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Monday, October 30, 2017

Video: Catholic Saints (History in a Minute)

History in a Minute Video Series
Catholic Saints

History is the accounting of everything mankind has accomplished throughout time. It is central to all of the other academic pursuits as it ties them together, including the subject of religion. Without God there is no history. He is, after all, the Creator.

In history studies, you can discuss the religious beliefs of specific eras and places. How are those beliefs similar or different from the culture we live in today? What impact do religious beliefs play in historical events (or today's events)?

Most importantly, as homeschoolers we can talk about how our children, as individuals, can impact history as children of God. A study of the saints shows us how even the most simple of human beings can change the course of history.

Saint stories are not mere stories to entertain. They are not mere myths to teach lessons to. The saints were real, historical persons who affected world events.

Therefore, Homeschool Connections video project, History in a Minute, often includes Catholic saints as topics. They are blended within other videos on such topics as man-made disasters, politics, and archeology.

Videos are posted every Tuesday. To keep up to date on future videos on the saints and many other historical topics, Subscribe Now.

St. Francis Assisi

St. Aubert

St. Arnold, Patron Saint of Beer

St. Drogo, Patron Saint of Coffee

St. Truduana of Scotland

St. Charles Borromeo

We hope you enjoyed these videos and that they are useful to your family and your homeschool. Let us know in the comments if you have suggestions for future History in a Minute topics.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Middle East Reading List for Catholic Students

The Middle East is not only an interesting study, it's an important study. We've put together a reading list for you that includes fiction and nonfiction for students of multiple ages.

Who is this list for?
Books are listed in order of difficulty, from upper-grade school to middle school to high school to adult. One idea for preschool and early grade school is to look for picture books at the library with fun facts or books that focus on the geography of the region. At the end of this reading list are some additional ideas for supplemental lessons.

As with any book list, parent discretion is advised. Not all books are appropriate for all ages or all students.

Click on the book title for reviews or purchasing information (May contain affiliate links). Another resource to read book reviews is Goodreads. And to find used books for the best price, try Book Finder ... 

The White Horse 
by Elizabeth Coatsworth (1942) [Bethlehem Books]
Part of the Sally Series, the story takes Sally to the Mediterranean Sea where she encounters Barbary Coast pirates, is taken captive, ends up in the Sultan's palace, and so much more. Sally is exposed to Islam and a way of life unknown to her before this adventure. Charming series that could be read aloud with younger children. 

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia)
Not about the Middle East, however, "it is reminiscent of classic stories set in the Middle East (such as the Arabian Nights)." Terrific read aloud for the family. You can never go wrong with Narnia.

Takes place in 13th-century Baghdad. A well-written novel introducing the reader to complex math puzzles in an interesting and fun way. Presents an opportunity to discuss Islam. Read this disclaimer first. (Can be downloaded free HERE.)

One Thousand and One Arabian Nights 
The mythical back story to this wide collection of stories (from Aladin to Ali Baba) begins with Shahryār, a Sasanian king. He discovers his brother's wife and also his own wife are both unfaithful. In his grief, he concludes all women are the same. Shahryār begins to marry a succession of women only to execute each one the next morning before she has a chance to dishonor her vows. That is until Scheherazade offers herself as a bride. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale but does not end it. The king, enthralled in the story, postpones her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion of this tale, postpones her execution again. So it goes on for 1,001 nights. 

Suleiman the Magnificent: Sultan of the East by Harold Lamb (1951) [OOP]
Harold Lamb's fictionalized histories are usually very gripping and enjoyable stories. We are including three of his titles here. Suleiman the Magnificent is the story of the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. 

Tamerlane: Conqueror of the Earth by Harold Lamb (1955) [OOP]
Temur the Lame, who referred to himself as the "Sword of Islam" is a fascinating individual in 14th-century history. He was a blood thirsty world conqueror, perhaps second only to Genghis Kahn.
In addition to an intriguing story, the back of the book contains a wealth of material to help you continue your study into the subject. (Also available as an audio book.)

Swords from the Desert by Harold Lamb
Made up of four novellas originally published in Adventure magazine in the late 1920s, and three short stories published in Collier's magazine in the early 1930's. All immerse you into the culture of the Middle East. 

Angels in Iron
 by Nicholas Prata [Arx Publishing]
A favorite book, this is an engaging historical fiction that deals with numerous figures from the early Ottoman times, including Suleiman the Magnificent, Piali Pasha, and Dragut the Corsair. It's a well-researched story that also demonstrates all the character traits we'd like to see in ourselves and our children: courage, honor, selflessness, and more. (Rumor has it there may be a movie based on this novel in the distant future. I'm at least hoping for an audio book.)

