DiscoverThe Stay-at-Homeschooling Mom Podcast
The Stay-at-Homeschooling Mom Podcast

The Stay-at-Homeschooling Mom Podcast

Author: Seton Home Study School

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Join Mary Ellen Barrett and Ginny Seuffert, two leading speakers and writers on the topic of Catholic education, as they discuss ways in which Catholic parents can find success in their homeschooling journey.
68 Episodes
Are you considering homeschooling but are not quite there yet? You may have bought a few books, read a few blogs, and followed a few Instagram accounts. It can be really hard to say, "We are doing this!" and jump in. Well, fear not: Ginny and Mary Ellen have helped thousands with their clear and simple practical advice, along with a generous helping of good humor. Listen now at the link below!   Program Notes: How Do I Get Started? Are you considering homeschooling but are not quite there yet? Have you dipped your toes in? You may have bought a few books or read a few blogs. It can be really hard to jump in and say “We are doing this!” Ginny and Mary Ellen have a few things to consider that might help you take the plunge.    So, if you think you should homeschool, we agree and have a few tips to help you get started. Check out the laws in your state. ·       HSLDA is an excellent resource for state rules. See the link in Resources below. ·       Discreetly check out the compliance your local school district requires.  ·       Look for local Facebook groups. ·       Veteran moms are an excellent resource for the ins and outs of reporting. ·       If you withdraw from public school, sending a letter stating you will homeschool is standard. ·       Provide the minimum of information. Too much information can cause trouble.   2.     Start with a boxed curriculum.  ·       In the first year, you might be more relaxed if you are enrolled somewhere.  ·       It's straightforward; you know all the bases are covered.  ·       As you gain experience, you can pick and choose or write your own. 3.     Get organized.   ·       Start getting your house in order.  ·       Be ruthless and get rid of everything not serving your family.  ·       Set up a system to easily plan your meals, tidy up, and grocery shop.  ·       Record a phone message:  "Schools in session. I'll return your call after dismissal." 4.     Get routines started.  ·       Envision your daily routine and rhythm.  ·       Establish play times, chore times, nap times, and bedtimes. ·       Schedules will make your first year of homeschooling much less stressful.  5.     Make a Plan.  ·       Decide on your start date, vacation days, and end date.  ·       Plan a few field trips and art projects.  ·       Get a teacher planner for each child. 6.     Time outside your home.  ·       Use good judgment in choosing activities. ·       Your first year is not the time to jump into outside activities. ·       Those activities will be available in the second semester or even next year. ·       Time may be your greatest asset, be a miser spending it in your first year.   Homeschooling Resources Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)   Notes from Social Media Maria and Carrie posted on the podcast's FB page asking for tips on how to teach spelling.   There are two keys to successful learning:  repetition and multi-sensory.  Kids who struggle with spelling should write them 5 or 10 times each.  They see them, and the words go into muscle memory when they write them.  Even better, say them and spell them as they write them.  Book b-o-o-k Book.  Make it fun by letting them write words on a whiteboard or the patio floor using sidewalk chalk.  Before they test, have students march up and down, repeating the words and their spellings several times.
Who says Catholic homeschool students can't enjoy school spirit and connection with their fellow students? Not Seton Home Study School! Seton has an online forum, Catholic Harbor, to provide just those things and more. Listen to learn more! --- Draper Warren Bio: Draper Warren is the Director of Admissions at Seton and the Admin of Catholic Harbor. He is a Seton alumnus and graduate of Christendom College. He has worked at Seton for over 25 years, earned an MBA, and is currently completing a doctoral degree in educational leadership at Marymount University. --- Show Links:
Venerable Fulton Sheen said. "There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be."  These words could easily be applied to homeschooling. Too many people react negatively when they hear of a family homeschooling, but these impressions could not be further from the truth. Today, Mary Ellen and Ginny take on the naysayers' challenge with Debunking Seven Myths and Misconceptions About Homeschooling, arming you with the real story.   #1 Parents are not qualified to teach their children.  This is ridiculous, considering a child learns more in the first five years of life than in the remainder of their lives, and that's entirely due to the parents. You can find all kinds of resources to help you teach. #2. Homeschooled children don't get to socialize.  This is the most pervasive myth about homeschooling. People always bring it up, and it is just not true. Numerous studies prove that homeschooled kids excel in socialization.  Bottom Line - School socialization is virtually useless: This generation is the unhappiest we have witnessed in modern history. Kids—the vast majority of whom are in school—are miserable, so socialization is not what it is cracked up to be. 3. It's harder for homeschooled students to get into college.  This may have been true at some point, but now colleges are actively recruiting homeschooled students.  4. Only parents with advanced degrees can homeschool.  That is not true. Any parent can homeschool. If you are unfamiliar with the material, there are teacher's editions, videos (YouTube, Khan Academy), and some home study schools have counselors. Online classes are also an option. As long as you are directing your child's education, you are homeschooling. You don't have to be the one teaching every class. Also, it is fun to learn alongside your kids. Public school teachers all have degrees, many advanced, and that system is a disaster. Parents would almost have to try to do worse. 5. Homeschoolers need to experience diversity.  This is a funny criticism since public school classrooms are strictly geographical in their composition. You are sitting in a room with people who make up your neighborhood. How diverse is that? However, homeschooled students get out into the world, travel, feed their curiosity, volunteer, and have the opportunity to explore the world as they learn about it. 6. You can't work outside of the home and homeschool.  Again, not true. You can homeschool at any time of day or any schedule that works for you. You have to be organized and sometimes let something go (your floor may be sticky for a while), but it can be done and done well. 7. Homeschoolers can't participate in extracurricular activities.  