K-12 Plan For A Christ Centered Education

Here at Schamelot we take a living books approach to education, allowing for lots of free time to explore, create, experiment, imagine, and cultivate the virtues, particularly piety, obedience and diligence. What is called "The Charlotte Mason Method" permeates our homeschool philosophy, and Kolbe Academy and Mother of Divine Grace are the spring boards for our curriculum, which I put together for each child each year. I hope you will find something I have shared helpful to your homeschooling adventure! (scroll down after clicking a link)

Catechism and Character Formation

Science and Natural History


Language Arts and Literature

History and Geography

Music and Art


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cool Math Project Idea!

This is from Human Life International. I've always loved statistics. I wish I could see the exact process by which they came up with all these numbers so that we could conduct similar computations. It's terrible, but what an impact this could have--like my new idea for a bumper sticker:

"The average Muslim woman has 8 children, the average Christian woman, 1.6. Think about it."

How Many Heisman Winners Has Abortion Killed?

The sports world recently greeted the news that this year's Heisman Trophy Winner, Tim Tebow from the University of Florida, was almost a casualty of abortion. Twenty-some years ago he was not the strapping 6'3", 235 lb. beloved sports hero that he is today. At that time he was a one-inch-long unborn child whose existence, because of an amoebic infection, was defined as threat to his mother's health. Pam Tebow, his mother, was told by a doctor that it would be in her best interests to abort this baby, and she refused. Her husband backed her up on that generous decision, and seven months later they gave birth to a perfectly healthy boy. Little did they know that twenty years later they would be standing on a national stage with a Heisman Trophy winner giving that magnificent witness to life. The world thanks you, Mr. and Mrs. Tebow! There cannot be a more touching Advent story than this.
I wonder if anyone has ever asked how many potential Heisman Trophy winners abortion has actually killed. The answer is, twelve. Reflect on that a bit as you read further because there is a larger lesson in the Tebows' witness.
Dr. Brian Clowes, HLI researcher, has examined the data from the 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States (most recent census data) and extrapolated the numbers of the various professions and categories of Americans who have been eliminated in the wake of nearly 49 million legalized abortions, one third of all Americans conceived since 1973. The following numbers are based on the actual government estimates of the professions represented in America. So then, who have we lost to abortion?

2 US Presidents
7 Supreme Court Justices
102 US Senators and 589 Congressmen
8,123 Federal, district and local court judges
31 Nobel Prize laureates
328 Olympic medalists including 123 Gold medalists
6,092 professional athletes
134,841 physicians and surgeons
392,500 registered nurses
70,669 priests, ministers, rabbis and imams including
6,852 priests and 11,010 nuns (vocations "shortage"?)
1,102,443 teachers (K-12)
553,821 truck drivers
224,518 maids and housekeepers
336,939 janitors
134,028 farmers and ranchers
109,984 police officers and sheriff's deputies
39,477 firefighters
17,221 barbers, and
24,450,000... women (the gender of roughly half of all children aborted).

These numbers of course are only the tip of the iceberg. Keep in mind that we get our statistics about abortion from the abortion industry itself which has a vested interest in under-reporting the numbers. Likewise, these categories are only a few of the professions that Americans actually work in and are by no means a full portrayal of the total American workforce. What they represent, however, is the immense human toll that abortion takes on a society. Abortion-promoters present abortion as an exclusively private choice, but thirty-five years of abortion exposes the perniciousness of that lie. There is a social toll that comes from abortion which cannot easily be corrected.
For three and a half decades the feminists have reveled in a misleading "freedom to choose," and on the basis of that false "right" have eliminated their children and done immense damage to the family as the basic unit of society. Those who respect these sacred realities, on the other hand, have their wives and husbands to grow old with, their children to enjoy and their grandkids to play with and spoil. The love of life, marriage and family never leaves its adherents penniless, lonely or abandoned, and every now and then God throws in a Heisman Trophy just to show the rest of us that it's all worth it.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Marine Corps Museum

The new Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia, is absolutely awesome! I had the chance to go for the first time with my older three boys last weekend. I took lots of pictures! My oldest gets swept away in there every time he goes, reading every caption and studying every picture. I was just amazed at the life-size exibits of United States Marines in action. If you're ever in the area, make sure you go. It's free, and it's not something the kids (especially the boys) will forget anytime soon.
It was a wonderful history lesson!

Happy Schooling!

This is actually a life-size figure made of wax (I guess)! He looked so real I wanted to call out, "Oorah, Devil Dog!" He's holding a flag at the end of the pole (I can't remember if it was an American flag or a Marine Corps flag.)

This was in the desert room. The temperature in the room was actually very warm, to simulate the dessert. There was an audiocast of the Marines talking to eachother over the radio and calling in the helicopter for a med-evac.

This was in the snowy mountain room. This room was very chilly, with a bit of a wind rushing around. It, too, had an audiocast of Marines asking for reinforcements and supplied.

These are my boys, way overdue for haircuts!

This dog was so life-like kids were afraid to get near it. I don't think they actually stuffed a real German Shepherd, but it looked that real.

This is a depiction of the reef at the Battle of Tarawa. While we were standing there we saw a man, probably in his seventies or eighties, wearing a cap commemorating that battle. I guess he was actually there.

