"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The First Week of School

We've made it through three days of school!

This is the first year I've had more than one set of lesson plans because The Girls, being so close in age, have always done everything together. But now The Boy is a kindergartner. He joins the girls for some subjects, but for others, like reading and math, he's on his own. I was a little apprehensive about fitting everything in, especially since The Boy tends to only want to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it. But so far, so good. (I'm hoping the novelty doesn't wear off.)

My children, like their mother, thrive on routine. I think everyone is happy to have one again. The kids know when they are supposed to be doing school work, and what they are supposed to be doing, thanks to our lesson plans. They know when they're supposed to be doing chores, and they know what those chores are, thanks to the posted daily schedule. And they know when they can play and when they can rest and when they can eat. They even know what they're going to be eating, thanks to a weekly menu on the refrigerator. Tranquillitas ordinis!

And, so far, it's working. It's a lot of work, and I don't know if I can keep this pace up all year, but I have looked at my beautiful children working together and sighed contentedly numerous times this week. I have observed them from a distance delve enthusiastically into a new book and I have smiled. I have watched The Boy's face light up with pride as he sounds out a word he's never read before. I have been happy to have a clean house and a hot meal ready for my husband when he returns from the University. It is a lot of work. But I love it. (Most of the time.)

Tuesday evening one of The Girls said to the neighbor, "I love school time!" (I smiled, patted myself on the back, thanked God, and gave the neighbor a thumbs-up.)

I do have a few rough spots in my curriculum and in my schedule that need smoothing out. And so I pose these questions to you other Catholic moms (or dads) out there, especially you homeschoolers:

First, what do you do for religion class? I have used the Faith and Life Series in the past. I like it, but the kids aren't nearly as excited about it as they are about their other subjects, so I'm looking for other options. I really don't want them to groan when I say it's time for religion. And I don't really know what the problem is. I don't know if it's the way I'm presenting the material or the material itself. I've tried asking them. They tell me they like it, but I'm afraid they think if they say they don't like religion class it means they don't like God. Poor kids.

Second, since I work full-time and homeschool, I have to run a very tight ship. Each day is very structured in order to get everything done. We have been attending Mass daily. Our parish is within walking distance and Mass is at 10:00 am, the perfect time for a break in our schoolwork, some exercise, and, most importantly, time with our Lord. In the past, we were gone for an hour, from the time we left the house to the time we were back in the house and ready to start again. We just got a new pastor, however, and Mass is now twice as long as it used to be, which means another half an hour out of our already full day. I love taking the kids to Mass, but I just don't know if I can make it work. Suggestions?

Finally, what's more important for mom -- an extra half hour of sleep in the morning or a half hour of exercise?

Thanks everyone for your help! I'm praying for all you homeschoolers out there! Blessings upon you, your families, and your schools!


  1. Just wait til one of the kiddos tells someone (who doesn't homeschool) that they don't like school!! That's a really hard one!

    We also do Faith and Life, At first we did the workbooks but now, we do the main book for reading aloud time and then read the questions in the workbook and if they want to do the work, color pictures, etc, they can. (my son doesn't, unless it's a puzzle) This works pretty good. it only takes one day and then one other day, we do the Baltimore Cathechism, just read one chapter and go through the questions. Works for us!

    You are so very blessed to go to daily Mass!!!! Walking distance would be such a blessing!!! I'm a little jealous, and that time is great!!!

    Since it's taking so long though, I understand and maybe you could change it to certain days, like Wednesday/Friday? Something like that. It might give you a chance to work harder on the days where you don't go and get more done? Just a thought! Workouts could be the same way, workouts certain days and sleeping extra time certain days?

    Balance is always the key....it's finding the right balance thought that works for you!!

    Remember God has called you to homeschool and He can and will help you with all you need to get it done!

    God bless, great post!

  2. Oh, about religion, remember you are also teaching religion by celebrating feast days, with foods and treats and coloring sheets and stories, etc...and most importantly going to Mass like you do!

  3. Jamie, Do you do one chapter in Faith and Life each week, but all in one day? I have been using the Teacher's Guide, which breaks each chapter into four lessons, and doing one lesson per day, and the quiz on Friday. Too much?

  4. Even though I don't homeschool, I also was going to suggest attending Mass once or twice per week, instead of everyday. Maybe the day(s) you don't do religion ... FYI: My daughters' school uses the Baltimore Catechism. And I also agree with Jamie that you're teaching our Faith through other activities, too, like feast days, family prayer, maybe a Bible study of some sort (we're going to start the Great Adventure for Kids with ours very soon).

    Sounds like you're off to a great start! Hang in there, Michelle! And don't be too hard on yourself =)

  5. so sorry Michelle, I never came back!!

    Yes, I do the whole lesson in one day, I found it was too much to split it up, so we just sit down on the couch and read it, then quick look at the workbook and see if they want to do any of those pages, I don't care if they do or don't, except sometimes it seems good for them to do. Maybe it is better to split it up if the kids are not retaining the info, but my kids seem to be retaining it fine.

  6. We follow MODG and have used the St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechism - reading and discussing each chapter and then having the children memorize the answers to the questions. Their little minds pick these up SO fast. When they have mastered a chapter, they recite it to dad. This is cool to them. Then, to add an extra incentive, Dad has a prize box filled with little candies, holy cards, trinkets, dollar store finds. They do all their "shopping" for birthdays and holidays by memorizing the catechim - it's a win/win if you ask me!
    We also read the bible and the lives of the saints. The children have all made "bible books" and "saint books" appropriate to their level. These are all outlined in the MODG syllabus.
    This year, my 5th grader started the Faith and Life book and it seems okay. We've moved onto the more detailed/advanced baltimore catechism and she's memorizing those answers which really just add on to what she already knows.
    As for daily Mass every day - that's a tough one. We work to get there twice a month. I think that once a week when you've got a bunch of littles is great!
    Also celebrating feast days/saints of the day is great. And, anytime you can incorporate the faith in other curricular areas. For example, studying art and symbolism (Seton's Art for Young Catholics) or any of the grammar/language workbooks from Seton or CHC just to name a few.
    Hope that this rambling helps.
    God Bless!
    Heather :-)


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