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Domestic Church Homeschool Ink Slingers Parenting Sarah Vocations

Mommy Wars and the Battle Over Schools

August has slipped away and September’s arrival had us all turning to pumpkin spice, bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, and of course, back to school. Now it’s October and we have settled in, the second-guessing has started, and we wonder if we have made the right choices. The mommy wars are real and no battle is fiercer than the school battle.

As someone who straddles the line, one foot homeschooling and one foot brick and mortar schooling, I feel strongly able to fake my authority on this matter. And here it is: you’re doing just fine.

We are called, as parents, the be our children’s primary educators. First and foremost, it is in the home that the children learn. Whether it’s around the dinner table, in the car on the way to practice, or while going over the next history lesson, YOU are the one from whom they first learn.

You taught him to walk, you taught her to ride a bike, you potty trained and showed them how to tie their shoes. As they grow, you teach them their faith and to love and follow the Church.

We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. Our talent are a gift from God, which we entrusted to use wisely and in the best interest of our families. Maybe you’re really fantastic at baking 25 gorgeous cupcakes, organizing the PTO, and leading story time at the school library. Or maybe the idea of those things makes you break out in hives. You’d a million times over rather be listening to a poetry recitation and shouting out math facts, all the while switching the next load of laundry.

The love of either scenario point to your talents, but the dislike of either is in no way a sign of your failure. And I’m just going to put this out there – choosing one over the other also doesn’t make you better.

We are all different. Our kids are all different. Even the kids from the same family are all different. We all have distinct and varying needs, which can and will be met in a variety of ways. But what happens in our homes, whenever that may be, that makes the biggest difference.

You are the single most important factor in your child’s education. The parents faith, life, and actions are where the children learn and internalize the most. If you’re doing your very best in that regard, then rest easy in your schooling choices. These mommy wars need a cease and desist.

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Catechism Curriculum Homeschool Products Raising Saints Reviews

{Catholic} Homeschooling Series: Looking Back

 

looking back

The ecclesiastical year is over, and a new year has begun.  With this, I thought it a good idea to do a recap of this series which started off just a couple of years ago.

 

2014-2015 change represents the new year 2014 three-dimensional rendering

  1. 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?
  2. SAINT PHILOMENA, HELP! BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY; Saint Philomena, HELP! is a lovely book written by homeschooling mother of six and Catholic author, Christine Henderson. Mrs. Henderson brings her stories alive and teaches the faith along the way.  She has a vast experience working with children as she has been home educating her own for the past fourteen years.  This is the first volume in a series entitled, A Sister Marie Story.  In this story Sister Marie has her worked cut out for her as she works in the least preferred area of her town, the poor area.  Here she strives to help the residents improve their daily lives in temporal as well as spiritual matters.
  3. THE ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE APPROACH: CATHOLIC SCHOOLHOUSE: It is that time of year where everyone is figuring out what to use next school year.  Social Media is swamped with questions and suggestions from other home educating mothers with the “what worked,” “what did not work,” and the simple, “what do you think of this?” conversations.  Curriculum selection among home educators can be confusing and difficult since we cannot walk into a room and flip through the texts or programs ourselves.  We rely on what experiences other mothers have had with their children in their home schools, which is fine but be sure you ask TONS of questions and keep your individual children in mind.
  4. OUR CATHOLIC HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM 2015-2016: One of the best feelings for a homeschooling parent is to know EXACTLY what you will be using early on in the Summer before the new school year comes.  As we begin out seventh year homeschooling, I can finally say I feel like I have it all together and LOVE everything we are using.  So here is our Catholic Homeschooling Curriculum for the 2015-2016 school year.
  5. HERO MOTHERS IN {CATHOLIC} HOME EDUCATIONAre you a hero mother? I bet you are. This week we completed our ninth week of school.  A small victory for anyone who teaches, but especially us home educators who not only wear the hat of teacher to our children, but also that of home maker, chef, school psychologist, curriculum coordinator, school nurse, among many other tasks.  Let’s face it our job as home educators, is not an easy one.  Let’s be frank about this.  Something someone said in a homeschooling forum, struck a cord with me….she said, “I wish someone would have not just painted a pretty picture of homeschooling before we started, I wish someone would have been frank and told me just how HARD it would be!”
  6. {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOLING THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL: One of the scariest tasks I have had to endure is homeschooling our oldest child through high school.  He is currently a Senior and it is only early November and boy have we had a busy year!