(The juxtaposition of my three happy boys next to this wounded Marine really cuts me up. To think of those countries in which children see the tragedy of war everyday, and then look at the joy on the faces of children who have the leisure of going to a multi-million dollar museum to look at pictures and exhibits of war really gives me pause. May we never take it for granted. And may our country cease to be the cause of those other children's suffering.)

This was the MOST real looking figure of them all, IMHO. You could even see the pores in his skin. I could have sworn he was alive.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Character Formation at Meal Times

Somewhere in his great treasury of wisdom, the Summa Theologica, St. Thomas draws a connection between man's appetite for food and his appetite for certain other pleasures which he will have to master later in life. For this reason as well as practical ones, my husband and I have always insisted that the children eat whatever is put before them, or eat nothing until the next meal. Before they can choose to skip a meal, however, they have to at least taste their food, one bite of each course.

When John Michael was a baby, no more than three years old, I made brussel sprouts (which I'd say is one of the most controversial foods on the planet--seems everyone either loves them or hates them!) and at first glance I think he was sure this meal wasn't going to go well at all. He has a funny gag reaction to certain textures, like raisins IN the oatmeal, for example (raisins or oatmeal alone were fine), but I was in no way prepared for what he would go through with brussel sprouts! The first bite had a serious problem with gravity, trying, despite his best efforts, to defy all the laws of physics. He reached for the milk, gulping the entire cup to wash down the offending orb. Mission accomplished!

The next time I made them (everyone else in the family loved them from the start), I could see the uncertainty in his expression. He saved them for last, refilling the milk glass after everything else on the plate was consumed, and braved the beligerent brussel sprouts once again. These brussel sprouts were a little heavier, I guess, requiring less effort to keep down, but the milk was once again employed as a safeguard. His confidence was growing.

The third time was a charm! He confidently speared one of the bite sized morsels and popped it into his mouth. With a smile he chewed and swallowed, master of his meal, captain of the cabbage, he had bested the bothersome brussel sprout and rather enjoyed it. After that there emerged a sort of competition out of who got to eat the last scoop of brussel sprouts.

All of our children are rather adventurous eaters, enjoying everything from Indian to Italian food, Thai to Texican fare, Japanese to Just Plain Made Up fodder.

I really think that when it comes time to master their other appetites, which it has for some of them, they'll have an easier go of it, having had years of practice, three times a day at the dinner table. The Battle of the Brussel Sprouts won, the preservation of their purity perhaps "un peu" more probable--the grace of God provided, of course!

Happy Parenting!

Altar Boy Training Video

Sancta Missa is an awesome new website that has videos and manuals for learning to serve and offer the Traditional Latin Mass. They've just recently uploaded the Altar Boy Training Video for low Mass and it's wonderful!

In Sanguine Christi,

Mapping the World One Ancient Civilization at a Time

Exlpore your world!
We incorporate geography into our history studies with lots of fun geography games (I'll post a list at a later date). But especially we enjoy doing outline maps which the kids trace and slowly fill in starting with one class of locations, like bodies of water, then moutain ranges, then cities, etc., until they have the whole map pretty much memorized. The maps at the Interactive Ancient Mediterranean Project are really nice for the study of the ancient world becaust their hi-res PDF's start with everything on the map, including terrain, then eliminate details little by little until you have just a blank map, which you can use for a "test." Even this wee ones enjoy this school assignment! They can pretend they're explorers discovering new places and mapping them for future generations.

Happy Mapping,

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Parental Responsibility in Catechesis

My girlfriend, Ruth (Just Another Day In Paradise) just asked me about a question on her 4Real Learning forum in which a woman asked whether or not her D.R.E. can force her to enroll her children in CCD in order to be confirmed. The following article from Fr. Chad Ripperger, F.S.S.P., is a very thorough and concise explanation of the nature of rights and responsibilities, especially with respect to the education and religious formation of our children. In a nutshell the minister of the sacrament, as custodian of the sacrament, has the right to determine that those to whom he administers the sacrament are properly prepared/disposed. However, he does not have the right to dictate the means or method by which said recipients are prepared. The responsibility to catechize their children falls under those of the parents; therefore, parents have the right to catechize their own children. Since it is the parents who will answer to God for the religious formation of their children, parents have a grave responsibility to safeguard their children's religious education as well as their right to educate them, keeping it entirely under their own control if they so choose. Not even the bishop may/can usurp this responsibility.

Since this seems to come up every couple years or so, I decided to post Fr.'s article on the blog (although it can be easily found in numerous other places).

Enjoy, and never give up the fight!

Parentis aut in Loco Parentis

The development of the public school system over the last century and a half in the United States[1] seems to have caused a shift in the understanding of the parent's role in education. Most people tend to assume the "normal" thing to do is to send their child to a public school or if one has the financial resources one may opt to send one's child to a private school. Catholics, in the United States, prior to the Second Vatican Council were often told that they had to send their child to a Catholic School under pain of mortal sin. No doubt this was done in order to avoid the lapsing into heresy by a child who is educated in a non-Catholic or even anti-Catholic public or private school system. For example, one reads in the Radio Replies that Catholic parents who send their child to a public school when a Catholic school is available "are violating a grave law of their religion.[2]

