Today I want to share with you one of the *best* resources I’ve used and read as a parent.
Here we are at the start new school year, busy juggling academics, sports, social activities, and so on. In the midst of all this I try to keep our ultimate goal in mind — something I’ve thought about, prayed about, written about, and prayed about again and again. The ultimate goal in raising and educating our kids is sanctity — our kids’ and our own. And so a question I am often pondering is this: how can I help my kids encounter Our Lord in deep and meaningful ways so they grow in their faith and love for God?
Continue reading “Helping Our Children Encounter God: An Interview with Kristen Fisher on “The One Best Thing””
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.
Continue reading “Just Released! The Tale of Finegan Patches”
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.
Continue reading “The Big List of Effective Consequences (a.k.a. What to do When You Butt Heads with Your Kids)”
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!):
Continue reading “Educating the Whole Child”
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.
Continue reading “Memory, Imagination, and How to Avoid Boredom”
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:
Continue reading “How to Have a Happy and Lasting Marriage”
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:
Continue reading “Give Your Kids Books For Christmas!”
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:
Continue reading “Even the Saints Could be Difficult Children”
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:
Continue reading “Just Released: A Novel your Daughters will Love”
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!
Continue reading “Talking About St. Martha on Relevant Radio”