28 episodes

Join Mary Ellen Barrett and Ginny Seuffert, two leading speakers and writers on the topic of Catholic education, as they discuss ways in which Catholic parents can find success in their homeschooling journey.

The Stay-at-Homeschooling Mom Podcast Seton Home Study School

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 54 Ratings

Join Mary Ellen Barrett and Ginny Seuffert, two leading speakers and writers on the topic of Catholic education, as they discuss ways in which Catholic parents can find success in their homeschooling journey.

    Beauty and Truth in Education and Evangelization

    Beauty and Truth in Education and Evangelization

    How important is cultivating beauty in your homeschool? Ginny and Mary Ellen speak with Joseph Pearce about the true, the good, and the beautiful and how it affects our homeschool, worship, and very selves. 

    There are few as qualified as Joseph to speak on the topic. He is a man of many hats, including bestselling author, EWTN host, and Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute. His website www.jpearce.co is replete with his work and thoughts and emphasizes the subject of today’s podcast. He is also a homeschooling Dad.

    Beauty and Truth in Education and Evangelization

    Beauty is Key

    Be careful - We separate goodness, truth, and beauty at our peril. 

    Because - the three are inseparable, transcendental, and will lead us to God.  

    Beauty is in the thing beheld, not in the eye of the beholder.

    Culture has turned away from the good, the true, and the beautiful and now serves power. This path leads to despair. To distract ourselves from the despair, we turn to noise. 

    Contrast that with the soul in love with Christ and in His grace who craves silence. 

    Popular culture and the secular school system have turned away from Objective Truth and embraced Relativism. In this cult of Relativism:

    There is no virtue.
    Sin is banished from the vocabulary. 
    Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are replaced by Viciousness, Lies, and Ugliness.

    However, a significant and growing minority are on fire for the faith and know what they are on fire for. Homeschoolers – like the monks of the Middle Ages have the means to preserve the culture of the Good, True, and Beautiful.

    Advice to Homeschoolers 

    Finding (and Teaching) the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

    Good - The key is to know that a good program:

    Choose a good curriculum provider such as Seton Home Study School. 
    The curriculum should study the Catechism.
    Teaches Catholicism.
    Focused on the learning of the good.

    True – Truth is found through studying philosophy. Philosophy is simply using reason to understand truth, and its study will become more significant in high school. 

    An example of an excellent high school Philosophy text, and the text instrumental in Joseph’s path to conversion, is Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine by Archbishop Michael Sheehan. 

    Part 1 – Apologetics: Rational Proofs for the existence of God

    Part 2 – Catholic Doctrine: How those rational proofs play out in the teachings of the Church.

    True or False

    Modern culture preaches two extremes. 

    Materialism - there’s nothing but matter. 

    Subjective Reality – all reality is in the mind. 

    To counter these false notions, we must surround our children with the truth of God The world is charged with the grandeur of God as articulated by Gerard Manley Hopkins in his poem, “God’s Grandeur”.

    This truth must be taught through reason and rational processes. 


    The Good is an education in virtue.

    The True is engagement with philosophy using wisdom to engage with the truth. 

    Beauty needs space and silence. Unplug from gadgets and distractions.

    Our takeaway:

    The flexibility of homeschooling provides the opportunity to see, hear, and do beauty. We must make time and space to participate in creation. Use the talents God has given us.
    Listen to music - make music by learning to play an instrument.
    Read great literature - write great lit or at least work at it.
    See great art, make art. Paint, bake, garden – use your talents.

    Beauty speaks profoundly and, like prayer, evangelizes by lifting the heart and mind.


    Please visit our sponsor: Benedictine College

    Joseph Pearce’s website: www.jpearce.co

    Referenced in this episode:

    Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine by Archbishop Michael Sheehan

    Gerard Manley Hopkins “God’s Grandeur”

    • 44 min
    Where Are Our Manners? Homeschoolers Guide to Social Skills and Manners

    Where Are Our Manners? Homeschoolers Guide to Social Skills and Manners

    It's easy to blame others for the loss of civility and politeness in the news and social media. Fortunately, as homeschoolers, we are blessed with the opportunity to train our children to push back on cultural influences and lead others by example.

    In this episode, Mary Ellen and Ginny examine modern behavioral norms and provide simple, concrete, practical tips, methods, and lessons to regain civility and good manners. Please join us and learn how your home can flourish as a training ground for polite, civil, and well-mannered leaders of the future.

    Program Notes

    A 2017 Study of Millennials – people born between 1981 - 1996 – today's homeschooling parents and tasked with teaching their children social skills and polite behavior is unsettling. The study reveals many feel challenged as role models of good social skills.

    40% believe lacking social skills has held them back at work.
    39% think it has caused problems for them within friendships.
    62% dread face-to-face communication with friends or co-workers. 
    65% need more confidence in face-to-face social situations.
    68% avoid talking face-to-face.
    80% are more able to express themselves in text or online than in person.

