Saturday, July 25, 2009

G.K. Chesterton

G. K Chesterton on Motherhood

“To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.”

G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Books about Saints

Since our school is called "All Saints Academy" we love to learn about all the saints. I do this a variety of ways.

The most common is the Saint of the Day article from "Magnificat" Magazine. First we pray morning prayer together. Then we pray for all our intentions. After that we pray to the Holy Spirit to let his Word sink deep into our souls so that we become more like Jesus. Then after reading the daily Mass readings and using One Bread, One Body meditations published by Presentation Ministries, we go back to the saint of the day in "Magnificat". It is just the right length for our daily meditations. If I have it all together, I then help the children make a figure for their timeline books.

We also read longer saint biographies. I particularly like 2 that are out of print. They are Sixty Saints for Girls and Sixty Saints for Boys by Joan Windham. Joan is a British author who has quite a gift for story telling. The details of the saints' lives are probably fictionalized, but she does get the important facts right. After reading the boy's book, they wanted to hear the girl's book as well.

I have used the Lives of the Saints books by Rev.H. Hoever and published by Catholic Book Publishing for our daily meditations in the past.

I have used other saints books by Catholic Book Publishing in the past, but they don't have the detail that I like. The pictures are awesome, however.

I really like the Vision book series published by Ignatius. I use these for family reading time. I am less enthusiastic about the Tan series by Windeatt.

Another series I like are the Pauline Press series. They are continually publishing new titles. One that we read on St. Maximilian Kolbe was quite inspiring.

If you don't want to buy anything, I like the liturgical year feature at Catholic Culture. It is sometimes hard to locate on their website.

There are crafts and recipes and activities for saints feasts and other feast days. We try to really celebrate at least one special feast a month complete with craft and special recipe.

Other resources are the blog "Catholic Cuisine" and Building the Family Cookbook by Suzanne Fowler.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Common Objections to Homeschooling Part 3

4) I have to work. Working does not automatically mean you cannot homeschool. I know many homeschool moms who work part-time. They have jobs such as nurses, doctors, teachers, medical/legal secretaries, writers, physical therapists, assisted living aides, tutors, music/art teachers/ tutors, photographers, child care professionals.

I owned my own homeschool supply business for 5 years. That was full- time in the summer and part-time the rest of the year.

This requires active support for the husband or other friends or family members.

I have known a few who worked full-time. The dedication and organization of these women are phenomenal. It can be done - with a lot of planning and fortitude.

5) I don't know math (or science or any other subject). Well this is a perfect opportunity to increase one's knowledge. Depending on the age of the children, a parent will learn right along with the child. If homeschooling an older child for the first time, a parent can choose from a variety of curricula that are much easier to use than when I started homeschooling. Not only are they homeschool friendly textbooks that don't assume that there is an expert teacher leading a class lecture, there are now correspondence courses, computer and internet based classes and co-op classes. Even in traditional schools, it is not uncommon for a student to use a tutor. Tutors can be an essential part of any education plan. I have one son who has a significant reading disability. He was tutored for a year to get him over a particular difficulty. I have tutored and taught co-op classes in logic, literature and writing classes, math and science.
I have enrolled my children in literature, religion, science, health and physical education classes.
The 2 most important things to remember is that a) you have God's grace with you to teach your own children and b) you have the answer key.

The Lord is my help. The Lord uplifts my life. I will offer you a willing sacrifice; I will praise your name, O lord, for its goodness. (Ps 53:6,8)

Common Objections to Homeschooling Part 2

3) I am not organized. Can a disorganized mom homeschool? Yes, I am living proof!

Organization has never been my strong suit, although I am always striving to improve. I think homeschooling gives the mom a lot more to organize, so one has to constantly work on this character trait.

My suggestions come in three different areas. First of all, I need to be at the top of my game. That means I have to concentrate on my own spiritual and emotional development. I do this by making sure I have a regular, daily prayer time. This is usually in the morning before my children are awake. Then I make sure I have adequate rest, nutrition and exercise. Regular date nights with my husband are important to maintain communication. Sometimes I am so busy, these activities go by the wayside, but then I feel it. I get more disorganized, disconnected and grumpy.

Next on my list is getting the housework done. Menu planning is essential to keep everyone fed. I have my menus planned before Monday morning. That way I have started defrosting or early prep by 10 am. each day. Since I plan my menu before I shop, it cuts way down on unplanned grocery tips.

I have also used to help me keep focused on what needs to be done each day. In addition, I have a daily schedule for me and daily chore lists for each child. I really like Terri Maxwell's books Managers of their Homes and Managers of their Chores for her system of managing a large household. Other people really like A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot.

For homeschooling I maintain daily schedules for all family members. Lesson planning is also a must for the best experience. Although in very stressful times I have been know to fly by the seat of my pants. (I suffered through many pregnancies with premature labor and one of my sons had leukemia). Adequate record keeping especially for high school is essential.

These ideas would make for the ideal situation. Most moms do not manage to do all the the above suggestions, but keeping focused helps everywhere.

I recommend first year homeschooling moms drop almost every extra activity they do in order to readjust. Homeschooling is a different way of life that requires adjustment. Homeschooling is a full time job.

