Helping our Children Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Happy September! Since we’re at the beginning of a new school year, I thought I’d share a little pedagogy with you. Specifically, I would like to draw your attention to the importance of developing critical thinking skills in our children. In fact, one of our goals as educators should be to help our students become critical thinkers. It’s not enough for our students to be able to memorize and regurgitate information. It’s not even enough for them to be able to understand and explain the information they have learned. Once students begin middle school, they need to develop even higher thinking skills.

Enter Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchy of critical thinking skills laid out by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom in 1956. For decades educators have been using these six objectives to help students develop critical thinking skills. So it’s something homeschoolers need to know about. Here’s what it looks like:

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Why I Choose to Homeschool

With the days of summer coming to an end, I am sure some of you (myself included) are bracing yourselves for another year of homeschooling. Every August I find myself wondering how I will ever teach multiple subjects to multiple kids, juggle the piles of grading and laundry, get my kids to their many activities, cook decent meals, pay the bills, etc., etc., all with a very active, curious toddler in tow. No wonder the end of summer is always accompanied with apprehension!

How timely, then, is this post by Amy Arrowsmith, a recent Catholic convert and new-comer to the world of homeschooling. You know what I love about converts and newbies? Their idealism and fervour, their newly-opened eyes to God’s incredible love, and their high hopes. If you’ve been homeschooling for a year or two or five or more, your spiritual vision might be dulled and your enthusiasm jaded by the daily grind of educating your kids. Still nursing the scars of last-year’s battle wounds, you might have a lot of misgivings about another year of homeschooling. I encourage you to read Amy’s post, which I hope you will find refreshing and inspiring. Educating our children at home is truly a noble calling and an amazing privilege. May you begin this year with hope and anticipation for all the good that God will do with us and through us!

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23+ Easy Chapter Books for Wholesome Girls

As a child, one of my favorites things about summer was having the luxury to read, and read, and read. Now, each summer I give my kids a reading list, and I make sure they have plenty of time to delve into their books and get lost in a story.  Here is a list I compiled many years ago for my oldest daughter, now updated for my youngest girl to enjoy. 

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Raising Virtuous Children: Four Things You Must Absolutely Do

In the last post, I talked about ways to develop the four cardinal virtues: justice, temperance, prudence, and fortitude. These are the core virtues your children need in order to become spiritual athletes. The more a person practices these virtues, the greater his capacity for freedom, and thus the greater his capacity to fully love.  In this post, I’ll share with you my favorite part of this talk: Four things you absolutely must do to raise virtuous children:

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Raising Virtuous Children: The Core Virtues of Spiritual Athletes

In my last post, I talked about the importance of virtues and how they enable us to love fully and freely. The foundational virtue, the one that sets the stage for the development of all others, is obedience.

In addition to obedience, we want our children to develop the four cardinal virtues: justice, temperance, prudence, and fortitude. These are called the cardinal virtues because cardo means “hinge” in Latin and all other virtues hinge from these four. For example, honesty and responsibility stem from justice. Chastity stems from temperance. Patience comes from fortitude. 

Virtues are like the muscles in our body. When you exercise one muscle, you also exercise the others around it.  The cardinal virtues are like the core muscles of our body. Athletes need strong core muscles. Spiritual athletes are those who are striving for holiness and the ability to love fully and freely. And they need the cardinal virtues.

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Raising Virtuous Children

Last month, I had the privilege of speaking at a family conference near State College, PA. My topic was Raising Virtuous Children – a topic so broad one could write a whole book about it. I think I over-loaded the audience with too much info, so I promised one mom that I would post the talk on this blog. I’ll post it as a three-part series. Here is Part I of the talk on Raising Virtuous Children:

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24 Great Books for Boys in Middle School

Earlier this spring, twelve-year-old Feisty was perusing our book shelves, looking for something to read. “I’ve read that, and that, and that,” he noted. “I’ve read everything on these bookshelves!”

“That can’t be,” exclaimed my oldest daughter. She scanned the bookshelves and picked out Investing for Dummies. “You haven’t read this one.”

“Fine. I’ll read it.”

A few days later, Feisty told us he wanted to invest in stocks — which is a great thing for a kid to start doing. But I also knew it was time to find him some new books. So I turned to my trusty sources and compiled a list of books for his summer reading. The two great things about this list: 1) The books are clean and wholesome 2) Most of these are available at the public library. Already he’s read most of these books and approved of them. Here it is for your boys to enjoy:

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Who is Raising Your Kids? You? or the Culture?

It takes a village to raise a child — so goes the African proverb. But what if that village, including schools, peers, media, and the culture at large, goes strongly and blatantly against your principles? What’s a parent to do? 

In her newly released book, Don’t Let the Culture Raise your Kids, journalist Marcia Segelstein gives parents a highly researched and in-depth look at today’s culture. She describes how it undermines parental influence and challenges traditional family values. More importantly, she offers excellent solutions, tips, and tools for parents who are fighting to protect their children from gender ideology, social media and gaming addiction, sex-ed in schools, pornography, and consumerism.  In this interview for Mercatornet, Marcia Segelstein shares some of her research findings and advice.

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12 Classic Novels Girls Should Read before Turning 12

Give your daughters some classic novels to read this summer — books so beautifully written that the characters become like childhood friends. I have read many of these over and over again as a girl, and I can honestly say they have been very formative. A poignant, well-crafted novel can help shape the heart and form the mind. Here are 12 classic novels which do just that.

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