From time to time, therefore, traditional parents will ask the question whether they have a grave obligation to send their child to a Catholic school. Usually, this is asked in a context in which it is understood that the available Catholic schools are anything but Catholic. In fact, given the general state of Catholic schools in the United States, it seems that the normal course of advice is to indicate that sending a child to a Catholic school might be a grave violating of the laws of their religion. In other words, parents, who have a moral obligation to ensure the proper doctrinal training of their children, have a grave moral obligation not to send their child to a Catholic school which is not in accordance with Church teaching. Does this seem to violate the pre-Vatican II teaching that parents are morally obligated to send their child to a Catholic school? Moreover, where does this leave the Catholic who has opted to home school their child? Does this not violate the pre-Vatican rule as well? Moreover, what is the role of the state regarding the education of children? Is it the state's responsibility to see to your child's education? The answer to these questions is a bit complex since it includes a clear delineation of four areas of discussion, viz. 1) the distinction between civil and natural rights; 2) the natural law rights of the parents; 3) moral obligations of parents regarding the proper religious instruction of their children, and finally; 4) a sorting out of mentalities that have arisen due to historical circumstances in the United States.

The Distinction between Natural and Civil Rights

A right is defined "as a moral or legal authority to possess, claim and use a thing as one's own[3]or the "inviolable power to do, hold, or claim something as one's own."[4] In other words, a right is a moral claim of an individual of the authority over some thing. The primary term of importance is authority, for authority here means that the person has a moral claim to exercise or to act upon the thing over which he has authority by virtue of who or what he is. Consequently, it means that others must respect that authority which the person has over the thing. For example, a man who possesses a car has the right to do with the car as he pleases, for instance he can get it in an go for a drive if he wants, provided it does not infringe upon the rights of another. If he were to decided to drive the car at high speeds in a downtown area, he would be violating the rights of others over the own bodily well being.

Rights are either absolute or non-absolute, i.e. conditional. An absolute right is one which no individual has the authority to violate whatsoever while a conditional right is one which the right may be suspended or denied by a competent authority due to supervening circumstances. For example, a woman has a right over her body, but not an absolute right. For if she was to become pregnant the child has rights over his/her body and, consequently, the woman cannot abort the child. Since she does not have an absolute right over her own body due to the fact that the child now lays moral claim over her body granted to the child by God Who placed the child in her womb.[5] In a word, men and women do not have an absolute right over the bodies, only God does.

The distinction between a natural and civil right is based upon the source of the authority. A natural right is a right coming to man from the author of nature and directly from the natural law for the fulfillment of duties of this law."[6] Whereas a civil right is an acquired right, i.e. "a natural or positive right obtained from a source other than the simple fact of possessing human nature,[7] in which the right is "recognized by human positive law."[8] To clarify, a natural right, also known as human right, is the right or authority one has been granted by God Himself by virtue of the fact that He made that individual according to human nature. In other words, when God made human beings, He had certain intentions in the way that He made him, consequently, the person has rights based upon God's making him the way He has, which expresses His intention and which means that God has given him authority over those things which pertain properly to his nature. The person, then, can exercise his rights because they have been granted to him by God by virtue of the fact that God gave Him that nature by which His intentions express what ought to be done. We see, therefore, that God gave each one of us a body and that our wills exercise a motive function over our bodies and as a result, we have a conditional right over our bodies. The right is conditional since by our bodies we can violate the rights of others and as a result usurp authority over others that does not properly belong to us by nature.

A civil right is one which is granted by positive human law, i.e. it is a right given to the individual by the state. This right, to truly be a right, must not violate any natural right. For since all authority is derived from God, [9] the state can only exercise that authority over those things which God has given them moral claim, i.e. principally and primarily the common good.[10] Consequently, the rights granted by God to the state cannot contradict the rights granted to the individual, for that would imply contradiction in God's causality which is impossible. Therefore, the state cannot grant a right which is contrary to the natural law, without violating the Will of God. Nevertheless, a civil right is a right granted in addition to the natural rights of the person and the authority to grant those rights comes, again, from God who has entrusted the care of the common good to the civil authorities.

The Natural Rights of Parents

What, then, are the natural rights of the parents? The natural rights of parents flow from the nature of the conjugal act as regards to its remote end. According to St. Thomas, "the good of each thing is that it comes upon its end: moreover, its evil is that it turns aside from its due end."[11] The end of the conjugal act is two-fold, viz, the begetting of children and their proper education.[12] For we see that in animals that when, for the proper up bringing of the progeny, two parents are not necessary, the male does not remain with the female once the offspring are begotten. But with man, both the male and female are necessary for the sake of the material sustenance of the child as well as the proper education due to man which requires both the female and the male.[13] One may say therefore that the proximate end of the act of coition, viz. the begetting of children would be impeded if the remote end is not served. That is to say that if the mother and the father do not both tend to the bringing of up the child, the child will suffer in some way.[14]

The actual begetting of the child only begins a process which is fundamentally ordered toward the completion of the individual person. So when the husband and wife beget the child, that begetting sets in motion a process through which the child passes until it reaches the age of majority and therefore can act on its own. This means that the end, perfection or completion of the person which is reached at majority is that toward which conjugal relations, i.e. the begetting of children is ordered. This we see is based upon the natural law which is part of Divine Providence[15] which ordered the conjugal act itself to proper education of children.[16] Therefore, one who has engaged in the conjugal act has a responsibility to see to completion the end for which his act is fundamentally ordered, i.e. parents, by virtue of their being parents, have the responsibility to educate their children which are the proper effect of their conjugal actions.

