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Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Ink Slingers Raising Saints

10 Ways to Find Joy in Our {Catholic} Homeschool

It was the third week of Advent. My shoes were uncomfortable, my skirt did not fit right, my veil kept falling off and even the cushion on the kneeler beneath me felt bumpy. I looked up and shot my two sons one of those disapproving look and looked up at my husband and frowned. Tears swelled up in my eyes so I shut them quickly and created a dam for them with my eyelids. First tear rolled down. It was useless, I was sad. My thoughts raced. I opened my prayer book and something feel from it, a paper? a book mark?  And there it was, the answer to my frustration but I couldn’t really see, so I left it on the tile floor and closed my eyes to pray, “Dear Lord, what is wrong with me? Why am always so upset, bothered and angry? Why is it that my children do not listen? Why do they hate school so much?” My mind raced. I was going to THAT place again and Communion was coming up…I was feeling so sorry for myself, again.

How did I lose my joy?

Then I felt my four year old crawling over my legs to get to the other side of me.  Which annoyed me, of course.  But when I opened my eyes and wiped the tears away, I see his little hand reaching out to me, handing me a paper that had the answer to my frustrations.

34884-The-Joy-Of-The-Lord

I came to the realization that Joy does not simply happen to us. We must choose joy and keep choosing it daily! I spent the last two weeks working on finding my joy. I have to be honest: I felt lost.  So I turned to prayer, I asked for prayers and I begged God to help me, to guide me.  As I type this, tomorrow marks the end of the first week back to school after this discovery and after two weeks off of school on Christmas break. It was the most successful week in the entire six years we have been home educating.

Did I get upset at a child not doing what they were supposed to be doing? I sure did.  Did I loose my temper? No, there was no need. A quick redirection and back on task we were. But this only happened first thing in the morning. So, what happened? How did I find my joy? How did my children learn to love homeschooling again?

Well the week didn’t exactly start off with a happy note, but I was expecting this so I did not let it shake me. I was standing on firm ground with my husband on the same page as me, God my by side, my guardian angel helping me stay on task, and Our Blessed Mother holding my heart each time it felt like it would break. I was not going to allow anything, nor anyone steal my joy. Not even this journal entry written by my nine year old son:

"Today is our first day back to school after our Christmas break!!! Which I loath!!! Now I "have to" go back to school."
“Today is our first day back to school after our Christmas break!!! Which I loath!!! Now I “have to” go back to school.”

 

So what did I do to find my joy in out homeschool?  I came up and tried these ten simple things and guess what?  THEY WORKED!

1.) RULES AND SCHEDULE.

Review your house and school rules.   If you do not have rules established yet, this is the time to do it.  Go over the schedule and stick to it. Don’t have a schedule, make one!  Even if you hate schedules like I do, do it.  Trust me, you will thank me for it later.  Having a schedule helps you have a focal point for the day.  Even if it is as simple as this:

8AM Eat Breakfast
9AM Start School
12PM Eat Lunch
1PM Afternoon School
5PM Eat Lunch

2) NEW BOOKS.

Get new read aloud books for the children and also get a new book for yourself.  This year we got each child a book on a saint and then a book or set of books from a series for independent reading as Christmas presents.  We read during quiet time after lunch and also at bed time.

3) FREE PLAY.

Allow for more free play time.  Play is so underrated and children learn so much from just playing.  We got the children some horses, and a set of royal families and my eldest son made a castle for them.  This is what they love to play with the most right now.  I actually sat down and listened to them play today, they were reenacting scenes from books we have read…sweet!

4) TEACH ART.

Don’t teach Art?  Time to start!  Teaching Art adds spice to your school day! There are so many things available online for free for Art, there is no need to spend a lot of money on expensive programs!  This week I taught the color wheel and how to mix colors to make new colors.  Keep is simple and fun!

5) HANDS ON LEARNING.

Do hands on things like painting or sewing because crafts make this kind of learning possible.  Children remember more when they do things. I would love to add wood working to these tasks, but the weather will have to cooperate for this.  There is so much we can do from home.  I also planning on field trips to local museums that have hands on attractions.

6) TEACH MUSIC.

Don’t know anything about music?  Me neither but I can honestly say we are a music loving family.  Anyone can put a CD on and just sing!  Listen to music while you school and even in between schooling. Once they have learned a new song, record them!  Send them to relatives to see or if you are on social media, share it with friends!

7) LAUGH.

Introduce laughter into your day.  Read funny stories, tell jokes or read funny jokes!  My eldest son found this one comedian who is pretty good and funny, we listen to him all the time, in the car and in between school and supper.  My eldest was dictating spelling words and making up sentences with some of these jokes, we were in stitches!

8)  JOURNAL to TRANSITION.

While you are preparing breakfast, have them sitting at the kitchen table journaling already.  Journaling helps transition into the school day. Journaling is really simple to do, at first it is not so easy as the children have to get accustomed to doing it.  I wrote a whole article on this which you can read. Journaling also helps you see if your children are happy or not… (see journal entry above)

9) NEW WAYS to do OLD THINGS.

Find new ways to teach basic subjects.  There is a plethora of ideas available online.  Make a lap book, create a mini book, etc., so many other ways to learn than just a textbook or a workbook!

10) REST, READ, RELAX & PRAY

Last but not least, rest, read, and relax.  Mothers work so hard at home and school and we need to take care of outselves.  We need rest, we also need to feed our souls with good spiritual reading.  We also need to relax, the more I am on social media the more I realize we are so stressed about being on task and time and, and, comparing ourselves to others just kills joy.  Do not do this to yourself.  If something does not happen today, there is always tomorrow. Always, always, always turn to prayer when things are not going right.

