Month: August 2011

What Catholic Homeschooling Approach Do We Use?

Homeschool Ideas
Catholic Homeschooling by Mary K. Clark

In general, you will find that we include elements of Montessori, the Classical Approach, and Charlotte Mason. Now that I have had four children and some experience homeschooling, I am beginning to fall in love with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education, which I find to be classical in the ideal sense. This post is to offer reading suggestions on finding what works for you based on what we have loved.
After you decide to homeschool, I think a great second step is to read what is out there. What approaches exist for home education? What curricula exist? What am I ready to do myself, and with what should I recruit help? This is the list of books that I found most helpful when I was at this phase, and I list them here first for my records, but also as a help to others now researching.

  1. A Charlotte Mason Companion Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
  2. Catholic Homeschooling by Mary K. Clark
  3. Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist
  4. Home Education by Charlotte Mason
  5. Raising a Bilingual Child by Barbara Pearson
  6. Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-school Years by Elizabeth Hainstock
  7. The Child in the Church by Maria Montessori
  8. The Year and Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season by Mary Reed Newland
  9. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise.
  10. When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today by Elaine Cooper
TIP: Do not wait until your first child is 5 to start researching homeschooling curricula. Go ahead and get started by reading books from your library, looking at curriculum providers on the internet, and talking with mothers who have been there and done that. My oldest was one when I started collecting materials, and by the time she was ready for Kindergarten I did not need to panic.

What is a Catholic Homeschool Coop Meeting Like?

Homeschool Ideas

For a moment try to wrap your head around four moms deciding to have a meeting WITH their children in attendance. Each mom has at least 4 children of her own, and the tally comes to 17 children under the age of 8! Yes, it is possible. Yes, it did happen. Did we accomplish anything? Quite a bit!

This is a Catholic Schoolhouse planning meeting: Arrivals are 30 minutes late, a phenomenon not limited to Hispanic cultures. The county has decided to work on the road during the meeting, and the hosting mom’s midwife shows up briefly to check her newborn, taking her time to speak with the other mothers before leaving. Exercise tips are always helpful!

So we start an hour late…The children are in different states of compliance, several playing with docility outside, a few rebelling and ringing the doorbell every 5 minutes. Boys can be seen perched on a large boulder, sticks in hand, apparently playing pirate. Girls have taken over the local Tee-Pee to color and draw. Moms discuss the agenda between doorbell ringing, shouts from outside, the hum of a bulldozer, and the occasional bathroom break. This carries on for all of 3 hours at which point the cellphone of a mother tells us it is time to pray the Angelus. This we dutifully do, but a child comes to the door and sees us praying. Thinking it the grace before the meal, he announces to the onslaught that lunch is ready! So we manage to shoo the kids away into the yard, finish the Angelus, and give up for the day to make lunch.

Science Experiment Books for Our Homeschool Coop This Year

Homeschool Ideas
Science Experiments for our Homeschool Coop

This year I am teaching the “Hands-on” class for our local Catholic Schoolhouse Homeschool group. My husband and I are packrats when it comes to books, and we have always bought books at yard sales and library sales, including children’s books! A couple of gems I had lying around the house were picked up this year to use for science experiments. Free is always nice.

These are great for ages pre-K to 5th Grade! The books include simple experiments that can be done at home with everyday materials, and they also include clear and short explanations of the experiments. They would certainly be worth the purchase.

In addition to the book pictured and linked to above, we also have the 1990 edition of FUN SCIENCE, a Learn and Discover book put out by Creative Child Press and written by David Drotar. I prefer the cover illustration on this edition, but it looks like it is out of print. Used copies are still available, but not plentiful. More recent editions of the book are at Amazon, but the cover illustration is offputting.

Canning Salsa: A Recipe for Grandpa Rolling

The Rolling Acres Farm
Salsa 2011

Every year in August we make and can salsa! We have just enough tomatoes to make either salsa or spaghetti sauce, and since salsa is more expensive in the grocery store, we have always voted for salsa. This year it looks like we might actually have enough to do both, but with Hurricane Irene on the way, I am not going to count on it!

Mr. Rolling made the salsa this year and canned it himself besides the weekend after baby 4 arrived. Using ingredients from our own garden, here is the recipe he used:

  • All of our saved tomatoes over a 3 week period (approximately 10+ cups chopped tomatoes)
  • 2-3 cups chopped, seeded, peeled cucumbers
  • 2 cups chopped banana peppers
  • 1 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped Anaheim pepper
  • 1/2 cup jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • 3-6+ cloves garlic (to taste)
  • 1 T. fresh margjoram (or summer savory)
  • 1 t. salt (or more depending on taste)
  • 1/2 cup or more vinegar (to taste)
  • 2 T. lemon juice (or to taste)
Canned Salsa 2011

We are very much cooks by our noses and taste buds, so we have recipes, but they are guidelines. With more tomatoes, we add more of the other ingredients as we go.

