Our Homeschool Room no. 2

Last fall we moved into a new house… actually a very old one, but new for us. So that meant I got to arrange a new homeschool room!

With our oldest daughter in the convent and the three teenage boys in school, we no longer need a large school room like the one we had in our previous home. But we still have a room dedicated to homeschooling our two youngest children. It’s actually the dining room converted into a school room….

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Just Released! The Tale of Finegan Patches

I am so excited to share the news that my daughter Carolyn has just published her seventh novel. Set in the Dark Ages, The Tale of Finegan Patches is the story of an impoverished young serf and his epic battle against evil.

For centuries the sinister, blood-thirsty dragon Trepezard had lain asleep in his lair. But something mysterious has awaken him and his wrath. In one fiery breath, the dragon can burn entire villages. The peasants of Leatholin live in mortal fear of their lives. Yet the treacherous and corrupt lords and knights are too afraid to protect their people. Meanwhile, there are threats of the the wild and powerful invaders from the North. The situation is dire and hopeless.

Until one insignificant, simple-hearted farm boy sets out to fight the dragon.

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Short Vowel Stories Adapted for Children with Down Syndrome

As promised in my last post about our top ten resources for teaching beginning phonics, here is a collection of Short Vowel Stories adapted for children with T21. I wrote these for my oldest child when she was learning to read. Since I’m all about adapting materials for children with T21, of course I had to adapt these stories for Junior. I spent a fair amount of time adapting the stories for him, increasing the font size, putting double spaces between each word, and adding a lot more visuals to help with reading comprehension. So, when he buzzed through these stories, I have to admit I was pleased, but I also had that unsettling feeling you get when you spend two hours cooking up a wonderful meal and then your teenage sons devour it in five minutes.

Anyways, I think this collection of very short stories will help your children (with or without Down Syndrome) enjoy success as they first read phonetically. And yes, for you they’re free.

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Story of Civilization Vol. 2 Medieval World: FREE Workbook Supplement

Here’s a free resource for those of you using Tan’s Story of Civilization Vol. 2 this fall. It’s a BIG one…. 180+ pages! My friend Sue Clement and I collaborated on this project. We love Story of Civilization, but we wanted our kids to think critically about what they have learned and to have cumulative reviews.

This resource includes:

  • vocabulary lists
  • dates for a timeline
  • book suggestions for each chapter
  • map work suitable for older students (Gr. 5-8)
  • critical thinking questions that encourage students to think beyond the page and to make connections with previously learned material
  • cumulative reviews after every other chapter.
  • And, of course, a complete answer key.

It’s a HUGE project, which took a lot of time. (I think we burned some Purgatory time working on it). So I hope your kids will benefit from it.

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The Catholic Homeschool Conference is Back!

Just a quick little post to say…. (drum roll, please ….) It’s that time of year again! Time for the Catholic Homeschool Conference! And as I said last year, the conference is for ALL Catholic parents, not just homeschoolers.

From May 19 – 22 you can listen to live key note speakers such as Kimberly Hahn, Laura Berquist, Sarah Mackenzie, and Andrew Pudewa. In addition, you can tune into 60+ pre-recorded talks including one by yours truly 🙂 For free! I’m so looking forward to it!

Whether you’re homeschooling or not, I think you’ll benefit from the wonderful presentations. There will be talks on homeschooling, of course, but also on marriage, family life, and virtue and character development.

And here’s what I’ll be talking about…

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Educating the Whole Child

Our school year is beginning to wind down. Yay! So this is also the time when I begin to think about the coming school year. And while my homeschooled kids take standardized tests to help me assess their overall progress, I also take time to think of the big picture.

After all, a real education is much more than just academics. Indeed, a real education entails educating the whole child.  There are many great thinkers who ascribe to the idea that a real education is more than book learning:

  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he has learned in school. – Albert Einstein
  • Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 
  • The primary goal in the education of children is to teach and give an example of a virtuous life. – St. John Chrysostem
  • A good school provides a rounded education for the whole person. And a good Catholic school, over and above this, should help all of its students to become saints. – Pope Benedict XVI

While that all sounds good and true, what does it actually mean to educate the whole person, and how do we go about doing that?

Sitting in a rocking chair and musing over this while waiting for Junior to get sleepy, I envisioned this little diagram (Thank you, Holy Spirit!):

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Memory, Imagination, and How to Avoid Boredom

Rote memorization.  Do you use it in your homeschool?

There’s a popular educational trend that pooh-poohs rote memory in favor of imaginative and critical thinking. I think this is because too often children have been required to memorize facts and procedures they did not understand. Unfortunately, instead of seeking to improve conceptual understanding so that the material being memorized  by rote is meaningful,  many educators today emphasize discovery learning and creativity while foregoing rote memorization.

But this, I believe, is putting the cart before the horse. In his clever satire, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, Anthony Esolen writes:

Without the library of memory…. the imagination simply does not have much to think about or play with. 

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The Art of Writing an Essay

A happy and blessed Easter to you all! This past year, my oldest daughter has been writing essay after essay: essays for English and history classes, essays for college applications, essays for scholarships… it never seems to end.

“Since you are so experienced at writing essays,” I suggested, “why don’t you write an essay on how to write an essay? You know — for the plebians like us.”

So she did. Well, the essay was so witty and clever, I just had to share. Because sometimes we all just need a good chuckle:

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When Math = Misery

Math. For some children, this is the one subject that makes them balk. One look at a sheet of math problems is enough to make a child cringe and groan. Oh, the dreaded math, which takes forever to complete! The dreaded math, the bane of a student’s existence and the test of a parent’s mettle! When math = misery day after day, how can we motivate our children to complete their assignments with a good attitude and in a timely manner?

Start by finding the root cause.

Here are five reasons why kids complain about math and what we can do to help:

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Three Qualities of Great Teachers

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:

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