Monday, March 28, 2016

How to deal with religious education and older kids

So, we haven't done a set program for religious education this year. Why? I don't have room for it. Plain and simple. Now, I am not saying we don't have room for God, or room to learn, just not enough time for an added class.

What do I do then? How do I incorporate God into school. Well, let me begin with saying, while my children were in Catholic school they only did religion once a week (I know! I was shocked too!), so we do the same. Sundays. Sundays are God's days...ok, well every day is God's day, but Sunday is when we do everything.

We begin with Mass and go from there. I pick different studies for them to do. We will be doing Encounter beginning in May. They learn the bible, they get to learn what they may not have learned otherwise.

On a day to day basis, we read the daily readings together and each child reads up on the Saint of the day on UCatholic. This way I know that God has been placed first, and they see that.

I love church and I love getting to go to Mass. My kids? Yeah, not so much. They go, but I have a whiner...

What to do with a whiner:

Let her whine. She will get over it. I still take her to Mass. I still go over daily readings before school each morning. I still make them look at the Saint of the day. I am relentless.

God's love is relentless, so much so that he sacrificed his own Son for our sins. "Christ was crucified for you...crucified..." These are powerful words. When she whines, I remind her: Christ was crucified for you.

Nailed to a cross because he loves you.

Be relentless:

I love you. I make you go to Mass because I love you.
I make you read the daily readings because I love you.
I insist you pray daily...because I love you.

If we don't do this for our children, they will never really be able to understand that sacrifice is love. When that clicks, there is no off switch. Our children will see that sacrificing our time to be with God, for Mass, for bible study, for prayer, for adoration, is love. They can show their love for God through their hearts, minds, bodies, words, and behavior.

Little kids? Mine go to religious education because I simply am not ready to teach them on my own.

How do other homeschoolers handle religious education?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How we climbed out from being behind

So, if you know me, then you know I have an obstinate child. And I don't mean a strong-willed child, I am talking ODD obstinate and defiant child. Mean. Harsh. Blows up. Won't listen. 


She wouldn't do school work. She hated it. I tried everything. Bribes. Threats, Groundings. Nothing worked. Nothing. Until it did...

I literally decided one day, when she asked to go swimming, that this was not my problem. It is her problem.

"Mom, can we go outside and swim?" 

Is your schoolwork done and caught up? 
"I finished today's work." {Pay close attention here, I never asked about today's work, I asked if she was caught up. She was skating around that question.}
That wasn't what I asked. Is your schoolwork done and all caught up?
"No...but I did today's work and even finished it!"'s not good that your so far behind. 
The good news is, you finished today's lessons, so there's that! The not so good news is, you still have unfinished work. 
"So...I can't go outside?"
What do you think?
"Whatever, this is stupid."
I know.
"I hate you."
I know. Feel free to stop off and slam your door or whatever.

*Fast forward an hour*

"Mom, I am overwhelmed. I'm too far behind."

Aww, dude, that sucks...what are you going to do about that?
"Can you help me?"
With your schoolwork?
"No, just organizing...I need a plan, but all of them will take too long." we were talking and thinking here. We put our heads together and talked. All those lessons made it very confusing, so we came up with a game plan.

Today's work. DO IT...

The past work? We take one subject and bust through as much as possible in one day. Then another the next day. And so on...until the work is caught up. And done! This game plan worked. And the best part? My daughter now realizes, I don't need to remind her. It is her schoolwork that needs to be finished. And better still? She realized that she can come to me for help, and I will help her as long as she is taking the responsibility and initiative.

Monday, March 21, 2016

5 Holy Week Activities for the Family

Holy Week is upon us. I love this time of year. I love the renewed feeling of knowing that God loves us all more than we could ever imagine. I have compiled some great Holy Week activities for the family. Our home doesn't do the bunny or any other non-religious traditions, so I am always looking to make my family feel like we have fun traditions as well.

I love this idea of a "calendar" to teach the story of this Holy Week. See the original post here.

From: Catholic Missionary Family

The Holy Week box is a brilliant idea for smaller children as well. This idea here is adapted from this original post here.

From: It's an always...always kind of love

This cross craft super cute and would be a great keepsake!

From: Mumma Made It

This is a great way to tell the story of Easter and still have eggs. This can be adapted so many ways!

From: Teach Beside Me

And finally, prayer...I feel all children should be led to pray daily...

From: That's what {Che} Said

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Guide to Schedule and Curriculum Changes

I'm not going to lie the beginning of the year I had this all figured out. I had my schedule set for Bear and Boo, I knew the daily routine, I knew the sports schedules, and I for sure was not going to waiver.

How, then, did we wind up here? Bear is constantly fighting me on school work while Boo just trots on by like it's the easiest thing ever. I was frustrated and at the end of my rope. I was watching as one child was falling behind because I was so determined to follow my schedule that I made. The same schedule I made without bothering to work with and consult the two people who knew best what they need: my daughters! Duh!

This week I swallowed my pride and did what I needed. I decided the best way to give my children what they needed was to talk to them. I had fallen into exactly what I do not want to be. The parent that says do the work and keep up {as a teacher, that is what I am told to do, as a mother, I know better}.

How was I able to gain control in just a week? Easy...look...

