Meditation for kids: the thankful leper

File:CodexAureus Cleansing of the ten lepers.jpg  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, see the variations. It is especially appropriate for those making their First Confession this year.

 Read the meditation at Contemplative Homeschool.

Educate your kids for divine union

File:Anton Francesco dello Scheggia - The Seven Virtues - Google Art Project.jpg

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 to learning and to God. Humility is one of the most important virtues to cultivate. Teach them to ask, seek, and knock. Show them that learning is a lifetime venture. Only God has all the answers. Continue learning yourself, especially about the faith. Model awe. Teach your children proper respect.

Try to bring these fundamental questions to each subject: What is man? What is my purpose in life? Discuss them in math, science, literature, art–even physical education. Orient everything towards our highest good.

Contrary to the notion popular in our culture, leisure is not the same thing as entertainment. True leisure never leaves us as spectators. It requires us to participate with our minds, hearts, or bodies. True leisure is time to think, to imagine, and to love. For kids especially, that also means time to play.

Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool.

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.

File:Georg Friedrich Stettner (attr) Christus im Hause der Martha.jpg
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 disturbed by what Martha is saying? (No, she looks peaceful.)
3. Discuss: Why do you think the artist filled the foreground of the picture with food? (To show how much work Martha had to do or had been doing.) Do you think Martha was doing something important? (Yes, Jesus and His disciples needed to eat.) What could she have done differently so she could sit and listen to Jesus too? (She could have made a simpler meal.)
4. Remind your children of the Feeding of the 5000. How much food did Jesus need to feed all those people? (5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.) Do you think Martha needed to work all day to cook for Jesus? (Probably not, because He could have fed them miraculously, as He had done before.) Why do you think Martha was working so hard? (She was probably trying to show Jesus how much she loved Him by making Him a great meal.)

Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool.

Catholic Homeschool Styles & Curriculum Predictor

Take the Quiz and let me know, in comments, if you think it predicts your style accurately.


Homeschooling Style Quiz: (by Dr. Chen – see below)
Use the following scale in answering the questions. Be sure to circle the number that corresponds with your answer.

123456
That’s not me at allRarely true, only 20% of the timeOccasionally true, about 40% of timeOften true, about 60% of timeUsually true, about 80% of timeAlmost always true


Group 1A questions
I look forward to homeschooling 1 2 3 4 5 6
My husband wants me to homeschool 1 2 3 4 5 6
I love to study and learn new things 1 2 3 4 5 6
I enjoy reading aloud to my children every day 1 2 3 4 5 6
I find myself naturally explaining things to the children 1 2 3 4 5 6
I’m in the middle of reading a book (romance novels excluded) right now. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 1A=______________

Group 1B questions
There is a show or movie on TV that I want to watch almost every night 1 2 3 4 5 6
I spend an hour or more each day visiting friends or chatting on the phone 1 2 3 4 5 6
My husband wants me to homeschool, but I dread it. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I can’t find time to read. 1 2 3 4 5 6
It’s very hard to find time to play with or read to the children. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I often feel guilty about not getting enough accomplished. . 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 1B=______________

Group 2A questions
The inside of my kitchen cupboards are clean and organized . 1 2 3 4 5 6
We all make our beds, put away our clothes and do our chores without a lot of problem . 1 2 3 4 5 6
I rarely misplace things. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I enjoy paying the bills, planning the details of a trip or organizing an activity . 1 2 3 4 5 6
The books in our personal library are categorized so that I can easily find them 1 2 3 4 5 6
The inside of our refrigerator is clean. . 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 2A=______________

Group 2B questions
Usually there is laundry to be done and piles around that need to be folded . 1 2 3 4 5 6
I have a hard time getting my children to do chores . 1 2 3 4 5 6
I want to teach my children but there are so many choices that I don’t know where to begin . 1 2 3 4 5 6
When my children ask me where something is it takes a long time for us to find it . 1 2 3 4 5 6
I don’t know what we will be having for dinner until it’s time to cook the meal. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I procrastinate a lot. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 2B=______________

Group 3A questions
I like to plan things down to the last detail 1 2 3 4 5 6
I like doing craft activities or taking trips to the zoo or library with the children 1 2 3 4 5 6
I think a great way to learn is curled up on the couch with a book 1 2 3 4 5 6
I would let my children do their schoolwork on the floor if they wanted to 1 2 3 4 5 6
Kids can learn more about nature by walking around outside than they can from a book 1 2 3 4 5 6
I hated my textbooks and workbooks when I was in school 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 3A=______________