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Boil pureed ingredients in large pot for about 10 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space, screw on caps, and process in boiling-water canner for 15 minutes. Makes 16 pints.

Sample Online Logic Lecture for Catholic Homeschoolers

The Rolling Acres School

At Rolling Acres School, we are continuing to add sample materials for online courses! These sample materials translate to some FREE materials for those looking for ideas and tips. Here is a sample logic lecture!


The course enrollment deadline at R.A.S. is August 31, 2011 and courses begin on September 5, 2011.

From what we can tell, no other online course provider is supplying so many peeks into their courses for the year.

Sample Online History Lecture for Catholic Homeschoolers

The Rolling Acres School

At Rolling Acres School, we are continuing to add sample materials for online courses! These sample materials translate to some FREE materials for those looking for ideas and tips. Here is yet another FREE sample lecture, this time a history lecture!


The course enrollment deadline at R.A.S. is August 31, 2011, and courses begin on September 5, 2011.

From what we can tell, no other online course provider is supplying so many peeks into their courses for the year.

A Mother's Time is Not Her Own: A Chance for Charity and Holiness

Homeschool Ideas
The Day We Welcomed Baby 4

A Reflection

We hear about marriage being a path to holiness, but I think most of us do not truly consider what that means practically. When I got married and read in Scripture that a woman is to give up herself in marriage while her husband is to give up his freedom, I thought of these statements rather poetically and in a dream-state held onto to those words as some mystical reality that I would one day live out…and that it would be easy. Surely, God would give me the Grace to handle whatever he put in my path. Practically speaking, I had absolutely no clue what giving up one’s self meant.

The long and short of it is that, as a wife and mother, my time is constantly becoming another’s time. It was easy when I just had to get dinner on the table for my husband, managable when I had one child who took two long naps every day, and interesting when I had two children who still napped at the same time.  One might think that I am now going to say how much harder it is with four children, BUT, although I am exhausted at the end of the day and in a certain sense it is harder, it is MORE FUN. 

I guess this is where God’s Grace jumped in. Indeed, for each child that God has given me, my time has been slowly “taken away” from me, but oddly enough, I do not mind so much any more. My personal goals have transitioned into familial goals, and putting time into my family has become a great Joy, albeit a stressful one many days. 

For all the work and for all the time that is not mine, I hold on to this lesson: You need to die to yourself and rise up in Christ, who died for all. For every child that “takes away” my time, I die to myself a little more, and pray for the patience to be joyful in this. For each moment I give to my children and my husband, it is a moment to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for me. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) This does not simply refer to mortal self-sacrifice, the jumping-in-front-of-a-gun-to-save-your-spouse kind of sacrifice, but the slow giving up of one’s self.

Perhaps, this is a much more difficult task, since it requires longterm, well-established Charity, and Charity requires humility and patience, both of which are my spiritual weaknesses. This is our task as mothers, however, to lay down our lives by giving up our pride and anger and by giving up our time for our children and spouse. A tall order, but if successful, there is the kingdom of God, there is the holiness through marriage.

Online Rhetoric Course for Catholic Homeschoolers

The Rolling Acres School

"Aristotle Contemplating Home" by Rembrandt

Rhetoric, semester 1 $180/semester

Enrollment Deadline: August 31, 2011.

Description: Using the popular Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle text by Martin Cothrin, as well as Aristotle’s Rhetoric itself (available here) this class covers the basic concepts of Aristotelian rhetoric. The class will go beyond Cothrin’s text to explore more of the Rhetoric and will also spend some time looking at competitive debate as it is practiced by the National Catholic Forensics League. Our focus will be on speech rather than writing. More than just a course on speaking technique, this class is a study of what a person is and why he does things. Great emphasis will be placed on drill, exercises, and discussion during class times, which helps fix the concepts in the students’ memories and habituate them to their use.

(This is a Language Mastery course. For an explanation of the course concept, click here.)

Instructor: Kenneth Rolling

Age Range: 10th–12th grade

Live Class Time: Thursdays 5:00 pm ET

Course Information Packet: Rhetoric (updated 08/17/2011)

NEW! Pre-requisites: The capacity to follow an argument and age-appropriate writing abilities; familiarity with basic logic is definitely a plus, but is NOT required.


Time Management: Homeschooling and Homesteading

Homeschool Ideas
Children learn from Papa by helping him with homesteading chores. Here he is sinking a post.

Frequently, friends have asked me how in the world I am able to homestead, homeschool, and work from home. Where does your time go? How do you fit it all in?

