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Homeschool Maurisa Parenting

Are You Considering Homeschooling Next Year?

Planting the Seeds

Twenty-seven years ago I sat on a plane with my very squirmy 5 month old on our way to my hometown to celebrate my brother’s wedding. Blessedly, we sat next to a very understanding middle-aged woman who, unbeknownst to her, changed the entire course of my family’s life.

During the flight, she exposed me to the idea of homeschooling. At the time it was still such a new and radical lifestyle. She described how she and her husband worked opposite shifts—she as a night court judge—so that one of them could always be home with their 5 children and they could educate them at home on their own schedule. Their routine also included an elaborate once a month meal planning, cooking, and freezing schedule. She opened my eyes to the possibilities and beauty of having complete creative control over our children’s education. Being sat next to this remarkable lady had to have been Divine Providence, because it led to one of the best decisions and greatest blessings of my life.

The Current Crisis

Here we are now, in our 4th month of a global crisis—with no real idea of when it may end or what may happen next. I imagine many of our readers have now experienced a type of homeschooling and are possibly looking at needing to continue into the next year or maybe even indefinitely. Many are likely wondering if what they experienced of public education at home is what homeschooling is really like (it is and it isn’t).

Just days ago our family completed its 21st year of homeschooling. We graduated our 5th of 7 children. She was the 3rd graduated completely. We’ve had two graduate from alternative settings. The plan today is to educate our youngest two at home through graduation.

Veteran Homeschooling Advice

If you are forced by circumstances or freely choosing to homeschool next year, this veteran homeschool mom has advice I hope to be of value.

1) Put God first. Pray about this decision and put your trust in God’s Providence. This is a big step and not one to take lightly or as a knee jerk decision out of frustration or fear.

If your family does take this path, start every school day with prayer. This can take so many wonderful forms—a morning offering, attending daily mass, reading through the mass readings for the day, praying a rosary are just a few ideas. Our family prays the Angelus, Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and a morning offering at the start of our day.

Make religion a focal subject of your homeschool. Read from the Bible, Church Fathers, and the Catechism as a family. Take this opportunity to put God back in school.

2) Spend time researching options and learn the laws regulating homeschooling in your state. Every state has it’s own laws regarding homeschooling. You can do an internet search for state regulations or use the information gathered by Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

3) Take the decision to homeschool or not year by year. Honestly, homeschooling is not for every family or every kid. Additionally, if 2020 shows us anything it is life changes very quickly and the choices we make today may not make any sense tomorrow. Finally, you may have access to something that fits your family’s needs better in the future. Kendra Tierney of Catholic All Year wrote an excellent article on how her family has navigated educational choices over the years. Our wonderful foundress, Martina, has also been very open about how her family has made schooling decisions from year to year and wrote about it here.

4) First year jitters can be eased by choosing a complete curriculum. There are a wonderful variety of full Catholic programs to choose from.

Seton Homeschool

Mother of Divine Grace

Kolbe Academy

Our Lady of Victory

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy

Angelicum Academy

Mater Amabilis Academy

Queen of Heaven Academy

Home School Connections
We started out using a pre-packaged program from Our Lady of the Rosary. After a year I found I preferred to pick and choose individual subjects from different curriculum and match them to each student’s individual interests and strengths.

5) Enlist support. You’ll need a cheer squad including your spouse, extended family, and other homeschooling friends. I’m not saying it cannot be done without support, but it definitely makes it easier if you have someone on board to help cheer you on during inevitable rough patches.

6) Do not stubbornly hold on to something that is not working. Every kid is different. Every year is different. The beauty of homeschooling is you can ditch what’s not working and try something else.

7) Embrace throw-away years. This is my own term for years when life throws unexpected wrenches into the works and homeschooling has to take a bit of a back burner. New babies, moves, family illness, pandemics (hahaha) can make sticking to hard core homeschooling extremely difficult. I discovered that if I focused on math and reading basics during a throw-away year our kids did not suffer academically and were able to catch up very easily the next year.

8) Nothing replaces a good plan. Plan out the entire year for each subject. Many curricula come with syllabi which can be very helpful in this regard and can do the planning for you. I use a two level system in which I plan out the entire year for each student and subject and then I write out a weekly plan for each student in their notebook over the weekend so they can see what is expected to be completed each day/week. Adequate planning keeps you on track and contributes to a sense of accomplishment.