Homeschool kids play on soccer teams, go to dance classes, and participate in the same club leagues and other organizations that other kids do. Because their time is better managed, they also have an opportunity to follow up on their interests. They have time to read for pleasure, craft, tinker with Legos, or build forts in the yard.   There will always be naysayers when you choose a path different from the norm. When you prayerfully decide that homeschooling is right for your family, do not let the Debbie Downers of the world rob you of the peace that comes with knowing that your child is growing and learning in a loving, safe environment from parents who want the best from them.   Resources: Homeschooling and the Question of Socialization Revisited, Richard G. Medlin, Stetson Univ. Richard G. Medlin, Stetson University (A wealth of information here, See: Publications)   Homeschooling Information: Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Do you have a child who is hesitant to try new things? Who would rather sit and stare at a book because they are convinced, they can’t do it, even before they try?  Today, Ginny and Mary Ellen discuss how confidence can be encouraged in even the most hesitant children and chart a map of seven key lessons for building self-confidence in your homeschooled child. The Hesitant Child Do you have a child who is hesitant to try new things? Who would rather sit and stare at a book because they are convinced they can’t do it before they even try? Self-confidence is an essential life skill, enabling a child to face challenges, cope with frustration, and try their best at new things.  Seven Key Lessons to Build Self-Confidence in your homeschooled child. 1. First and foremost, self-confidence is knowing you are a child of God. He has given you gifts and talents and expects you to use them. When you know that, it becomes easier to believe in yourself. One of the best results of self-confidence is the ability to do the right thing even when it is unpopular, which is part of life in the world today.  2. Model confidence for your children. Tell them that sometimes new things make you nervous or stressed out, but they mostly turn out fine.  We were not created to worry but to try to discern God’s will for us. Sometimes, that means doing something new or out of our comfort zone.   3. Praise sincerely. That doesn’t mean constantly. Constant praise diminishes the effect and kids know insincerity when they hear it. It’s a “you get a sticker for everything” culture. Praise when something is truly praiseworthy and make it meaningful.  It doesn’t have to be direct praise.  You tell Daddy that little Johnny took over for you to make dinner when you were called away.  He was a lifesaver.  You don’t have to say to him directly.  Everyone will know that he saved the day. And he’ll know it, too.   4. Help them set realistic goals. Some kids will set the bar for themselves too high for their developmental age. 5. Guide them in problem-solving, ask why something isn’t working, help troubleshoot the problem, and let them work it through. 6. Let them fail. It’s the best teacher.  Let them see that sometimes, even our best efforts are not enough to reach a goal, and that’s okay. 7. Give them responsibilities and their completion opportunities to earn privileges. Children gain confidence in their abilities when they accomplish something – not when they get an unearned trophy. Start with household responsibilities such as yard work or babysitting. As they gain skills, they can market them.  Epilogue: Two of my grandkids were hired to help at a large family gathering – mainly to entertain little ones.  They did that but also helped with party cleanup.  Got glowing reviews and tipped!) Homeschooling Information Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
To Learn Online or Not – That's the Question Online homeschooling programs offer a tempting solution for busy parents. However, it's essential to consider both the benefits and drawbacks.  Today, Ginny and Mary Ellen cut through the noise to provide practical, no-nonsense advice, wrapped, as always, in their unique humor and warmth.   Little kids – preschool and primary grades.   Overall, there are advantages to Online Learning, but sitting a child this age in front of a screen gets a big thumbs down, with just a few exceptions. Kids this age need to be:   Jumping around. Sniffing flowers. Chasing bunnies, real or imagined. These activities develop imagination, observational, and communication skills. It's their chance to tell you what they have seen, heard, touched, and smelled.  Stuck in the house? - Give them blocks, Legos, or a whiteboard with markers—not a screen.  A word or two on Handwriting: Have you seen children's Handwriting recently? Does it look like chicken scratch? Most young children can't read cursive, and virtually none can write it.  They will whine but need to sit and practice penmanship for hours.  Writing, cutting, and pasting builds small motor skills and reinforces learning.     Is online education ever appropriate in younger years? Two opportunities stand out: Online Language Lessons Being bilingual does great things for children's brains. Online language lessons are a solution. Enrichment Programs For instance, if students study bees in science and are very interested, an online enrichment lesson or video could be beneficial. But an even better solution might be a trip to the library.   Online for Middle and High Schoolers?   The PROS: Online Can be Appropriate for Older Kids - Upper-level and even middle-school math, science, and foreign languages. Even before high school, moms may need help teaching grammar and diagramming. Teaching Textbooks has been a lifesaver in many homeschools. Online classes allow kids to hear lectures from experts or watch videos that expand on a textbook lesson. As students mature, it will be easier to put screens in perspective. The CONS: Isolation - It is psychologically unhealthy to be isolated.  This generation has more diagnosed mental illness and higher suicide rates than any before it. Human beings are social creatures - we need social interaction. We don't get that in front of a screen. Tongue-tied - We've all passed groups of teens who stand near one another but never look up from their phones. They don't know how to communicate. Teens struggle to get jobs because they lack social confidence.  None of this gets better if they stare at a screen all day.   Homeschooling Information Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Many of us started homeschooling to pass on our Catholic faith and get our kids to heaven. But in the back of our minds, when we can think past laundry and dishes and driving kids to activities, we hope they can exert a positive influence here on earth.  