Story of Civilization Vol. 2: The Middle Ages – Book List, Literature Guides, and History Dates

This year we are once again delving into the Middle Ages. This is my favorite time period in history because we witness the blossoming of Christendom despite barbarian invasions, the spread of heresies, the Crusades, a devastating plague, and division in the Church. Indeed, we can see the hand of God guiding the Church through all of this turmoil, raising up great saints to spread the Gospel. I just looove the Middle Ages.

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Teaching Your Child to Read with Short Vowel Stories… and a free give-away!

When my oldest was a kindergartener, I wrote some super short stories to help her learn to read. I then used them to teach all my other kids to read, along with a variety of other phonics books. Variety is the spice of life, so it is good to give your emerging readers a mixture of books  with which they can learn to read.

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Church Scandals – What’s a Parent to Do?

How have you been coping with all the recent news of church scandals and clergy abuse of minors? All this news makes me sick to my stomach. Part of me doesn’t want to think about it, much less talk about it. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? The silence, the covering-up, the pretense that sexual abuse by clergy isn’t really real.

But it is.

And while church officials talk about accountability and processes to protect youth and reform the system, we parents need to take the bull by the horns and talk about it with our kids (at least middle schoolers and older). If we don’t, they will catch wind of it somewhere else and feel confused and scandalized (as they should), and their faith may be seriously compromised. Here are three points to think about and possibly talk about with your kids:

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12 Down Syndrome Baby Shower Gifts

Hi! It’s me, Junior! And yep, I hacked into my Mommy’s blog. I want to tell you about my favorite things, just in case you happen to know a mommy who is having a  baby with an extra chromosome, like me. Of course, this stuff is great for babies who only have 46 chromosomes, too. So go ahead and take a look: my favorite things that make great baby shower gifts.

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More Poems for Copywork and Memorization

Having a repertoire of memorized poetry is something my kids secretly enjoy… although some would never admit it.  Sometimes when the younger ones are reciting their poetry, the older ones jump right in, remembering the same poems they had learned in earlier years.

There are many good reasons for copying and memorizing poetry: The rhythm and rhyme of poetry is catchy and fun. As they get older, the kids learn to appreciate the imagery and the way poets play with words, rhyme, and meter. More importantly, it is an excellent way to fill our children’s minds with beautiful imagery and rich vocabulary. In a world so devoid of culture and beauty, memorizing poetry is one way to help our children appreciate that which is true, beautiful, and good.

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What to Look for when Choosing Curricula

It is usually about this time of year when the homeschooling catalogs start coming in the mail. I gather them into a big pile and, like a kid in a candy shop, I pore over the pages.  I love browsing homeschooling curricula. There is so much promise and potential in new school books.

But I have learned that beyond glossy pages and full-color pictures,  there are certain things that make for effective curricula. There are good books, and then there are great books. Here are ten criteria to think about when shopping for next year’s school books:

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Homeschooling in the USA: Yesterday and Today

Do you ever have doubts if what you’re doing as a homeschool mom is working or making a difference? Here’s an article I wrote for Mercatornet:

George Washington, first President of the United States, was homeschooled. So were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the 3rd and 4th Presidents of the United States. Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, novelist Louisa May Alcott, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell were also educated at home, as were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison,  Robert Frost,  32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt (in fact 14 American presidents were home educated), scientists Edith and Agnes Claypole, and geneticist Francis Collins.

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Our Favorite Homeschool Curricula this Year

For those of you  living in the North East, how did you  like all that snow on Easter Monday? It’s hard to believe that spring is here, but it really is here! Princess brought me some daffodils she picked from our front lawn – happy proof that warm weather is on its way and our school year will be winding down.

I always think about the next year’s curriculum in April. Planning curriculum in the early spring keeps things realistic. I’m still vividly aware of what we are doing well and what keeps getting pushed to the side. When I’m tempted to throw extra curriculum into the plan, the reality of this year’s juggling act keeps me in check. Spring planning also gives me a chance to create a shopping list so I don’t impulse shop at home school conferences (the curse of the curriculum junkie!)

Just in case any of you are doing some spring planning, I thought I’d share some of our favorite curriculum from this year.

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