Therefore, since parents have a responsibility to educate their children by virtue of being parents, it means that they also have a right to do so. For if one has no moral claim or control of educating one's children, one could not have any responsibility in the matter. Yet, because parents have this responsibility, it means that others must respect that responsibility. On account of the fact that God has ordered the education of children to be the remote end of conjugal relations, it therefore means that those to whom He gives children, have been granted by Him the responsibility to take care of those children which means they must have some moral authority over them.[17] By virtue of the fact that they have authority over their children, they thereby have rights over them; we conclude therefore that parents have fundamental rights over the education of their children which is based on the nature of the conjugal act, i.e. the natural law as determined by God.

Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.[18]

Religious Instruction

The Second Vatican Council, along with many popes, affirms that since parents are the primary educators of their children they are also the primary catechists.[19] Parents are: First catechists because it is their duty to instill into their children, as it were with their first nourishment itself, the doctrine which they themselves have received from the Church. And principle catechists, because it pertains to parents to make sure that the principle matters of faith are learned from memory inside the family.[20]

This means that the primary responsibility of ensuring the integrity and completeness of a child's religious formation falls first and foremost on the parents. This provides the principle by which we can determine whether the teaching that parents have a grave obligation to send their child to a Catholic school is correct or not.

First, let it be stated that there are various means by which parents can see to the proper religious formation of their child. Historically, it has taken three forms, viz. at home, at a Catholic school during a religion class and finally at a CCD (Confraternity of Catholic Doctrine) class provided by a parish for those students who did not attend the Catholic school for some reason. Given the Church's statements on the matter,[21] it would appear that the best way to fulfill this is from within the home where the child would take his full religious instruction in the home. This would preserve a unity between the religious instruction and the proper living of it. When a child must take his religious instruction outside the home, it tends to divide the religious instruction from the re­enforcement which is essentially found in the family for the proper living of the faith.

However, circumstances may be such that the parents cannot adequately provide for the child's religious instruction and the reason for it may be numerous. Nevertheless, if a child cannot receive the religious instruction fully from the parents, then the parents have an obligation to seek instructors or catechists who will see to the child's instruction. Consequently, if the parents are unable to fulfill the religious instructional requirement on their own, they would then have a grave obligation to place the child in a Catholic school.[22]

Parental obligations are primarily with respect to the end and not the means. In other words, the begetting of children is ordered toward the child's perfection and if a particular means will aid more and guarantee the arriving at that perfection more than another, parents ought to employ that means. Moreover, if a means militates against the end of ensuring the child will receive a complete and orthodox education, then parents must avoid that means. Yet, responsibility to the means, while clearly being secondary, can still be grave.

Consequently, it seems that if parents cannot instruct their child fully, then they need to delegate that authority to someone who can. Catholic schools are better than mere CCD courses for two reasons. Given that the school is truly Catholic, it provides two things which simulate the family. The family provides constant instruction since the instructor or catechist is always present, so any questions the child may have can be answered immediately and not suspended until later when the child may lose interest. The second aspect is that the family provides an atmosphere in which the religious instruction can be lived and reinforced. In a truly Catholic school, there is a cultural atmosphere, if you will, which provides a Catholic context to the child's life. Moreover, since the child will go from the family, to the school, back to the family, there will be a somewhat continuous support to the child's religious frame of mind.

However, provided that the parents cannot do the instruction themselves and that no Catholic school is available, parents may then send their child to CCD. This implies that the child is either home schooled in secular or natural matters or is being taught in a public school. The public school approach is the least desirous since the child will go for long periods of time away from a specifically Catholic "culture" or atmosphere, running the risk of moral and spiritual bad influences. If the child is sent to CCD, however, and the parents home school the child in natural or secular matters, the continuous Catholic atmosphere can be maintained. Consequently, the grave obligation to send one's children to a Catholic school only occurs when the parents are unable to give the child a complete education and provided that an orthodox Catholic school exists. Likewise, parents would be required to send their child to CCD if neither of the previous options is available.

Modern Mentalities

Cultural habits are a powerful type of intellectual formation. In our society, i.e. in the United States, in the last 150 years, the general tendency was for the state to build a school and parents to send their child there for instruction. Typically, in the past, many parents did not know how to read or if they did read, they lacked the pedagogical skills to teach the basic reading, writing and arithmetic to their children. Consequently, parents, who sought a better education for their children than they had, would happily send their child to a state school for instruction. Over the course of time, this practice grew to the point that it became the normal way of life. Catholics to counteract Protestant affected secular teaching, would often build their own schools, yet in either case, the general practice was to send the child to a school. This practice lead, at least implicitly if not explicitly, to the idea that it was the state's place to educate the child. No doubt. this idea has accelerated in acceptance by the influx of Marxist social teachings[23] in the colleges in the sixties and seventies.

