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”
Are any of you using Sea to Shining Sea by Catholic Textbook Project this year? If you have a middle schooler studying American history this year, you should really consider it. It’s been one of our favorite history texts. Sea to Shining Sea is written in an engaging story-like style and has wonderful color pictures and maps.
Continue reading “Sea to Shining Sea Book List and Lesson Plans”
Some moms have asked me how I homeschool preschool and kindergarten. For many moms, homeschooling preschool is the testing ground. It is one way of discerning if teaching their children at home is something they can or want to do. Of course now, many parents have no choice but to do a little kinder-school at home. Distance-learning at such an early age just doesn’t work. But the good news is doing preschool or kindergarten at home can be simple and inexpensive. Plus, it’s really fun!
Each time I’ve homeschooled a preschooler, it has been different from what I’ve done with my other children. How I teach has evolved over the years based on family circumstance and the individual child. Some of my kids were eager to start “school” with books and crayons; others wanted to learn in a context of play. Doing “preschool” with Junior (which is essentially speech and occupational therapy) is a whole new ball game, but it’s so much fun. There is no one right way to teach preschool or kindergarten at home, but here are some ideas that I hope will help you find helpful:
Continue reading “How to Homeschool Preschool and Kindergarten”
Three years ago, I was at the peak of my homeschooling load. I was homeschooling five kids, and I had baby with Down Syndrome. (Think lots and lots of doctors’ appointments.) It was a joyful year, but it was also intense. On the one hand, I had a kindergartener who needed help with almost everything. On the other hand, I had an eighth grader who was preparing for the momentous HSPT (High school Placement Test). And in between, I had three high-energy boys.
Sometimes homeschooling all five kids felt like a juggling act. But in reality, it was more of a choreographed dance, with everyone doing their part. Such choreography allowed our homeschool to run on auto-pilot: the kids knew what they had to do without being told, they usually started their school work without having to be prompted, and they continued to do their school work even when I had to be elsewhere. This is not to say that our days were always smooth and the kids were always co-operative… we certainly had our moments! But, overall we had a rhythm to our day which allowed for much autonomous learning.
For those of you who are wondering how to structure your homeschool day, here are four ways to make your homeschool run on autopilot:
Continue reading “Four Ways to Make Your Homeschool Run on Auto-Pilot”
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”
Checklists. Many of us have a love-hate relationship with checklists. We love when we get to check off an item — done! Yay! We hate when we don’t get to check off an item on that list — ugh. Failure.
Whether we like it or not, checklists are, for many of us, a necessary part of lesson planning: a way to keep track of what we need to do, what our kids need to do, what has been done, and what has not. If you’re homeschooling multiple children, checklists are essential. However, we can easily fall into the trap of feeling as if we are slaves to the list. And we certainly want to avoid having a checklist mentality when it comes to teaching and learning. Ideally, we want our kids to enjoy the process of learning (at least sometimes!) and not just get the work over with. More importantly, we want to set an example for our children that nurturing relationships are more important than completing tasks.
Over my many years of homeschooling, I’ve come up with as system that has allowed us to use checklists without being stressed out by them. Here’s what we do:
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Here’s a project I recently completed for my third and fifth grader: I made a reading comprehension workbook for 20 saints stories from Anne Heffernan’s 57 Stories of Saints. When possible, I like to combine subjects. This workbook will allow my kids to learn about the inspiring lives of twenty saints while sharpening their reading comprehension skills. Take a look:
Continue reading “Reading Comprehension with 20 Saints”
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.
Continue reading “Teaching Your Kids to be Tidy”
It’s that time of year again — you know, when we start thinking about the coming school year. With all the craziness of this pandemic, I’ve been grateful that we are a homeschooling family and our lives have not been turned upside down. Actually, it’s been nice not running to one activity after another. It’s been really nice having my highschoolers home all day. They’ve been playing music together in the evenings out on the deck and having wild games of hide and seek all over the house and yard with their younger siblings.
But getting back to the point of this post: Many of you are thinking about new curricula for the coming year. Usually in May, my homeschool group does a curriculum share fair, where we bring our favorite books to a hostess’ home and place them on several tables. Then we wander around the home and look at all the curricula that people have brought. That’s not going to happen this spring, but we can certainly share online! So I asked my kids to tell me their favorite curricula from this year. Here’s what they chose:
Continue reading “Our Favorite Homeschool Curriulum this Year (2019-2020)”
Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful moms! I hope your children spoil you with lots of love and appreciation! Here’s my little bit of encouragement for all you moms who are seeking holiness in the midst of children, chores, and distractions.
St. Frances of Rome. Have you heard of her? She was a 15th c. wife, mother, and mystic. (I never thought it possible for mom and mystic to go together, but there you have it.) At the age of twelve she earnestly desired to become a nun. (She probably noticed that nuns tend to look serene, whereas mothers tend to look harried.) However, her father had already arranged her marriage. When she went weeping to her spiritual director about about it, he told her to stop seeking her own will and to start accepting God’s.
Reluctantly she married the wealthy nobleman her father had chosen for her. It turned out to be a long and happy marriage; she and Lorenzo loved eachother dearly. Between raising three children and managing a large, bustling household (castle, actually), Frances was very busy. But she never lost her desire for a deep contemplative prayer life.
For those of you who struggle to find time alone for prayer, I thought you’d appreciate this wonderful description of what St. France’s prayer life was like when her children were young:
Continue reading “What Prayer Might Look Like if You’re a Saintly Mom”