9) To the extent that you are able, choose subjects and curricula that complement each child’s interests and strengths. One summer our oldest received a microscope as part of her online science program. Her younger brother was absolutely fascinated with the microscope and spent the summer looking at anything he could fit between the objective lens and the slide. I found a wonderful book on microscope science geared toward elementary school and we used that for his science curriculum that year. He loved it.

10) Enjoy this time with your children. Homeschooling is a lot of work and takes organization, time, and discipline but it can also be fun. If I’m completely honest here, I have not loved every minute of homeschooling, and our children will say the same, but I have absolutely loved the life.

Ten points doesn’t even touch on all you might need to know about homeschooling, but these are the things I feel to be the most important.

Are you an experienced homeschool parent? What would you add to this list? We’d love to see your ideas in the combox.

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Charla

On being a Catholic school teacher

classI have been in Catholic education since 1996– actually since 1977, when I started first grade at St. Mary’s Catholic School and continued to graduate from high school and then back again in graduate school. I taught elementary school one year – first grade: I can teach anything to anyone now, middle school for one year– sixth through eighth: I shaved years off Purgatory, and the remainder of my time has been spent teaching high school. I definitely found my fit and I feel blessed with the students with whom I have been entrusted.  The highlight of my job is my students, and I love teaching literature, so I feel I have been even further blessed. There are great things about teaching on a Catholic school and these far outweigh the difficulties.

The best things about my job are:

  • I get to express my Faith openly. I pray with my students and going to work involves Mass and Adoration. What could be better?
  • My students are well-mannered, mostly, and kind and really want to learn. They have been raised with values, mostly, and I get to not only teach them, but I get to love them too.

However, there are many trials that we Catholic school teachers face, and I think it is important for others to understand these challenges:

PARENTS

  • I am one, so I fully understand the position. Parents are generally cooperative and supportive, but there are those few that make it difficult. The hyper-vigilant, helicopter parent is always going to exist and as long as you have their child’s best interests at heart, those parents will support you. The “more Catholic than the Pope” parents pose a challenge.  I teach everything from a faithful Catholic perspective, even the questionable stuff; I find it my duty to help my students navigate the waters of life and anything they might encounter along the way armed with morality. These teens are not sheltered and they need to know how to deal with the harsh amorality of the world using their Faith.
  • A frustration also lies in the parents who do not reinforce the Catholic Faith we are teaching.  They do not facilitate or encourage their children to go to Mass on Sundays, nor do they attend Mass regularly themselves.  We are expected to fully catechize these students with no support at home.  There are those parents who outright defy what we are trying to get across to the students.  I had a graduate tell me her mom said, “Well, I don’t really believe all that stuff.  It was a good education for you and a nice environment.” This discussion was all in the context of her mother encouraging her to abort her unborn child at the age of nineteen, which sadly she did. There are also those parents who profess Evangelicalism and do not take their kids to Mass, but rather they attend “praise and worship services” where they hear rock bands and play at the skate park at their church instead of receiving the Sacraments.  These are difficult pills to swallow for someone who is trying her very best to convey the Truth to those in her care.

SOCIETY

  • These students nowadays so belong to the world instead of to God. Issues such as same sex relationships, premarital sex, and divorce, among others, affect these students who are innately loving and accepting of people. Society has convinced them that in order to love people, they must accept their sinful behavior. If they do not condone or encourage “happiness” for others they feel badly.  It is a difficult thing to comprehend the Spiritual Works of Mercy.  The tangible, concrete Corporal Works make sense to them and they perform these willingly with a joyful heart.  The Spiritual are most perplexing because they involve taking a moral stand that they do not have the courage to do, up against a society that tells them not to be “haters.” As well, these kids have people in their lives, whom they love, whose lives or behavior do not reflect Catholic moral teaching.  This makes it extra difficult and they are internally conflicted.

The other challenges inherent of the teaching profession fade in comparison to the benefits of being a teacher at a school that encourages community and service and goodness.  I truly feel God is at the center of everything I do.  It is also a great responsibility.  I must strive to be extra moral and maintain a virtuous lifestyle.  Eyes are always watching and taking in my example.

csI love Catholic education; that is why I have devoted my life to this vocation.  I truly believe God has called me to strive to be not “of this world, but in this world” in this way. I am afforded an opportunity to strive for holiness every day.

