Category Archives: Catholic Homeschooling 101

Foolproof {Catholic} Homeschool Days

Here is my most recent article written for for a series entitled {Catholic} Homeschooling 101:

Okay ladies, do not laugh but here it is: a foolproof plan for your {Catholic} Homeschool day!  Seriously, I’ve been working on this little list for years now and have had a chance to institute it with my lovely {but very headstrong} five little blessings and guess what?  IT WORKS!  And since it works {and I struggled so long to find something like this} I had to share it.  So here it goes; of course, some days this plan won’t work because illnesses happen, babies are born, etc., etc., but under somewhat normal conditions, this plan really does work:

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10 Steps to Creating a Monastery in your {Catholic} Homeschool

When I was in college, I prayed and discerned a vocation to become a sister or a nun.  I was enthralled by the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart; of which I had had the honor of working with and for at a Catholic School in Florida.  Fortunately for me, I was assigned to work with Sister Maria Kolbe whom not only directed me and taught me her ways as a model teacher but, more importantly, she showed me the joy in following Our Lord Jesus in all we do.  I wanted that joy she had SO BAD!  But after years of praying, God told me He had other plans for me.  Years later, I married a man whom also discerned at vocation to the priesthood (to the Fraternity of Saint Peter), we met, fell in love, got married and five children and ten years later, here I am homeschooling.  I could not help but wonder what life would have been IF God had called me to become a Carmelite…you know, after all, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Since coming home to home educate our five precious blessings, I have struggled with many things and one of those was surrendering to THIS life, the life God had called me to.  Always looking to feed the ego, I wanted to be either an amazing teacher (to other people’s children, because society thinks it is more prestigious than teaching my own) OR become a sister in full habit, like the Carmelites. But nooooooo….God had other plans and I was being rebellious and fighting Him about it.  Now, I am not an expert at this at all, *even with* my teaching degree…homeschooling?  staying home all the time?  was He really serious???  So the whys and the tantrums that were going on in my head constantly were arguing with the shush I was yearning for in my heart.  UNTIL that is, last Friday when I went to Confession.  My Spiritual Director heard these words come out of my mouth, “I still struggle with being distracted, I yearn for the outside world, I miss my family, I want adult contact and I am so jealous of my husband who gets all of this!!!  It is not fair!”  Yes, my dear sisters, I was having a full blown toddler tantrum in the Confessional!  Dear Father P was so sweet, he stopped me with his gentle fatherly manner and said, “Dear child, the Lord has gifted you with your own mini monastery at home with your children.  He has entrusted you with five beautiful souls to form!  He has taken you OUT of the world and asked you to look inside of yourself and to create a monastic life for your children.  The spiritual life that will be ingrained in your children and will with them Heaven.  After all, is not that what you want for them?”  AND so it hit me, what I always wanted, to have a contemplative life like the Carmelites had been sitting in my lap all this time and I was fighting it!  Dummy!  {got hit by a 2×4 once again!} I wanted to be just like Saint Therese but God was calling me to be more like Blessed Zelie, her mother!
In the prologue of The Rule of Saint Benedict, the great saint states something that drew me even more towards craving this kind of life for my family, he said:
"The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love." ~ Saint Benedict

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.” ~ Saint Benedict
Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: “If you hear God’s voice today, do not harden your hearts (Psalm 95:8).”
Therefore we intend to establish a school for God’s service. In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. … But as we progress in this way of live and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.
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Teaching the Love of Writing in {Catholic} Homeschooling

Writing has always been a priority in our Catholic Homeschool from when we first started, I’ve always

provided our children with papers and writing utensils of all kinds.  I have basically been very informal about it.  Always making sure that the children from the moment they can grasp a spoon that they are given ample opportunities to explore with writing.  Yes, I do start them out very early.  It is a very natural approach to teaching the love of writing to my children, even if at the beginning the writing utensils spends most of its life drowned in drool.  At first, this is a messy task but eventually my children learn that putting marker, pen, chalk, crayon, or colored pencil to paper, chalk board, dry erase board, notebook, or construction paper means we write letters and then words which together turn into sentences which eventually will make paragraphs with wonderful stories.  Equally important is matching these words with pictures, beautiful colorful ones and even simple pencil drawn ones.  We are constantly writing and my children don’t even notice that I am sneaking in some very important future writing skills in to them from early on.

As we started day two of this, our fifth homeschooling year, I am able to see how much this has helped my children be comfortable with writing.  This year I am formalizing our writing a little more as my eldest little is in the third grade.  I do realize when I was a school teacher children in the first and second grade were composing paragraphs, which is fine but I wanted to try a different approach.  In my way of teaching I wanted the children always exposed to writing and drawing.  As a Reading Specialist I thought it would be a great way to help children with reading comprehension in the future.  I have noticed that when I read to my children they are constantly examining the pictures on the page as I read the lovely little stories they have been exposed to.  This, in turn, helps them create images in their minds as they are reading to better understand and remember what was read.  It is a known fact that children who write before they read become better readers than those who do not.  So, to me, providing so much writing so early is a win-win situation.  (This does not mean I am not providing reading opportunities either, reading to my children is equally important for both reading and writing.)

