Catholic Homeschooling

Book cover: 'Catholic Homeschooling'
Mary Kay Clark
TAN Books
Number of pages: 
448 pages
Grade / Age level: 

Note: This review is based on the 1993/1998 editions of this book. The book was rewritten in 2006 and that edition has not yet been reviewed.

Mary Kay Clark, who is the director of Seton Home Study has recently revised what was the first book published on Cathholic Homeschooling. It has quite a different flavor from Catholic Education: Homeward Bound and make a strong case for homeschooling from the perspective of Catholic teaching and Church documents. The author includes many practical ideas for running a busy household while homeschooling and finding creative ways of making a structured homeschool program flexible enough for your needs. Chapters include "How to Begin Catholic Home Schooling", "Home Schooling in the Large Family", "The Sacramental Life" and special chapters by other authors on topics such as "The Father's Role in Homeschooling", "Home Management in the Catholic Home Schooling Family" and "Home Schooling the Catholic LD Child." I particularly enjoyed the stories of the author's own homeschooling experiences with her seven boys and her practical ideas of making homeschooling work in the here and now by not expecting to be able to do everything perfectly (e.g. using paper plates and clearing out a lot of unnecessary clutter in the house).

Catholic Homeschooling fills and has filled an important role in the homeschool movement (particularly because it was simply the first book published on Catholic homeschooling) but, like all "advice" on homeschooling (including this website), should be used insofar as it is helpful to your family's needs rather than solely dictate how your family does everything (this, I believe, would be keeping with the author's intentions, particularly as she explains the role of Seton Home Study).

Out-of-date material:
"The only other comprehensive home study program for children which has accreditation is Home Study International, which is run by Seventh-Day Adventists." (p. 103) A number of Catholic homeschool programs as well as Protestant ones are now accredited if that's an important issue to you.

"If you want Catholic textbooks, you need to enroll in a Catholic home study school." (p. 100) This seems rather shockingly out-of-date even for the revision date of 1998. Many Catholic textbooks have been available from numerous sources (including TAN, Neumann Press, Seton Educational Media, Catholic Heritage Curricula, Emmanuel Books, Kolbe Academy, etc.) for a number of years without being enrolled in any school at all.

You'll have to keep in mind that this book is biased toward using a structured homeschool program (and the Seton Home Study program in particular) and doesn't portray the concept of "putting together your own program" particularly well.

The computer section is significantly outdated and not particularly useful - for example, it discussescomputer bulletin boards rather than the Internet, and was clearly not revised in the 1998 edition.

A few of the parenting ideas that are discussed might be viewed negatively by those of us practicing an "attachment parenting" philosophy. Also I know a number of very good Catholics who were turned off by the authors rather "authoritative" tone and were unwilling to even finish the book.

I'm not highly enthusiastic about every resource mentioned in the appendix (although most are great!) but Dr. Clark does recommend one publication that I have serious problems with - Catholic Family News.

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