    What are Social Skills?

    These are the skills we use every day to interact and communicate with each other. We are not speaking in this podcast about people with disabilities who struggle in this area or are unable to communicate in a typical way.

    But let's dig deeper. We are talking about courtesy and manners. A polite society that is sadly lacking in today's culture. Things like 

    Holding open doors.
    Bringing a little gift when arriving at someone's home.
    Men, take off your hat in a restaurant or at the dinner table.
    Speaking in a moderate tone of voice.
    Being quiet in quiet places (church, movie theatres, waiting rooms).
    No reaching across people.
    Standing when a lady enters or leaves a room or the table.
    How to use utensils at a correctly set table.

    The root of the word "rude" is interesting: it comes from the Latin rudis, meaning 

    unsophisticated, which remains its primary definition today. In the late Middle Ages, the word came to mean ill-mannered, which is the opposite of polite.

    Simple, Practical Lessons 

    These will help your children be comfortable in any situation and allow them to succeed in all social situations. Remember, it is never a formality to practice good manners.

    Practice good manners at all times at home. 
    Insist on appropriate dress for Mass, dinner, visiting, etc.
    Use words like please, thank you, would it be too much trouble, etc.
    Send thank you notes for gifts and hosting.
    Set the table every night.  
    Do not allow gross habits - chomping or munching food, talking with a mouthful, using hands instead of utensils.
    Encourage table talk – so-called small talk is an important skill (timidity is not an excuse)
    Never criticize the food – period. "No, thank you" is the answer to something you do not like.
    Teach a school etiquette class.

    In Summary - There is a reason to teach etiquette and good manners; it's not to place yourself above others but to recognize other people's feelings and accommodate their needs.


    You can't go wrong with Emily Post


    Manners in God's House


    The Compleat Gentleman, The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry


    • 50 min
    Raising Worker Bees - The Essentials of Work

    Raising Worker Bees - The Essentials of Work

    Teaching our children "how to" work is a lesson too often overlooked. The consequences of this oversight can last a lifetime, robbing our children of reaching their full potential as faithful servants of God and role models for their children. 

    In this episode, Ginny and Mary Ellen discuss why teaching "how-to" work is critical in raising strong and independent children. They make a convincing case for why today, more than ever, we must train our kids how to work for them to become responsible adults. And they show us, practically and simply, how to do it.

    Why Aren't They Working?

    I heard on the news the other day that two jobs are available for every person seeking employment. People stay out of the workforce for many reasons, but most of us agree that we want our children to have a strong work ethic. We want them to have the competence and self-confidence that comes from working – having a job.

    So how can you give your children a strong work ethic? Much the same answer to the old NY joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall – practice, practice!

    Younger kids

    A big part of the problem today is that we don't NEED our children's labor. In times past, when most families lived on farms, daily life was so labor intensive that children were taught to provide essential services early on. They hauled wood and water, gathered eggs, shoveled manure, and fed livestock as soon as they were physically able – often at five or six. 

    Now we would be thrilled if they made their beds!!!

    Simple Lessons Will Yield Lifelong Habits

    Give them a bed that is simple to make and insist they make it.
    Make sure they stow dirty clothes in the hamper and clean clothes in their drawers.  
    Kids set the table and clear it off. No one eats before it is set or leaves the kitchen before it is cleared.

    As they get older, give them regular chores for which they have full responsibility. 

    A Word about Allowances

    I never believed in paying kids because they breathe. I don't even believe in it for carrying out regular chores. No one pays me for cooking and cleaning. I occasionally offered a sum for a major job like cleaning out the garage. We all shared responsibility, and we all shared generosity.

    Teen Years

    By early teens, your children should be ready to start earning money.
    Altar servers make money when they work at weddings and funerals.
    Make sure people know they are homeschooled, so they are available during the day if mom has a doctor's appointment. One daughter used to send out emails that she had no plans on a Friday and Saturday night. She almost always got takers.

    Bottom Line

    It is important to learn how to navigate the real world of employment. 

    Show up – on time – and do the job you are being paid to do.

    • 43 min
    The Homeschooler's Guide to Teaching Math

    The Homeschooler's Guide to Teaching Math

    Today, Mary Ellen and Ginny discuss why nothing makes homeschooling mothers more nervous than the concept of teaching math. Then, making it as simple as two plus two, they provide a road map of tips, suggestions, and insights to help you confidently teach math.

    Show Notes

    Let's first talk about what a general scope and sequence would look like for the different stages of your students and some general teaching methods, and then we can discuss curriculum and how to choose the best one for your student.

    Picking a curriculum 

    Doing research should not involve asking Facebook. 

