
Since you have several children, some in the elementary levels, consider teaching grammar to all the children at the same time. Help your older children to study the same concept in the younger children’s books. Working together, discussing these ideas together, will help all the children to learn. You will be surprised at the level of the understanding as they discuss how words and ideas are related.
You might think about purchasing a large white dry erase board. With different colored pens for different parts of speech, help your children diagram sentences. Start with short, simple sentences but eventually move to longer and more complex sentences. You may find that your children will enjoy the challenge.
My son does not seem interested in history. What can I do?
Some students see history as just facts that don’t seem to relate to their own lives. History can be quite an adventure. In fact, history is one rousing good story; but, sometimes textbooks don’t present that adventure because so much needs to be covered in a limited number of pages.
Most people, young and old, find history more interesting if they read biographies of people involved in historical events. Historical novels are also popular with kids who say they don’t like history books. There is more depth, understanding, and adventure of history through biographies and historical novels.
If your student is in grades seven through twelve, start out with lower level biographies or novels. You don’t want them discouraged by an overabundance of “facts.”
Focus on American history, and even on events in areas which are close to your home, in your own state or a nearby state. Visit nearby historical museums. Museums at Gettysburg, the Alamo, and at Custer’s Last Stand, for instance, offer an incredible array of books, pamphlets, calendars, movies, you name it!
If you go on the Internet, you can find excellent classic historical movies on DVD for purchase or rent. A few notable titles are: The Far Horizons about the Lewis and Clark expedition with Sacajawea; The Lindberg Story; PT 109, Red River, Broken Arrow. There are hundreds of others.
Some biographies of saints offer good historical background events. History becomes very personal when reading about Joan of Arc, Rose of Lima, Martin de Porres, Fr. Marquette, Kateri Tekakwitha, Mother Cabrini, Mother Seton, Katherine Drexel.
May my son take his Algebra Test open book?
The algebra tests are not “open book.” Students should be able to do the test problems after going through the required lessons. As you may notice, each test covers material taken four lessons back. This is done so that a student has worked four lessons of certain concepts before being tested on them. However, the parent may choose to wait after further lessons before giving the test.
If your son is having problems, be sure to purchase the tutoring lessons on computer disks which we sell through Seton Educational Media. This gives your student not only the opportunity to hear and to see the teacher present the lesson, but it also gives your student the opportunity to go back and listen to the lecture again and again until he learns it. This is an advantage not offered in a classroom school.
My friend’s child is attending another school, but she would like to start home schooling immediately. Must she wait until next year?
When a parent wants to enroll a student in mid-year or even later in the spring, there is usually a serious reason or problem. While some parents may think that a child can endure the situation for only two or three more months to the end of the school year, children may be seriously damaged by the long days of suffering. Consequently, we encourage parents to enroll their children when they realize there must be an immediate change, no matter what month or time of year.
Remind your friend that Seton has no calendar, and we accept enrollments year round.
What is the difference between the online lesson plans and the lesson plans you send in the mail?
The online lesson plans are simply the basic assignments, not the details of the assignments. The online lesson plans are meant as a “quick reference” for parents to print out to give their students when they want a single page of all the assignments for the day. This was requested by a number of our parents.
The paper lesson plans are more complete. They not only extend the daily assignments, but also offer supplemental information, such as book report guidelines, supplemental diagrams, and answer keys.
I know you have a new phone answering service for which we can press a button to find a particular department. Where can I find extension numbers for people at Seton I am trying to contact?
Go to our home page at www.setonhome.org and click on About Us, then click on Staff. The staff listing is for those who usually answer phone questions. Most of the staff member have direct phone numbers, as well as extensions through our main 540-636-9990 number. In addition, if you click on the name of the counselor, you can e-mail the counselor. While we have listed our Academic Counselors and Admissions/Enrollment Counselors, anyone else can be found through the phone answering options when you dial our main 540-636-9990 phone number.