Our guest offers a career track to fulfill that influence in a Christ-centered manner. Dr. Maura Wenzel’s nursing career satisfies her desire to serve, love others as Christ loves, and see Christ in every patient. Her choice may be a perfect fit for your Catholic homeschooler.   Program notes: Now more than ever, why do we need nurses with a solid moral compass?  Dr. Wenzel is a Clinical Associate professor at the Catholic University of America’s Conway School of Nursing. As a former U.S. Navy nurse, Dr. Wenzel has experience in many fields of nursing, including surgical, emergency, and perioperative nursing. Dr. Wenzel is passionate about nursing, nursing education, and weaving the Catholic Faith throughout her courses.  She and her husband and three young children live in southern Maryland. An inside look at this gratifying profession.  ● What attracted her to nursing? ● What are the emotional or spiritual traits that make the best nurses?   ● How did homeschooling help you develop them? ● What high school courses are most important?  ● What is the difference between R.N., BSN, and APRN?   Why is Catholic University so attractive to Catholic homeschoolers? Catholic—The beautiful campus, in a very safe part of Washington, D.C., is steeped in Catholic culture. Surrounded by the U.S. Conference of Bishops, next to John Paul II Shrine, there is an abundance of priests and nuns on campus and many opportunities for daily mass. Professional – An education from an excellent faculty, teaching in a new state-of-the-art nursing building with a floor replicating a hospital wing. Receive a nursing education that clearly emphasizes the role of ethics, values, and spirituality in health care in a city with many partnering hospitals for clinical experiences.   “Nursing is an excellent profession for those who wish to serve but in a much more spiritual way. It is an opportunity to love others as Christ loves and to see Christ in every patient.  As a young nurse, I found my deep faith in our Lord to be the framework through which I was able to process many challenging patients, situations, and long hours.  Still, in a much more substantial way, it helped me to persevere through new and challenging medical ethical dilemmas. The world has shifted since my early nursing days, and the challenges we Catholic nurses face now are even more difficult to navigate.” Dr. Maura Adams Wenzel   Resources Conway School of Nursing The Catholic University of America Seton Magazine: Answering the Nursing Call to Duty by Dr. Maura Wenzel  Homeschooling Information Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
In an enlightening exchange, Mary Ellen and Ginny discuss the remarkable but often overlooked value of a Liberal Arts education.    Michael Yost of Thomas More College joins our hosts today, revealing why a Liberal Arts education may be the wisest, most valuable choice your student could ever make. This conversation could change everything if college is in your family's future.   The Remarkable and Increasing Value of a Liberal Arts Education Michael Yost is the Senior Admissions Officer at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. He is a 2018 graduate of the college where he met his lovely bride. They are the proud parents of three beautiful children.  Tapping into Mr. Yost's expertise as Senior Admissions Officer, our hosts discuss: How affordable is Thomas More College? Work-study opportunities. Why is the Rome Semester integral to their education? The Admission Department's view of "Mom diplomas." The value of extracurriculars on the college application.   Full disclosure by Mary Ellen: I have a daughter who graduated from Thomas More College, so I am partial to the college; it's dear to me.    What makes Thomas More College a unique experience compared to other colleges? The focus is on a college education rather than training.  Students learn to be fully rational, knowledgeable creatures capable of understanding themselves, their Maker, and the world around them. They are trained to be talented communicators, able to process information rapidly and clearly.  Skilled in communication abilities needed in a world driven by data and information.   The Thomas More College Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts.  Our Program consists exclusively of the great works of the Western canon, deliberately organized in our single, integrated program of studies.  By carefully guiding in-class conversations, our exceptional faculty start students down the path of Wisdom in a mode more characteristic of discovery than instruction.  These aspects set the College apart from most other institutions of higher learning, yet the College is truly unique in its emphasis on the necessity of experience.  Each student sees first hand the impact of culture in our mandatory semester in Rome, begins the study of philosophy by studying the natural world in our Natural History course, and learns the value of craftsmanship in our Guild program.   The Rome Program – Integral to the Thomas More Education In their Rome semester, Thomas More College sophomores  Traverse catacombs and cloisters, piazzas, and palazzos. Explore the heart of the Christian West. Experience the history of Christendom written in the stones and on the ceilings, in the streets and the cemeteries, and in the skyline dominated not by skyscrapers but by the dome of St. Peter's.   Statistics: After four years at Thomas More College, each student has Written at least 64 papers. Participated in 1,792 seminar hours Translated over 1,000 lines of Homer, Cicero, and other Classical authors. Read 10,000 pages of the Great Books. Traveled over 8,400 miles to and from Rome, Italy. Visited over 100 baroque churches, Roman architectural sites, Renaissance piazzas, and catacombs. See it all here.    Thomas More Resources FAQs Meet Michael Yost The Rome Program: An Integral Part of the TMC Experience   Homeschool Resources Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services  