Group 3B questions
I like the idea of my children sitting at desks quietly working 1 2 3 4 5 6
It’s important for me to know what and how to teach my children each step of the way 1 2 3 4 5 6
I’m afraid my kids will have “gaps” in their education 1 2 3 4 5 6
I want my children to be at the same place in their subjects as the children in school 1 2 3 4 5 6
I like the idea of having just one book for each subject 1 2 3 4 5 6
I worry that I won’t be able to teach my children what they need to know. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Average (total divided by 6) for 3B=______________

Analyzing the Results:

The average from 1B, 2B and 3B must be reversed in order to analyze the results of this test.
6 becomes 1
5 becomes 2
4 becomes 3
3 becomes 4
2 becomes 5
1 becomes 6

After you have reversed the score for those 3 groups take a final total. Your total score should be between 6 and 36.
What your total score indicates:

6-12 total strongly suggests that you should use a homeschool program such as the Angelicum Academy or Seton HomeStudy. [I’d imagine that would apply to Our Lady of Victory, as well..maybe Kolbe, too. ]

13-18 total suggests you should use a program, but that you could add or change a small part of the program without a problem.

19-24 totalindicates you would be comfortable using some type of lesson plan system that you can modify to suit your needs. Good options might be the lesson plans from Catholic Heritage Curriculum or syllabi offered by Mother of Divine Grace or SaintThomas Aquinas Academy. [Could Kolbe fit in here, too, as it also allows modifications?]

(BINGO!  This is where my test puts me.  But, I *feel* that I meet the description of 13-18 as I do use a program – MODG- but enjoy its flexibility to add in Seton, OLVS ,CHC books and other resources suggested by my mentor, Paola of EmmanuelBooks.)

25-30 totalsuggests you could develop your own lesson plans, but would need support and guidance which could be found in DesigningYour Own Classical Curriculum or the suggested curricula at Catholic Heritage Curriculum.  It would also be helpful for you to examine lesson plans that others have written before creating your own. [ Consider, MaterAmabilis, I would think.]

30-36 total strongly suggests you would have no problem creating your children’s educational program.

If your score “doesn’t make sense” go back and recalculate making sure that you reversed the appropriate scores  as directed at the top of the page.

Quiz designed by Andrea Chen, Catholic Homeschool Mom of six, director of Mercy Academy Homeschool Program (http://www.mercyacademy.net), with a Phd. in Psychology.

It was put together based on her experience and knowledge of tests, measurement and homeschooling. This questionnaire has been tested on over 100 homeschooling mothers and found to be valid.

Do you agree?

in +JMJ+

Allison from

Is love or fear 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 that man was totally depraved. Fundamentalist Christians generally believe that man’s nature is bad since the Fall. Thus a child has a naturally rebellious spirit that must be tamed.

Ruth Beechick was one of the early homeschooling experts among “Bible Christians.” I gleaned much from her book Heart & Mind:What the Bible Says About Learning.  However, her works have the typical Fundamentalist shortcomings, most based on an overly literal interpretation of Scripture.  Since “[t]he fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 3:12), she believes that education must start with discipline.  Without a healthy fear (she says), children won’t be motivated to learn anything.

Read more at Contemplative Homeschool.

Catholic Homeschool Support Groups on Facebook

Get connected to other Catholic homeschoolers on Facebook. There are a variety of groups.

I am seeing much more activity in the Catholic homeschool Facebook groups than I am seeing in the yahoogroup emails. If you are looking for support and Catholic homeschool info please consider these links to active groups. These communities are helpful and connect us to others like us across the map. 

+ Catholic Homeschool Moms https://www.facebook.com/groups/24164460379/ over 1,000 members

+ Catholic Homeschoolers of NorthEast (PA, NJ,DE,MD) https://www.facebook.com/groups/115513477358/ over 70

+ MODG Moms https://www.facebook.com/groups/29412108736/ almost 200

+ Mater Amabalis(for Catholic Charlotte Mason approach) https://www.facebook.com/groups/materamabilis/ almost 200

+ Catholic Homeschooling Resources https://www.facebook.com/pages/Catholic-Homeschooling-Resources/137231707453 almost 700

+ Totus Tuus Family & Catholic Homeschool FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Totus-Tuus-Family-Catholic-Homeschool/285307812834?fref=ts over 700

Did I miss any? Please add to comments.

If God is willing…

” Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain’; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that'” (James 4:13-15).

This passage from James the Apostle can almost seem silly. Should we really preface every statement of intent with “God willing?” I used to ask myself this question. That changed in the summer of 2002.