 2013

  1. BACK TO BASICS IN {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOLING: This article comes to you almost exactly on the anniversary of when we first introduced this series on {Catholic} Homeschooling.  As we recap the year I would like to take a step back and share some basics which we have brushed upon in the other articles but are worthy of compiling and giving a focus to in this article. In the Letter to the Ephesians 4:1-6, the Lord tells us, through Saint Paul, “I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, with all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity.  Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling.  One Lord, one faith, one baptism.  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.”  
  2. CREATING A MONASTERY IN YOUR {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOL IN 10 STEPS:  When I was in college, I prayed and discerned a vocation to become a sister or a nun.  I was enthralled by the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart; of which I had had the honor of I wanted to be just like Saint Therese but God was calling me to be more like Blessed Zelie, her mother working with and for at a Catholic School in Florida.  Fortunately for me, I was assigned to work with Sister Maria Kolbe whom not only directed me and taught me her ways as a model teacher but, more importantly, she showed me the joy in following Our Lord Jesus in all we do.  I wanted that joy she had SO BAD!  But after years of praying, God told me He had other plans for me.  Years later, I married a man whom also discerned at vocation to the priesthood (to the FRATERNITY OF SAINT PETER), we met, fell in love, got married and five children and ten years later, here I am homeschooling.  I could not help but wonder what life would have been IF God had called me to become a Carmelite…you know, after all, the grass is always greener on the other side.
  3. 10 STEPS TO TEACH WRITING IN YOUR {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOL: Teaching writing in ten steps you say?  Why yes there is a method to the madness on how to teach young writers!
  4. {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOLING FAQ Submit your questions for us!  (There is still time to get this going…we have had questions asked via email).
  5. A FOOLPROOF {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOL DAY: When we first moved to Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to attend a local homeschool “Mom’s Day Out.” One of the speakers was Mrs. Mary Ellen Barrett, who blogs over at TALES FROM THE BONNY BLUE HOUSE, which gave us this lovely list of how to survive your homeschool day.  Since she shared it with us moms, I have called it the foolproof plan for our {Catholic} Homeschool day! Seriously, I’ve have had a chance to institute it with my lovely {but very headstrong} five little blessings and guess what?  IT WORKS!  And since it works {and I struggled so long to find something like this} I had to share it.  So here it goes; of course, some days this plan won’t work because illnesses happen, babies are born, etc., etc., but under somewhat normal conditions, this plan really does work:
  6. WHEN THE WEATHER TURNS NICE, IT IS GUT CHECK-TIME FOR THE {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOL: So what exactly do I mean when I say, “When the Weather Turns Nice, It is Gut Check-Time for the {Catholic} Homeschool?” When the weathers turns bad, it is easy to hunker down and do school.  When the weather turns nice, the children want to play and it turns into gut check time where you have to adjust your schedule and persevere in finishing out your core schoolwork. Well, see I live in Pennsylvania, and this past winter was out of control.  I know, I know, it comes with living in PA but it was just too much.  At its first arrival we were so excited!  It was so pretty so sparkly, but then it just kept on coming,  unannounced and never leaving, it was like that relative that just shows up and never leaves…well just take a look for your self:
  7. {CATHOLIC} HOME EDUCATING JOURNEYS FROM AROUND THE WORLD, PART 1: This is a new series, entitled {Catholic} Homeschooling Journeys from Around the World where I have asked several mothers who are now {Catholic} Home Educators, “How did you end up a home educator?”  This is a series of homeschooling journeys to help encourage others who might still be on the fence about homeschooling.  With the rise of Common Core, the opposition to this movement known as CATHOLIC IS OUR CORE, and lack of morality in the public sector, there has been an increase in home education in the past two years.
  8. JOURNAL WRITING IN YOUR {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOL: Are 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!
  9. VIRTUES PROGRAM REVIEW & GIVEAWAY FOR THE {CATHOLIC} HOME & SCHOOL: This is not your normal homeschooling article as this program can be used by any Catholic parent, a Catholic Virtues Program integrating the beautiful Holy Rosary into it!
  10. TEN LITURGICAL ACTIVITIES FOR ADVENTThis article would actually apply for any Catholic family, not just home educators as it deals with liturgical activities for Advent.   Today in the United States of America we celebrate Thanksgiving.  As I thought and thought about what I could possibly write about without boring you (and really, who is online on Thanksgiving?), I thought the one thing I am most thankful for is being Roman Catholic. With that came to mind the thought that we are beginning a brand new Liturgical Year!  This time of year is SO BUSY and our lives seem to go on overdrive.  It is rather exhausting at times and reminds me of when we used to do “vacations” to theme parks- wake up, go, go, go, crazy, repeat.