1. {ok, it was more like two weeks because I needed to plan for a week}...I followed my regular lesson plans for a week

2. During that same week, I began to just ease off and see where exactly the issue was. It really didn't take long.

3. I wrote everything down {by the way, I started the year with a time-block schedule, then swapped to a list schedule right away as both girls preferred it}. I noted what work was not getting finished, or how long each assignment was taking.

4. I read my notes and this is what I saw:
*Boo: Finished all work fast, correctly, and even early.
*Bear: Math was great, she is excelling, Latin...same, Geography is where she slows, she is bored with it. Science was going well as long as I was reading the book to her, same with History. Finally we have Language Arts...this is a disaster. Not one day resulted in finished work. She could only finish if we were doing it all verbally **ding!!

5. I called the doctor! Yes, you read that right. Now, I am not all about labels, but I am a divorced mother, so I need my bases covered. Her doctor and the specialist agree: learning disability {ps...I despise that term. These children are not incapable of learning, they just do it differently!!!} Appropriate appointments made, and school work will be done 50/50 verbally and on her own {because if we are being}.

6. I regrouped: I pulled out my notebook, called the girls in and got to work!

7. The real work: I sat with each child and talked about how she learned and how she liked to break her day up. Boo really does do well with a list, so she still gets her daily task list to check off each day. Bear has a time-block schedule now. Technically both girls do, just in case Boo isn't feeling it that day, she has a time-block to get her through.

8. I went through and printed up worksheets for all missing assignments! Every. Last. One. I then filed those in a file with each child's name and class. If there is missing work it will be there. The child can go in and look when she has extra time and finish the work! I tend to have Friday as quiz day, so this is perfect for Fridays!

9. I picked up additional small unit studies for Boo. When she has nothing left, she can do some of that work. She loves ancient Greece right now, so I got two on that for her.

10. I took a hard look at curriculum because Bear was unhappy with Language Arts and was getting frustrated with the amount of time she was doing Math. For Language Arts, I got rid of a couple items, small books and stupid sentence stuff, and we no longer diagram. For Math I added Life of Fred, which we all LOVE. I am slowly beginning to rethink Mystery of History. While I absolutely love it, I am not sure either of my daughters likes the chronology. Plus, in Volume II there is a lot of anti-catholic view, which I can deal with because it forces me to teach my children the view of the Church, but I worry that I might miss something one day, What do you think? Is there a History curriculum you love?

New schedules for my girls:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Why I don't do Santa and 7 other holiday traditions we do instead

In my home we keep Christ in Christmas. I choose not to include Santa in our home traditions. It isn't that I am a hater of Santa, but I don't see the need to lie to my children about a character that really has nothing to do with the actual meaning of Christmas. I get a lot of backlash about not doing Santa in my are some of the responses and my response to them {in case you're considering firing Santa as well}.

You're ruining Christmas - Considering the holiday is about the birth of Jesus Christ, I do not feel I am ruining anything for anyone.

You're depriving them of their childhood - Ok, I don't even give a response here because this is asinine. Really? Jewish, Muslim, and Jehovah's Witnesses everywhere just cringed. How sad does a child's life need to be when Santa is what defines their childhood? My goodness people.

Your children will ruin it for everyone else's children - Again...Jewish, Muslim...not all religions, or even non-religious people believe in Santa. How exactly does my child single-handedly have the power to ruin the secret you hold so dear, but no one else does? You know Santa is pretend, how is that so different?

You're ruining the spirit of the holiday - *Ahem* Please excuse me while I adjust my nativity...

So...what traditions do we have? Well, while I do not have Santa {please note...he is in the decor, and we do have Santa dolls, we just don't participate in believing he is real}, I do have several other ways to enjoy the entire season. Here is a list of seven of them:

Our Christmas traditions:

  • Feast of St. Nicholas - On the Feast of St. Nicholas we prepare a nice meal and set up our stockings and stocking holder for small gifts for the family. Nothing big, all really small gifts, but fun nonetheless. Everyone gets small stocking stuffers and snacks.
  • Christmas Eve - Feast of the seven fishes. We are an Italian family, so we celebrate Christmas Eve as a fasting day {meaning no meat}. The fest of the seven fishes is my favorite meal of the entire year. *Just a side note, this is an Italian-American thing, but my great grandparents who came from Italy even celebrated* While an Italian-American cultural event, those in Italy do fast on Christmas Eve, just more informally than this. We open one family gift after dinner (an event of some sort that changes each year).
  • Christmas Day - Mass, before all else. The children each get one gift. No more, no less. We received one gift this day 2,000 years ago, and I maintain that tradition.
  • Epiphany - Three gifts are given to each child. One practical, one fun, and one wild card gift. This year, wild card gifts are handmade for each child. Customized to her/his own personality.
  • Nativity - I cannot stress enough how much my children love the nativity scene. We do not place Christ in the scene until Christmas morning. After Christ is born, the Wise Men make their journey to meet Christ, getting a little closer each day until Epiphany arrives. I also have a fun play nativity the toddlers can touch, play, and learn with.
  • Christmas lights - Most families enjoy this activity...we go get coffees and hot chocolate and head out to look at the Christmas light spectaculars in our area. This is a fun outing and kind of a big deal. My children and I are able to enjoy each other's company so much.
  • Ornament exchange - I allow my daughters to hold an ornament exchange with friends. Dirty Santa style! They love this and it gives them the chance to bond with friends as well, plus learn to be gracious hosts.