Introducing "Teach Me to Read Duets, Books 1 and 2" — the sequels to "Short Vowel Stories"

For those of you who have used Short Vowel Stories to help teach your children to read, you’ll be glad to know (I hope!) that two more books are now available: Teach Me to Read Duets, Books 1 and 2.

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How My New Morning Routine is Giving me Peace

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas season! One thing I love about a New Year is that it is a time for fresh starts. Each day is also a fresh start, especially when it begins with a peaceful morning routine. Why wait until the end of the day to decompress? Begin the day with stillness and prayer. And so I thought I’d share this post, written by Melissa Atlee, a dear friend and homeschooling mama: How My New Morning Routine is Giving Me Peace.

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12 Great Gifts for a Toddler with Down Syndrome

Hi, it’s me, Junior. Last time I hacked my mom’s computer, I told you about stuff for a baby shower. But now that I’m a big boy (I recently turned 2 1/2!) I’m here to tell you about my favorite things for a  toddler… with or without T21.

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Six Homemade Montessori-Inspired Toddler Toys

One thing I love about homeschooling: I never stop learning about teaching. Recently, I read that Maria Montessori discovered her educational methods while working with children who were mentally challenged. I have always admired the work of Maria Montessori, but now that we have little Junior with T21, I’ve embraced her methods for preschool. And Junior is thriving on them.

But there’s one little problem: Montessori toys are really expensive. So, with the help of Pinterest and a little creativity, I’ve been making our own Montessori-inspired toys. Here are 6 inexpensive homemade toys for your toddlers:

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Kids and Smart Phones: Weighing the Pros and Cons

How many of you are thinking of getting your tween a cell phone for Christmas? Because we all know that in the eyes of a tween or teen, a shiny new cell phone under the Christmas tree is even better than Santa. And the pressure is on: everyone at school has a cell phone nowadays. It seems that all the kids on sports teams, scouts, and youth groups have cell phones. If you don’t get your kid a cell phone this Christmas, you’re a veritable Scrooge forcing your child to remain in the dark ages.

But before you jump on the cell-phone band wagon, consider the pros and cons:

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Homeschooling with a Toddler in Tow

Ah, those toddlers! Those cuddly little bundles of curiosity and energy! For many, many years in a row,   I’ve homeschooled with a squiggly toddler on my lap, underfoot, here, there, and everywhere.  Then I had a few years reprieve, and now here we are again trying to solve algebraic problems while the toddler pulls the books off the shelf, slings the markers across the schoolroom, and yanks drawers off their casters.  And, of course, pulls the keys off the computer.

Somehow, I don’t remember how I managed in years past.  I do have recollections of finding all the match box cars in the toilet. But I do have some survival strategies I’d like to share with you that might make homeschooling with a toddler a little more peaceful.

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The Privilege of Raising a Child with Down Syndrome

“You are a joy for Jesus.” A priest once told this to me in confession, and I was startled and surprised. I am so often aware of my faults and failings. They pile up before my eyes and fill me with self-doubt and discouragement. How could I, a spiritual weakling, one who does not pray enough and falls into the same sins again and again, possibly be a joy for Jesus? 

It took a child with Down Syndrome to show me how.

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St. Don Bosco on the Education and Discipline of Youth

Last post, I shared with you St. Don Bosco’s secret to discipline.  Did you read how he could get 500 boys to sit in a hall and study quietly and diligently, without threats or punishment?   If you have boys, St. Don Bosco is the saint for you! He is a shining example for parents and teachers. Today I share with you some of his own words of wisdom on education and discipline:

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St. Don Bosco’s Secret to Discipline

One of my favorite saints is Don Bosco. Whenever my boys are particularly unruly, I think of him who dedicated his life to the care and education of the street boys of Turin. Beloved by his pupils, he transformed the lives of countless youth, giving them a Christian education and helping them to grow in holiness. For me, St. Don Bosco is a powerful intercessor. After all, if he was able to work wonders for the derelict raggamuffins of 18th c. Turin, surely he can do something for my well-meaning, but rambunctious boys.

Furthermore, St. Don Bosco is a shining example to parents and teachers. Researching his writings, I came upon this wonderful anecdote, which he himself wrote. I just had to share with you — St. Don Bosco’s Secret to Discipline:

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Developing Critical Thinking Skills Through Literature

Last week, my teenage daughter said to me, “I love talking about books.” I couldn’t agree more. And the popularity of book clubs is evidence that we’re not alone. What a pleasure it is to read a good book and then talk about it!

Thankfully, doing these two simple things is an effective way of developing critical thinking skills — provided you ask and discuss the right questions. So, as I promised in my last post, here is a list of questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy that you can ask your children/teens to help them think critically about the books they are reading.

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