 

  1. 201310 STEPS TO START {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOLING:  Recently, in a Catholic Homeschool group on Facebook, a mom commented about her doubts regarding homeschooling. My dear friend and blogger over atTOTUS TUUS FAMILY, Allison, replied one of the sweetest and most perfect replies, she said, “If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it. I had MANY of those same doubts. I read lots of homeschool and Catholic homeschool books looking for those who had conquered the obstacles I perceived and that combined with prayer fortified me. Am I perfect at it? No, no one is…no education is perfect. Let God work on your fears, it sounds like He IS working on your heart.”
  2. 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:
  3. RAISING HEAVEN-BOUND CHILDREN: DUMB SAINTS INSTEAD OF BRILLIANT SINNERS: That’s right, I would rather raise a dumb saint than a brilliant sinner.  Why?  Because I am raising my children to be heaven-bound.  Obviously there were many great saints who were brilliant, and intelligence and holiness are not mutually exclusive. As parents we should certainly help our children strive for excellence in education. However, the salvation of their immortal souls should be our PRIMARY aim.  I will do whatever is in my power (through God’s grace, of course), to be certain that my children will thrive in this secular world.  So how?  How is it possible to raise children to be heaven-bound you ask?
  4. HOMESCHOOLING METHODS 101:  If you have been following our series, I first wrote about the 10 Steps to Start Catholic Homeschooling and then on Goal Setting in the Catholic Homeschool, now we are going to discuss the different homeschooling methods available to you.  So you’ve decided to Homeschool, you looked up the laws in your state, you contacted the local organization and even want to join a homeschool co-op.  Now what?  Well, now you need to decide what method you will use in your homeschool.  First, I would like you to learn a little bit about yourself as a teacher and a former student. As you read through these available methods, please keep in mind four things:
  5. THE {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOLING SOCIALIZATION MYTH: A couple of years ago, in my local newspaper, there was a nice article about a HOMESCHOOLINGfamily with five children. They quoted the home schooled children and the author spoke statistics…when I saw it laying on my kitchen table, I thought wow how exciting and went on, with much enthusiasm, to read the article. Later on I checked my e-mail and saw lots of messages from local HOME SCHOOLERS who were outraged by the comments being left on-line regarding the article. I skimmed through those messages (a bunch had already been blocked by the paper) and noticed the one prevailing topic: SOCIALIZATION. Generalizations about any group of people is common among humans.  So this was not a shocker.  But when I read comments from other who have never walked in the shoes of a homeschooling family it made me think that they believe that we keep our kids in a closet (without windows) and don’t allow them to go out and be “socialized”.
  6. 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.
  7. HOLY WEEK: HELPING OUR CHILDREN WALK WITH JESUS: Holy Week is around the corner. Do you feel like your children are ready for Holy Week? Are they ready to walk with Jesus? A couple of years ago, I had been stirring because I felt like my children were not really ready for Holy Week and the Crucifixion and, of course, Easter! Yes, we’ve been doing things all during Lent but I felt like now, they needed something more. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and the Holy Spirit gave me an idea! I say He gave me the idea because it was so perfect and brilliant that it could only be from God. So the next day, I put this together for our classroom! I am so proud of our children because they were so into our lesson as we talked about the days of the week and our Holy Week Journey to Easter Sunday! I really enjoyed making this and also loved its simplicity! What I wanted to accomplish with this was a visual of what Jesus, our Lord, went through during Holy Week. I wanted to help them walk with Jesus.
  8. GETTING OVER THE FREE-RANGE CHICKEN SYNDROME, ORDER IN {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOLING: For me, homeschooling was about pride for a long time. We were going to do everything differently from schooled children, every day, and all the time. There was no way I was going to teach my children like school systems teach or keep such a tight schedule. We will school in our pajamas and we will wake up when our body is ready to wake up! We will go on field trips at least once a week! We will do arts and crafts every day! Free range chickens vs. those chickens in those super crowded, mega sized coups. We are free range chickens!!! At least we were… until I realized that we are not.