How do you find joy in your homeschool day?  Here is my successful week in a slide show:

Categories
Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Ink Slingers Raising Saints

Journal Writing in your {Catholic} Homeschool

JournalingAre you having trouble getting your children to write stories or writing in general in your {Catholic} homeschool? Why not introduce journaling into your day? It is really a simple addition to your day which won’t add much more time and the rewards from it are priceless!

Morning transitions from breakfast to school time are a snap this year since I instituted morning journal time for my children in grades K, 1, 3, and 4. It has become part of our routine and schedule as well, making it a breeze to clear off the table and get excited about starting the school day and writing!

Not only does journaling encourage a great transition into our school day but it also instills a love for writing, for staying on topic, and also a good way to get ideas organized on paper without the stress of their work being formally graded. For the younger children they get to draw and begin labeling pictures, they also dictate the words   they would like to write. Sometimes I write it for them other times, I write it in highlighter or lighter marker so they can trace the words and in turn practice handwriting! The older children get a chance to practice putting sentences together and spelling words as best they can. I do not formally check for spelling errors (no red marks in their journals) but do guide them to spell words as best they can.

Another reason to do journaling each morning is to allow them time to draw a picture to go with their words.  This is important because it helps your child match picture with text which is an important reading strategy.  So them writing then drawing pictures to go with their writing helps them develop this important reading skill.  I have a child who does the opposite because he is a visual learner, he first draws a picture then he writes about it in detail because the more detail in their pictures the more they have to write about.  This was a child who hated writing so allowing him to draw first has helped him write better and learn to love writing.  This is why I really love using Mead’s Primary Journals since they have space at the top to draw a picture and at the bottom for writing.  In hindsight, for my fourth grader I should have gotten a journal with more lines and less drawing space but that is on the plans for next year.  This is what it looks like:

mead primary journal
Mead Primary Journal cover

 

This is what the journal looks like on the inside.
This is what the journal looks like on the inside.

 

Journal prompts might be easier than you think. The key is to keep it simple. The neat thing is to see the younger children develop their prompt into something simple and the older children take it a step further and make it more complex. Be smart about prompts and use the material your children are working from in other subjects! Is it a feast day? Why not incorporate it into your journal prompt? A lot of days I als do what I call free journaling, which means the children can write about any subject they like. They love free journals days and get very creative! Shhhh! Don’t tell them they are leaning about history, math, science and religion while journaling…and you might even pick up some prompt ideas from free journal days, your children might surprise you.

Journal prompts are not necessary but they do help.  Your prompt can be open ended or it can ask a question. I have taught my children to borrow from the words on the prompt.  This helps them stay on topic and also builds their vocabulary as I try to use bigger words in the prompt.  For example, if the prompt is: “What is something amazing you did this summer?”  Their entry would be, “Something amazing I did this summer was….”   Here is a list of thirty-one FREE journal prompts to help you get started, that is a whole month’s worth of prompts!:

1)  What is something amazing you did this summer?

2) What is your one favorite subject in school?

3) In your free time, what do you like to do?

4) What is your favorite song and why do you like it?

5) Today is the feast of Saint Michael, what do you like about him?

6) I woke up one morning to the sound of _____, I felt _____ because…..

7) I went to the museum one time and suddenly…….

8) My favorite thing we did this weekend was….

9) I love Fall because…..

10) Helping around the house is important because….

11) My father/mother is _____ because…..

12) I love learning about All Saints!  My favorite saint is ____________ because….

13) If I were President, I would….

14) I am afraid of ________ because…..

15) There is a dinosaur living in my closet….

16) If I was invisible I would…..

17) I am really good at….

18) Sharing with others is important because….

19) When Our Lord Jesus walked on earth, He….

20) My favorite room in my house is…..(why?)

21) When I grow up I want to be…….

22) I love my grandmother/grandfather because…..

23) Father _____ is a really ______ priest because……

24) Something that makes me really happy is…..

25) My favorite song is _____________ because…..

26) My favorite hobby is ____________ because…..

27) Where would you love to go to next Summer? why?

28) If I won $1,000, I would use it to buy……

29) If I could fly like a bird, I would go to…..

30) Write a letter to your mom/dad.

31) If there were no televisions, internet or video games, what would you do with your time?

These I just wrote off the top of my head.  At first prompts were not so easy for me but once I got into it, I could come up with a long list of prompts.  Here is my son who is six writing to the prompt, “I was in a museum looking at a _____ when suddenly….”

I walked into a museum and suddenly....
I walked into a museum and suddenly….

 

This next example is one I worked with my four year old, yes he is four and loving school (unschoolers don’t lynch me, lol).  We were working on this as a journal entry and it turned into a fun writing assignment.  The prompt was, “If my bed were a _____, and I were an ______ in it, I would ________ into __________ like _____________.”  This came from a fun poem we read the day before.  I wrote some of the words and the ones underlined he traced my words which I wrote in a highlighter.  here is what it looked like in the end.

If my bed was a

 

In summary, there are at least five reasons, if not more, as to why daily journaling is beneficial in your {Catholic} homeschool:

1) it is a great way to transition into school.

2) gets the children’s creative juices flowing.

3) it allows them a calm activity first thing in the morning.

4) it helps them practice their spelling.

5) it allows them to practice writing and handwriting.

 

Do you already do journals in your {Catholic} Homeschool?  What are some of the prompts you use?  What do you like about it?