Let's All Keep Chickens! Dalia Monterroso is the passionate author of "Let's All Keep Chickens! The Down-to-Earth Guide to Natural Practices for Healthier Birds and a Happier World," and her enthusiasm for this homeschool-friendly topic is contagious.   She is a popular teacher on the basics of backyard chicken keeping. In today’s show, Dalia talks with Ginny and Mary Ellen about her book, which is gaining popularity among homeschooling families who appreciate its educational value as part of their learning curriculum.    Program Notes: Dalia is the creator of the website and YouTube channel "Welcome to Chickenlandia," podcast "Bawk Tawk," and an online course called "Chickenlandia's Backyard Chickens 101". She also hosted a TEDx talk titled "I Dream of Chickens."  She is also the author of "Let's All Keep Chickens! The Down-to-Earth Guide to Natural Practices for Healthier Birds and a Happier World," a comprehensive guide for beginners and experienced chicken keepers.   Getting started 1. Is it legal to own chickens where you live? 2. What is the expense and the daily care?  3. Is there a good number of chickens to start with?  4. What's your best advice for frugally getting started? 5. What are the recommended breeds?   Chickenlandia for Homeschoolers 1. Why does chicken keeping resonate with homeschooling families?  2. What unexpected life skills can kids gain from interacting with chickens?  3. How do you integrate chicken keeping into your curriculum?  4. How does chicken keeping help us connect better with ourselves and each other?   Resources "Let's All Keep Chickens! The Down-to-Earth Guide to Natural Practices for Healthier Birds and a Happier World Dalia's website and YouTube channel "Welcome to Chickenlandia." Her online course is called "Chickenlandia's Backyard Chickens 101." Dalia's TEDx talk titled "I Dream of Chickens."    Homeschool Resources Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Is your homeschooling experiencing the “End of the Winter Blues?” Are you frustrated that you and the kids have been cooped up way too long? Ginny and Mary Ellen have the tonic for that. Their formula is simple, and their solutions are straightforward. Their insight, ideas, and effective routines will help you manage everything.   How to Homeschool and Not Lose Your Mind (PART II) This is part two of our topic. If you missed one, listen to the episode posted last week. Last week, we covered discipline, early rising, prayer, and focusing on what is right for your family. So, let’s jump back in. Household – three things must be done daily. 1 – Laundry: washed, dried, folded, and put away. 2 – Meals: menu plan, grocery plan, and a well-stocked pantry. 3 – School: math, reading, and religion. Keys to Success Simplify your home and life as much as possible. Eliminate clutter. Minimize time out of the house. Before you join a co-op or pod school - Discern carefully! They sound attractive, but: Will it be worth it? They require everyone to be up and dressed for outside the house. Drive time there, entertaining the non-co-op kids, and a drive home. Don’t buy the socialization nonsense.  Let them be friends with their siblings, cousins, neighbors, and teammates. Socialization occurs outside of academic situations all the time. Basic Rules of Life – Children Pray with them. Instill discipline. Give them meaningful work. Basic Rules of Life – Older Boys Maintain a schedule. Should have physical work. Occupy their time as much as possible. Teens should get paying jobs, gaining valuable skills that their peers lack. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Spend time outside every day. Even 15 minutes makes a difference. Kids need vigorous exercise and lots of fresh air. Better concentration in class, and standardized test scores went way up. Homeschool strategy in a nutshell Pick a program and stick with it. Simplify your curriculum. Don’t follow trends (stay off the internet). Minimize the outings. Do school every day. Strengthening your marriage is very important.  Schedule a home date regularly. Welcome him when he arrives. Praise him often and speak well of him. Listen to his concerns and involve him in your decisions.   Homeschool Resources Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Sometimes, homeschooling can feel like the most overwhelming, frustrating, impossible thing to do, especially at the end of winter. You and the kids have been stuck in the house, and the work seems never-ending. It just feels gloomy. We've all been there.    But it's a new day, and Ginny and Mary Ellen are here with ideas and a plan that includes humor, smiles, and simple, effective methods to succeed with your family's homeschooling. Welcome to Episode One of Season Two – It's great to be back with you!   How to Homeschool and Not Lose Your Mind (PART I) There are no magic bullets. Methods or systems will only work if you are disciplined.  Focus on your children's needs,  Make a plan for the day, and stick with it.  Schedules work—even when they don't.  Do what works for your family, not what works for another family.  Copying other mom's systems can lead you astray and waste precious time. The internet can be a tool, but it also makes you crazy.  OTOH, if a homeschooler has it all together, become her best friend. See what she does. Get up early as best and often as you can.  This is your prayer time, personal grooming, caffeine, and prep for the day. Start your morning the night before.  Lay out clothes for the day the night before.  Straighten the house before going to bed. Pray Center your homeschool on God and petition Our Lady.  Use visual reminders (statues, pictures, holy cards). Frequent confession. Put it on the schedule. Start each day with prayer.  Say the Angelus at lunchtime. Consult your husband.  Find out his priorities for his household/homeschool.  Bring your problems to him.  Make him the principal of your homeschool.  If a kid is difficult, this is a "dad has to make him" job.  Dad: 1. Warn Junior before you leave for work (If your mother tells me….)  2. Call at lunch (Do you remember what I told you this morning?)  3. First thing dad says when he gets home (Junior, what kind of a report does mom have for me?)   Homeschool Resources Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Are you considering homeschooling your child with special needs? Are you already in the trenches and feeling like you aren’t doing well? This show could be a lifesaver. Mary Ellen has been there, and Ginny has a wealth of knowledge to bring to the subject. Let’s tackle the five things you need to know about homeschooling a child with special needs.   Five Things You Should Know About Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs *** Stay tuned to the end of the show to hear our big announcement. ***   First, the Big Things You Should Know… about homeschooling your child with special needs.  What do we mean by special needs?  When we speak about children who have educational issues outside the norm, we mean children who have been diagnosed with a neurological or physical condition that impairs learning or makes learning particularly challenging in some way. How to get a diagnosis – and how not to. The how-NOT-to is on social media. If you ask a question, people may respond based on their own experience – BUT they don’t know the facts of your case. Let’s say you tell little Johnny to put his navy-blue shirt on, and he comes out with his maroon one. He seems to do this all the time.  ● He could have attention deficit disorder.  ● He could have a hearing loss.  ● He could have an auditory processing disorder. ● He could be colorblind.  ● Or it could be nothing to be concerned about at all. See a professional if you are worried. If $ is a problem, you can often get an evaluation from your local public school district.   