Where my time goes at present:

  • 7am Wake, breakfast, dress.
  • 8am Inside Chores: Tidy kitchen, living room, bedrooms. Start clothes washing. Feed animals.
  • 9am Homeschool
  • 10:30am Outside Garden Chores: harvest-time!
  • 11:30am Kids play outside; Mama washes vegetables and eggs. Stores/Cans produce. Organizes lunch and makes dinner plans.
  • 12:30pm Lunch
  • 1:00pm Tidy bedrooms, kitchen, and living room. Hang clothes out to dry. Story time.
  • 2:00pm Naptime for all children. Mama works on internet business and blogs. Prep dinner before children wake up.
  • 4:00pm Children awaken. Music time, play-acting, dancing. Outside play and garden time (Mama does some weeding and small projects).
  • 5:30pm Time to finish dinner. Children keep playing outside or come inside for quiet playtime.
  • 6:00pm Dinner
  • 7:00pm Bedtime routine begins: Tidy kitchen, living room, bedrooms. Wrestle/Play time with Papa. Pajamas. Snack. Brush Teeth. Storytime.
  • 8:00pm Prayers and off to bed!
  • 8:30-10:00pm Mama  updates Papa on internet business tasks and children. Work on internet business until baby is ready to fall asleep.
  • How do you stay sane? Here are some tips that have worked for us:

    1. Task-Mastering. We run a pretty tight ship in our household. Everyone has his or her jobs, and everyone must do their jobs or the ship will sink. When we take 15 minutes to tidy up, every child has a job, either picking up toys or sweeping the floor, etc. If they do not help, discipline is required.
    2. A Time for Everything. We do not have so much of a strict schedule as a strict routine. There are certain activities at particular times of the day, and these vary per season. Right now, it is summer and about to be fall, so our outside chores include feeding the animals and chopping wood. Our garden chores are harvesting and weeding. Also, we just had a baby, so everything we do right now is often interrupted by nursing. 
    3. Time for Family. Evenings after dinner and Saturday afternoons we do not work, but have pure family time. Sundays are also kept for Church and family. These times make the rest of the week seem less hectic.
    4. No Telephone Calls. If we are homeschooling or if it is mealtime, we do not answer the phone.
    5. Few Outside-the-Home Activities. We limit our activities outside the home to Sundays and Homeschool Co-op days. Errands are run on Co-op day, and any other extra-curricular activies must be on the same day.
    6. Done-Lists. Some time ago I stopped making to-do lists. Often I would accomplish many things during the day, but at the end of the day I would not have checked off a single thing on my to-do list. Very depressing! So, I started making “done-lists”. At the end of the day, I sit down with my planner and write down what I did do that day. My “dones” are categorized as HOUSEHOLD, GARDEN, HOMESCHOOL, and R.A.S. Underneath each heading, I write what I did. For example: Household-canned salsa; Garden-harvested basil; Homeschool-finished today’s lessons; R.A.S.-updated invoices.
    7. Keep To-Do lists short and topical. When I do make a to-do list, it corresponds with our basic routine. We only allow so many hours per day to be spend on the household, garden, homeschool, and R.A.S.  At the beginning of a day, I might write down ONE thing I would like to accomplish in the house, garden, homeschool, and then R.A.S. For example: Household-take inventory of kids’ winter clothes; Garden-harvest Horehound herb; Homeschool-complete today’s lessons; R.A.S. send email announcements.
    8. Self-discipline and mastery. Here is the hardest part. It does my day no good if my children are on time for homeschool, but I am late. It does no good for the garden if I decide to check email in the morning while the sun is starting to shine on the plants before I have watered them. It does no good for the family’s dinner if I decide to sew on a quilt and forget the time and dinner prep!

    In the end, Mama MUST set the alarm and get up on time each day. Dinner MUST make it to the table on time. The children MUST have a clear routine or they rebel with a wild, beastly roar. So long as Mama keeps the shipmates on task, the ship will sail and the day’s goals will be reached. There’s the rub.

    Online History Courses for Catholic Homeschoolers

    The Rolling Acres School

    Ancient and Classical Times, semester 1 (Dialectical Cycle), $180/semester Greek_Helmut.JPG

    DescriptionDrawing first on the Old Testament, and then moving into the Homeric and finally Classical literature of Greece this class progresses from creation up to Persian War. The course will include readings, lectures, study questions, essays, field assignments, quizzes, and tests. Readings will be drawn from various sources. Lectures will cover both specific themes and the overarching narrative of history.

    (This is a Cultural History and Dialectical Enrichment course. For an explanation of the course concept, click here.)

    Instructor: Kenneth Rolling

    Age Range: 7th–9th grade

    Live Class Time: Wednesdays 12:30 pm ET

    Course Information Packet: Ancient and Classical Times (Dialectical)

    Pre-requisites: none

    The Rolling Acres School is also offering Ancient and Classical Times (Rhetorical Stage-grades 10-12)!


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