Moreover, this mentality has become transformed into a certain ideology in which there is a seen an antagonism between the state's rights and the parental rights. It is believed that the right to educate children rests on the state and not the parents, and for the state to allow home schooling is merely a toleration. Very often legislation is proposed that would restrict the parent's educating their child.[24] Moreover, some see home schooling as a form of subsidiarity, viz. that a function which properly belongs to the state is delegated to the parents or the state allows the parents to take care of something which the state ultimately has a right over. However, it must be remembered that for parents to educate their child is based on the natural law and therefore is a natural right and not a civil right; it is not a case of the state granting a right over and above the natural right. The state has a grave moral obligation to respect the natural rights of the parents regarding their children's upbringing. The parents may delegate the right to the state to educate their child, but like all delegation, it is based upon the will of the person delegating and not upon some right that the state may have. Consequently, the state acts in the place of the parents (in loco parentis) which means that the state's action is not of its own accord. Therefore, the parents have every right to retract that delegation at any time. There is only one instance in which the state has a right to intervene regarding the natural law rights of the parents and that is when the parents are instructing the child to violate the natural law in such a way as to impinge upon the proper competence of the state, viz. the protection of the common good.[25] In other words, the state can stop parents if what the parents teach militates against the common good. Since it pertains to the state to protect the common good, if the parents do something which will affect the common good, the state can intervene. Home schooling, therefore, has as its foundation the natural law itself. For it was the intention of God from the very beginning that parents should be the primary educators of their children. Consequently, parents who home school fulfil the will of their Creator in a most excellent fashion, for they not only provide the end which God intended when gifting them with children viz. the necessary moral and natural education, but they also employ the best means to that end.[26] Consequently, home schooling should never see the need to justify its existence since parents who do so are fulfilling the Will of their Creator.

Fr. ChadRipperger,F.S.S.P.,Ph.D. ttp://home.neb.rr.com/traditionis/NLHomeSchool.htm

Endnotes: (to be published soon) [1]

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


A few years ago a fellow homeschooling friend of mine mentioned the practice of some homeschoolers of devoting one day a week to each subject, instead of doing a little of each subject each day--"No Brainer Scheduling." I decided to try it and we haven't deviated since. The kids know everyday what we're doing, generally, and we really can delve into the subject material since we have the whole day to "get lost" in the matter. I like it because it greatly simplifies my planning, all the kids are doing the same thing at the same time, learning from eachothers observations, we talk about the subject throughout the day and during mealtimes--it just works for us! We even have a fun little way of referring to each day:

Math Mondays--we use MathUSee to they watch the video for the lesson in the morning and spend the rest of the day (usually with "homework" over the rest of the week) working on mastering the concept. They can usually get through one or two pages on the first day and then finish the other two pages of the chapter later in the week, like on Thursday or Friday.

Time Travel Tuesdays--this is History day! We love history, we love our timelines--I use the timeline figures to make coloring pages for the younger ones. Sometimes we listen to history on CD, The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, Ann Carroll's series on "controversial" moments in history (the Crusades, the Inquisistion, the Conquest of Mexico), history activities from books like Spend the Day in Ancient Rome, and of course, History Links has TONS of activity ideas, writing assignments, discussion questions, etc. We spend the whole day in the past, sometimes even preparing meals from ancient recipes.

Wordly Wednesdays--today we write--stories, poems, essays. Sometimes we do an exercise from Teaching Writing Structure and Style from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Sometimes we work on a paper from our history studies of the previous day. Sometimes I teach a lesson from Classical Writing (Aesop, Homer, Diogenese, etc.). Sometimes, instead of writing, we'll read Shakespeare, especially if there's a play that fits into our history studies. Or make a story chart of a beloved children's classic. This is also the day we work on our foreign language studies. We cycle through all our options, and we do most of the work together, like an old fashioned one room schoolhouse.

Thoroughly Thursdays--today we fill in the gaps, tie up loose ends, do outside activities with other families (usually geared towards learning more than just playing, which we reserve for Fridays after the weekly Commissary run). During years when we're actually doing "real" science, this is the day we'd do it. Otherwise we do a relaxed nature study, arts and crafts, etc.

Friendly Fun Fridays--Hopefully the older kids have completed all their assignments by Friday because this is the day we have friends over, go visiting, relax and do nothing, work on a hobby like Stamping Cards, draw pictures, whatever strikes one's fancy, because tomorrow is...

Slave Saturdays--when we get all the work done around the house, yard and farm--splitting wood, decluttering, pulling weeds, building, rearranging, mowing grass, raking leaves, etc. so that the next day,

Sublime Sundays--are truly a day of rest and relaxation.

As far as the daily routine during the week:

7:00--Rise and Shine. Hopefully mommy's already up and breakfast, if it wasn't prepared the night before in the crockpot--which I love to do!--is almost ready so that the kids can eat, say the morning prayers, milk the goats, wash faces, brush teeth, make beds, start laundry, and get the kitchen cleaned up at least a little, while mommy finishes the bread she started the night before, start laundry, make the final preparations for the lessons that day if necessary, and get dressed "to the shoes" before

9:00--Start School.

11:30--Lunch Break. We start making lunch around now so that we can eat and have the kitchen cleaned by no later than 1:00. We'll usually listen to recorded poetry, classical music (we love Beethoven's Wig!) or a recorded book while we eat. We also try to pray the Angelus at this time.

1:00--Quiet Study and Nap Time. Older kids will work independently on what's left of their studies from the morning while younger kids have some quiet or alone time with mommy.

3:00--Clean Up, Go Play and Start Dinner Time. WSe put away all the books, pick up all the toys, fold and put away laundry, go out to play until dinner's ready. Mommy and the older girls will start dinner now, the older boys will split and bring up wood if it's woodstove season, then go play until Dad comes home around 5:30.

6:00--Dinner Time. We usually say the Rosary right after dinner. By the time we eat, pray, clean the kitchen, etc. it's usually time for the kids to get to bed. They can read for a little while, but the lights go out at 9:00.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Coming Soon...