Five Essential Things You Should Know 1. You Can Do This There is a myriad of resources to help you navigate your student’s challenges. You don’t need a degree in special ed; you are an expert in your child.  2. Sometimes, Doing Less is More With a challenged child, sometimes doing less is more. It may take a challenged child longer to graduate than the typical 12 years. That’s fine. If you need to go an extra year or even two, there are no worries about that.  3. Life Skills can be as Critical as Academic Skills There are certain special needs children for whom life skills are just as critical as academic skills. They may not be able to do algebra, but they need to know how to count up change in the grocery store, navigate a bus route, or cook for themselves.  4. Routines and Rhythms Creating a daily routine or rhythm can be extremely helpful. If your child learns what to expect and when there is a lot less anxiety, that makes learning much easier.  5. Asking for Help is Not a Failure Sometimes, you need the services of an expert, be that a speech therapist or a reading specialist. You are still directing the education of your child, and you are still the manager.   Special Announcement.  When we started this podcast over a year ago, we were filled with ideas and enthusiasm, and the past year has been a great blessing. Still, we are starting to get a wee bit burnt out, so to keep the episodes you enjoy coming along, we will make some changes.  First, we are taking a hiatus for a few months to regain our bearings.  Beginning January 1st, we will be on break until March 1st. This breather will give us time to catch up on some neglected projects and write new material for upcoming podcast episodes. Next, we are changing from a weekly format to an every-other-week format.  This format change is for a couple of reasons. 1. We don’t want you to look at your inbox, see it full of us, and be exasperated. It’s hard to listen every week, and if you feel behind, you might not be inclined to stick with us.  2. The other reason is that we feel much more energized when we have that little break.    We hope you will start tuning in again in March when we come out of the gate with all kinds of new material. In the meantime, there are about 60 episodes you can listen to in our archive if you miss the sound of our New York accents.   Homeschool Resources Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Sometimes, situations we might have avoided if given a choice are the greatest blessings. Today's guest has written an inspiring book about a little boy who brings joy to all who know him. Today's podcast will touch your heart, bring a smile, and open a gift of unexpected proportions. Life-changing inspirations can come wrapped in unexpected ways.    Super J and the Power of Love                      Jennifer Nelson is a wife, homeschooling mom of seven children, and the founder of an international prayer ministry for women with pregnancy complications, infertility, and miscarriages. Her joyful spirit is infectious, and her deep faith informs everything she does, and she does a lot! We found her to be such an inspiration, and we know many of you will as well. The book we're discussing today, Super J and the Power of Love, is her first published work - the first of many, we hope. Super J is a little guy with Down syndrome. Meeting the real Super J some years ago inspired Jennifer to write the book. ● I love the way you dealt with aborting Downs kids – in a very child-appropriate way, ● Super J's superpower is his heart – his ability to love without conditions. ● The book does not encourage tolerating those who may be different – but celebrating them! Homeschool Influenced ● Our author, Jennifer, was homeschooled, as was the book's Illustrator, Sam Estrada.  ● Jennifer homeschools her children and shares how homeschooling formed her worldview. ● Our hosts share how differently-abled kids are well accepted in homeschool support groups. Super J and the Power of Love This book is a perfect gift for parents who may have just gotten a prenatal diagnosis and not just for Down Syndrome.   To purchase the book -  To learn more about Sam Estrada, the remarkable Illustrator - To learn more about Jennifer's ministry - Instagram  @sisterhoodofthetravelingrelics @superJthebook Homeschool Resources Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services   
For homeschooling moms seeking to advance in the spiritual life, the Church offers many opportunities, including the Rosary, Daily Mass, Spiritual Reading, and Liturgy of the Hours. But as a homeschooling mom with limited time, how do you choose from among these excellent practices? In today's podcast, author and moral theologian Fr. Jeffrey Kirby is here to help you prioritize your choices to advance in your spiritual life.   Father Kirby has an important message for our listeners at the end of the podcast.    Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, STD - Spiritual Direction for the Homeschooling Mom Father Kirby has authored several books, including the focus of our podcast, A Year with the Popes, Daily Meditations with the Vicar of Christ.   A Path Toward Spiritual Advancement A Year with the Popes, Daily Meditations with the Vicar of Christ.  ● There are 365 meditations – one for each day of the year. ● Each day has a theme with a short explanation. ● A reading on the theme from a pope, a saint, or a council. ● A short examination of conscience. ● A short closing prayer.   The Time Dilemma  The Church has many resources available to homeschooling families, but many families are short of time. Father Kirby guides us in prioritizing these excellent choices: ● Daily Mass ● Daily prayer life: Rosary? Divine Mercy Chaplet? Liturgy of the Hours? ● Frequent Confession ● Adoration ● Parish missions ● Spiritual reading: Scripture? Meditations? ● Retreats ● Pilgrimages   Resources Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services A Year with the Popes: Daily Meditations with the Vicar of Christ   More about Father Jeffrey Kirby, STD: Father Kirby is a moral theologian, Papal Missionary of Mercy, and the Pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Indian Land, South Carolina. He holds a doctorate in moral theology from the Holy Cross University in Rome, a Bachelor of Arts in History, and a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  Father is also a Papal Missionary of Mercy.  The Missionaries of Mercy are priests – diocesan or religious – who have been commissioned by the Holy Father to give particular emphasis to the duty shared by all priests to "hear confessions and preach on behalf of and promote the Sacrament of Reconciliation." They are to be an intentional, visible expression of the mercy of God.   In 2016, Father Kirby was recognized by Governor Nikki Haley and granted the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor, for his service to local communities and young adults throughout the state.
