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Colorful Learning for All Ages (#40)

Fri, 02/22/2008 - 13:39
When the Vatican Collection went on display a few years ago, we visited the exhibit with a wonderful docent who knew all kinds of stories and symbolism behind the artifacts and really made the exhibit come alive. She was obviously well-read and when she started explaining a piece, she generally captured the attention of all those in the room. I was amazed and delighted to discover that when people asked her where to learn more about these things, she suggested that they turn to children's books.

What a wonderful idea! There are loads of beautiful picture books, simple biographies and even coloring books available today that adults and children can learn from together. If you're just starting out homeschooling your very young children, this is a great place to start. Children have a great capacity to enjoy such stories which gently introduce them to the realms of history, science, religion and much more.

For those with a broad age range, match some of these fun books up with your older children’s school studies and let everyone get involved!

Break the Conventions, Keep the Commandments (#39)

Fri, 02/22/2008 - 13:37
I find that in balancing my obligations as a homeschool mother, I need to make distinctions between what I can be flexible and open about and what is non-negotiable.

Not only do such distinctions relieve stress when things don't go as planned (and in a family this is a common occurrence!), but they also free me to give my children the chance to make some choices in their day and in their education - which can be a good thing for both of us!

G. K. Chesterton offers a helpful and humorous perspective:

"A man's minor actions and arrangements ought to be free, flexible, creative; the things that should be unchangeable are his principles, his ideals. But with us, the reverse is true; our views change constantly, but our lunch does not change. Now, I should like men to have strong and rooted conceptions, but as for their lunch, let them have it sometimes in the garden, sometimes in bed, sometimes on the roof, sometimes in the top of a tree. Let them argue from the same first principles, but let them do it in a bed, or a boat or a balloon."

Helping Your Children Love Learning (#38)

Fri, 02/22/2008 - 13:37
There's nothing quite like the interest and involvement of parents to help motivate children to WANT to learn. Here are a few ideas to try out with your own families.

Go outside and look at the stars together. Learn the names of a few of the constellations.

Children love "real" things. Let them help you with real jobs and house projects.

Take them to the beach, forest, pond or desert and have everyone draw pictures of what they find.

Spend time with other families who love learning.

Pop a batch of popcorn and sit down to a family read-aloud.

Plan ahead for an art museum trip by introducing each child to a beautiful painting they can search for once you arrive.

Go on an adventure walk in your own neighborhood. Bring water bottles and magnifying glasses!

Choose a country and find recipes native to that place. Invite several friends to do the same, and get together for a day of ethnic cooking.

Most importantly, let your children see that you love learning too.

History and Hope (#37)

Mon, 12/10/2007 - 22:32
We know that life experience tends to develop wisdom. History allows us to tap into the "life experience" of humanity even as we would listen to and learn from the wisdom of a grandparent or older friend.

Studying history provides perspective in understanding the world today. Those who don't study history can conclude that things used to be great but that it's all a hopeless mess now. This overly-pessimistic attitude often leads to a sense of complacency rather than a willingness to cooperate in our own small way with God's plan. The truth is that mankind has battled with (and sometimes lost to) great evil since the Fall.

History helps us to avoid the mistakes of others, to recognize errors in thinking that are not-at-all-new and to have real hope that God raises up ordinary men and women in every generation to be saints and heroes who work to counteract evil and help bring God's love to the world.

Old and New (#36)

Mon, 12/10/2007 - 22:28
Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical On Christian Education, helps us connect our studies of today with what we have received from our Catholic heritage:

These noble traditions of the past require that the youth committed to Catholic schools be fully instructed in the letters and sciences in accordance with the exigencies of the times. They also demand that the doctrine imparted be deep and solid, especially in sound philosophy, avoiding the muddled superficiality of those "who perhaps would have found the necessary, had they not gone in search of the superfluous." In this connection Christian teachers should keep in mind what Leo XIII says...:
"Greater stress must be laid on the employment of apt and solid methods of teaching, and... on bringing into full conformity with the Catholic faith, what is taught in literature, in the sciences, and above all in philosophy, on which depends in great part the right orientation of the other branches of knowledge."