  9. {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOLING MULTIPLE AGES IN A LARGE & BUSY FAMILY:  It’s daunting to think about schooling many children, all different age ranges, in a busy house. It takes a bit of creative thinking but it can be done. Each summer before the year starts, I start praying about our schedule, and I ask my husband to pray about it too. I have some tips and tricks I have used over the years to have smooth sailing days when homeschooling a large family:
  10. TEACHING RELIGION IN THE {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOL: Quite often I am asked about how I deal with teaching religion in our homeschool. My thoughts on this have evolved over our 15+ years of homeschooling, mainly because I have evolved over that same time. When we first began homeschooling I was still in the learning phase of my faith; although I guess a more accurate term would be the “re-learning” phase because supposedly I had learned about my faith during my 10 years in CCD. What a joy it was to go through religion books with my oldest children when they were first starting out and learn right along with them. I think back in those early days we used almost every religion program out there: SETONFAITH AND LIFE, Image of God, The BALTIMORE CATECHISM.
  11. TEACHING READING IN YOUR {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOL: If you are teaching reading to your little one or have a child who is having trouble reading, then it is vital that they become proficient in sight words. Sight words are about 87% of all the words that children read in their trade books. Words like “the” “in”, “a”, “it”, and “is” are all part of this very important list.  These words are phonetically irregular words, meaning you cannot use phonics to decode them so they must be learned by sight.  Knowing sight words is one of the basic building blocks when learning how to read and one that should not be ignored.
  12. 10 STEPS TO SELECTING A {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM: Selecting a curriculum can be a truly overwhelming task each year for homeschooling mothers.  So many times I have said to myself, “if I could see that book, I’d know if I want it!”  Right?  Then you hop online look through blogs of perfect homes, with perfect mom teachers, that have the perfect school rooms, and then there is Pinterest…then you are headed to Confession, jealousy is a lousy sin.  No seriously, is it not just frustrating?   How do these women just *KNOW* that’s the right Math book?  Why did it not work for *MY* child?  Well, here’s why:  There IS NOT one set curriculum that is perfect for everyone.  There I said it.  
  13. TEACHING THE LOVE OF WRITING IN {CATHOLIC} HOMESCHOOLING: Writing has always been a priority in our Catholic Homeschool from when we first started, I’ve always provided our children with papers and writing utensils of all kinds.  I have basically been very informal about it.  Always making sure that the children from the moment they can grasp a spoon that they are given ample opportunities to explore with writing.  Yes, I do start them out very early.  It is a very natural approach to teaching the love of writing to my children, even if at the beginning the writing utensils spends most of its life drowned in drool.  At first, this is a messy task but eventually my children learn that putting marker, pen, chalk, crayon, or colored pencil to paper, chalk board, dry erase board, notebook, or construction paper means we write letters and then words which together turn into sentences which eventually will make paragraphs with wonderful stories.  Equally important is matching these words with pictures, beautiful colorful ones and even simple pencil drawn ones.  We are constantly writing and my children don’t even notice that I am sneaking in some very important future writing skills in to them from early on.

 

 

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Charla Fatherhood Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints

I left my heart… at the university.

uniMy eldest son is entering an out of state college this fall. This is a moment we have all been dreaming about. He is anticipating the independence and excitement; my husband and I, however, while anticipating an incredible life experience for our son, are dreading the loneliness as one of our babies leaves the nest.

