Catholic kids and the REAL St. Valentine

Image of St. Valentine

Necessity is truly the mother of invention!

Here is my story!

In an attempt to spice things up a bit in our family homeschooling I was planning on doing all things St. Valentine! So off to the library I went. Only to find that practically EVERYTHING I found was about the cute (sometimes creepy looking) cupids with love arrows, hearts, flowers, chocolate BUT nothing about the real saint!

Just to paint the picture , here is a small sampling of titles you will find if you do a library or book search: Hugs and kisses for the Grouchy Ladybug by famed author Eric Carle, Groggle Monster’s Valentine (yes, that is a real book recommended on a popular teacher website), Valentine’s Day Jokes for Kids, The Secret Life of Squirrels – a Love Story, Little Ant’s Valentine, do I need to go on???

Needless to say I was dismayed and horrified at the same time!!

Who is the saint that causes us to be wild about hearts ♥, the color red and send friends and family messages of love every February 14?

The secular world is CLUELESS.

So I made it my mission to learn the real story behind this Catholic feast day!

Step 1:

I began our little evangelization journey/project towards reclaiming the REAL St. Valentine from the jaws of the secular world by first learning several prayers attributed to the saint, to ask him to intercede for our family and friends.

Step 2:

Next I went back to the library and scoured the shelves and on-line catalog, I took out a bunch of books that looked promising and eventually found a few good books to use for our nightly read aloud time. There are not many I would recommend but these definitely passed the mustard! Each one added different facts and historic details.

  • The Story of Valentine’s Day by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda
  • Saint Valentine by Ann Tompert
  • Hearts, Cupids and Red Roses by Edna Barth

Step 3:

The next thing you knew I was immersing myself in the transition from the pagan rituals and the symbolism of the symbols and colors surrounding this feast day! Naturally that then brought me to the history of the feast day and story of how a Pope helped to Christianize this day, his name is Pope Gelasius. So cool right?

In true form it was the Catholic Church elevating a pagan feast day and its symbols by celebrating the feast day of an early martyr of the Church, St. Valentine. 

Thus became our family tradition, to make cards that included sacred and beautiful images of the real St. Valentine, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary! We use Scripture verses that speak of REAL love.

Step 4:

I designed it to counts as school work, by adding notebooking sheets for our narrations, mini-book templates of various shapes and designs to have the kids write about all they learned from the history I had written for them on several reference sheets. We also added the mini-books to lapbooks too!

Handwriting practice lessons for the week included Scripture verses I had collected with God’s unending love for His children! Coloring sheets of St. Valentine, were super handy for my little ones during nightly rosary or quiet time.

And I also had holy cards designed so we could print/color and share. This collection has something for everyone in the family!

My talented daughters helped me put all of this together in a 50 page printable packet ! It is well loved by family and friends who use it year after year, as their family tradition and more importantly as an evangelization tool to tell the REAL story of St. Valentine.

For that we are grateful!

Leave a comment on your family’s journey towards evangelizing the culture by reclaiming the saints!!

You too can invite a family you know from your homeschool community or from your parish and make beautiful St. Valentine Cards or postcards to exchange or bring to neighbors! Immerse yourselves in all thing St. Valentine!

How to Make Read Aloud Time Work

Are you too tired, too busy, or too distracted to make time to read aloud? 

You’ve spent all day as teacher, chef, housekeeper, peacemaker, chauffeur, you name it—

There are countless benefits to family read aloud sessions that go well beyond the educational, and these benefits outweigh all your reasons for skipping it! 

Infographic on benefits to reading aloud
Image Source:Read Aloud 15 MINUTES

In addition to creating priceless family memories, these read aloud moments also give mom the chance to revisit her favorite childhood books or read the ones you missed the first time around.  It is also a fantastic way to wind down your household after a hectic day.

Even once your children begin reading proficiently on their own, family read aloud time still offers wonderful opportunities for the whole family to gather together and simply enjoy each other with great literature.

Need help to begin or keep it up?

If you find that the time you designate for family reading aloud always slips by, here is a helpful hint:

Set a timer for your desired reading time. 

I found that 15- 20 minutes before “lights out” is ample time to read a chapter or two.  It wasn’t until I placed this desire in my heart that this time became a reality. Once I did, I was amazed how quickly read aloud time became our regular nightly routine.  In fact, it was considered a harsh punishment by my kids to skip bedtime read aloud time! They grew to LOVE this special time each and every year, even through the teen years!

Don’t know what books to read, for each age?

Here are my all time favorite booklists! I kept a copy of each ready in hand when I went to the library or requested books on-line. Once you get familiar with favorite authors you can pick up great book bargains at the local thrift store or library book sale. My library keeps a section of used books for sale and I often find great hardcover copies of treasured family favorites.

Catholic booklists
  • A Mother’s List of Books by Theresa Fagan – My all time FAVORITE, listed by age with annotations too!
  • For the Love of Literature by Maureen Wittmann – great chapter on reading aloud with tons of book recommendations.
  • The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease – great tips and great list especially for reading aloud to children!
  • Program for Achieving Character Education by Monica Speach – Wonderful literature suggestions listed by age and coordinated to the virtues and much more!
  • A Landscape with Dragons by Michael O’Brien- back of book has a great list.
  • Let the Authors Speak by Carolyn Hatcher (plenty of used copies- worth finding if you love history).
  • Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories by William Kilpatrick – virtue based categories and also by age.
  • Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt – classic with beloved books especially for the younger crowd.
  • Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson – her lists contains books by topic, great to coordinate with your children’s interests, all by age!

Get everyone involved!

A wonderful tip to get every member of the family interested and involved in read aloud time is to let each person take turns choosing the books. 

Additionally, designate specific nights so each child may take his/her turn in reading aloud.  This gives your children an opportunity to practice reading plus it helps them to become effective public speakers. 

Hearing books read aloud also fosters better writing skills.  According to Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, to become a better writer, you need to draw upon the foundations of the patterns within language. 

What better way to strengthen that foundation than by reading aloud, where the nuances and characteristics of language come alive. Reading aloud forces the reader to slow the pace and really process the information, processing the whole picture. 

Once children become accomplished readers, many tend to skim or scan through pages of a book as they read silently.  They miss so much, but if they read aloud, the content is displayed as complete rather than choppy fragments.  Our older boys were really struggling with reading Shakespeare’s plays. This is until they decided to read it aloud to one another.  They were astonished at how quickly and clearly they could grasp the concepts and summarize the content simply by hearing it out loud!

And that goes for just about any really good story! Language patterns, dialogue, plot points and characterizations are best understood when you read aloud as you are forced to speak every single word the author wrote in the sequence they wrote it! You will be teaching your kids the beginnings of reading for a deeper understanding!

What are your favorite read aloud time books? Share them in the comments below!

Ready, Set, Go, Homeschool Mom!

I love this saying as it evokes a clear image for me!  It is the image of a runner at the starting line of a race. They have been preparing for months to run this race.  The runner is eager to begin and give their very best effort to run the race.

catholic homeschool mom

In my mind, I can see that this runner is different. She does not run for personal gain but for a higher reward.  This reward is priceless. This reward is satisfying on such a deep level that the runner draws strength, her energy and perseverance from the mere thought of obtaining it.

What does this have to do with homeschooling?

I see the runner as a mom who homeschools her children.

I work best visualizing images, making movies in my head of the life I want to lead. Being fed on a steady diet of old fashioned black and white movies from the 30’s and 40’s, I was drawn to the messages told in a story. There was always the hero and his journey towards some good for himself or humanity. I find that the best books I cherish have strong hero stories!

It is no wonder that I was drawn to the ultimate story, the very best hero tale, when I was invited back home to the faith of my birth. This story is the one our Lord has told through His Word and through his Apostles and Saints, handed down through the ages.

This ultimate story is the center of my family’s homeschool journey.  It is the energy my family drawns upon to direct each day. 

It is all that matters in the end. 

Catholic Homeschool mom

A little while ago I wrote a guide called, Get Ready. This handy little guide I developed as a starting point for anyone who wants to begin their family journey towards an authentic and doable Catholic homeschool.  In it, I introduced the PRRR method, (a silly acronym, I know). Firstly you start with Prayer, then you go through the next steps of Read, Research, and Reflect. In addition, there are helpful suggestions and worksheets to guide you through this EASY process.

“Get Set, Go!”

Above all, what I learned after 25 years of homeschooling and consulting, is that you “Set” your life first, then layer in school. I know that seems unfamiliar and maybe even confusing at first, but think about it for a minute. The only way to find balance, to have enough time for all your roles, as wife, mom, and teacher is to SET LIFE and fit in school.

To do otherwise is a certain recipe for overwhelm.

Consider this…would you buy a car without thinking of who is going to drive it and be a passenger in it?  Would you make dinner by never looking at the ingredients you are adding to the dinner, let alone open the fridge?

In other words, when you choose to homeschool, to do something extraordinary, you have the opportunity to personalize and tailor the education of each and every child in your family.

However, can you possibly teach so many different levels with so many different personalities and learning styles?

It is possible! I have personally witnessed many, many families do this. Ordinary people with an extraordinary desire to challenge the status quo of education. You have already begun, when you decided to take on the primary role of educator.

How? You are a parent.

catholic homeschool mom

Two powerful passages come to mind that speak volumes:

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. (CCC 2223)

The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies. (CCC 2224)

Relax, over the next few weeks I will be introducing practical techniques that help you SET YOUR LIFE.

So, go ahead and spend time first in getting to know what is in your fridge BEFORE you make dinner….spend time this week getting to really know your kids interests and talents.

Comment below what you “found in your fridge”…

Two Truths in 25 Years of Homeschooling

Yup! that is correct only two!

Actually, there are many more! As I look back not only over 2018 but also over these last 25 years of homeschooling my seven children, TWO very profound truths rise to the top!

Numero uno on the list is: If I don’t write it down it will never happen.

Yup! I know that seems so lame and not very profound BUT I tell you it is essential. I realized some time ago that in order for me to truly embrace my days, months, years with intention, I needed to have the important things written down.

I am not talking about being super organized or having a “set in stone” planner for the week or even the day. What I mean is to actually think about and write down my deeply held beliefs!

AND use verbs because they are actionable, like this:

  • Give until it hurts and expect no reward – the only thing I can control are my actions.
  • Pause before speaking, listen to others with patience.
  • Spend time getting to know another soul on this temporary existence to taste tidbits of heaven.
Catholic homeschool mom coaching

Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is a deliberate act of intention that creates focus and clarity.

So I created for you a handy little WRITING PROMPT sheet for your YEAR IN REVIEW. Just three SIMPLE prompts to guide you in reflection. It is fashioned after one I received from my trusted coach Marie and I am doing it too! Click on this button to get your copy…

While this can be a great way to review my past year and look ahead for the new year, writing it down is a way to “own” what I do! I find when I take the time to step back and reflect on my kiddos passions and gifts, write down ONE GOAL for each then the result is real lasting success.

You see, this written goal translates to the daily tasks for the child. I become laser focused that their curriculum for the day, month, year all align with this ONE all important GOAL.

And on a very practical level, you know well that even the act of writing down a to-do list or scheduling a visit with friends ONLY actually happens when you write it down!

See it works on so many levels!!!

Okay, now onto SECOND TRUTH, which is the more spiritual and profound truth to share.

I borrow the line from my confirmation saint, St. Therese of the Little Flower:

“Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.” – St. Therese

My entire life, as I reflect on it, is truly a miracle set in motion by profound love. You can read MY STORY to learn more details about that journey, but suffice it to say that, God is LOVE, and He loves me very much!

In thanksgiving for this love, I need to remember that everything I do, say or act upon, done with LOVE is my humble gift of love to the Father!

“My grace is enough for you, for My power manifests itself in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What have you learned?

Let me know in the comments below, please share your reflections and insights…

Santa Lucia Day ~ Celebrating the Feast of St. Lucy (December 13)

The Feast of St. Lucy 

We are praying for all of you as we await the Light of the World.

The feast of St. Lucy or better known in my Italian family as Santa Lucia is the day our family traditionally sets up our outdoor Christmas lights display. It is one of the events we look forward to as we build towards Christmas.

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Growing up in my Italian family this is the day each year we would light our Christmas tree too! We had an artificial tree (real ones were just too pricey for this New York City family, no balsam growing in Brooklyn and Queens). It didn’t matter that it was not real, the minute the lights went on we held our breath in awe and wonder!

In our family we have celebrated the Swedish tradition, (I had a Swedish uncle too) whereby the oldest daughter, in our case it was always our Anne  (pictured above), who woke early to make breakfast treats and hot cocoa. She would don her battery-operated, candle wreath (no real candles for this momma) and served the entire family in bed. The honor has passed down through the years to the next daughter in line, only to fall back to Anne again, now graduated from college!

♦♦♦

Here are some terrific ideas for St. Lucy celebrations with your family!

Firstly, find out together who St. Lucy is and what does she have to do with light. Hint, Lucy means “light.” As she was an early Christian martyr there are several versions of the story. Here’s a spoiler, her eyes have something to do with the story. A miracle ensued and for her martyrdom she now wears a heavenly crown.

st.lucy2_large

Watch this lovely video explaining the traditions surrounding this feast day and its association with Advent.

St. Lucy Fast Facts and Activities

  • Here is an ENTIRE Pinterest board dedicated to St. Lucia with tons of resources including recipes, and free downloads:

♦♦♦

Catholic Advent homeschool

The book, A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz is my go to source for family traditions.It not only is my best source to live the liturgical year it has recipes that simply do not disappoint! Starting on page 107, there is St. Lucy’s story and a great recipe for St. Lucy’s crown (we have made it many times- yum!). On page 109 you will find the recipe for Swedish St. Lucy ginger snaps (trying it this year) and lest we forget the adults, on page 110 one can find the recipe for Swedish mulled wine.

Don’t have a copy? Not a problem, with this instant download, no shipping….Here is the link: A Continual Feast

A fruitful and blessed Advent to all of you!!
The Ciskanik Family

Why Talk of Such Sadness? The Feast of All Souls

This past year we attended quite a few funerals, more than I can ever remember. I suppose in part it is due to my “getting on in years” as I am now in my late 50’s, in part though, it was because some very dear ones died way too soon.

I am especially missing some very dear soul sisters in Christ who were real heroes with unshakeable courage and a deep love of our Lord. 

But why am I talking of such sadness?

Call me crazy but I think it is not sad talk. As a Catholic I have come to understand suffering and death in its proper perspective.


Remembering that I belong to a very huge family of God comforts, heals and has sanctified my life.  I pray every day for those souls and their families. I ask them to intercede for my family and I have hope that perhaps some day we may all be united in the Beatific Vision.

November is the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, where we are asked by Holy Mother Church to remember all those who have died. We are asked to remember those poor souls in prayer in hope that they will rejoice in the glory of God.  We rejoice with the saints who the Church tells us have arrived at His heavenly kingdom and bask in His Glory. In fact the month is ushered in with All Saints Day, which we just celebrated yesterday.


After watching the movie Love is a Choice, the story of St. Gianna Molla, with my family, we were all moved deeply by the testimony of her husband, Pietro, who told the story of their son, only five at the time, who had seen his father crying several days after his wife’s funeral. He asked his father why he was crying.  Pietro told his son that he missed his wife so very much.  His son’s answer to this was simple and beautiful, “But Papa she is in heaven now.”


A beloved pastor of ours had once told us in an All Souls Mass homily, that his mom would call him about this time every year. It was to remind him to add the names of family members who died over the past year onto “the list.”

You see he keeps a list of everyone (and I mean everyone) in his family who has ever died since he was born! He keeps this list as a reminder to pray for them and remember them. This practice is much like our ancestors practice of lighting  blessed candles on the Feast of All Souls, one for each family member who died that year.   

The candles and Father’s “list” are visible signs that there is hope, peace, an eternal reward and that we are called to remember and pray.


Several years ago, at the Mass for All Souls, Larry and I were asked to each hold a small wooden cross with the name of a parishioner who had died that year. They asked us because no family member was present at that Mass to remember them. As we carried each cross to the altar, taking our our turns as each name was called, we were most grateful and honored by this small gesture of remembrance. 

It really hit home that Larry and I are members of a much bigger family than those who reside in our own home. We are members of the family of God. We belong to Christ Jesus, who laid down his innocent life so that we can have the hope in an eternity with God.

That’s really something to rejoice in.

A blessed All Souls’s Day….there is family waiting for your prayers!

“If we knew what may be obtained from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them; they will pray for us.” –St. John Vianney

Praying for Departed Souls and Gaining Indulgences: Here’s how

Do you have a cemetery attached to your local parish or one close by?

Did you know you can gain indulgences during the first days of November?

Here’s how…pass it on…

Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls:
A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain aCemeteries-IMG_1975-620 plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed.

Here is Mozart’s beautiful version:

This is especially beautiful to play during this month of All Souls…and to recite the following prayer with our families at family rosary time or at grace each day this month.

In Latin: Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

In English: Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Here is the prayer added to the “Prayer before Meals”

Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, Which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. 

You just might find this lovely addition to your family prayer life will be a blessing all year long….it is a constant reminder of our own goal…to get to heaven…to see God face to face…we cannot forget these poor souls who need our prayers…and once they get to heaven, they will undoubtedly remember us!

(source material:CatholicCulture.org)

Introducing Your Little Ones to History!

With the younger set, I really love to begin an introduction of history and the concept of time by telling stories.  We often begin with the stories of our own family.  Little ones LOVE the “when mommy and daddy were little…” stories! We go through family photos of the generations before us and tell their stories too!

Catholic Homeschooling Timelines

A great next step I found over the years is the book First Timeline by Mary Daly. It is the perfect vehicle for a history introduction as well as a wonderful precursor to our History Worth Remembering Timelines.

Catholic Homeschooling Timelines

What I love about this book is the way Mrs. Daly writes to the heart of a child, through the eyes of a Catholic.  She talks about the past as a family of God and the gift of time and those that came before us!  It is very sweet and is discussion oriented.  In fact. I would read aloud each story and pause when there is a question presented, as these are great discussion prompts. I would also use the program at your own pace.  Remember this is just an introduction and as such can be fun and light.

There is an optional 4.5″ by 81″ timeline mural that can to be colored and either fan folded as a booklet or displayed as a mural.   Your child can color as you read the story (or soon afterwards), filling it in as you progress through the stories. The line drawings are basic and the act of coloring them in makes them concrete in the mind of a child, giving them a better understanding of the sequence of time.

As you move through the book, your child will begin to comprehend what we mean by history and will be fascinated by those who came before us wanting to know more! In fact many of the personalities introduced will be studied in future years and they will remember hearing about them from this introduction.  Feel free to look up supporting images and information on the internet too!

Optionally there are 5.5” x 8.5” cards which may be colored and mounted on dividers or you can color the images as you complete the biographies, then shuffle, and practice laying them out in sequence.

Another option would be to use my suggestions for read aloud or picture books!  The list below contains the books we have read and enjoyed as a family as a way to introduce history to our younger kiddos.  Look for these at the local library and then order the favorites as gifts! You will find that these titles also complement the “history stories” from First Timeline.

Feel free to use this list for read aloud time once a week or as a monthly whirlwind tour of time. You will see that they are well suited to the younger set and introduce key events and personalities that matter!

  • Turn of the Century (Eleven Centuries of Children and Change) by Ellen Jackson
  • The Catholic Bible for Children (Magnificat) – contains many of the Bible figures
  • Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier
  • Ox, House, Stick: History of Our Alphabet by: Don Robb, Illustrated by: Anne Smith 
  • The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky, Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
  • Easter by Brian Wildsmith
  • Patrick by Tomie De Paola
  • Leif the Lucky by D’Aulaire
  • Francis Woke Up Early  by Josephine Nobisso  Illustrated by Maureen Hyde
  • D’Aulaire’s Christopher Columbus
  • William Shakespeare & the Globe (Trophy Picture Books) by Aliki
  • The Thanksgiving Story  by Alice Dalgliesh  illustrated by Helen Sewell
  • A Picture Book of George Washington (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler
  • A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler

When you have had a taste of the studying history, you will undoubtedly want more!  The next step is to dive right into our History Worth Remembering Time Sets!

Get my FREE Guide to 5 Keys to Open the Doors to Teach Catholic History Multi-ages! 

Please share with me other titles your family has enjoyed in the comments below!

PS- I have not received any compensation for this review, nor are there any affiliate links.

Top 10 Tips for College Prep

I often get calls from homeschool moms asking me about college preparation and recommendations for their high school kids.  So I put together for you my TOP TEN TIPS for college prep:

1. Begin to talk about college plans with your child as early as freshman year of high school.  This helps you to develop goals for your high school curriculum, spiritually, academically and extra-curricular.

2. Keep a file for your high school student where you can collect transcript info, test grades, awards, course descriptions and extra curricular activities.

3. I have my children begin practicing for the SAT, ACT or the new CLT by taking the real tests that come directly from the test providers in their junior year.

 – I do this by having them get up early, just as if they were going to take the real test.

 – Do all three hours at one sitting, complete with me acting as the proctor.

  – Then we go over the completed test and make note of the types of          questions that gave them the most trouble.

 – We spend the next two weeks practicing these types of problems, then take the test again.

catholic homeschool

4. I have had good experiences in sending our children to the summer programs offered by good Catholic colleges our children were interested in. We found it gave them an experience to try out the curriculum, as well as meet potential future classmates.

5. During our children’s junior year, spring semester, or either semester in their senior year,  I have them take classes at our local community college.  I call this “boot camp for college.”

– It really helped all of our seven children adjust to the speed with which a college level class moves and to manage their study time as well as being able to ask for help when they needed it.  They gain confidence in their ability to interact in a classroom situation. They also were able to get college credit for the class.

– I usually have had them take a math class. It helps give their college applications some clout such as, “this homeschooler passed a college class and mom didn’t just hand out A’s…those grades are real.” This can also help in their freshman year in college, as they can take a lighter load and work on the adjustment to being away from home and improving study skills.

– While I realize community colleges aren’t perfect, I have found that the student body tends to be a bit more serious than campuses with an active dorm-life. The teachers are easily accessible, (no 500-person lecture halls or TA’s) and they are super encouraging. Lastly, they are also an affordable and local option to beginning college.

6. We begin to ask for college recommendations early in the summer before their senior year. This gives plenty of time for the request to be submitted, avoiding the usual last minute rush!

7. We apply for and gather college applications during the spring semester of their junior year and begin their essays over the summer going into their senior year.  This really takes the load off their high school senior year, if most of them are written by summer’s end.

8. Visiting prospective college campuses during the school year has been a great boon to all of our children.  They can truly imagine themselves in the classrooms, interacting with the students and they get a real feel of the school spirit, academically and spiritually!

9. Incorporate a class or two during their junior and senior high school years that covers Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization.  These are the hot button topics that they will encounter even if they go to a small traditional Catholic college.  Some of the best discussions I had with my kids about their relationship to Christ and His Church happened over these important topics. For discussion prompts, we used several of these books in my blog post, Paola’s Book Bites: Apologetics Catholic Style. 

10. Most importantly, PRAY.  Begin or continue to ask your child’s patron saints to intercede on their behalf and ask Blessed Mary to lead their hearts to her Son. Help and guide them during the high school years to develop their own personal habits of prayer. Following what the family does is easy. However, once removed from their home structure it gets tougher, especially if they have not had any practice on their own! Adoration, rosary, bible study, volunteering at the parish or local pro-life group are excellent opportunities to be of service and develop their friendship with Jesus in love and action.

teens pray homeschool high school

Keeping you all in my daily prayer… Paola

PS – If you have friends who could use some support in this area please share this post!

Please comment below with your top tips for college prep too!

Teaching Your Child to Read

JESSIE WILLCOX SMITH's A Rainy Day, Dream Blocks original illustrationThere are a variety of ways to begin teaching your children to read.

I have used the book Teach Your Child to Read in a 100 Easy Lessons successfully with most of our seven children. I really love that it is scripted.  In other words, it tells mom exactly what to say and what to ask the child to repeat.

However, this is not the only way to teach reading, some moms and/or children respond better to a different presentation.  Another fantastic scripted program, I wish I had when my children were little, is All About Reading . A multi-sensory program this would have been perfect for my kinesthetic learner as well as my auditory learner.  It is a pick up and go program with a gentle approach that achieves success quickly and easily.

Also highly recommended, is the Little Angel Reader Phonics Program, this lovely program has the added bonus of being a Catholic program with readers and workbooks which reinforce and teach basic phonics. In addition I have used the series, Explode the Code, as it too has beginner lessons to give focus on sounds and blends that need some extra help or a different presentation of the basic letters and sounds.

All of these programs introduce your child to the concept that symbols represent sounds, and that when the symbols are placed next to each other and blended, the new, blended sound forms a word. The next step would be to introduce the concept of writing these sound-symbols together or in other words, begin a spelling program. We highly recommend the new All About Spelling Program.

The entire process of reading and spelling varies in time and method, and can be individualized for each child in your family. My best recommendation is to watch for reading readiness in your little child. When you begin to see your child follow along with you while 3321615408_a14f8bec88_oyou are reading to them, and you see them begin to make out the sounds, either by themselves or in imitation of you, it is a good sign they are ready.

 

Move at your child’s pace.  Try to keep these sessions short, fun, pleasant and full of praise.  A sure sign of moving too fast is when they get easily agitated or downright resistant to these sessions.  That’s when it’s a good time to close the book and move back to reading aloud, cuddled up next to mommy.

All of our children have learned to read at a variety of ages, some as early as five years old, and some closer johnny_automatic_children_readingto nine years old.  But all of them, I am most happy to report, by having had the luxury of moving at their natural pace,  have a true love of reading.

After all, a true love of reading and a real sense of reading success is a gift of lifetime of learning!