Music Appreciation There is lots of music beyond Disney! An excellent place to start is encouraging your children to listen to fine music. One good thing about the World Wide Web is you can find excellent classical music. You can also find explanations of the various pieces if you are interested.    Teaching music in the home (for the non-musical mom) Carnival of the Animals (Camille Saint-Saens): Various parts of the piece represent different animals. In Danse Macabre, the xylophone sounds like bones. Amahl and the Night Visitors (Gian Carlo Menotti) is a Christmas opera about the Three Kings visiting Jesus.  Peter and the Wolf (Sergei Prokofiev) is A fairy tale for children where different instruments represent characters. The Planets (Gustav Holst) Music represents the solar bodies and the classical origin of their names. For example, Mars is the source of war. 1812 Overture (Great for boys!) The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake (Pytor Illich Tchaikovsky)  The Messiah   After I discouraged Disney Fantasia (Leopold Stokowski) Disney graphics set to classical music. Also Fantasia 2000   If you live near a major city, find out what is nearby.   ● Broadway/Off-Broadway productions ● University productions ● Opera ● Ballet ● Symphony Orchestras ● Band concerts Even if you do not live in a city or lack the cash, you can almost always find: ● Community college or high school concerts/plays ● Bands in the park during the summer.   Music Theory and Performance The very best ways for kids to learn to read music are: ● Instrument lessons (easy to find independent of schools) ● Choral lessons (more challenging, but sometimes churches have kids’ choirs) Online courses are available for instrumental, choral, and reading sheet music.   Study parts of bands and orchestras (Andre Rieux videos online)   ● Learn sections:  strings (orchestras only), woodwinds, brass, and percussion. ● Make scrapbooks with pictures of musical instruments. Label them with section and soprano, alto, tenor, or bass. ● Define: conductor, soloist Let kids make their instruments:   ● drums from oatmeal boxes or by stretching balloons over empty jars ● Fake cymbals by smashing two pot lids together ● Maracas: Decorate small pringle containers or empty plastic water bottles and fill them with dry beans or popcorn. Tape plastic spoons to empty plastic Easter eggs, fill and decorate.  ● Homemade xylophone out of water glasses filled to different levels   Composer Study ● Learn about the great composers, their music style, and their influences.   There is so much to explore. We hope this sampling helps you get on track.   Learn More About Seton Home Study School Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Join Ginny and Mary Ellen in a lively, joyful discussion on the saints, our great friends and allies on our homeschooling journey. And as always, they share their experiences with their unique blend of humor, love, and practical advice.  Prepare for dozens of examples from the saints to inspire and guide your homeschooling family in faith formation and education. - Welcome to the lesson book from our family of saints!       Exploring the Lives of the Saints in Our Homeschools ● Studying the lives of the saints gives our children models of virtue, holiness, and faith. ● Knowing more about the saints helps kids understand and connect with their Catholic faith.  ● It's essential to know that many saints were sinners first. Their lives were transformed through a willingness to be open to grace and a sincere desire to follow Christ.  ● Listen for the "aha moment."   Saints for Homeschool Parents - Because we welcome all the help we can get! ● Thomas Aquinas (the dumb ox) is the patron saint of academic progress.  - He defined the four cardinal virtues as prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude.  - Doctor of the Church and is considered one of the greatest theologians who ever lived.  - He was recruited as a boy by Dominicans.  - His family imprisoned him for a year before allowing him to take vows.  - He is a model of Perseverance. ● St. Elizabeth Ann Seton homeschooled her children.  - The first American-born saint.  - Widowed with four young children in a foreign land. - Disowned by her in-laws. - She started schools and an order of nuns she nurtured like her children. ● St. Monica is a patroness of patience, perseverance, and mothers.  - Mother of Saint Augustine. - Prayed for decades for her wayward son and NEVER gave up on him. - Her prayers resulted in her son becoming one of the Church's greatest saints. ● St. John Bosco is a patron saint of students and magicians.  - Believed in educating children from a place of love. ● St. Marcellin Champagnat, patron of education and teachers. - Founded the Marist Brothers.  - He struggled as a student and was beaten, but with determination and perseverance, he completed his education.  - He wanted to teach all children to love Jesus. ● St. Jean Marie Vianney (The Cure of Ars) was such a poor student that he barely made it out of the seminary – but became the patron saint of parish priests ● St. Expeditus is the patron saint of expeditious solutions to overcome procrastination.    The Takeaway Explore ways to foster a personal connection with the saints through: - Prayers - Devotions - Traditions Celebrate feast days with: - Food - Crafts - Movies - Visits to shrines Research patron saints for their names and activities.   Resources ● Butler's Lives of the Saints  ● Art books (Seton's) ● Picture books (Tomi DePaolo, Demi, Diane Stanley, Ethel Pochoki) ● Vision books ● Holy Heroes/Glory Stories ● Movies: Song of Bernadette, A Man for All Seasons, The Scarlet and the Black.   Learn More About Seton Home Study School Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Mary Ellen and Ginny introduce to Emily Malloy, whose floral design career began as an apprentice who swept petals and leaves off the floors of a rapidly growing floral shop in Philadelphia.  She rose to manager and floral designer. Her work has appeared in Elle Décor, Green Wedding Shoes, the National Catholic Register, and the Ember Journal. Emily is the food and floral design editor at She and her husband live in Mississippi with their four children.     Emily Malloy, Theology of Home IV: Arranging the Seasons In this fourth installment of Theology of Home, Emily Malloy explores the vibrancy and life of the garden. With her expertise as a florist, Malloy brings a wealth of practical ideas for incorporating flowers into our homes as we march through nature's seasons and the Church's liturgical calendar.    Yet this edition, like the rest of the series, does not stop at the material level. Remembering mankind's beginnings in the Garden of Eden, Arranging the Seasons sumptuously illustrates and highlights our intrinsic need for beauty within the human heart.   Explored within this edition of Theology of Home are the deeper questions of life, family, love, and God that animate our efforts to cultivate the earth. In simple and small ways, it will inspire us to layer our lives and homes with the intangibles that turn the stuff of matter into a song.   ·      Your thoughts on beauty are so very Catholic and necessary in a world that seems to value the opposite. So many books on gardens and growing focus on the utility, but yours makes the point that beauty is necessary. Can you expand on that?   ·      Nature's beauty is absolutely a religious experience. As we record this, my garden is dying down for the winter, but I still see butterflies hovering and hummingbirds sipping nectar. It does give one delight and gratitude to God for His creation.   ·      Please tell us how you plan your gardens. Are they well planned and laid out, or is there a randomness to them?   ·      There are a lot of practical suggestions in the book for designing, arranging, and even how to make a boutonniere and wrapping a presentation bouquet. I'm so glad you included the very practical for the craft-impaired like myself.   ·      You homeschool your children. How was it writing, photographing, and designing this book while homeschooling? The children are in several photos (pg 256 is my favorite). Did it become a family endeavor?   ·      Gardening can be expensive, but a lovely garden can be done on a shoestring. Anyone can save marigold seeds to plant next spring, and bulbs multiply over the years. When gardening buddies divide perennials, they often want to rehome their plants. Anyone with a few feet of dirt or room for some pots can enjoy them.   ·      What we cannot see in our Creator, we can see in His creation. It is with the gift of the flower—a powerful representation of the love of God—that we can bridge not only home and garden but also the eternal and the everyday.   Purchase Emily's book at Theology of the Home Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Teaching and learning do not have to be dry and boring. In fact, for homeschoolers, it can be quite the opposite. We are free to expand our studies beyond the text and be creative. Today, Ginny and Mary Ellen take us on a journey to a world of ways to expand your studies with lapbooking, notebooking, novels, videos, you know, the fun stuff. There's a treasure chest of resources for you and the kids. You're going to find something here that you will love.   Expand Your Studies with the Fun Stuff   Lapbooks are a fun way to collect and creatively display what you are learning. · Start with two legal-size file folders and add your creative juices. · Perfect for, you name it, math, science, history, literature, religion, etc.  · Each child can add to the project. · Mary Ellen offers a mountain of suggestions and experiences. · Dinah Zike's Big Book of Books and Big Book of Projects are a big help.  Notebooking is an effective way to absorb facts and retain memory. · Keeping a history or science notebook is easy to start and fun to add on to. · Creating timelines and making nature notebooks with words, pictures, and specimens are very kid friendly. · Recording the commonplace is a means of making lasting memories. · Tactile associations will create neural paths that can develop into highways. · In early grades, I would have the kids do what we call morning work: "Today is Tuesday, November 15, 2022. It is a cloudy day. (Check the outdoor thermometer) The temperature at 11:30 was 34 degrees F. Today, we are going to the zoo." It seems pretty elementary, but kids learn days of the week, months, how to write dates, check thermometers, etc. Tomorrow, this child can write about the animals he saw at the zoo and perhaps draw a picture of one. Make History Come Alive · If you are studying a particular historical time, find novels set in that time.  · These are great Christmas gifts. · Audiobooks for the car; an alternative to isolating, personal music feeds.  · has many booklists, as does  Raise the Bar, we set expectations very low for children now.  Throughout history, kids performed real work at an early age.  · For his 9th birthday, Almanzo Wilder received an ox yoke and learned to train ox calves.  · His wife, Laura Ingalls, taught school at 15 to help pay for her blind sister's education.  · We're thrilled now if our kids make their beds. We need to set higher expectations. · Having thoughtful kids who really help cut back on stress and burnout, too. Videos – Good or Bad Videos often get a bad rap. Carefully screened and considered, they can reinforce and engage.  · Nowhere else can your children see the inside of a beehive. · Or watch a tsunami strike the coast of Japan.  · Online content can bring learning alive. Resources YouTube Discovery Channel Curiosity Stream NASA TV (from the NASA website) National Geographic Khan Academy Creativebug Skillshare Dinah Zike's website for lapbooks Notebooking Resources   Thanks to our sponsors, especially Seton Home Study School, check out their great resources: Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Homeschooling with small children in the home will, at times, push you to the end of your patience. But these times will pass.  For now, take a breath as Ginny and Mary Ellen discuss tips, insights, and lessons on turning trying times into life-shaping opportunities. Learn how to lighten your load while training the kids to be big helpers and prepare them to be better students and caring adults. You've got this.   Homeschool Roadblocks: What to Do When You Are Drowning   This may sound like a health and safety or first aid podcast, but don't be fooled. A podcast buddy, Meg Gan, contacted our hosts on social media.  Ginny explains, "Meg had seven kids in seven years and wanted to know how on earth she could homeschool. Essentially, her question was, 'How do I homeschool while drowning?'  She came to the right place. Although I didn't have seven kids in seven years, I did have five in six years, and lots of kids on either side of those five.  Mary Ellen had eight, including twins! I assure you we know something about drowning, and yet we survived. And our kids have thrived!" First, here's a word of encouragement. This time is about as tough as your life will ever be.  Second, kids from big families learn to help relatively early and can make all the difference in the world. A 7-year-old's help may be limited, but 10-year-olds can set the table, do dishes, fold laundry, watch toddlers while you cook, and even help get breakfast on the table. Things should get MUCH better in a few short years. To follow up on that, make sure that you are teaching your kids every household task as soon as they can help. You can find lists on the Internet of which ages to teach which tasks.   Naptime is the key to homeschooling when you have lots of small kids.  + Babies, until 1 ½ or 2, should take two naps daily. + Children 2 to 4-ish, an afternoon nap.  + Even 4 and 5-year-olds should have some quiet time after lunch. Maybe let them look at a book or listen to some quiet music, but they have to stay in bed (on the couch, etc.) until they hear the timer go off.  Homeschool: You can often complete early homeschool grades in an hour or two each day. + In the same way you teach your children to help with household chores, teach them to complete homeschool assignments independently.  + Even the littlest students can practice handwriting on their own or practice their math facts.   + Get the littles involved in homeschooling. Get some DUPLOS and finger paint and let them be part of the classroom. + Play revolving kids. Let school kids take turns playing with the littles. + When the weather allows, homeschool in the yard while the little guys run around. Reinforcements:  + Look for some outside help. The grandmas may give you an hour or two each week.  + Nannies are expensive but look for a local teen to work as a mother's helper after school, allowing you to make dinner or clean. Double points if the kid is homeschooled and can give you some hours during the school day. + If your MIL asks what you want for Christmas, suggest an hour or two with a maid service. + Talk to your husband. If he can take the younger kids out for an hour on Saturday or Sunday, it will give you some time to homeschool.   Thanks to our sponsors, especially Seton Home Study School, check out their great resources: Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