 I was a new mom, struggling to adjust to sleepless nights and no time to myself, when it became clear that I would have to return to work. Never in my life had I considered being a working mother. In fact, I’d had many discussions in which I had said, “There is absolutely no way I would work when I had small kids.” But circumstances were against me. I had no other choice, if my family were not to starve or otherwise fall apart.

 Eating my words 
Going back to work was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done. What would people think? Would they call me a hypocrite? Would they think I was a closet feminist?

As I read Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, I had to face the fact that God’s will–at least His permissive will–could be different from mine on such a major issue. I had to let go of my will. When I did, I found a measure of peace.

Continue reading.

Jacob and Esau contemplative homeschool unit

File:Matthias Stom - Esau and Jacob - WGA21805.jpg

I have been blogging lately about my method of contemplative homeschooling. Here is an example of a unit I did a few years ago with my boys on Jacob and Esau.

The best way to start these units is for you (the parent) to meditate on the Scripture passage you will study with your kids. In this case, prayerfully read Genesis 25:29-24, 27:1-40. Since this passage is long, you could spread your meditation over 2-3 days or choose a smaller portion of the text to meditate on.  Identify the main elements or themes of the story that speak to you and use them as part of your studies.

The themes I chose for this unit were twins, telling the truth, and comparing and contrasting. (I created this before I began starting each unit with my prayer time.)

Narration: Read “Esau and Jacob” from The Golden Children’s Bible aloud. If you have a different Bible, use only the parts of the story that correspond to the sections of Genesis noted above. Have your kids narrate it back and you write their narrations. Children 10 and up can write their own.

Copywork/memorization: “The Truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

3 reasons I love Catholicism: Truth, goodness, and beauty

 Micaela at California to Korea is hosting a link-up called “3 Reasons I love Catholicism.” You can submit your link all month. There are lots of good submissions, so check them out and join up. My reasons (in this post, anyway) are the triumvirate of truth, goodness, and beauty. I will show you how truth, goodness, and beauty are essential to the Contemplative Homeschool and to seeking God.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, in Spiritual Passages: The Psychology of Spiritual Development “for those who seek”, uses the categories of truth, beauty, goodness, and oneness in a similar way to learning styles or temperaments. They signify to him four ways of relating to God. We can use these categories to help ourselves and our students/children grow spiritually.

Truth satisfies the intellect  The Catholic Church speaks the truth, no matter how few listen. She does not shy away from controversy. Countless Catholics have been martyrs for the truth. Unlike our relativistic culture, and some other religions and philosophies, Catholics believe the truth is objective and knowable. Humans have minds that desire satisfaction. By upholding objective truth, the Church upholds man’s dignity.

Continue reading

Is your homeschool faith-based?

D goes back to school. (Just kidding! We took this photo to sell as stock.) 
I’ve read at least a dozen books on homeschool philosophy and gleaned something from every one. But none exactly met my vision of what I wanted our homeschool to be. Some were literature-based (Charlotte Mason/Real Learning). Others were history-based (Neo-Classical/The Well-Trained Mind). Others were classics-based (The Latin-Centered Curriculum). The faith-based methods fell into two general categories of Protestant, Bible-based (Ruth Beechick) and either Protestant or Catholic textbooks that incorporated the faith into each subject (Seton Homeschool and Catholic Heritage Curricula). I decided to create a Catholic Bible-based homeschool method.

 Teaching with homilies, not sermons 

One way in which the Contemplative Homeschool is different from other faith-based methods is that I spread religion across the curriculum in a homily, not sermon, format. A sermon, common in Protestant churches, starts with an idea. The preacher finds Bible passages to support his idea. A homily, on the other hand, begins with the Church’s Scripture readings for the day, and pulls ideas out of them. Both can teach the same subject, but from the opposite direction. A homily, ideally, should give a greater insight into a particular Bible passage, while a sermon might show how a particular idea is taught throughout the Bible.
Catholic Heritage Curricula (and those like it) takes a subject and brings the faith into it. For example, The Catholic Speller includes words such as “Mass” in the appropriate units. This method is common, even used in some Catholic schools. I see this as a sermon approach. The faith is added on to a subject, but the subject is central.
In contrast, I am going through the Bible with my boys from start to finish. I take a Bible story–Jacob and Esau, for example–and create a union to connect as many subjects as I can to the themes found in the story. The central focus is the Bible, not the subject. I see this as a homily approach.
I see many advantages to the homily approach, which I will detail in a future post.

Read More: Here’s a pared-down example of a unit on Manna in the Wilderness
Share with us: How do you incorporate the faith into your homeschool?