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Seton Homeschool vs. the Classical Liberal Arts Academy

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The Classical Liberal Arts
Seton Homeschool does not serve the traditional Catholic curriculum, illustrated in this medieval monastery painting.

The most popular homeschool program among modern Catholic families is, by far, Seton Homeschool or Seton Home Study.  Seton was the first Catholic homeschool program, started in the 1980s, and it serves thousands of Catholic families.  That does not, of course mean that this is  the best program, only that it is the most popular.

I.  Seton Homeschool Curriculum

Let’s be honest, Seton isn’t a program for anyone looking for a Catholic education like that enjoyed by the saints.  Very little attention is given to classical Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Mathematics or Philosophy–the focus of the Catholic curriculum throughout history.  Seton allows parents to “check the boxes” of modern education and is, more or less, a K-12 public school program with Catholic pictures added.  Seton makes no attempt to offer a traditional Catholic program of studies, but very few Catholic homeschool families know what to look for.  Parents come into homeschooling from modern schools and are looking for something “easy” that checks the boxes.  They are the target audience for the Seton Homeschool curriculum–and that hasn’t changed for over 40 years.

II.  Seton Homeschool Method

Seton Homeschool serves the modern “big-school” model, which has no place in homeschooling.  No one can explain why Catholic children, studying independently at home, are using a program divided into 13 years of study.  This is the source of the failures of modern schools and the dumbing down of education in general.  Catholic students, especially homeschool students, should not be doing what public school students are doing.  This model of education has destroyed Catholic schools in America, and no one seems to be able to imagine an alternative.  Catholic leaders simply close the schools when they find the K-12 model impossible to sustain, and it’s no surprise to find many homeschool parents doing the same.  It is impossible for a parent to manage multiple children in multitple grade levels across a dozen subjects and no homeschool parent should attempt to do so.

III.  Cost for Homeschool Families

Because Seton Homeschool serves the K-12 school model, it is very expensive, especially when one considers the low quality of academic work being provided and how little there is of it.  Seton supplies study materials for the public school academic calendar, which only serves half of the calendar year (180 days).  As with modern Catholic schools, there’s just no reason to spend thousands of dollars for public school level education–that’s one of the main reasons parents choose to homeschool in the first place.  The average SAT score of Seton students is almost the same as the average public school student–paying zero tuition.   Again, this is the cost of a Catholic homeschool program that produces public school level results–with parents doing all of the work.

A modern public school curriculum, big school methods, and high costs make Seton undesirable for any Catholic homeschool family that does not (literally) judge a book by its cover.  Seton has been popular because it was the first Catholic homeschool program, but Catholic families can do much better if they are willing to give their children more.

Seton Homeschool vs. the CLAA

The Classical Liberal Arts Academy provides Catholic homeschool families with much better options.

First of all, we teach the true classical Catholic curriculum enjoyed by the saints and wise men of history, not a modern public school curriculum.  Rather than putting pictures of saints on books they never studied, we restore the actual curriculum studied and taught by the saints we are teaching our children to admire and imitate.  In the book Understanding Classical Catholic Education, we provide a complete history of the development of the classical liberal arts curriculum, which is recommended reading.

Second, we do not follow the failed big school model, but restore the traditional model of education that existed before the public schools were invented.  We allow individual students, with their own unique abilities and interests, to work for mastery at their own pace, which is how homeschooling should work.  Parents do not need to order boxes of books every year because the children “change grades”.  Children can study year-round, making steady progress within their own family schedule, and simply continue moving forward.  To understand how our courses align with moderm grade levels, please see our grade level study program.

Lastly, our program is far more affordable for families than Seton Home Study.  Individual courses, which can last more than a single school year, cost only $125 and can be paid for over 10 months.  Our Family Plan sets a cap on costs at $100 per month.  Therefore, no family will ever need to budget more than $1200 per year for homeschool costs–and that provides for a complete classical Catholic education.  If that’s still too expensive, we offer merit-based and need-based scholarships for Catholic students.

Using the Tuition and Fees information posted on their website, along with their payment calculator, we can make the following comparison between Seton and the Classical Liberal Arts Academy:

Update:  CLAA costs are even lower in 2021 than they were in 2020.  

Conclusion

Seton Home Study has done well to make a Catholic option available for modern homeschool families, but it is not an acceptable long-term plan for Catholic education.  Catholic families must make use of the homeschool opportunity to restore the studies recommended to us by the Saints and doctors of the Church.  If you’re interested in more than checking boxes and would like to not only give your children a better education but also reduce the costs of homeschooling, we invite you to join us in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy.

To begin learning about the history of Catholic education, please read my free book, “Understanding Classical Catholic Education“.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly.  I’m very happy to help.

God bless your families,
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
mail@wmclaa.com