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{Catholic} Homeschooling FAQ

{Catholic} Homeschooling FAQ, I think I have heard them all, all the questions that parents have or maybe are confronted by total strangers.  You know vague questions like:

Is it even legal to homeschool?

Why would anyone want to do that?

How does that work anyway?

To very personal and specific questions like:

Do you know enough to teach every subject at every level?

Don’t you want your children to have friends? 

How do you spend so much time with your children? Won’t you get tired of being around your kids all the time?

It is important for home educators to go through these questions and be able to answer them so that you are not taken aback or lefts speechless because of people’s lack of understanding or even their rudeness.  We, after all, represent a small but growing population and what we say does matter.

But when I say {Catholic} Homeschooling FAQ, I want to discuss mainly questions that home educators have regarding the bare bones of teaching at home.  Questions like:

How to flesh out all the curriculum choices and being overwhelmed by the choices out there?

When would I ever get some time to myself?

How do I convince my husband who is against homescholing?

But instead of assuming these are your questions, I would like to start a series this next year were readers submit questions and we answer them once a month here on Catholic Sistas.  To do this we have set up an exclusive email address for readers to email their questions to me.  It would look something like this:

{Catholic} Homeschooling FAQ #1 Submitted by Heather H.:

“Hi Erika, We’ve had a MASS exodus from our local public school during this school year. The most common questions from those parents to those of us schooling in the community have been: 
– How do I find a curriculum that works for my children?

– What about sports? (our school board has banned children from participating in school teams)
– What about going to college? 
– How do you make your hours? (We’re an hours state)
– What extra curricular activities are homeschool friendly?
Could you give me a hand in answer these?  Thanks, Heather H.

You may submit your questions to our new email address here:

email

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Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints Vocations

Learning Styles in the {Catholic} Homeschool

My husband is incredibly smart.  He goes to visit someone once and two years later he knows exactly how to get there without directions.  He can also capture what someone tells him the first time he hears it.  Is your husband like this?  Are you?  I am not.  I have to look at the map, write down turn-by-turn directions and actually drive there myself to remember.  What is the difference between him and I?  He is an auditory learner and I am a visual learner.  Some people learn best by just listening to someone talk about information others prefer to read about the concept to learn it, others, like myself, need a little more, we need to read, listen and also watch.  These are what are known in the education field as learning styles.

Learning styles are, generally, the overall patterns that provide direction to learning and teaching.  Learning styles are a set of factors, behaviors, and attitudes that facilitate learning for an individual in a given situation.  These different styles influence how well students learn, how efficient teachers teach, and, most importantly, how the two can interact with one another.  As I described the difference between my husband, and auditory learner versus me, a visual learner, each person is born with certain tendencies towards a particular style in which they learn best.  These are influenced also by biological or inherited characteristics and influenced by culture, maturity level, development, and personal experiences.  Why is this important to the homeschool teacher?  Simple.  What the student brings to the learning experience is as much part of the context as are the important features within the learning experience itself.  Each student brings a consistent and specific preferred method of perceiving, retaining, and organizing information.  Have you heard when someone says, “I’m a right-brain learner.”  They are speaking of the different hemispheres of the brain which contain different perception avenues for learning.  In a nutshell, “right brained” people tend to be verbal and “left brained” people are more mathematical.

As the student grows and matures, his brain is continually developing.  The strengths and weaknesses he demonstrated at an early age may be different from when he is a teenager, this is because the child is constantly learning and developing new ways of learning.  Over time, the brain matures along with your child.  A homeschool teacher with multiple children in her home will find multiple learning styles.  Effective teaching in small groups happens when teachers combine several approaches also known as multi-sensory instruction.  In this method of instruction the child will use more than one sense at a time while learning something.  Our brains are organized in a way that accepts this multi-sensory approach best.  The more senses we use while learning the better we will retain information this is because when we learn, information takes one path into our brain when we use our ears (auditory), another when we use our eyes (visual), and then another when we use our hands (tactile).  When we use more than one sense, we are actually saturating our brain with new information in multi-sensory ways and as an outcome, we learn better.

