Preparing for Advent, I’ve been thinking about how to make this time meaningful for my little guy, Junior. Since he loves pictures, I made him a collection of art cards that depict the Christmas Story. And since he loves nursery rhymes, I added short little poems to go with each picture. The verses are very simple and repetitive, so he can understand and repeat the words. My hope is that by looking at the pictures and saying the verses, Junior will see the beauty of the Christmas story. Sacred art really has the power to draw us into contemplation.
I got a call from Cale Clark the other day. After reading a controversial article from The Atlantic Magazine, The Last Children of Down Syndrome, he wanted to know what it’s like to raise a child with Down Syndrome. What was it like to get that diagnosis? What’s our life like now? And how do we deal with the uncertainties about our son’s future?
Our family’s experience is only one data point, but it is an experience shared by many families blessed to have a child with T21…
How’s your school year going? Whether your kids are homeschooling, distance-learning, or doing some form of hybrid schooling, chances are you’ll be teaching your children to some extent. By default parents are teachers, especially in these uncertain times. So today, I’d like to share a little pedagogy with you, because after all, your teaching style is far more important than the curriculum you use and the plans you make.
We’ve all had some outstanding teachers and some not-so-great teachers. Have you ever stopped to think what made your great teachers great? Have you ever considered how you can be more effective and motivating as a parent-teacher? Here are three qualities of great teachers:
Sanctity. For many of us, this is what we want above all for our children. We want them to grow up to be devout, holy Catholics filled with grace and virtue.
But sometimes that seems impossible. When our kids are obstinate, quarrelsome, selfish, or hot-tempered, it seems there is no way they will overcome their faults and grow up to be mature, generous adults… let alone saints!
So for this Feast of All Saints, I did some dirt digging. Saints are not born, but made, though the mercy and grace of God. When we feel discouraged about our kids, it helps to hear about saints who were normal as children — usually very good but sometimes really challenging.
Here are three children who were difficult at times and still grew up to be saints:
Ideas, ideas. I love great ideas for teaching Junior, our preschooler with Down Syndrome. As I promised in my post about Teaching Preschoolers with Down Syndrome, here are some of our favorite educational activities :
Here’s a sweet and delightful picture book for your little ones! My teenage daughter and her friends collaborated on it over the spring and summer.
Luna has always dreamed of going to the moon. One day, the opportunity arises in an unexpected way. At first, Luna is afraid to embark on her adventure, but she realizes that this is a once in a lifetime chance. On a daring quest to save the moon from Ash the fire-breathing dragon, Luna meets amazing friends and grows in self-discovery. With beautiful illustrations, this book will capture the imagination of young readers, while teaching important life lessons on kindness and courage.
Just look at some of these beautiful illustrations by Grace Gunther:
Last spring, I read an intriguing book, When Slow is Fast Enough: Educating the Delayed Preschool Child. It is written by Joan Goodman, a child psychologist who specialized in the diagnosis and early intervention of preschool-aged children with developmental delays. Her book is the result of extensive and highly detailed observations of twenty early intervention programs around the United States.
As a homeschool mom of a preschooler with T21, I was keenly interested in her work. Frankly, I could not put it down. I found her astute observations of these early intervention programs concerning and her recommendations enlightening yet challenging.
Although this book is about early intervention pre-schools, there are some important and useful ideas that parents can glean from Goodman’s work for teaching their preschoolers with Down Syndrome at home:
You’re going to love these — you moms with preschoolers and kindergarteners. In the spring, Junior surprised us by learning all the upper case letters by playing with a foam letter puzzle and singing the alphabet. So, I gave him a puzzle with the lower case letters. But he insisted that lower case “a” was not “a”. I realized I need to present the letters in pairs, differentiating between “big letter A” and “little letter a”.
So I went searching online for alphabet wall cards, but I could not find anything to my taste. (I was looking for cards with real photos of things found in nature.) I asked my teenage son to make alphabet wall cards for Junior — beautiful ones with photographs of real things from nature. I could not have been more pleased. And now I’m happy to share them with you.
Well, here we are! The day after Labor Day, Our Lady’s birthday, and for many of you, the first day of a new homeschooling year. I’m wondering how it went for you all. Great? Wonderful? Not-so-wonderful? Horrible?
However it went, I’d like to share some thoughts about beginning a new home school year including the two best things you can do for your homeschool.