Once St. Thomas Aquinas Academy receives the enrollment application and fees, a Welcome Packet that includes a student skills assessment for each of your students will be sent to your home. This is a set of informal tests addressing reading, grammar, composition, and math, and we advise you to take two or three mornings at your kitchen table at an easy pace to complete them.
In addition to the assessments our Welcome Packet includes:
- An invitation to establish a private e-mail portal to exchange e-mails, documents, and other information with your academic advisor and STAA support team throughout the year
- Teaching-parent access to the Member Support Site
- A membership brochure from Home School Legal Defense Association for your review (STAA families receive a discount on HSLDA membership)
- A transfer of student records request to send to your students' previous school
St. Thomas Aquinas Academy is not a one-size-fits-all program. Your academic advisor reviews the assessments, looking for academic strengths and weaknesses and learning styles in order to place each of your students in appropriate levels and types of materials. The assessment process can take as little as three weeks if the assessments are completed and returned within the week you receive them. The later in the homeschool high season (April to August), the longer it can take. The sooner you return the assessments to the academy, the sooner your advisor can start setting up your personalized course of study.
When your completed assessments are received, your advisor sketches out written remarks about each child’s academic strengths and weaknesses and basic learning styles and makes recommendations for starting points in subject areas. These remarks and recommendations are included in your student's Academic Packet, which is mailed to you as soon as your advisor puts the finishing touches on it. The Academic Packet suggests which courses and books to use, why to use them, how to use them, and how often and how long to use them.
During the annual Course of Study Planning appointment, your advisor will review each of your student's assessment results with you, and then work with you to personalize recommendations to your family, then to each of your students. The advisor will assist you in:
- moving skill levels up or down per subject;
- organizing the whole family into the same or complementary science, history and religion cycles;
- combining students into the same or compatible texts;
- help find central focuses for each of the students in each of the subjects according to their academic needs and styles; and
- making recommendations and comments on alternative choices.
After the phone appointment with your advisor, you will be ready to order your books. In the Academic Packets we list the easiest to use source for each book or program, its price and order code. Books can take two to eight weeks to arrive, depending on the time of year and—voila!—you are ready to school, with confidence and competence--or at the least with a firm starting point, a clear set of goals and a friend to help you along the way!
Books can cost as little as $250 for one child and as much as the moon, depending on your family’s interests and income. We recommend a beginning budget of $350 per student for the smaller family, and less per student for the larger family. While many of the high school materials are used for multiple years and are non-consumable, a budget of $350 to $600 per student is typical. (Some math and foreign language programs are as much as $200 per level; while those are not the only options, you can imagine how electing to use those programs will drive your annual per high school student cost of materials up quite a bit).
Enrolled families are strongly advised to wait to order books until after the course of study planning appointment to ensure the purchase of appropriate levels and editions. This is especially important since St. Thomas Aquinas Academy is not a one-size-fits-all program. Your advisor will help tailor the program to meet your family's specific academic needs, not just assign a grade level and ISBN numbers to match. It will be worth the wait!
The main books for each grade level are listed on our website. Please feel free to click through to the book suppliers and preview their descriptions of the materials. Too, you might watch for a homeschool conference in your area; many of the recommended books are mainstream homeschooling material, easily available and widely used, and are displayed at most larger homeschool conventions.
Suppliers listed in most Academic Packets:
- Rainbow Resource Center
- Seton Books
- Our Lady of Victory
- Math U See
Do keep in mind that the summer and early fall months are "crunch" time for homeschool and book suppliers so the earlier you get started on your ordering the more likely you will have all of your books ready for the beginning of the school year. We would encourage our families who are anxious to get started to pick up The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus by Mortimer Adler and order, buy, or borrow from the library some of the books on Mr. Adler's lists. Spend time reading aloud to and/or with your children, discussing the stories, virtues the characters may or may not be displaying, and drawing pictures of the characters and action.
We do not just send you packets, talk with you once, and leave you by your lonesome for the rest of the year. General questions may be posted on our Member Support Site forum at any time. Private, simple questions may be sent to your advisor and support team through our web/email contact system. If responding to your questions will require longer than ten minutes or will require your advisor’s familiarity with your family and course of study, we will set up an advisor support appointment to speak to you at length regarding your concerns. Remember, we want to hear from our families. Your homeschooling success is important to us!
- Personalizing the Course of Study
- Grammar School Courses
- High School Courses
- Academic Packet Slide Show