Music is one of my favorite subjects, because other than sitting back and listening, there's almost nothing I have to do. The kids all take music lessons, either piano or violin. In addition to that, we really just listen to wonderful classical music regularly. I always try to remember to tell them the composer's name and the title of the work. We also love the wonderful 3 disc set "Beethoven's Wig," which takes very familiar classics (Beethoven's 5th Symphony for example) and puts words to the music. The words usually have something to do with the composer or period in which the work was written. They're usually somewhat comical and really catchy. Some may not like having words associated with the music, especially words that often get a giggle or two. But we have enjoyed them tremendously. The little ones especially love them.
There are also the Music Masters CDs which are more serious and feature many different works by a composer intertwined with a story of his life. There are about 20 CDs in all.
We also have different books about some of the different composers, and have enjoyed the videos about them as well. Beethoven Lives Upstairs, for example, is a lovely story about the composer and the little boy who lives in the house in which Beethoven rents the top floor apartment.
I also have a book of the stories of the great operas, which I will sometimes read to the kids and then we may borrow a video of the opera from the library. You have to be careful with some of them, though. Many of the operas are very mature themes, and the opera Aida, for example, is set in Egypt, and some of the women are actually topless in the opera. Preview them before you watch them with your kids.
We don't do any real formal study of music, unless, of course, someone specifically wants to, but all my children have a love and appreciation for classical music, and opera. As they have gotten older some of them have wanted to listen to the pop music, and my husband has always listened to country. I prefer to put the songs on the iPod and let them listen to them that way rather than on the radio. I have more control over it that way. I also limit their listening and make sure that they are listening more to classical than to current.
My oldest son has recently started composing his own pieces. Whatever we're doing seems to be working out o.k. so far!
Happy Listening!

History--His Story!

History is our favorite subject! There's so much we have learned in this area it will take me months to share it all with you. I could have a whole blog devoted to this subject alone! Let's just start with my favorite history reading list, Reading Your Way Through History, from Love2Learn, a wonderful Catholic Homeschooling site, and the coolest timeline and timeline figures in the world! The timeline figures come on a CD and can be printed in a whole lot of different formats--from coloring book size pages, to tiny stickers I copy and paste onto mailing labels to stick them into our timelines. And just to make sure we're not getting too sidetracked I keep all the History Links close by for reference, writing and project ideas.

We study history with the Incarnation as the focal point, so that everything that happened before the Birth of Christ was a preparation of the whole world for this singular moment, and everything that's happened since has been a response to it. The only history is Catholic History. And what a glorious history it is! In addition to all the living history books we read, in High School we study from Dr. Anne Carroll's books, Christ the King, Lord of History, and Christ and the Americas, and Dr. Warren Carroll's Christendom Series and particular histories.

I also have to mention the wonderful selection of living history books and biographies from the Baldwin Project. I do not believe all these books are Catholic, per se, but I have found their treatment of delicate matters, like the conflict between Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, for example, to be satisfactorily unbiased. This site is a treasure trove of good children's literature in a wide range of subjects--a must see for all homeschoolers!

Please keep checking back for elaborations on our history curriculum. I simply cannot put it all into one post! Reading Your Way Through History, the timeline and timeline figures, and the books at the Baldwin Project should keep you plenty busy in the meantime. I hope you'll find them as wonderful as we do!

In Sanguine Christi,

Multi-dimensional Learning Activity

No! These are not dinosaur bones!

Today my husband's sister brought over another archeological find--a mid-nineteenth century bed pan, broken into about 15 pieces, which was found at a Union Civil War camp. Although one cannot say for sure it was probably requisitioned from a local home since it's pretty unlikely that a Yankee soldier would have carried it down here with him.

First we had to try to piece together the puzzel. We used the variations in the color, the irregularities in the glaze (those round splotches) as clues to where each piece went.

It took a little inspecting of each of the pieces but once we got going it was pretty easy.

We used glue very much like Elmer's School glue (this is so that mistakes can be easily undone with a gentle bath of water) to affix the pieces to one another. Then we set them in a bucket of sand to hold them up as they dried.

The tapered front piece proved a bit of a challenge and had to be held together by hand while it dried.

D.P at White Oak Museum photocopied this page from a book that shows several different kinds of bedpans in use during the mid-nineteenth century. The one on the right at the top of the left-hand column is the one we were working on.

We used a soft paint brush to dust the sand off the dried pieces.

This is the finished product. As you can see not all the pieces were there, but how very cool to put back together something that's been buried for more than a century. We did history, archeology and arts and crafts all in one sitting! Amateur archeologists really "dig" homeschooling!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Dead Things Flows With The Current--Only A Living Thing Can Swim Against It

Part of the mystique of homeschooling is how very different it is from the mainstream. For most homeschoolers it is not only a different way of educating our young, but a different way of life entirely. This difference is a definite turn-off to some folks, but a strong lure for others. For Catholics it is a necessity. I'm still reading Kay Toy Fenner's book, American Catholic Etiquette, and she summed up very nicely what I want to say on this matter:

"Many influences in modern living unite to induce the general public to accept a universal standard of morals, behavior, opinion, manners and dress. To some extent this has always been so; our ideas in these areas have ever been heavily influenced by those of our fellows. Universal literacy, the availability of inexpensive books and magazines, and our public school system have encouraged the spread of common standards. To these we add today television, radio, and moving pictures, and, most important of all, the development of certain psychological theories as to how man can best function in a modern world.