    Review the curriculum in person if possible, ask a friend, see it at a conference, or view it online. Be thorough.

    Take free placement tests.

    Speaking very broadly, you have two methods to teach math – Mastery and Incremental. Both use manipulatives and pen and paper.  

    Mastery – a skill (say multiplication) is practiced for several days, even weeks. The student takes an end-of-chapter test and then moves on to the next skill, maybe division. Mastery is probably best for early grades. There are fewer skills but mastering them is key to continued advancement. Most publishers provide periodic review of past skills.
    Incremental – with increasing difficulty, different skills are practiced daily for weeks or months. Saxon is the best known. This method is best for older grades as students add four functions for fractions and decimals, geometry, algebraic and trigonometric functions. Daily review pounds all of these skills into the kid's bones! 

    Caution – common core programs.

    Primary Grades (PreK-2nd)

    When teaching math to small children, it is important to make the lessons fun and engaging. Use a variety of visual and tactile learning tools, such as counting manipulatives, flashcards, and hands-on activities. 

    Counting bears
    Cuisenaire rods
    Base ten blocks
    Wooden Pattern Blocks

    Or you can just pull forks and spoons out of the silverware drawer.

    Number recognition, writing numbers, counting, and pattern recognition are the goals at this early stage, and each child will gain these skills with daily practice in short lessons. Once these skills have been mastered, you can move on to simple addition and subtraction.

    Elementary (3rd - 6th Grades)

    A time to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and reasoning skills. In these years, the children should be mastering:

    1. Addition and Subtraction

    2. Multiplication and Division

    3. Fractions

    4. Decimals

    5. Geometry

    6. Measurement

    7. Telling Time

    8. Money Skills

    9. Probability and Statistics

    10. Algebraic Thinking

    Reinforce these skills with measuring, building, baking, and other household activities. 

    Middle School

    These are the years to prepare for high school and higher math solidly. Take time—no shame in repeating concepts.

    A solid foundation in math basics is critical to prepare a high school student for advanced math. You build that foundation by helping the student to understand the underlying concepts rather than just memorizing formulas. Practicing problem-solving skills, such as breaking down complex problems into smaller steps, is also essential. Providing the student with challenging problems and activities can also help them to develop a deeper understanding of the material. Finally, it is vital to give the student a supportive environment and to encourage them to persist in their efforts.

    High School

    Use all available resources. 
    I hated math and never felt that I was good at it. John Saxon gave me tremendous confidence.
    Hiring a tutor or doing a co-op are both good options. 
    Online classes (Khan, Nicole the Math lady, HSC, dual enrollment)

    BTW - You will be surprised at how much you remember and how much better you are at math than in high school.

    Final notes

    Stick with it. 
    Consistency is the key with math.
    Math may not be a good fit for block scheduling.

    • 51 min
    How Long Should My Homeschool Day Be?

    How Long Should My Homeschool Day Be?

    Ginny and Mary Ellen take up a common question among new homeschoolers. Perhaps most interesting is the variety of answers they received. See how your family compares.

    Factors in the conversation include that some kids have their noses to the grindstone while others seem to zip through. But like homeschooling, the parent is best positioned to decide how long your family’s homeschool day should be.

    Program Notes

    A typical public or private school day is about 6 hours. Added to the bus ride there and back, many kids are away from the house for 7 hours each day or more.
    You can knock off lunch, recess, and gym hours in the early grades. Classroom teachers spend lots of time getting kids to line up, get their stuff from lockers, and just be quiet and pay attention. 
    But you can add back at least 30 minutes of homework in each grade.
    Middle and high school are more regimented, with kids typically spending 45 minutes or so on task for each class and often coming home with an hour or two of homework. 

    What can we expect in our homeschools?

       Pre-K and K

    Most kids love the attention, and many quickly pick up reading readiness, reading itself, and math. 

    These fun grades trick us into believing we can homeschool in 30 minutes to an hour. Add in some prayers and poems, and you’re done.   

    At this level, if kids, often little boys, rebel against any book learning, it is wise to wait several months before trying again. Some kids are just not ready, and red-shirting them is the prudent plan.

       Primary Grades

    Most students can finish grades 1-3 in 2 hours or less per day, depending on the curriculum you are using. Generally, if it takes longer, that is a discipline problem – not an academic one. Kids are dawdling.
    This is the age to train kids how you want them to approach their education, for example, starting at the same time every day, only taking breaks at established times, and stowing their books and supplies when finished. 
    3rd grade is also the time to expect a little bit more. I suggest memorizing multiplication tables or writing paragraphs regularly. 
    Time to get kids ready – 4th grade is coming!