When friends ask me “how are you doing with his leaving?” I have replied, “I am more excited than sad.  I raised him to be a man and have an adventure.” I have to be okay with this. I will miss him like crazy, but I am more excited for him than if it were my own adventure. As confident as I feel about my boy’s ability to soar, a tiny piece of me wants him to need me still. I am feeling pretty nostalgic and not looking forward to living our family life not fully intact.

My son has been a blessing to me.  He is really a great human being. He is funny and confident, smart and friendly—the type of kid that will do really well in college.  The part of me that is saddened by the fact that he no longer “needs” me is dominated by the part of me that is so proud of the strong capable individual he has become. He can buy his own things and make his own decisions and as this makes me feel gratified, it also leaves me feeling a bit helpless.

My husband and I have chosen to send our children to Catholic schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  I have to say I was pretty elated when my son chose a wonderful, faithful Catholic college to attend.  It put my mind at ease a bit, knowing he is still in love with his Faith and intends on continuing to walk with the Lord. This also causes me a lot of angst.  What if he strays? What if he encounters someone who convinces him otherwise? I therefore have to keep praying for him.  I pray that he is the best man he can be.  I pray that he studies and applies himself and discovers just where God means for him to be professionally. I pray that he has Godly friends who influence him for the better and he in turn does the same for those he encounters. I pray that when he meets the woman of his dreams, she has also chosen to walk with Christ.

nestI found this perfect prayer to help me during this transition:

A Parent’s Prayer

God of life and love, you have given me this child to care for this little while.

My heart is welled with joy and thanksgiving, anticipation and anxiety, amidst a longing to be together as we have been till now.

These years of growing up have moved so quickly, so many things left undone, so much left unsaid, so much I still hope to give to my child who is taking this new step in the journey of life.

Help us as we reshape our lives to reflect this new reality of college. Show us new ways to be present to each other in love and in trust. Give me patience and help me to remember that my child is establishing new routines in freedom, routines different from my routines.

Calm my fears. Strengthen and protect my child in the midst of the challenges and temptations which surround all students. Grant greater courage that I myself may have had in standing for your truth against compromises of faith.

Provide good friends and worthy confidants for my child during these college years. Help me to give support and confidence, to discern how I am needed now, and to pass on, in my love, a measure of the strength and courage you have given me in the gift of parenting.

http://www.marquette.edu/faith/a-parents-prayer.php

Categories
7 Quick Takes Christi Curriculum Domestic Church Homeschool Homeschool Ink Slingers Resources Reviews Reviews

7 Quick Takes – Catholic Homeschooling Options

April just wrapped up and if you reside in the US – you know that means tax season. Tax forms should all be filed and most are now (hopefully) awaiting their tax return. What to spend it on? Well – if you are a homeschooler quite likely you are looking for curriculum, or books, for the next school year. I have certainly seen a lot of chatter on social media regarding this and, as a moderator on a Catholic Swap page on Facebook, I have frequently seen requests for Catholic Curriculum ideas.

So I thought I would do everyone a favor this first Friday in May and create a list of seven Catholic options available to homeschooling readers of Catholic Sistas. Not a homescooling family? Well, perhaps you are related to or know a homeschooling family, and often wonder what the heck these families use to teach their students.

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a review of these options. Some I have used and some I have not. (Actually with over twenty years of teaching at home – I have used many of these curriculum.) Regardless – this is NOT a review – click here for a three part review  I wrote last year about ONLINE options, (Two Catholic, one secular). This is simply a list meant to show you the various options out there for Catholic educational materials and curriculum.

Quick Take one: Catholic Heritage Curricula:

Catholic Heritage CurriculaWhile I don’t know the actual date of the arrival of this curriculum I have kept an eye on it over the years and watched, with delight, as their program grew and developed the past decade. I have used bits and pieces of their curriculum and I am currently using some of their Catholic science books – a source that has been badly needed for decades. Some Catholic curriculum use protestant sources for their science texts with Catholic scientists often not properly revealed or credit not given to the Catholic influence on science in these texts. Sometimes a secular text is offered with the troubles that come with that option so CHC’s science options have been welcomed with open arms – especially in our family. Click here to read their FAQ and here to check out their catalog.

