Spiritual reflections, family, home educating typical and special needs children ~
Dedicated to: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn.
"Rejoice in hope, persevere in tribulations, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12
Certe bonum certanem! Fight the good fight!
For me, this time of starting back to home schooling is like New Year's......this is the time for new visions, new dreams, facing the challenges and making resolutions to stay the course. I am ever so grateful that in this great country we enjoy the freedom of being able to home educate our children; whether that freedom passes by way of whomever the parties in control may be for that period of time, it is still a freedom, one that was fought for by other families that came before us, and one I feel inclined to support, encourage and continue to commit myself to as I look at the whole picture of education for my family. This is a "thank-you" moment; where I pause as our schooling begins for the seasons ahead and take notice and inventory of the blessings we have been given - not only in our own home, but in this country from sea to shining sea. Yes, there are some troubled and difficult times...we too have felt them and dealt with them and continue to do so...but overall, we count our blessings and the most paramount one that we recognize over and over is home schooling.
And so it is, that now is the time...this wonderful season that unfolds before us, as we just celebrated the Feast of St. Monica, a strong and prayerful mother, an encouraging example to other mothers, a model for strength and hope! Hope......maybe we home schooling moms should turn our eyes to St. Monica on this one!
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This last Sunday, a couple moms and myself got together at my home for a time of encouragement amongst us. I find a need for support and for supporting other like-minded home schooling mothers, after the larger Catholic home schooling support group for moms that I helped co-lead over the last 12 years rather folded up for various reasons. "Small groups" are now the thing, right?! Well, I must admit I think this small group will nurture well and grow in Faith, Hope and Love....I think we will gain great support from one another to help in our continued task of domestic life and education at home for our children.
Things we asked ourselves and shared: ...why do you home school? .....what challenges do you face this year?.....We discovered we are not alone in our challenges....my biggest recommendation is simply in the words of our Great Pope John Paul II: Be not afraid! It was obvious that none of us wants our children to adopt the value system or should I say non-value system of the secular world at large ...just in our communities alone....we could name quite a list of terrible items we are striving for our children to not fall into....So Christian morals, virtues and a strong foundation for not being swayed and pulled into the sinful and evil mainstream current of living and thinking that is all around us. An enormous task...???? Not so, with so great a God as ours. We decided to use Elizabeth Foss & Danielle Bean's devotional: Small Steps for Catholic Moms (with the accompanying journal) to assist us in our spiritual growth and discussion. I feel "very good" indeed about this grouping and resource. That this publication utilizes "virtues" and their development is very timely for me personally, as I have been reading to my young children nightly from The Book of Virtues (William Bennett). I see great things in our future this year! So I must insist on wishing my mom-friends Happy New Year at this time...because for us, this is what it is all about: a Happier, Healthier, and Blessed new year of home schooling ahead.
"...and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again....ah ha ha ha ha ha..."
...A classic line to a Christmas song that gives way to a parent's sentiment as the holiday break seems to last forever...the same sentiment I hear from friends and family as they prepare to send their children back into the school schedule as we watch summer vacation come to an end. But, we home schooling parents sing a different sentiment, don't we? For the most part, our brood is with us 24/7.......with little "break". After 14 years of home schooling with four children, I can't imagine anything different at this point; we weave our days together with our family in tow, all part and parcel of life, living, schooling, and the dynamics of building a Christian environment and home. This is why, considering all we put into the recipe, one fleeting comment by someone on the outside, can really upset the apple cart.....A comment to a son or daughter like:...home schooled? How did you ever make friends?...what DID you DO all day??? Such was a recent remark made to our oldest son, soon to be starting his Sophomore year in college. It makes me think about how far home schooling has come in this country...how it's grown....how we have large and wide, big home schooling support and activity groups left and right...and yet, how little the general public really knows about home schooling......*big sigh*.....big disappointment.....I will be honest to say that right now, I'm feeling a bit down....not let down...but just down regarding the ignorance that abounds. In the workplace, where young teens learn to become responsible workers and attempt to find and pay their way ...there are politics...the politics of being judgmental, being somewhat prejudice.....they hear snickering of:....(he) she was home schooled...ha, that explains it all! ....Explains this is why they are conscientious, have morals?....are polite, work hard and have good ethics.....? Yes, Christian formation and schooling at home could explain a lot of it, a lot of why they are different in a solid and good way.....But that my sons or daughter have to explain or defend themselves in regard to having been home schooled into college....well, it disappoints me to imagine how much my husband and I have sacrificed to bring this lifestyle and child-rearing feat to fruition...yet to hear it bashed by the ignorant remarks of those who really know nothing of true education, work or sacrifice. These are the thoughts whirling about in my mind today as I begin to look over our line-up for school at home this year; as I reflect upon many of the concepts in the wonderful book: The Book of Virtues (William J. Bennett), ...categories that include: self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship....(ah yes, friendship...that's basically where this home schooling question began..."how did you ever make friends?!"); then work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and Faith....yes, a big dose of FAITH please!
God bless all of you that are staying the course with home schooling....may God grant you all of the above and more as you press on. May your child(ren) stay strong and true!
While we are still doing our classical curriculum (Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum), and using Mother of Divine Grace syllabi, we are looking forward to doing Five in A Row Volumes 3 and 4 this year as well. Last school year was very successful using FIAR as I detailed previously below from this 2009 post. I'm revisiting it now, reflecting and considering what wonders await my boys this new school year...now our 14th year of home education. As always, Christ before us, Christ to lead us...grant us the strength and courage to continue to raise our children in truly good Christian form. Many best wishes to you as you begin your new school as well.
As summer seems to evaporate, no pun intended...I begin preparing for our new school season. Our paperwork is completed per our state requirements and I'm beginning to look at the curriculum on the bookshelves for the grade levels I'll cover this year, with three children. Our oldest is looking over his book list for college! A whole different ball game there. But, this year, I'm excited to start my youngest son with Kindergarten and include Five in A Row. I love this program, and now that I consider my soon to be fifth grader more of a special needs student due to his OCD, I'm going to do FIAR for him also. I think both these young men age 6 and 10 will enjoy it, and enjoy doing some kind of school work together. We still follow Mother of Divine Grace, but for the youngest grades I love to have some kind of planned-out enrichment, particularly in the literature and listening areas. Modg does suggest and include in their program much literature. FIAR will nicely fill that category systemically for me.
This year I decided that instead of reserving the literature involved in the program through the library, which we have done in the past, I'm going to purchase the books for Volume 1 right off. This way, I'll always have that set of books that goes with that volume. One volume basically covers a semester. If all goes well this first semester, I'll go ahead and do Volume 2 to finish out the year. I'd love to get to Volume 4 eventually and make this a "special" curriculum for these two younger boys of mine through the next several years. Volume 4 is more of a Christian character building program which I'm excited about. I think they will greatly benefit from it, both for their own reasons at different levels of their development/ages.
Okay, more later on some of the great classic children's literature involved in the FIAR program.
In the meantime, Happy Schooling Thoughts to all my home schooling friends out there! Tell me what you're doing this year..