"...The educators engaged in teaching children how to 'function in the group,' to accept the 'will of the majority' as the standard of what constitutes right behavior, are, from their own point of view, merely assisting children to live happily with their fellows. All of this would be intensely valuable, if the ideas and standards upheld were the noblest possible. Unfortunately, setting such a universal uniform standard always means levelling down. One can never level 'up.' The standards acceptable to humanity at large will always be inferior to those possible to the brightest and the best. If these inferior standards are held up to the superior members of a society as ideal, such members are robbed of all incentive to struggle to the heights which may be possible to them.

"This results in an incalculable loss to mankind. Our great philosophers, saints, radicals, inventors--those whom A.W.E. O'Shaughnessy called 'the movers and shakers of the world'--have always been 'different' from the common run of man, and have been rightfully proud of their differences. Such people are the yeast which leavens the loaf of mankind; if they fail to rise, the loaf will become a pancake.

"For society at large, the acceptance of a low dead level of conformity, the spread of a common fear to differ from one's fellows, is a tragedy. For Catholics, it is impossible. We are, and will continue to be (for how long only God knows, but He knoweth) a minority group. Socially and governmentally, this is unimportant. In the realm of ideas and moral standards, it is important, and it is just in these realms that we are far more of a minority than we were a hundred years ago...

"This means that present-day Catholics must learn and must teach their children to differ from the majority of their fellows in many basic moral principles, to love and cherish those with whom they differ, while refusing to accept, as their moral guides, standards with which they do not agree. To do this, neither doubting one's own position nor rejecting all who differ from it, one must constantly bear in mind that the number of persons who hold any set of opinions has nothing to do with the rightness of one's position; to differ, and to be in the minority while differing, has no bearing on whether one is right or wrong.

"Granting that it is valuable to dare to be different, how does one go about teaching one's children independence of thought and action? One first examines one's own attitudes and opinions to see whether they are based on independent conclusions, or unconscious acceptance of what one sees and hears..."

In my mind there is a very simple answer to her question that goes beyond examining one's own opinions. I believe that the answer is to look to Tradition, and traditions--of morals, behavior, opinion, manners and dress. And not just the traditions of the first 69 years of the 20th century, but the Tradition of 2,000 years of Catholic saints and scholars, and ordinary folks like us, who, by Christ's example have been held to the highest standards. I've always hated the terms "liberal" and "conservative" because they are comparative terms that use eachother to guage themselves, rather than a transcendent reality. And one can be as liberal as liberals were 50 years ago, but still be considered conservative only because the liberals are more liberal than they were 50 years ago. The only comparison for a Catholic is Christ, and His Blessed Mother. "What would Jesus do?" as cliche as it is, is the only question we need ask ourselves. "Would Mary wear these tight jeans?" or ..."use this kind of language, or watch this movie or read this book?" Catholics, because we follow He Who set the highest standard, are bound to aspire to the highest standard. We must strive to practice the "best" manners, the "best" behavior, hold the "most" virtuous opinions, dress the "most" modestly, and hold ourselves to the "highest" moral code. We cannot allow ourselves or our children to "level down" to what is most prevalent, mediocre, or common. We are followers of Him who was unlike anyone who ever walked the face of the Earth. We must emulate His example, and in so doing will be more like Him, and less like those, interiorly as well as exteriorly, who are not His followers. We may find others who are like us, but let it be because they too strive for the highest standards, and not because we have become lukewarm and settled for mediocrity.

Mrs. Fenner continues:

"Those who have had the advantage of being gently reared or have had more educational opportunities will have higher standards than those who have not. Children who are taught from infancy about morals and ethics will try harder to be good than those who never hear the subject mentioned. Explain that you are trying to teach them what you consider to be the very best behavior: the most honorable, the most courteous, the kindest. Admit that there may be people with higher standards than yours, and many with standards that are lower. But your standards are the ones that you are convinced are best for you and your family. You therefore expect your children to learn to live up to them, even though in so doing their lives will often differ in many ways from those of their friends. They should consider themselves fortunate that they have parents so devoted and so idealistic, and they will so consider themselves when they are older and know enough to evaluate such matters. They should never be afraid to differ from their comrades in doing that which they know, from their home training, is right.

"Caution your children, also, not to criticize the behavior of others. Explain that those fortunate enough to be taught at home to strive for the highest standards have an obligation to be kind and forebearing to those who have not had such advantages. If you are convinced of the truth of all this, your children will sense the weight of your conviction and will abide by your opinions."

She concludes by reminding parents that it is alright for children to be like others on morally neutral matters, but on matters of morals, modesty, and manners, they cannot strive for any less than the highest standards.

I found these insights, written in the 60's, to be very helpful and just as relevant today as they were 45 years ago, if not more so. I hope you find them as helpful as I did!

In Sanguine Christi,

Friday, August 17, 2007



Literature is a new favorite subject here at Schamelot Academy. Ever since I read How To Read English Literature Like A Professor (not recommended for children) I have enjoyed reading and teaching literature ever so much more! This summer I "discovered" English Literature For Boys and Girls, by H.E. Marshall. Published in 1900 and recently reprinted, it is a wonderful overview and exposition of the history and development of English literature from the earliest manuscripts. It can also be read online at the Baldwin Project.