Categories
7 Quick Takes Christi Domestic Church Feast Days Ink Slingers Mary Saints

Seven Quick Takes Friday: Great Feasts for September

quicktake7septsaintsI can’t believe that we are already in September and thus a new school year is upon us. As we unpack our new school supplies and possibly fill our shelves with new books many of us are, sadly, packing away the swim suits and getting as many days out of our shorts and tees as we can before the cooler temps force us to pack those away too.

With a new month upon us this also meant that Quick Take Seven was looming just around the corner and thus I needed to think of something interesting to “quick take” to the press!

I toyed with the idea to showcase first day of school pictures from around the country but one, I figured we will see a bunch of cute preschoolers, adorable “betweens” and handsome freshmen in our various newsfeeds! And secondly, for my first two quick takes my fellow scribblers were more than generous in sharing photos, favorite books and authors, therefore l decided it was time to do one all by myself.

There was just one problem, I pulled a complete blank when I searched my imagination for something interesting to write about. So I reached out to Kerri for some ideas. We bounced a few ideas back and forth, resulting in my pocketing a really fun one for November. You have my permission to wait with bated breath for it! In the meantime, I will share with you another great idea we came up with- few great feasts, along with some really neat Saints found in the month of September!

Quick Take One

Sept gregorywithdove

September 3rd- St Gregory the Great, now tell me what could be more appropriate than a patron saint of teachers in September. I certainly didn’t realize he favored teachers and with our school semester starting this coming Monday, I think l might be calling on him –  a lot! Read more about this great saint here.

 

 

Quick Take Two

sept Nativity_of_the_Mother_of_God

Quick take two is a beautiful feast,that of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which falls on September eighth and is one of the only three birthdays our church celebrates. We just celebrated one of them at the beginning of summer-  John the Baptist‘s birthday and the one we ALL know about, the Nativity, is much closer than many of us want to acknowledge. Where does the time go?

This is an Icon of the Nativity of the Mother of God, egg tempera on wood, Central Russia, mid-1800’s.

 

 

 

Quick Take Three

sept st-john-chrysostom-11

September 13th brings us to St John Chrysostom. Chrysostom is greek for golden mouth and he was thus nicknamed due to his eloquence of speech. Born in Antioch at about 347 AD he lived an incredibly fruitful life with great zeal for preaching the truth. This led to his death after being exiled by the Empress Eudoxia in 407 AD.

 

 

Quick Take Four

sept exaltationofthecross

This quick take brings us to Sept 14th and the Exaltation of the Cross. This feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. According to an eyewitness of the fourth century, during an observation of Good Friday “the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered place over Jesus’ head.” You can read more about this feast day here.

 

 

 

Quick Take Five

sept our_lady_of_sorrowsImmediately following the Exaltation of the Cross we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15th. This feast day was at one time celebrated on the Sunday following September 14th but finally Pope Pius the tenth fixed it permanently to the Roman Calendar on the 15th.

 

 

Quick Take Six 

sept_archangelsl

I think the feast day of the Archangels must be a favorite one for so many people. I know it’s a special day in our family, given we have two children bearing the name of two of these great angels and one child was actually born on this date. On this day we celebrate the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

 

 

 

Quick Take Seven

Given this is the month in which we recall the archangels I thought it would be fitting to end with the history of the St Michael prayer. On October 18th of 1884, Pope Leo XIII fainted during a consultation with the Cardinals. At first it was thought that he been taken ill but in a very short time the pope revived and shared something of the terrible vision he had experienced of the spiritual attack the church was soon to undergo. He had also seen how the Archangel Michael was prevailing against the evil spirits that were in warfare against the church. It was shortly after that that he composed the Prayer of Protection of St Michael. This prayer until very recently was evoked after every Mass and, in some churches, this practice is coming back.

In preparing for September’s quick takes I examined a few different calendars of saints and feast days and thought I would thought I would share  one of them on the chance you might like to be able to read and learn about the many various saints that our church recalls during the month of September.

I would like to close with the prayer to Saint Michael before bidding you adieu.

sept st michael prayer
See you next month…

7_quick_takes_sm1

Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes!! Check out her post and the many, many links at the end for lots of 7 Quick Takes posts from all over the blogosphere.