       Upper elementary

    Fourth grade is where many successful homeschoolers begin to get discouraged. Subjects like history and science, which used to be just fun extras, are now real subjects. 
    Even if you do not use a curriculum, 4th grade is when students need to learn more than just history stories and the lives of famous people. Now they need real physical and life sciences. 
    They need to begin writing book reports and full-paragraph answers to questions. 
    Math becomes much more demanding. 
    A focused 4th grader can finish in 4 hours. 
    It is common for a 7th or 8th grader to spend 5 or 6 hours on task. 
    Many kids require even more time. Each school year, the day may become longer. 

       High School

    A good rule of thumb for high school is one hour per day per subject. A student taking six credits should spend about 6 hours on schoolwork. Some classes will take less time, but others more, so the average will be about 1 hour per credit.

    Why this Matters

    We don’t question that kids need to practice piano to progress. We encourage our children to practice shooting hoops, catching a baseball, or dribbling a soccer ball. We understand that focused practice is how we all get better at everything.
    But somehow, when children require more time to master an academic skill, we go on social media and look for new curriculum.  
    A new program may be more engaging, but ultimately, our kids must work hard to memorize math facts, learn a foreign language, or understand the Constitution.
    There is no substitute for hours of concentrated practice.


    I knew a master. My MIL was the foremost woman trumpet player in the world. I met her in her fifties while working at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. She still practiced every day.

    • 37 min
    Teaching Study Habits

    Teaching Study Habits

    Good study habits lead to academic success. Children from an early age need to learn how to internalize information to do well on tests and essays if they continue their academic careers after high school.  

    In this episode, Ginny and Mary Ellen examine and explain the how and why of learning good study habits. 

    It begins with a simple but critical foundation of memorizing spelling words or math facts. They explain simply and clearly how this essential element is fundamental to a student’s success. They discuss the gradual process of learning good study habits and why it should start as early as second or third grade. By fourth grade, your student should be ready for note-taking and highlighting.

    In today’s show you’ll learn:

    Five study skills to teach your student

    Organization - A student must be well organized to succeed at studying. They must be able to find their books and notes, and the notes must be legible and in the correct order. Margin notes must also be legible. Videos, recordings, and computer documents should all be easily accessed.
    Minimize distractions - Studying is less effective with music blaring, a television on, notifications pinging on the phone, or anything else happening. Electronics must be minimized, and apps closed. A quiet space with as little going on as possible is ideal.
    Time management - Homeschool parents need to set firm deadlines and set consequences when their students miss those deadlines. The real world will do so, and it's a disservice to your child not to teach them the skill of managing their time wisely. Papers should have due dates, tests should have time limits, and school hours should have end times. Work not completed in the allotted time is done in your free time.
    Taking notes - There are five main methods of taking notes, Cornell, Mapping, Charting, Sentences, and Outlining. These methods all make use of visual mastery of the information. Highlighting facts in your text is also a valuable method of study. Different situations call for different types.
    Read, Recite, and Review - Reading is more than just staring at the book. You need to internalize the information. Saying it out loud can help. Reviewing it with a study partner can also help.

    Bonus Information

    Having your student study using a pen and paper is more likely to result in success than using a digital method.

    In a digital world, having children write things down becomes more and more rare. Many public and private schools have entirely abandoned teaching cursive handwriting and now pass out tablets and laptops at the beginning of the school year. Notebooks in your local office store sell for .25 cents, yet no one buys them because even small children use tablets and stylus' to learn.

    The Secret of Writing on Physical Paper 

    A study of Japanese university students and recent graduates has revealed that writing on physical paper can lead to more brain activity when remembering the information an hour later. The unique, complex, spatial, and tactile information associated with writing by hand on physical paper likely leads to improved memory.

    Contrary to the popular belief that digital tools increase efficiency, volunteers who used paper completed the note-taking task about 25% faster than those who used digital tablets or smartphones.

    Although volunteers wrote by hand with pen and paper or stylus and digital tablet, researchers say paper notebooks contain more complex spatial information than digital paper. Physical paper allows for tangible permanence, irregular strokes, and uneven shape, like folded corners. In contrast, digital paper is uniform, has no fixed position when scrolling, and disappears when you close the app.

    "Our take-home message is to use paper notebooks for information we need to learn or memorize," said Sakai.

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
54 Ratings

54 Ratings

Andrea Marie M. ,

The wisdom I need!

In my first year of homeschooling and I just found this podcast. It is helping me immensely. I love these women and listening just feels like sitting down with two friends who have been there, done that, and can share so much knowledge and real life experience with you!

whitmorepartyof7 ,


I look forward to the new episodes every week! Such an amazing blessing for the homeschooling mom.

Sprojomoney ,


Thank you Mary Ellen & Ginnie for a wonderful podcast. You make me feel empowered and underperforming all at the same time hahah. Seriously you ladies are both amazing and have/are doing some amazing things!
Future possible podcast idea: homeschooling multiple children in multiple grade and how that looks with time management. Mostly how to give enough time to each child.

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