When talking about homeschooling, the elephant in the room is socialization. Naysayers insist that homeschooling isolates children, but the reality, as experienced homeschoolers and those who know them praise, is that their kids are the most socialized, as well as the most thoughtful and considerate kids around. But how do you get there initially, or how can you improve things? Ginny and Mary Ellen have a fresh bouquet of ideas and tips for finding new friends for the kids and yourself. You'll surely enjoy these practical solutions garnished with a generous helping of good cheer.    Roadblocks to Homeschooling: The S word - Socialization Used to be, you made friends on the sidewalk or on the street where you lived. Too often now, these places are empty – kids are at activities or afterschool care.  Solution - Be Aggressive in Seeking Buddies. ● If your little guy finds a buddy at the playground, talk with his mom. ● Find out where they live and see if you can offer to get together.  ● Not every friend has to be another homeschooler or even Catholic!  ● Diversity is an overused word, but there is a benefit to true, not forced, diversity. How to Find Other Homeschooled Children. Step One: ● Check with local public libraries and museums for homeschooler programs. ● Check out orthodox parishes. Homeschoolers tend to flock to those parishes.  ● Go to daily Mass. If you see other moms and kids, chances are they are homeschoolers. Step Two: ● See if you can set up times for get-togethers. Coffee and donuts after church? ● Meet at a park, church, or someone's house on Fridays. ● Set up a FB page to keep in touch. Possible Problems ● Poorly disciplined kids You invite this lovely family you met at church to your home. Their kids trash the place and are generally rude. Should you give up on that family? Maybe, but not right away. The key to dealing with kids like this is often to separate them from their parents.  Offer to pick up the children and bring them to a park or your home.  I found kids responded to our house rules.  They say "please" if that is the only way to get the cookie.  "We don't do that in this house" often does the trick.  Could you be their "Angel?"  Sometimes, a mom with no idea how to control her kids learns a trick or two from calm, confident parenting. Lonely moms Hey, you need buddies, too! There is no question that moms often make friends waiting at the school bus stop or volunteering for school activities. But don't give up. ● Tell your church acquaintances you would love a weekly rosary morning at your home. As time passes, maybe other moms will pick up the slack, but it is an excellent excuse to clean up the house anyway. ● As you get to know people, ask them if they ever get out without their kids. Suggest an adult outing. ● Do you bake bread? Pop over with a loaf. People will love you! ● Do you sew? Offer to fix that sagging hem. ● When my kids were teens, we had the "white tornado." If someone had a miscarriage or were sick, we would go over and clean. ● Join local groups: Ladies Auxiliary for the Knights of Columbus, Italian American Club, Hibernians.   If none of this is working, remember: Laura Ingalls Wilder - Almost no neighbors. But the family was happy, and the children thrived.  Abe Lincoln was raised in a cabin in the woods and became president.  Andrew Jackson grew up during wartime, lost his entire family in his early teens, and he raised himself. He grew up to be a successful military officer, landowner, and president.  Summary: People may say that you are cheating your children by not sitting them in a classroom with two dozen of their agemates. Don't listen to that. Too many modern kids are clinically depressed, on meds, and confused.   Thanks to our sponsors, especially Seton Home Study School, check out their great resources: Seton Home Study School Seton Testing Services
Fr. Ken Geraci, of the Fathers of Mercy, joins Ginny and Mary Ellen today and fills us in about his latest book, Spiritual Warfare and Divine Mercy, the Weapon for Our Times. Father is a friend of homeschoolers, having spoken at many of our conferences.   Father is an engaging speaker with a gift for converting complex spiritual matters into simple, understandable lessons. And our hosts take advantage of Father’s gift for plain speak to the max. This is a must-listen, for those who want to be a better-equipped homeschooling parent.   Fr. Ken Geraci - Spiritual Warfare and Divine Mercy   If you attended homeschooling conferences through the years know the Fathers of Mercy. An order dedicated to preaching missions, they have been great supporters of Catholic homeschooling and often preached at our conferences.  Fr. Ken Geraci was raised in a Catholic home but was a bit of a late bloomer in practicing his faith. He was an agnostic, then a non-denominational Christian, and finally found his way back to Holy Mother Church. He joined the Fathers of Mercy, headquartered in Kentucky, in 2006 and was ordained in 2012.     Fr. Geraci is the author of two books, "Why Be Catholic," published in 2021 by TAN Books, but today we will speak about his new book, "Spiritual Warfare and Divine Mercy, the Weapon for Our Times" published this year.   Father Geraci asks:  “Is the Church a cruise ship or a warship?” Follow the Captain's orders Know your job and do it with excellence While doing your job, look to see if you can assist others. Do not sink your own ship or shoot at your crewmates. (We see this everywhere today.) Practical Ways to Enter Spiritual Warfare Am I in a state of grace? Do I have a daily plan of prayer? (Moms need reliable habits! 15 minutes of silence for us would be a blessing.) Do I have monthly goals for receiving the sacraments? Do I have a plan for mortification? (Americans are terrible at self-denial.) How do I plan to serve my community? Is There an Absolute Need for Regular Confession? Few Catholics confess regularly, but virtually ALL Catholics receive Communion. Receiving in this manner is a potential sacrilege. (What should moms do when their parishes offer scant availability?)   The Value of Divine Mercy as revealed to St Faustina. Sincere examination of conscience.   Divine Mercy Sunday (Sunday after Easter Sunday) Confession within 20 days and receiving Communion in a state of Grace brings total remission of sin and remits temporal punishment for those sins. It is similar but not the same as a plenary indulgence.   The Value of Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet The rosary is a meditation, while the Chaplet is an action. But we can meditate on the passion of Our Lord while saying the Chaplet.   At the conclusion of the book, Father Geraci reveals that some in the Church preach that hell is empty. Why is this dangerous?   References: Spiritual Warfare and Divine Mercy: The Weapon for Our Times by Fr. Ken Geraci, CPM
Comments (1)

A. G.

Discuss High School with full enrollment Seton, not as flexible as earlier years. Thank you.

Mar 9th