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Getting Over the Free Range Chicken Syndrome in Catholic Homeschooling {OR How to Find Order in Your Homeschool}

For me, homeschooling was about pride for a long time. We were going to do everything differently from schooled children, every day, and all the time. There was no way I was going to teach my children like school systems teach or keep such a tight schedule. We will school in our pajamas and we will wake up when our body is ready to wake up! We will go on field trips at least once a week! We will do arts and crafts every day! Free range chickens vs. those chickens in those super crowded, mega sized coups. We are free range chickens!!! At least we were… until I realized that we are not.
I realized that my family has needs that free range chickens do not have. By my family, I mean the mother hen (the rooster kinda goes with the flow most of the time when it comes to homeschooling issues. He mostly steps in to discipline when called upon by a frantic mother hen). Two years ago I gave in and took another look at my Free-Range Chicken Philosophy. Even though we were getting all our schoolwork done, there was an overall feeling of chaos throughout the day. From meal planning to lesson planning to crisis management, it was all improvised.  Day in, and day out…free range chickens!
So what was not working with this free range chicken philosophy? 
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The {Catholic} Homeschooling Socialization Myth

A couple of years ago, in my local newspaper, there was a nice article about a homeschooling family with five children. They quoted the home schooled children and the author spoke statistics…when I saw it laying on my kitchen table, I thought wow how exciting and went on, with much enthusiasm, to read the article. Later on I checked my e-mail and saw lots of messages from local home schoolers who were outraged by the comments being left on-line regarding the article. I skimmed through those messages (a bunch had already been blocked by the paper) and noticed the one prevailing topic: socialization. Generalizations about any group of people is common among humans. So this was not a shocker. But when I read comments from other who have never walked in the shoes of a homeschooling family it made me think that they believe that we keep our kids in a closet (without windows) and don’t allow them to go out and be “socialized”.

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Homeschooling Methods 101

If you have been following our series, I first wrote about the 10 Steps to Start Catholic Homeschooling and then on Goal Setting in the Catholic Homeschool, now we are going to discuss the different homeschooling methods available to you. So you’ve decided to Homeschool, you looked up the laws in your state, you contacted the local organization and even want to join a homeschool co-op. Now what? Well, now you need to decide what method you will use in your homeschool. First, I would like you to learn a little bit about yourself as a teacher and a former student.

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Goal Setting in {Catholic} Homeschooling

Have you set goals for your homeschool before you began your journey?  
Are you thinking about homeschooling your children but do not really know the reasons why?

Here is an easy way to set goals for your homeschool. Though a “dry topic,” goal setting is very important for every family thinking about homeschooling or home educating already. Knowing them in your head just is not enough, you need to organize them and write them down. 

I mean it’s not a super exciting topic BUT a very important one because I truly believe that if you set your philosophy and goals ahead of time, you will not doubt nor will you feel intimidated by others when questioned about your family’s decision to home educate, not that it really matters what others think BUT when you have well thought out reasons, it’s a great feeling!


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10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling

Recently, in a Catholic Homeschool group on Facebook, a mom commented about her doubts regarding homeschooling. My dear friend and blogger over at Totus Tuus Family, Allison, replied one of the sweetest and most perfect replies, she said,

“”If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it. I had MANY of those same doubts. I read lots of homeschool and Catholic homeschool books looking for those who had conquered the obstacles I perceived and that combined with prayer fortified me. Am I perfect at it? No, no one is…no education is perfect. Let God work on your fears, it sounds like He IS working on your heart.”

This got me thinking about my own homeschooling journey which is only four years young. How did I get here and what helped me stick with it? Then I wondered how many other moms out there on the fence about homeschooling and have not because of fear or lack of knowledge. Is this you?

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RLS Joining forces with Catholic Sistas

Good news!

 Raising {& Teaching} Little Saints
is joining forces with
and providing a new series entitled Catholic Homeschooling 101
by Raising Saints
Same great ideas, different blog address.
So find us now under their Domestic Church category as Homeschooling.
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Homeschool Conference Survival Kit {Printables}

Are you going to a homeschool conference?  I FINALLY am going to the National Catholic Conference in Virginia and I’m so excited!  

So I organized my conference weekend and created this little survival kit for myself and, of course, I’m sharing it with my friends.  I created three important pages:

1.  Conference Survival Checklist


  • notebook—to take notes or jot things down, one with pockets or staple your print outs within the notebook 
  • Pens/pencils 
  • Highlighters 
  • Print out of Conference schedule 
  • Print outs of this kit especially the Curriculum Research & Notes 
  • A bag to carry items. 
  • Rolling tote in case you plan on buying books 
  • Clothing– dress nice but comfy (especially shoes), don’t forget a sweater just in case the conference rooms are cold 
  • Mommy First Aide Kit: band aides, chap stick, lotion, hand sanitizer, eye-drops, pain reliever & mints. Also a bottle of water, dried fruits/nuts, and a protein bar (most placed don’t allow outside food) 
  • Budget: if you plan on buying, have a budget in mind to avoid overspending. (Use the Curriculum Research sheet).

    2. Curriculum Research Sheet (so you can check if the vendors have good deals)
    3.  Speaker Notes Sheet (with space for questions, Bible passages, and Encyclicals/Catechism references)

    1. Print and preview talks so that you can circle or highlight those that you would love to attend ahead of time.  If you are going with friends, share each other’s lists so you can either go together or separate and then share notes.  If there is a *special* speaker at the Conference, find him/her first and work around that time.

    2. Look at the list of vendors (these are usually mailed to you if you’ve signed up ahead of time or available on Conference’s website.  Circle (if you have a map) booth locations to make sure you don’t miss those.
    3. Print the schedule so you know what to expect.
    4. Print Curriculum Research sheets and write out all books ahead of time.  Take sometime to look up online how much the retail price of the book is.  This way you know when you spot a good deal or not.  (one per child or as needed).
    5. Print the Speaker Notes sheet (one per talk).


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