The Faith and Freedom Primer Adapted for Children with Down Syndrome

Once in a while I come across a pedagogical gem. The Faith and Freedom Primer is one of these. It is actually a combination of 3 smaller books, written in the 1950s to teach children how to sight read high frequency words. I’ve used it with all of my kids to teach them how to read sight words alongside teaching them how to decode phonetically. The book is a gem not just because it teaches children to read sightwords incrementally and systematically, but also because it portrays the Catholic faith and family life in a gentle and beautiful way.

Since Junior had been learning to read sight words with See and Learn Phrases, I decided to adapt the Faith and Freedom Primer according to the recommendations laid out by Natalie Hale, in her book Whole Child Reading. Junior would often pull the original primer off our bookshelf and pretend to read it, so I thought, “Why not adapt it for him and see if he can learn to read it?”

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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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Free Resources for Teaching Children with Down Syndrome to Read

Several weeks ago, I read the book Whole Child Reading: A Quick Start Guide to Teaching Students with Down Syndrome and Other Developmental Delays. If you have a child with developmental delays, I highly recommend reading this book. It’s a fast, easy read with useful insights into how the brain works and many practical applications. The gist of the book is to go in through the heart by using stories and topics that are highly interesting and motivating to the student and then to teach to the brain by understanding how children with T21 learn best.

In the book, author Natalie Hale gives specific instructions on how to format and make your own books so that your kids can read with greater ease and success. So I began making books. I made personal books, because Junior, like most kids, likes to read about himself and his family. I also made books using words from the See and Learn Phrases kits.

Today I’m sharing some of these books:

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Just Released! A Novel About St. Dominic Savio, the Teenage Saint

Dominic Savio is the kind of saint anyone could be best friends with.

Full of laughter and entirely down to earth, he was a normal teenage kid who easily won his classmates’ hearts and was voted second place in a popularity contest at school – not at all the stiff-necked and unapproachable person some may think him to be. Yet beyond the joy spilling out of his character lay an intensely strong ardor and uncompromisingly high set of ideals which continuously pushed him closer and closer toward his first and greatest Friend – God. He never flaunted his virtue but it shone through him everywhere he was.

The kids on the nearby, questionable streets of Turin cut short their profanity when they saw him coming. Bullies and troublemakers turned around almost unfailingly when their teacher strategically seated them near Savio. Even Saint Don Bosco himself often asked his pupil for advice and never regretted taking it. In Dominic Savio, the boys of the Oratory found an example of holiness whom they respected rather than disdained. They wanted to be like him.

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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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Teaching Preschoolers with Down Syndrome to Read – Part 2 (And Why We’re not doing Phonics, Yet)

Last post, I shared some videos showing how Junior is learning to read using See and Learn Phrases by Down Syndrome Education. We demonstrated the first four steps of learning to read using sight words.

Today, I’m sharing videos of the last two steps and discussing why we’re breezing through with sight words instead of slogging through phonics.

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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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A Super Easy St. Patrick’s Day Craft

Hello! St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner, so I thought I’d share this Holy Trinity Shamrock craft with you. I wanted a good visual that would help my kids understand why St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity.

Here’s what I came up with:

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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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