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 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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Strength and Courage for the Homeschooling Mom

I hope you all had a restful and blessed Christmas break. If only Christmas break could last much longer! But now we’re back to the grindstone with a long winter stretching ahead of us, marked with many uncertainties. Are you feeling the need for strength and courage?

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of conversing with a most interesting lady. Cathy (not her real name) was a police woman and mother of two teenage daughters. She worked the night shift in a sketchy Manhattan neighborhood. Consequently, she had stories galore to tell: how she and her partner would bust drug and prostitution rings; how she dragged famous singers, who had passed out intoxicated or over-dosed, out of bars; how she went after notorious gang leaders who then sent her death threats…

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Beginning a New Homeschool Year: The Two Best Things You Can Do for Your Homeschool

Well, here we are! The day after Labor Day, Our Lady’s birthday, and for many of you, the first day of a new homeschooling year.  I’m wondering how it went for you all. Great? Wonderful? Not-so-wonderful? Horrible?

However it went, I’d like to share some thoughts about beginning a new home school year including the two best things you can do for your homeschool.

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Finding the Courage to Homeschool

As the tropical storm Isaiah pounded Maryland yesterday, I couldn’t help but think, it never rains… but it pours! Last week, Cale Clark at Relevant Radio asked me to chat with him about St. Martha on the Cale Clarke Show. Two days later, Paola Ciskanik at the Catholic Homeschool Conference asked if I would send in a bonus talk for the Jump Start Your Homeschool event, which is tomorrow (8/6/20).

My talk is about Finding the Courage to Homeschool, because I know so many of you are anxious about this coming school year. There are so many uncertainties, so many unknowns. Who knows how long schools will be forced into distance-learning? And I know many of you are wondering, Can I homeschool? Should I homeschool? How am I going to manage?

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Is Homeschooling a Cross?

Once in a while I come across an article where a mom waxes eloquently about the awesomeness of her homeschool. I read about rocket-science experiments, kids reading college-level books, siblings living in beautiful harmony, fabulous field trips, morning baskets full of art and literature enrichment, and peaceful, well-ordered days. 

There was a time when such articles filled me with inspiration and enthusiasm. But twelve years in, I confess,  such articles usually makes me cringe. Homeschooling, for us, is not nearly so picture perfect.  Some days we have a lot of complaining, a lot of bickering, a lot of tears. School is more work than fun. And there are many days when I feel overworked and stressed.  So when I read about another mom’s homeschool awesomeness, I can’t help but wonder: Is she still in the honeymoon stage? Or, I am doing something fundamentally wrong?

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Why I Choose to Homeschool

With the days of summer coming to an end, I am sure some of you (myself included) are bracing yourselves for another year of homeschooling. Every August I find myself wondering how I will ever teach multiple subjects to multiple kids, juggle the piles of grading and laundry, get my kids to their many activities, cook decent meals, pay the bills, etc., etc., all with a very active, curious toddler in tow. No wonder the end of summer is always accompanied with apprehension!

How timely, then, is this post by Amy Arrowsmith, a recent Catholic convert and new-comer to the world of homeschooling. You know what I love about converts and newbies? Their idealism and fervour, their newly-opened eyes to God’s incredible love, and their high hopes. If you’ve been homeschooling for a year or two or five or more, your spiritual vision might be dulled and your enthusiasm jaded by the daily grind of educating your kids. Still nursing the scars of last-year’s battle wounds, you might have a lot of misgivings about another year of homeschooling. I encourage you to read Amy’s post, which I hope you will find refreshing and inspiring. Educating our children at home is truly a noble calling and an amazing privilege. May you begin this year with hope and anticipation for all the good that God will do with us and through us!

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Our Favorite Homeschool Curricula This Year (2018 – 2019)

It’s spring! Time to start planning for the coming school year. In years past, I used to spend hours browsing home school curricula. This year, with our second teen heading to highschool in the fall, there isn’t that much browsing to do. We’re pretty much sticking to the stuff that we know has worked for us in the past. For those of you who are deciding on curricula, here is a list of our favorite books from this year:

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Should I Homeschool? One Mom’s Discernment

Last spring I met a young mom, Elizabeth,  at a homeschooling conference.  Her oldest was not yet of school age, but she was thinking about homeschooling.  Here Elizabeth shares her insights on the prospect of homeschooling:

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Screwtape Intercepted: An Angelic Letter for a Homeschool Mom #2

I hope you enjoyed last week’s Screwtape Letter for a Homeschool Mom #2. Screwtape is a nasty one, isn’t he? You’ll be glad to know that Bitterwench never did get the letter because, just like last time,  Martha’s vigilant Guardian Angel intercepted it. Here is Archangel Gabriel’s advice to Angel Fairlight:

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