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Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

10 Reasons to Homeschool

Throwback Thursday from 2012

I totally understand skepticism when it comes to homeschooling - because 18 years or so I was skeptical too. In fact, I had never even heard of homeschooling back in 1995, and the first time I did hear about it I thought it was absolutely ridiculous! Who in their right mind would want to keep their school aged child home with them and attempt to school them!? Not me!! I was looking forward to sticking Calvin's little butt in school and Sam in a friendly day care so that I could go to a nice job, wear grown up clothes, and even take some classes. It was going to be time for me.

And then a curious thing happened. After not hearing about homeschooling EVER, I started hearing about it all the time. I would turn on the radio or the television and there would be something about homeschooling. At the doctor's office I picked up a magazine and there was an article on homeschooling. And slowly I started to hear and understand the "pro"side for homeschooling. What turned the table for me was a trip to my pediatrician's office.

Calvin was a mid-summer a baby. He was also a rambunctious little boy, so as the September of his 5th year got closer I was more and more apprehensive about sending him to school. I decided to ask my pediatrician about it. So off we went for a check up and after examining my boy thoroughly the pediatrician pronounced him very fit, and "all boy." He also suggested that I might want to wait a year so that he would have a chance to mature a bit before attending school, but then he added, "But I'm a homeschooler so my opinion on that is a little out there."

I was shocked. All those years with my doc and I didn't even know he was a homeschooler. When I told him I had been hearing a lot about home schooling, he went back to his desk and brought me all kinds of information about it. As I read more and more about it, my heart and my mind opened to the possibility. I heard about an upcoming homeschool conference and I made plans to go. I thought it would be a few people gathering in some one's back yard or something like that. Instead it was in a massive convention center and there were hundreds of people there. I was absolutely stunned. The speakers there were encouraging and inspiring and I left there fully determined to go home and teach my son, myself.

Five more kids and more than a decade's worth of homeschooling later, we have persevered through births, deaths, sickness, and poverty.  A lot of it has been fun, some of it was really hard, but all of it was worth it. So after all that, here is why I would recommend homeschooling.

1.  Homeschooling is good for the family.  It just is.  All that time together makes  kids grow a more deeper love and respect for their parents, and I would say the reverse is true as well. These shared experiences of field trips and lessons, laughing and learning together make strong bonds that will stand the test of time. Homeschooling also gives families more of the gift of time to spend together.  Childhood is fleeting and homeschooling just helps to increase the number of memorable and special moments between parents and children.

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2.  Schooling adapts to the family, not the otherway around. If the family can only take time off in September when Dad gets some free time, it's not a problem. They can just take off time to be a family and make up the school work some other time. If Dad is off on Mondays, school can happen on Saturday instead. If the basement floods and there are no clean clothes- the pressure to get kids to school on time is off. Birth of a baby, death of a grandparent, weeks of strep throat - all of these are times when homeschooling can be shortened, lessened or postponed to a better time for the sake of the family.

3.  The relationship with siblings.  When I was growing up my sister and I didn't see much of each other during the actual school day. The school environment encouraged her to have her friends, and me to have mine and many times those outside friendships took precedence over siblings.  In homeschool siblings become great friends to each other.  Two of my older teens are each other's best friends - they even formed a band together because they actually like each other's company.  Likewise my younger teens are also friends and even my girls, who are six years apart, find ways to play together.  Sure they still fight and fuss with each other, but they have deep and important relationships with each other that I sure didn't see with siblings when I was a teenager.
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    4.  Living the faith!  In the home children can be surrounded by signs of the faith!! Crosses, rosaries, statuary and pictures... items that would never be allowed in a public school classroom are common place in the homeschool.  They just change the atmosphere and make it a special place to live and learn. Holy days, feast days and the church year become a part of family life - and not just something to be read about in a book during a religion class.
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    5.  Homeschooling allows for a customized education that fits each child's learning style.  That rambunctious little boy doesn't have to sit still for five or more hours a day!  He can make a map out of clay, or go outside and pretend he's General Custer or take an instant camera to the park and see how many pictures of birds and insects he can get and then come home and try to identify them!   Kids can learn in a way that is best for them - which might be sitting quietly at a desk reading a book - but it might also mean listening to tapes, or working on a computer or going outside. The world is the homeschooler's classroom and there are many options.
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    6.  Slow learners aren't stigmatized and gifted learners aren't told to slow down. Kids can go at their own pace without artificial deadlines. I've had two kids that didn't learn to read until very late in elementary school.  I can't imagine how being one of the "slow kids" in school would have damaged them. But since we handled it at home my one "slow reader" now reads books for pleasure and is gainfully employed, and my daughter is a very accomplished artist.

    7.  Learning is real - it's done because it is interesting and because the child wants to learn the subject, not to pass a standardized test.

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    8.  Homeschooling provides real socialization.  It is not age segregated and peer dependent.  In the real world we aren't all separated by our birth year!!
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    9.  Parents can regulate the curriculum and the resources used to teach the curriculum.

    10.  Family values aren't undermined by the school or the teachers.

    See my Homeschool Page above for more articles and resources.


    1. In all honesty, I don't think you've done particularly well in homeschooling. You come across as virulently anti-intellectual in many subjects, you've freely admitted the at least one of your children cannot read to grade level and is in fact, behind, and yoru vocal and baffling opposition to traditional post secondary education has merely ensured that none of your children will ever become engineers or doctors or any other STEM fields. Whenever you pat yourself on the back for your homeschooling prowess I can't help but wonder if you're homeschooling for a better education or if you are trying to filter a world that you feel unqualified to speak about? I find many things interesting on your blog and I've read for years (since the Candy days!) but I think that you are uncomfortable with the intellectual mien of education and focus too much on what you know, that being religion and history to the detriment of vital subjects of biology, calculus, trigonometry etc

    2. Where to start. I'm not anti-intellectual - I just don't believe that the only or even the best way to become an intellectual is in the school system. I have not had one child who cannot read at grade level- I have had two! The first one caught up and then became a paramedic. The other moved up two grade levels last year. On the other hand I have met adults who went through traditional education and could not read or write but learned to adapt that. I think Paramedic counts as a STEM field, but honestly, none of them had any interest in that direction. That said, I was an all A honor student in high school and college. My second son passed the CLEP in biology and College math. He also got an A in pre-calc from the math tutor (A certified teacher in the state whom I have used for the last six years or so). This year we are doing biology, Algebra II and geometry.

      All of my adult children are working full time in the worst economy since the great depression - so I guess there's that! The first one went on to paramedic training and the second one wants to run his own restaurant and wasn't interested in a career in the sciences.

      And in all honesty - this is a post from 2012 I put up on the blog because I was gone for a few days.


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