The Big List of Effective Consequences (a.k.a. What to do When You Butt Heads with Your Kids)

I hope you were able to attend some of the talks at last month’s Catholic Homeschool Conference. After 14+ years of homeschooling, I still find there is always something new to learn.

Browsing through some of the comments and chat feed, I was reminded that many parents really struggle with getting their kids to obey and/or do their school work:

We started homeschooling last year The transition from public school (4 boys) has been challenging.

I’ve got two boys and am trying to homeschool them the last two years and it’s not going well… I can’t get them to do work.

“Finding the right practical consequence is what I find hard to think of when they do disobey.

“Obedience is one of the hardest things to master as a parent with children.”

Yes, I know. I’ve been there.

So, as an addendum to my talk on “How to Get Your Kids to Obey”, I’m sharing this big bad list of effective consequences.  It really helps to know ahead of time what you’re going to do if your child flat out refuses to complete a math assignment, or argues about having to take out the garbage, or  has gotten into the terrible habit of ignoring you every time you ask him/her to do something.

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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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How to Have a Happy and Lasting Marriage

This past year, both my parents and my in-laws reached a wonderful milestone in their lives: they celebrated their 50th Golden Wedding Anniversaries. As my siblings and I prepared to celebrate my parent’s anniversary, we began to reminisce about our childhood. We were reminded yet again of what an incredible marriage our parents had and still have. In fact, as far as we can remember, they only had one big argument. And it was over something so trivial that it has become a family joke. 

A loving  marriage is like the air we breathe: as long as we have it, we take it for granted. But, take oxygen out of the air and we’re in danger of suffocating. Likewise, if you take love out of a marriage, the relationship dies. 

At the same time, a loving marriage is like a game of golf: To the outsider, it looks so easy and natural. But the reality is that a loving, stable marriage takes a lot more effort than it looks. 

So for Valentine’s Day, I asked my parents and in-laws, golden experts on true love, for their advice on how to have a happy and lasting marriage. Here’s what they advised:

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Give Your Kids Books For Christmas!

Earlier this month, my sister, my friend Melissa, and I were brainstorming about what to give our boys for Christmas. What do you get kids who have so much already? “First world problem,” noted my sister, who has spent time volunteering in India and Malawi. So. true.

Kids don’t need all the latest high-tech toys. As I write this, I’m watching my kids play in the backyard with sticks. Where’s that drone we got them last year? It flew into a tree and broke. Where’s that R.C. car Sparky got two years ago… the one that drives up the wall? Broken, too. So there they are, chasing each other with sticks, having sword fights, and whacking the fence. As happy as can be. Which reminds me that kids don’t need expensive toys. They just need vivid imaginations, fresh air, and well… sticks!)

One thing kids can’t have enough of are quality books — wholesome, well-written novels that feed the imagination. It’s a worthy endeavor to slowly build a family library. So I always get my kids books for Christmas … among other things. Here are some of our favorites from this year:

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Even the Saints Could be Difficult Children

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:

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Just Released: A Novel your Daughters will Love

Anne of Green Gables. Heidi. A Little Princess. These are classics your daughters should read during their childhood. But have you noticed they’re all about orphans? Even the Pevensie children of the Narnia series are often estranged from their family. Where is family life as it should be in the realm of children’s literature? Thank goodness for Little Women!

Here’s another novel in the heart-warming style of the classics, but this time it’s about a young girl and her large fun-loving, rambunctious family: Clara of Strawberry Fields.

Check it out:

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Talking About St. Martha on Relevant Radio

Yesterday was the feast day of one of my favorite saints, the hard-working, anxious St. Martha. I was actually relaxing (for once!) while watching my children swim in our neighbor’s pool, when I got a call from Cale Clarke. He wanted to know if I would like to talk about this blog and St. Martha on his nationally syndicated talk show on Relevant Radio… that very day!

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Teaching Your Kids to be Tidy

How’s your summer going? I hope you have fun plans lined up and some time to enjoy a slower pace of life. One thing I always do in the summers is establish a new routine for chores. When new chores become habitual in the summer, the coming school year goes more smoothly… and it helps a lot!

Another thing I work on during the summer is teaching my kids to be orderly. I wish I were one of those people who are oblivious to clutter, socks on the floor, and toys randomly scattered throughout the house. Instead,  for better or worse, I’m kind of a neat freak. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I have learned to put on my blinders and ignore scattered toys, especially the path of destruction left by Hurricane Junior, (a.k.a. the three-year-old). However, order is an important virtue. So it’s something we work on throughout the year, but especially during the summer.

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The Catholic Homeschool Conference is for ALL Catholic Parents

One thing I always enjoy each year is attending a homeschooling conference. Not only do I get to learn from inspirational speakers, I also get to catch up with old friends and browse new curricula. If I come to a conference feeling worn out from the school year, I usually leave energized and encouraged.

Of course, this summer many homeschooling conferences have been canceled. So I was glad to hear about the Catholic Homeschool Conference, which is online and FREE.

And whether you’ll be homeschooling in the fall or not, this conference will have talks relevant to all Catholic families.

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