Common Objections to Homeschooling Part 1

I would like to address reasons that parents give to not homeschool. I think there is a common misconception that they are incapable of homeschooling

First of all, when God calls parents to disciple their children, he gives them the grace to do it. In Pope John Paul's "Letter to Families" he states, "Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators because they are parents." In the CCC# 1641 it states, "By the reason of their state in life and of their order (Christian spouses) have their own special gifts in the People of God...By this grace they help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children."

In this light I will address common reasons to not homeschool.

1) I don't have the patience. How does one develop patience? First of all, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We can pray to ask Him to increase patience in us. Then we practice patience.

As I have grown, I find myself less apt to fly off the handle when I have a child who just doesn't get a concept, or who acts in a disobedient or defiant manner. I find a creative way to reteach the concept, or impose immediate calm discipline. I pray to my child's guardian angel and to mine - along with our patron saints (All Saints - we need a lot of help.) God does not fail to show me the way.

2) My children do not listen to me. This is a fault that needs to be addressed. When I sent my older 2 children to school, I found it easy to avoid the unpleasant. Since I only had to tolerate misbehavior for a few hours at a time - I could handle that. Consequently, I hated summers. Then I had to be around my unruly kids who sorely tried my patience.

Since my husband and I knew God wanted us to formally homeschool, I knew we had to try it, but I dreaded being with my children all day, every day.

On the last day of school before summer vacation, I told myself, "Well, I had better make the best of this since I will be with them full time from now on." I worked on addressing their misbehaviors, setting aside my most selfish desires, and planning interesting activities with the kids. I was shocked to find that we had a great summer. I realized I had an attitude problem. I had to learn to love my kids. And love means sacrifice.

A great resource for improving parenting skills is Dr. Ray Guarendi's book, You are a Better Parent than You Think, and his "The Doctor is In" radio program on EWTN radio.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Who Should Homeschool?

I have recently been asked the question, "Who should homeschool?" The answer may be surprising. All parents should homeschool. Parents should decide to homeschool when they find out they are pregnant. Homeschooling is simultaneous with living.

Pope John Paul II in a variety of places, including Familiaris Consortio, Canon Law, quotes the Second Vatican Council, which states that, "The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others." (see also FC 36) This means that all parents should be homeschooling or discipling their children.

I love what the late Fr. Al Lauer had to say about homeschooling. As we disciple our children, we must decide on supplements to their education. A textbook or co-op class I may choose to use, or a support group I may join are all supplements. Other parents use larger supplements such as enrollment in Catholic schools. He also stated that a parent would need a special calling to put a child in into such a gigantic supplement as regular school. The philosophy of the public educational system is that the government is the primary educators of the children, which is at total odds with church teaching.

Therefore, regardless of the supplements we choose all parents should realize that they are homeschooling their children. They should prayerfully discern together what type of supplements the Lord would have them utilize.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Daily Prayer for Priests in the Year of the Priest

Here at All Saints Academy we try to learn about all saints. We read the "saint of the day" from a variety of publications and try to celebrate a particular saint's feast day once or twice a month. We also read as many biographies as we can about saints.

Anyway, one of our favorite saints, the Cure of Ars, is honored this year on the 150th anniversary of his death. In honor of him and all priests, we invite you to pray with us for the priests of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. This list is from the Contemplative Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood in Portland, Maine. (Isn't it interesting that this is the month of the Precious Blood?)

July 1 Rev. David Fey, Rev. Toan Tran
July 2 Rev Alan Hirt, OFM, Rev. Gerald Bensman
July 3 Rev. Robert Obermeyer, Rev. Thomas Kreidler
July 4 Rev. Raymond Larger, Rev. Kenneth Baker
July 5 Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, STD
July 6 Rev. Paul DeLuca, Rev. Bryan Reif
July 7 Rev. Charles Mullen CPPS, Rev James Bramlage
July 8 Rev. John MacQuarrie, Rev. Dennis Dettenwanger
July 9 Rev. Steven Shoup, Rev. John Civille
July 10 Rev. Mark Watkins, Rev. Michael Holloran
July 11 Our Holy Father
July 12 Bishop Carl Moeddel
July 13 Rev. Charles Bergedick, SM, Rev. Joshua Otusafo CSSP
July 14 Rev. Erwin Bertke, Rev. Walter MacPherson
July 15 Rev. James Byrne, Rev. Robert Jack
July 16 Rev. James Elsbernd, Rev. Thomas Shearer
July 17 Rev. Philip Seher, Rev Satish Joseph
July 18 Rev. Francis Niehaus, Rev. James Schmitmeyer
July 19 Rev. Elmer Smith, Rev. James Weber
July 20 Rev. Kyle Schnippel, Rev. Jeffery Bacon
July 21 Rev. Paul Wolfer, Rev. Michael Beatty
July 22 Rev. Ronald Wilker, Rev. Harry Meyer
July 23 Rev. William Wagner, Rev. Hugh Henderson
July 24 Rev. George Klein, Rev. Theodore Ross, SJ
July 25 All priests
July 26 Rev. Ralph Westerhoff, Rev. Norman Langenbrunner
July 27 Rev. James Trick, Rev. Eric Bowman
July 28 Rev Edward Jach, SM, Rev Jason Bedel
July 29 Rev. Bernard Bruening, Rev. John Wall
July 30 Rev. Francis Miller, Rev. Frank Klamet
July 31 Rev. Anthony Fortman, CPPS