Kolbe Academy or Seton?

Does anyone here homeschool with Kolbe Academy or Seton? What are your thoughts about the differences between their curriculum and the positives/negatives of each? We have been considering both Kolbe and Seton for next school year. We are leaning toward Kolbe but still a bit unsure.

Thanks :slight_smile:

What grade(s) are you considering starting with?

I have registered my oldest two kids with Kolbe from K (they are in 6th and 8th now), and have used some Seton Materials. They are both very good options. In my opinion, Kolbe’s greatest strength is its flexibility. You can follow their curriculum exactly, or you can substitute as many of your own choices as you wish (up to 100% changes) and still receive a transcript from them. Obviously, total substitution might indicate you don’t really need to be registered with Kolbe, but the idea is that they take the principle of subsidiarity very seriously.

Kolbe also offers science that is more comparable with a rigorous science curriculum you’d get in building school. They use good, secular, non-offensive sources, and add pertinent religious perspectives in the lesson plans. They also offer a non-Saxon math option, which is also on the more competitive side of things. Personally I love Singapore Math, so I like that they have added this to their elementary curriculum.

A plus, or minus, depending on the student, is that Kolbe uses original sources for high school history. My ds, who is a very good reader and who loves history, is going to be well served (I suspect - haven’t started high school yet) by that approach. My dd, OTOH, who is not a strong reader and who doesn’t enjoy history, has had trouble with Kolbe’s history, and has done better with Seton’s history books.

While I tend to trust Kolbe’s book choices a bit more to provide a balanced approach to history (Seton is very heavy - maybe a bit too much so for my taste - on the Catholic perspective), Seton has a very nice series of History books that are not written at an advanced reading level, and which have been wonderful to use. Seton gets a bad rap for being “dry” and “workbooky,” but sometimes the most simple approach is the easiest and most effective one. That has been my experience with my dd. Depends on the kid, and also on your teaching preferences.

I am told that Seton really gets kids writing well. I’ve heard about “the dreaded book reports” that I think are expected to be written very specifically. My impression is that the writing that is expected is extensive and frustrating, but that the results are good. I have not heard as much praise of Kolbe’s writing, and in my experience, it has been one of their weaker areas. While they do suggest a lot of writing in the lesson plans, they don’t give much direction on how to compose paragraphs, book reports, and essays, so has been harder for me to teach. I have ended up substituting other curricula for writing.

I don’t know how well either school teaches reading, as I used a different program for learn-to-read. But their readers in the elementary grades are also quite different. Seton’s readers look like dick and jane picture books from the 50’s. Many find them quite charming. Kolbe uses the Catholic National Readers from the 1890’s. The layout of the books is not as nice, and the writing style can be archaic at times - however I see that as a positive aspect, because it really challenges students to work hard at reading, and I think it prepares them well for the more difficult and older language they will have to read in high school.

I could go on and on… what works for one family might not for another. I personally dislike the middle school writing program that Kolbe uses, but I know families that love it. What has worked for my son in history, has not worked for my daughter. For all I know, I will end up with her doing Seton in High School… I have also found that in the earlier grades, affiliation with a curriculum provider has become less important. I don’t register my younger kids with anyone right now, and I just do a mishmash of things with them. Some Kolbe materials, some Seton, and some other.

We use Seton. And we love it. It is, however, schedule oriented. If you have set days and times to homeschool it works very well.

I can’t speak for Kolbe, but I was homeschooled from 5th-12th grade with Seton.

The pros, from a student’s point of view:
-There is a lot of flexibility. Almost no due dates, and you can take out of a lot of the assignments that don’t have to be submitted for a grade, if you don’t feel you need them.
-As a previous poster stated, there are a lot of written assignments (book reports, research papers, essays and essay questions in tests). Honestly, this has helped me quite a bit in college, as it is writing intensive as well.
-Electronic grading. Sending in your tests online is a huge plus. There is also a message board to ask questions and you can call or email the counselors if you really need help with something. Many times you will get multiple tries on a graded assignment, and the graders give great feedback on how to improve.
-The curriculum and texts were usually very clear. There were some subjects that I needed help with, such as math, but usually the book explained it fairly well.

The negatives:
-Lack of study skills. However, this was entirely my own fault and could apply to most homeschool programs if you don’t give your full effort.
-Some of the books are somewhat outdated. Not many of them, but there are some.
-If you leave the curriculum the way you receive it (the student does everything, including ungraded assignments, parent graded assignments, etc.), there is a lot of work. I’ve known several people that graduated several years late, or didn’t have any summer breaks, etc., because the workload can be so intense.

These are just some of the pros and cons of Seton. I loved it for the most part, but I’ve heard good things about Kolbe as well. :slight_smile:

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