We are coming up on the end of our first quarter as enrolled members of Seton Home Study School. For the most part, I am extremely happy with them and do not regret spending the money to be enrolled. However, I knew going in that there would be some challenges using a curriculum in which I did not hand pick every detail.
I posted yesterday on Facebook that we were having a lot of issues with the book reports. The lesson plans from Seton are to read a children’s book once a week and discuss the characters, plot, setting, etc. This is not the difficult part. They also include a form for the student to fill out answering these questions, and we are to submit two reports per year for Seton to grade. (If I want Seton to give a grade, that is. Which I do.) It is this form that is causing most of the hassle. So, I sent a detailed email to the Seton counselors this morning outlining my concerns.
This is our first year with Seton and we are having a hard time with the book reports. We are coming up on the end of our first quarter and have been trying to do one book report per week, following the format of the book report form. My son is a good reader and narrates the stories back with a lot of detail, but he struggles with handwriting and spelling. With that being said, here are the challenges that I have noticed:
1. He has difficulty printing on the given form. The lines are very dark and large for him. This leads to very chunky and hard to read handwriting.
2. Due to the handwriting issues, and his very detailed narration, he finds it difficult to fit all of his words onto the six lines available under the summarize the plot question.
3. His vocabulary far outpaces his spelling, and it frustrates him to write words that he cannot spell. He is also still struggling with letter formation at this point.
This is the bulk of our issues. I also think that he is finding the books I assign a little boring, but I am working on finding more interesting material that isn’t too long.
With those issues in mind, I want to ask about Seton’s expectations for this assignment.
1. Is it Seton’s intent that the student complete the handwriting, or can I write his dictation?
a. If the student must complete the handwriting, should I correct his spelling as he writes?
2. Do we have to use the form given, or will primary lined handwriting paper be a valid substitute?
3. When summarizing the plot, should I have him just pick out his favorite events? Or does he need to be identifying the important events from extraneous ones? As an example, we just did a report on St. Peter the Apostle. I had him keep the summary to five sentences. The first sentence told the beginning of the story (Peter called to be an apostle), the last sentence told the end (Peter dies), and the three middle sentences were just three events that he remembered, placed in order of when they occurred. There were obviously many more than three events during Peter’s life, and I would not say that the three he chose were the most important.
Thank you so much for helping us out on this. I want to be able to submit our work and receive a grade from Seton, but if I cannot make some changes to this assignment, we will have to drop it. I am not required to have a transcript, but would like to have it. I also think this is a very important skill for him to have, but the handwriting is really bogging him down. I don’t want him to develop a poor attitude toward reading because he dreads the report.
I will let you know what the response is. I expect to hear back soon, as Seton’s customer service has been excellent so far.
I am glad that Seton has included writing and book reports for second grade. I think writing is definitely an important skill that needs to be started early. However, I think young children do better by narration, dictation, and discussion over intense amounts of handwriting. Hopefully Seton and I can come to an agreement that still allows me to receive a grade from them. If not, I will just submit my own grade for the transcript. What I will not allow to happen is for Alex to develop a negative attitude toward reading and writing. This report form is just not that important.
UPDATE: Seton did get back with me very quickly. Their solution is to take my student’s dictation for the longer parts of the report form. We did that for the first quarter report and it worked well.