Tell me, I forget…show me, I remember…involve me, I understand. ~ Chinese proverb

So as the old Chinese proverb was not too far off as a recent study which was used in a chemical engineering class which shows that:

“A point no educational psychologist would dispute is that students learn more when information is presented in a variety of modes than when only a single mode is used.  The point is supported by a research study carried out several decades ago which concluded that students retain 10 percent of what they read, 26 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see, 50 percent of what they see and hear, 70 percent of what they say, and 90 percent of what they say as they do something.”  (Stice, 1987)*

So basically, what you need to do to make sure your children are learning and retaining more information is to first diagnose which learning style your child is “gifted” in.  This way, you will know which method they learn best in BUT you will not only teach this child in such method because you want to build upon the other learning styles to expose your student to multiple sensory learning.  When the subject at hand is most difficult, you will then target the method they learn best in to teach them but do not limit them to just this method of learning.  Hands on learning is always the best method to learning yet understanding a student’s learning styles is an important component of effective instruction.  The four main learning styles are visual (sight), auditory (sound), tactile (touch) and kinesthetic (movement).  The visual or spatial learning style is generally preferred by students who like to use pictures, maps, colors and images to organize and communicate information to others.  Auditory learners prefer to listen, take notes, discuss, memorize and debate.  Students who use the tactile learning style learn by touching and moving objects. Students who use the kinesthetic learning style like to use their whole body to learn.

Another person that developed this was  Mr. Howard Gardner.  In 1983, he initially developed his ideas and theory on multiple intelligences as a contribution to psychology, however Gardner’s theory was soon embraced by education, teaching and training communities, for whom the appeal was immediate and irresistible – a sure sign that Gardner had created a classic reference work and learning model.  Mr. Gardner presented more “intelligences” as he believed people were gifted with more than just the four learning styles.  I like his more descriptive approach to learning styles because it helps us, as teachers, understand our students better.  Each child has certain strengths to them some are more apparent than others.  Here is a quick chart of the Seven Multiple Intelligences:

 

Intelligence Type Capability and Perception
Linguistic words and language
Logical-Mathematical logic and numbers
Musical music, sound, rhythm
Bodily-Kinesthetic  body movement control
Spatial-Visual images and space
Interpersonal other people’s feelings
Intrapersonal self-awareness

 

I have learned that as a teacher, it’s good to access what kind of learner I am first and then I assess what kind of learner my children/students are.  Why?  Sometimes we lean towards the style we like best but which may not be the best method for our students.  If you would like to assess what kind of learner you are or better which intelligence you are more prone to, you can take this test based on Mr. Gardner’s theory.  For your children, you would use this version of the test.

So you may be asking, this is all really cool but what do I do with it?  Well, there is actually a reason I brought this topic up.  Learning about your student’s preferred learning style, as well as their behavioral and work style, you also learn their natural strengths.  I had a college professor who would always say, “use their strengths to build on their weakness!” when I learning to diagnose and help children with Reading problems.  The types of intelligences that each student possesses (by the way Mr. Gardner believes that most people are strong in three of the above but always leaning towards one preferred), indicates not only your student’s capabilities but also the manner or method in which they develop their strengths and use these to build upon their weaknesses.

For example (these examples were found in this article on Multiple Intelligences):

  • A person who is strong musically and weak numerically will be more likely to develop numerical and logical skills through music, and not by being bombarded by numbers alone. [remember those multiplication raps we grew up with?]
  • A person who is weak spatially and strong numerically, will be more likely to develop spatial ability if it is explained and developed by using numbers and logic, and not by asking them to pack a suitcase in front of an audience.
  • A person who is weak bodily and physically and strong numerically might best be encouraged to increase their physical activity by encouraging them to learn about the mathematical and scientific relationships between exercise, diet and health, rather than forcing them to box or play rugby.

So what does learning about Multiple Intelligences/Learning Styles do for us as teachers?  It helps so as not to limit or judge our students, espcially younger children, according to just the one intelligence or “what they are really good at.”  Instead, I invite you to rediscover different methods of teaching to promote the vast range of capabilities of your student.  This will help them discover, as learners, who they are, what they can be, and also help them learn what they are potentially capable of.

Next week I will make the connection between the learning style/MI of your student with learning domains, or higher order thinking known as Blooms Taxonomy.

 

*  Stice, J. E., 1987.  “Using Kolb’s Learning Cycle to Improve Student Learning.”  Engineering Education 77: 29 1-296.