Aside from reading literature, we have also developed a passion for recorded books. This summer my oldest daughter has been listening to so many of Shakespear's plays on CD. Our library had the whole collection of his plays. We also have the Odyssey, the Divine Comedy, Oliver Twist, Mary Poppins, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, James Herriots Animal Stories, etc. Nothing can replace the benefits of reading great literature, but who can read all of it when dishes and laundry still need to be done?! Listening to a recorded book builds listening skills and is not so different from Mother or Dad reading aloud. Not to mention the great use of travel time a recorded book affords the busy, on the go mother. I have often thought that a wonderful Christmas gift for an older child to give a younger one would be to read some of his favorite books on tape or video to be enjoyed time and time again. What a wonderful gift to Mother, too!

Language Arts

Language Arts:

Children are read too everyday from classic children's literature. Narration, or the verbal retelling of a story is a common pasttime at the dinner table. I love Five In A Row and all the recommended books that go with it. Developing Linguistic Patterns Through Poetry Memorization is a wonderful audio program from the Institute For Excellence In Writing. Their Phonetic Zoo, and Teaching The Classics are also favorites of mine.

We do not push any of the children to learn to read by a certain age. The girls have all "taught themselves" to read around age 5, while the boys have taken a few years longer to become proficient readers with help from Mom. Hooked on Phonics, Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, and Sound Beginnings all grace our bookshelf, and are used according to which one seems to be working best for each child. I recommend you start with Teach Your Child To Read, because it's the least expensive.

The Classical Writing series is a treasure, although a little overwhelming at times. I definitely need to read through the lessons ahead of time and "teach" the concepts. They are wonderful books written by homeschooling English Majors/Masters, and are a complete English program, including good literature as models for writing. Additionally we use Teaching Writing Structure and Style from the Institute for Excellence--a wonderful video program which sees results fast!

Wordly Wise, Winston Grammar, and Getty Dubay Italic Handwriting Series are used at various levels, as needed.
As far as writing projects go, we write about what we read, or what we've been arguing about (not amongst ourselves, usually, but with acquaintances with whom we don't exactly see eye to eye!). A few of our writing projects can be viewed at Schamelot, our other blog.



We begin using Math U See as soon as they start asking to "do school." The manipulative approach to math is irreplaceable, in my opinion, and I have found that Math U See has even given me a clearer understanding of what one is actually doing when borrowing, carrying, multiplying fractions, and working out algebraic equations, etc. Our mathematical goals are to complete Algebra II and Geometry. I do not feel the need to make sure that all or any of our children comlete higher mathematics like Trigonometry and Calculus before graduating high school. They can study these subjects through our local community college (which recognizes dual enrollment) if they are so inclined to do so during their high school years, or wait until they go to college.

Natural History

Natural History:

Reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnids of every variety are frequent guests in our home. We have a whole shelf of field guides (a collection I was inspired to acquire by my dear friend, Angela, who has since left this world, God rest her soul), and Holling Clancy Holling's books are among our favorites. Of course we have Anna Botsford Comstock's Nature Study Handbook, and a slew of natural history books from Yesterday's Classics. These include delightful stories about the creatures of the pond, forest, night, and meadow, as well as explanations of scientific principles and phenomena on a child's level from The Story Book of Science by Jean Henri Fabre. All the books from Yesterday's Classics are available to read online at The Baldwin Online Children's Literature Project.

Catechism and Character Formation

Catechism and Character Formation:

Little ones begin to cultivate a strong work ethic as soon as they are able. It seems that the lower in the birth order they are the sooner they are asking for chores to do. They see the older kids working, and must be able to recognize the good in it, even when the older kids have momentarily forgotten its benefits.

They learn to pray starting at the meal table, thanking God for the food, praying for the poor souls in purgatory, and Our Lady's Rosary after dinner. They are required to eat whatever has been prepared for them, which provides frequent opportunities to mortify their appetites, and fortify the virtue of obedience. Lucky for them mommy's cooking's not too bad.

Through weekly participation at the Traditional Latin Mass, as well as being shielded from any sight of irreverence towards God's house and the Blessed Sacrament, they learn piety, and fear of the Lord--fear of offending such a loving and generous creator. Attendance at the Traditional Latin Mass has also prepared them for the study of Latin in the upper grades. They are taught the prayers of the Rosary, Grace Before Meals, and liturgical hymns in Latin, too.

Their catechism comes primarily from Socratic discussions at the dinner table. But much, too, is learned from The Catholic Child's Treasure Box, Mary Fabean Windeatt's Lives of The Saints Series, The Vision Book Series, Know Your Mass, Leading the Little Ones to Mary, and the Catechism for Children. I've hung an over-the-door apparatus in their bathrooms in which I tuck old issues of Catholic Hearth, and books such as the Catechism in Examples, which is currently out of print. Perhaps Anecdotes and Examples for the Catechism is a good alternative.

In the older years they read all of the Fr. Laux 6 Book Course in Religion, and the books that accompany their history studies round out their overall catechesis.
In highschool they study Following Christ in the World, from Seton, and Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

K-12 Plan for a Christ Centered Education

Here at Schamelot we take an living books approach to education, allowing for lots of free time to explore, create, experiment, imagine, and cultivate the virtues, particularly piety, obedience and diligence. What is called "The Charlotte Mason Method" permeates our homeschool philosophy, and Mother of Divine Grace is the spring board for our curriculum, which I put together for each child each year. I hope you will find something I have shared helpful to your homeschooling adventure!

Catechism and Character Formation
Natural History
Language Arts