Quick Take Two: Homeschool Connections Online

logo homeschool connections

This option available for homeschoolers was the subject of part three of my review last year and is an online curriculum that offers live and recorded classes. We made great use of this for two years and we look forward to perhaps using it again one day in the future. In the coming weeks I will be sharing a review of a history textbook, The Rending of Christendom, recently published by one of their teachers, Philip Campbell. In the meantime you can click here to read how their live course program works and here to get an overview of pricing for their unlimited access of their recorded courses. The prices of the live courses vary according to depth and length of the course.

Quick Take Three: Mother of Divine Grace (MODG)

MODGThis is another program our family has made great use of over the years. I love that MODG offers an individual lesson planner that is available with a daily synopsis for the student along with a separate set of lesson plans in greater detail for the parent. With MODG, gone is the need to rewrite the daily instructions in as succinct a note as you can create in that inevitable lesson planner – one.for.each.student! I typically had five students requiring this break down and this weekly exercise was a killer for me. Mother of Divine Grace is a classical curriculum that offers a variety of teaching assistance. Click here to learn more about this and here to read about their courses.  I recently learned that MODG is offering live summer classes for both students and parents. This is very new, I believe, so we have not yet used that option, but go to their home page and scroll way down to read more about it.

Quick Take Four: Kolbe

kolbe-logoFounded in 1980, Kolbe is another classical curriculum, and, again, one that we have used. Once with some of my children who were born in the eighties and once again with my children who were born  in the nineties. Kolbe emphasizes that the parent is the teacher and, as such, is very flexible with how the parent makes use of the curriculum.  Like so many other curriculum, Kolbe is now offering online classes but, as they were not available when we used their program, I can not comment about them. Kolbe offers quite a variety of tuition/program options, click here to read about them. 

Quick Take Five: Seton

Seton logoWhen I first used Seton back in the late nineties I swore I would never use them again as they were the first curriculum to introduce me to the much hated dreaded consumable individual lesson plan book with its one inch squares, within which I was to squeeze all the details pertaining to the daily lesson. One square per day, per subject, per student.  I still feel the writers cramp in my right hand when I think back to that year.

But Seton has come a long way from that and now not only has lesson plans on paper that come unbound so that you might put them in individual binders but they now have the plans online! I have returned to Seton with one high school student in their program right now. My junior student is able to go online and print off a weeks worth of lesson plans and can also submit her essays and quizzes online. (You still have the option to mail in papers and quizzes.) The grades are then available for me to peruse online as well.

Click to read about their tuition fees and here to read about what they have available.

Quick Take Six: Our Lady of Victory

OLVS-Lepanto-Press-BuildingThis brings us to the very first boxed curriculum I used my very fist year of homeschooling way back in the early nineties.  I still uncover the occasional coloring book or lesson plan from that year. I’m sure they had the horrible individual lesson plan books I have been complaining about but either I have buried them too deep in my memory to recall or I just didn’t need them given I was educating mostly primary grades – right down to kindergarten. I actually do not recall a lot about the curriculum (We are talking about 23 years ago!) but the children enjoyed the books and we had a good year as we began the new adventure of schooling at home.

Click here to read their FAQ and here to learn about their curriculum.

Quick Take Seven: A variety of other Catholic Resources for homeschooling

booksThus ends the curriculum with which I am familiar but not the end of Catholic resources. Below you can find links to a variety of resources that are often used by Catholic homeschooling families.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLHOUSE

CLASSICALLY CATHOLIC MEMORY 

RC HISTORY

MATER AMABILIS

Last but not least here are some non catholic resources also often used by Catholic home educators. I have used the ones listed below myself:

INSTITUTE FOR EXCELLENCE IN WRITING IEW

TEACHING TEXTBOOKS

MATHUSEE

I hope that you have found this ‘seven quick takes’ resource guide helpful. Please, if you have experience with any of these programs and resources that you think would be helpful to share, leave a comment sharing your thoughts. Next month will be more frivolous as I discuss how April showers brought May flowers – and the secret language of them. Thank you to This Ain’t the Lyseum who is now hosting the Seven Quick Takes. Be sure to drop in and see what others have shared this week.

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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?