 

In this {Catholic} Homeschooling Series:

10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling

Goal Setting in {Catholic} Homeschooling

{Catholic} Homeschooling Methods 101

The {Catholic} Homeschooling Socialization Myth

 

Other Parenting/Homeschooling posts:

Raising Heaven-Bound Children

Holy Week:  Helping Our Children Walk with Jesus

 

 

 

 

10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling

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Domestic Church Fatherhood Homeschool Ink Slingers Mass Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints Vocations

Goal Setting in {Catholic} Homeschooling

Before setting your goals for your homeschool take a moment first to make a list of why you want to this. Once your list is completed, circle or highlight all of the most important or positive points from your list. Think of this list as writing your own defense ahead of time against naysayers. This way, if someone questions you about your decision, you now have a list in your head of well thought out reasons as to why you are now homeschooling. This list should be composed by you and your spouse so that you both are on the same page from the start. If your children are older, you may also want to include their reasons as well. Including the children from the onset also helps them explain why you have chosen this as a family. It will equip them with reasons should anyone ask them (believe it or not even strangers will ask them). So what should be in your educational philosophy statement? You should ask yourself the following two questions:

  • Why are you homeschooling? (tip: do not stick to only the negative reasons)
  • What is it that you would like to accomplish with your children? (hint: think in general terms mostly)
  • What are your children’s gifts and/or impediments?

Now grab this list and create a one to two paragraph Mission Statement. This will also come in handy to re-read on those more challenging days. Now that you have an Philosophy Statement written, you are now ready to start setting goals. This is long term goal setting. Now think of the specifics of how you will accomplish your statement. Make five lists under these categories:

1. religious goals – obviously, have to do with matters of Faith and the Church
2. increase in virtue goals – have to do with those things that teach manners and build character
3. academic goals – depends on what each child’s abilities are
4. extracurricular goals – join teams, choir, co-ops
5. social goals – sometimes covered in other areas but still important to incorporate

Since some states require you to submit your goals when you begin homeschooling, this list will come in handy. Make sure your goals are realistic, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure from the start. Here are some examples of each goal by category:

1. Religious Goals:

  • go to daily Mass
  • go to monthly Confession
  • get son involved in altar serving
  • get children to join the Church choir or schola
  • follow the liturgical calendar; follow it more closely

2. Increase in Virtues Goals:

  • children to be polite and use appropriate responses in conversations
  • sit correctly at the table and learn appropriate table manners
  • learn to be helpful around the house with chores
  • to be charitable with others specially parents and siblings
  • to learn to be appreciative of what God has provided us

3. Academic Goals:

  • have child needing testing for learning issues or possible high IQ
  • complete a grade level within the required time frame such as 180 days or 9 months
  • advance student in area(s) they are gifted in
  • support student in areas where there are gaps or having difficulty with
  • attend therapies for those students needing it such as occupational therapy, speech, and reading remeditation

(You can also look up any of the Scope and Sequence of any of the Catholic Curriculum providers for ideas in this goal and then tweak it for your family.)

4. Extracurricular Goals:

  • look into getting involved in a co-op in your area so that students can participate in group activities
  • find out about clubs like Blue Knights or Little Flowers
  • join a sports team or individual sports like tennis or swimming (some offer programs during the day for homeschoolers)
  • take music lessons individually or as a group
  • participate in a homeschool band

5. Social Goals:

  • join a manners class or class like the Junior Cotillion League
  • join a youth group, if of age or participate at your parish’s events for kids
  • attend events at your parish for families
  • go to the park, you’ll be amazed how many other homeschooled families you will meet there
  • join a play date group

In conclusion, setting goals will help create a vision for what you and your spouse would like for your homeschool to be like and also it will give you a list of well thought out reasons in case anyone questions you. It will help you feel more confident about your decision to Catholic Homeschool. This list is also a great thing to have around and revisit, and possibly tweak, each school year. Having goals written will help you and your children stay focused, motivated, and on task. Describe four enabling goals needed to achieve the long-term goal. Keep it to four or five minimum as each year you will set more age/grade specific ones. Each year you should use these goals as the foundation for whatever curriculum or yearly goals you set for your children.

 

What’s Next in the Catholic Homeschooling 101 Series? Next week we are going to discuss homeschooling methods. I really like the way that Catie over at Our Catholic Homeschool has set her’s up by style and then the pros and cons. I suggest you visit her blog and see what she did to get an idea.

Did you miss our past posts?

10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling