Showing posts with the label Homeschool

Good books for older boys

Worthwhile reading for boys age ten and up is hard to find. In the past, I made a list of books for boys. We’ve been happy to discover some great new books in the last two years, some of which are now among our favorites. These books teach your boys virtue and manliness, while being both timeless and exciting.

Holes by Louis Sachar
Holes is one of the most original books I have ever read. Part folk tale, part western, part fantasy, it’s totally hilarious and intriguing.

Stanley Yelnats is sent to Camp Green Lake as a punishment for a crime he never committed. The lake has long-since dried up. Teenage boys spend their days digging five-foot holes in the hot sun. Stanley realizes the warden is looking for something and tries to discover what it is.

Keep reading at Contemplative Homeschool.
Working with Your Child's Temperament from Four Waters Pres It’s release day for A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child!
Enjoy the slide show on the temperaments I put together for the upcoming Minnesota Home Education and Curriculum Conference. I included lots of photos of my kids to make you smile. Have you ordered your copy? If you pre-ordered the ebook, you can access it now. The ebook is $3.99 on Amazon. The paperback is available for $12.95 at Amazon. You can also buy the paperback at CreateSpace.
As always, if you buy five paperbacks directly from me, I’ll sign them all and give you a sixth free–with no shipping cost. Email me at crossini4774 at comcast dot net if you are interested.
See the book blog tour schedule at  Contemplative Homeschool.

Free temperament quiz and pre-sales for choleric child book

I am happy to announce that I have published a 44-question quiz to determine your children’s primary temperaments. You can also use it for yourself. You can download it free through Smashwords for your Kindle, Nook, iPad, or as a PDF. I also uploaded it to Amazon, but Amazon only allows free distribution during special offers or as a price match. I have notified Amazon that the quiz is free elsewhere. I hope they drop the price to free soon. That is beyond my control. (It currently sells there for $.99.)

Please download your free copy of Determining Your Child’s Temperament: a brief quiz for Catholic parents.

If you find it helpful, please post a review on Smashwords or Amazon so that others can benefit. Share the links with your friends, family, and homeschool co-op. Let me know if I can improve it in anyway. Thank you.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Mental prayer for adolescents

I have written several times about guided meditations I do with my young boys. Now I am working with my oldest, who is in 7th grade, to help him take the next step in mental prayer. He is a choleric, and I hope to write in more detail about this method in my upcoming book A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child. I plan to make a template for children to fill out as they practice.

Here is the method I am planning to use for my eldest now. I will show you an example along with the method.

1. Read a small section of the Gospels. First, choose one of the four Gospels to pray through from beginning to end. Then choose a passage of 10 to 20 verses. For this example, we’re using Mark 1:1-11, last Sunday’s Gospel. Read it silently and slowly.
2. Use your senses. Record the sights, sounds, smells, etc. you would encounter if you were present when this story took place. Brainstorm as many as you can think of. Here are a few for our example:
John’s camel hair clothingthe sound of…

Contemplative Homeschool Unit: Creation

I haven’t done much blogging on homeschooling since publishing my book, but I hope to do more now. If you read my blog for spirituality, please stick around, as the bulk of my posts will still be on spirituality for adults.

A few weeks ago, my kids and I finished studying the Old Testament. Now we split into two groups. D and M are studying the early Church, while C is going back to the beginning of the Bible to read stories he missed. That means I am revisiting units I created about five years ago. As we go through them, I plan to share many of them with you in detail here. Today I am sharing the unit I created on Creation.

The purpose of a contemplative homeschool The focus of the units I have created is on helping your children grow in their relationship with Christ. Academics is part of that, but not the most important part.  I want to help children learn to see God in everything. I want to teach them to practice mental prayer. I want religion to be a part of our ho…

Helping your choleric child grow in holiness

Today I’m taking a break from talking about my book to return to the new project I’ve talked about a little before–making a spiritual growth plan for children of each temperament.
 First I’ll give a little overview of the four classic temperaments, tell you a little more about this project, then delve in deeper to help you with your choleric children. At the bottom you’ll find a special download to help you.

What are the four temperaments? The four classic temperaments are choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, and sanguine. Catholic philosophers adpoted them from the Greeks. There are several good sources for learning about the temperaments from a Catholic perspective. Art and Laraine Bennett have written several books on the temperaments. Fr. Conrad Hock’s treatment of the temperaments can be read online. Traditional books on spiritual direction usually address the temperaments as well.

To figure out which temperament you have, ask yourself two questions:
Are my initial reactio…

Becoming your children’s spiritual director

Have you ever thought of having a spiritual director for your kids or grandkids? Have you ever thought of being one? It’s not enough to teach children “religion”–i.e., Catechism. We also need to teach them how to become saints. I am developing a spiritual growth plan for my three older children. (J is a little too young at age three!) Here are the areas I am considering:

Temperament D is almost purely choleric, M is melancholic-phlegmatic, and C is primarily phlegmatic. (I haven’t completely figured him out yet–he’s eight and doesn’t know himself as well as the others do.)
Each of the four classical temperaments has a different perspective on life. Each has typical strengths and weaknesses. I seek to encourage my boys in their strengths and help them fight their weaknesses. I plan to do much of this through reading. Books will inspire them where lectures won’t.
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Learning typology with Daniel in the lions’ den

Daniel in the Lions’ Den by Rubens (Wikimedia Commons).
I  titled this post “learning typology,” instead of “teaching typology,” because this is a subject we can adapt to any age group. Many adult Catholics are unfamiliar with typology. So if your children are grown, or you’re not a parent, read this for yourself. If you do have young children or you teach religious education, you can adapt this to your students’ ages.

If you are completely unfamiliar with typology or need a refresher course, start with my post on Teaching typology with Joseph and his brothers.

Since it is Easter,  it’s a good time to look at the similarities between the prophet Daniel and Christ. The story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den prefigures Christ’s Death and Resurrection. I will go through a proposed lesson step by step for various age and skill levels.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Family and homeschool activities for the rest of Lent

Ready to celebrate the rest of Lent as a family? Here are several activities you can do together, whether or not you homeschool.

p=suitable for grades 1-3
m=suitable for grades 4-6
j=suitable for grades 7-9
s=suitable for grades 10-12
 Books Besides reading the Gospel accounts of Holy Week, try reading and discussing the following books that deal with sacrifice, martyrdom, or resurrection:

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (p).
The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt (p+).
The Queen and the Cross: The Story of St. Helen by Cornelia Mary Bilinsky (p, m)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (p+ for reading aloud; m+ for independent reading).

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Sing the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary wiith children

Back in Advent, Dan and I sang The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came as part of our Evening Prayer. It struck me how perfect this hymn was for teaching children about the Annunciation. I conceived the idea (yes, that’s a pun) of teaching children the meaning of the mysteries of the Rosary through song. Here it was I came up with for the Joyful Mysteries.

My primary goal in our Contemplative Homeschool is to teach our children how to grow in union with God. Christian meditation is a vital part of that process, teaching all of us to listen to God’s voice in the Scriptures, and to ponder His character in order to love Him better.

The Rosary provides a bridge between the vocal prayers we learn as children and more mature mental prayer. Through the Rosary, we meditate on the most important mysteries of our faith.
Many people have created ways to share the Rosary with children. In Singing the Rosary, I have the following goals:
leading children to see the Rosary as a means of medit…

Create a guided Christian meditation for kids, step by step

I’ve had a lot of requests lately, especially since my interview on Carmelite Conversations, for more details on teaching children to pray. So I’ve decided to write a step-by-step post to help you create these meditations for your children or students.

I will walk you through a meditation I created for my boys. We’ll use the story of David and Goliath as a basis for this meditation, because everyone is familiar with it.

You can write a meditation for your kids without first praying over the Scripture passage yourself. I was making a Bible-based curriculum for the boys for a few years before I realized how akin it was to Christian meditation. At that point, I tried meditating on the Scripture passage first. What happened?

The lesson became more personal. I was more excited about it. My kids and I were then focusing on the same things in our spiritual lives.  Read the rest at  Contemplative Homeschool.

Bible verses for your kids (and you!) to memorize

Reading back over some old posts recently, I realized I had promised to share with you some of the Bible verses we use for memory and copy work in our homeschool. Well, better late than never!

These verses are helpful for adults to know by heart as well as children. They teach about virtue, the importance of prayer, God’s character, and other aspects of the spiritual life.

Over the past several years, our family has  experienced the Bible as unit studies. Reading chronologically through the Golden Children’s Bible, I look for themes that can help us bring other subjects into our study of Scripture. (See more details on my homeschooling method here.)

I choose a verse for memorization and handwriting practice. Sometimes the verse comes right from the story. Other times I search through a concordance or consult my memory for a verse that encapsulates one of the themes we are considering.

Read more at Contemplative Homeschool..

Advent activities for your family

Advent activities for your familyDecember 3, 2013 By Leave a Comment(Edit) D lights the first Advent candle a few years ago.

Advent is here and with it our six-week break from homeschooling. Instead of doing school work, we do an activity each day preparing for Christmas. Some are distinctly religious. Others are not. Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your family.

Learn and sing Advent hymns Sunday at Mass, D was amazed that I knew many of the verses of O Come, O Come, Emanuel by heart. Well, that was the only Advent hymn I learned in Catholic school, and I don’t recall singing any other one at Mass in the 70s and 80s. It wasn’t until I started praying the Divine Office as an adult that I learned some of the beautiful hymns I had been missing. Here are some you will want to learn along with your kids, if you don’t know them already:
People, Look East. This song by poet Eleanor Farjeon helps you to see all the preparations for Christmas–includi…

Meditation for kids: the thankful leper

Instructions for Parents I recommend that you meditate on Luke 17:11-19 in your own prayer time before presenting it to your kids. If you’re not sure how to do this, look at last Thanksgiving’s meditation. Talk to the Lord about it from your heart. Ask Him to teach you to be truly grateful, and to lead your children towards thankfulness.

Next, read and discuss the passage with your children. Use your favorite children’s Bible. Define any words they may not know. (I have highlighted some words in the meditation you may want to define before praying with them.)

Choose one or two of the optional activities at the end of this post to help them dig deeper into the meaning of the passage.

Finally, read the meditation aloud to them, pausing for several seconds to a couple of minutes after each of the first two paragraphs. Ask them to repeat the final prayer after you, sentence by sentence.
This meditation works best with children ages seven to ten. For younger or older children, …

Educate your kids for divine union

Through prayer and study, I’ve created a list of the elements of an education that I think best starts children on this road. Divine union comes through living a life of prayer and virtue. So, generally speaking, we want to teach about prayer and virtue, model them, and practice them with our children. But we also want a home and a school environment that is conducive to prayer and virtuous living.

Prayer requires leisure The Greek work schole, from which “school” comes, means “not-at-work time.” In classical society, school was a leisure activity, a pursuit of wisdom that had little to do with the workaday world. The truest education is free or liberal. It is not “useful” in a utilitarian sense. It is not servile. It is learning about things that are valuable in themselves, rather than means to obtain what we desire.

I wrote about leisure’s importance several months ago. Besides the suggestions you can read in my previous post, teach your kids to have an attitude of openness…

Teach your kids the one thing necessary

Are you teaching your kids to do mental prayer? I’ve written about this in the past with a few examples  of kids’ meditations. Today I’m sharing with you a meditation for kids about… mental prayer.

You may want to print this out.

1. Read aloud to your children Luke 10:38-42, using your favorite children’s Bible. This is the Gospel from last Sunday, so they should recognize it.
2. Study the painting above. (It’s Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, attributed to Georg Friedrich Stettner). Ask them to identify the people in the painting. Discuss the painting in this manner: “Martha and Mary are both holding something. What do you think those objects are? What does each represent? (Mary is reading the Bible. This represents meditating on Sacred Scripture. Martha is holding a duck, symbolizing being busy with household tasks.) Who are the other people in the picture? What are they doing? How many people appear to have been listening to Jesus? (Only Mary does.) Does Mary look di…

Should we "push" our children to learn?

I’m going to start critiquing some of the homeschool methodology/philosophy books I’ve read. Oliver Van DeMille (along with his wife Rachel) created the Leadership Education method, also know by the title of Oliver’s first book on the subject A Thomas Jefferson Education. I have garnered much from this philosophy. However, there are several points that I question from my perspective of a Contemplative Homeschool. I will discuss one such issue here: whether we should “push” our children to learn or wait “until they are ready.”

The DeMilles take up the question on pages 20-23 of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning. They are criticizing the work of Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky “taught that teachers should observe students playing and intervene at a sign of interest to push them beyond their comfort level.” The Demilles argue that this works with adults, but not small children. They say that pushing kids teaches these lessons, among others:
“Learning is what I am forced to…

"New" discoveries from the homeschool conference

Continuing my reflections on the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference, I want to share with you some new resources I discovered. They might not all be new to you, but they were to me.

God’s Covenant with You: The Bible Tells a Story by Scott Hahn and Stratford Caldecott, with illustrations by David Clayton, was published in 2009, but this is the first time I’ve come across it.  You are no doubt familiar with Bible scholar and convert from Presbyterianism Scott Hahn.

This book presents his perspective on the Bible as the story of God’s familial covenants with man in language children can understand.

David Clayton is an artist in residence at Thomas More College. He has filled the book with outline drawings that evoke icons and master painters. Your children can color the pictures or, as I prefer, try to copy them.

As a fan of both Hahn and Clayton, I snatched this book up. I plan to use it to review the Bible after we finish the New Testament next year. It’s suited …

Homeschooling parents, you can change the world!

This past weekend I attended the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference.  I heard two excellent talks and discovered interesting materials I had never seen before. I would like to spend the next few weeks here reflecting on what I learned. Those of you who were not able to attend a conference this year can consider this a mini-conference–free of charge!

Long-time homeschooler Ginny Sueffert spoke on “How Catholic Homeschoolers are Changing American Culture.” She told the story of Catholic education in America, with a much more positive perspective than you often hear from homeschool experts. She emphasized, however, that Catholic schools have largely been secularized since the 1960s. According to Sueffert, 100 American dioceses are requiring their schools to follow the Obama Administration’s controversial Common Core Standards.

Sueffert believes that Catholic homeschoolers have really taken over the role the parish schools used to play in Catholic life. I’d like to …

Is fear or love the better motivator?

Last week’s post on the Final Judgment (and Mr. Darcy and St. Therese) reminded me of two opposing views I’ve read in books about homeschooling. Some authors say that loving your students is the best way to motivate them to learn. Others say a healthy fear of the teacher is more effective. Here’s my take on the love versus fear debate.
The Machiavellian argument Niccolo Machiavelli famously wrote in The Prince:

“Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.”

Focus on a child’s fear of his parent(s)–whether it is called fear, respect, or discipline–seems to me to be particularly Protestant. I mean no disrespect to my non-Catholic fellow homeschoolers, but many conservative Protestants have a somber view of humanity. Calvin taught …