Defenders of Christendom by James Fitzhenry 
A good book from the same perspective as Angels in Iron. It deals with the Christian heroes who resisted the Turks in an attempt to check their advances, including John Hunyadi the White Knight of Wallachia, Skanderbeg of Albania, Jean La Valette of the Knights of St. John, and others. 

The Breadwinner Trilogy by Deborah Ellis 
These three fictional books take place in Afghanistan during the rule of Taliban in the 1990's and told through the eyes of a young girl who disguises herself as a boy to survive the refugee camps. Hits on serious realities: War, starvation, refugee camps, maimed children (from land mines), and despair.

111 Questions on Islam by Samir Khalil Samir S.J. [Ignatius Press]
It is important in today's world for Americans to understand the history and culture of Islam. This book is in an easy-to-read, question and answer format.

All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer
A detailed factual account of the 1953 CIA coup in Iran that ousted the elected prime minister and the aftermath. A study into what brought about Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

This is the story of seven Trappist monks in Algeria who were kidnapped, imprisoned for two months, and beheaded by Islamic radicals in the 1990's. The book is a history of the Algerian monks and chronicles the relationship of the monks with their Muslim neighbors. The movie Of Gods and Men is based loosely on this story. Monks of Tibhirine is upper high school or adult level reading.

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson (2014)
A look at the Middle East arena during World War I. A fairly readable popular account of T. E. Lawrence, of his role in shaping the Middle East, and of missed opportunities that we are still paying for today. Parental discretion advised as it contains information about Turkish captors who sexually assaulted Lawrence. 

The Ottoman Centuries by Lord Kinross (1979)
Excellent resource on the history of the Ottoman Empire, especially the circumstances surrounding its decline and disappearance after World War I. For the parent or advanced student who wants to go really deep. The author painstakingly researched this book, looking at all of the big issues: Economic, political, and social. 

British General Edwin Allenby was the first Christian general to capture Jerusalem since the Crusades. This book, written by an eyewitness of Allenby's exploits, gives a detailed account of the British Palestine campaign in World War I. Advanced readers only.

To watch ...

Lawrence of Arabia with Peter O'Toole (1962)
Epic historical drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence, a British archaeologist who lived an extraordinary life. He was best known for his legendary war activities in the Middle East during World War I and for his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926).

Other resources:
Middle East: Map & Geography Information

Al Jazeera: Online English language version of the popular Middle Eastern TV station.

Visit a Mediterranean restaurant or create Middle East recipes at home.

Thank you Tony Schiavo of Arx Publishing, Phillip Campbell, Danielle Goodnight, and Susan Donovan for your suggestions for this list. This was not an easy book list to compile. There are so few non-Western works available. Please share any suggestions you have in the comments below.

Friday, August 4, 2017

12 Classics to Read Before College


By Christopher Martin

            A couple of notes about this list: This is an extremely subjective topic. There are literally hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of classics for which a good argument can be made for their inclusion here. If you read through this list and disagree with some of the inclusions or absences, chances are good that I agree, at least partially, with your judgment as well. As a homage to this subjectivity, I have included one or several related books to each spot on this list.

            My recommendations are largely based on the four-year cycle of the "Great Books" courses I have taught (one year each of Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, Medieval & Renaissance, and Modernity). In these courses (and therefore also in the list below), I chose the books I feel are most likely to help my students understand how the world has developed. Click on the book title for reviews or ordering information.


1. Homer: The Iliad
            Homer gives us, among other things, some idea of the notion of sovereignty for the Ancient Greeks. Part of it is the gods' blessing, part of it is the fealty of subordinates, but mostly it's a tribal type of organization. Students enjoy the analogy of Achilles and Agamemnon acting like enraged gorillas, pounding their chests to compete for the title of King of the Banana Pile. It is easy to dismiss the characters of the Iliad as obnoxiously petty, but Homer's world is far different than the one we experience today, and discovering how that world and its actors operate stands as one of the enduring attractions of the text.  
            One could easily place Homer's Odyssey, or Sophocles' Oedipus Rex in this spot as well.

2. Plato: Republic
            I love pointing back to Anne Carroll's Christ the King Lord of History as providing signposts to a Catholic interpretation of history. To her, the Ancient Greeks made, primarily, two significant contributions to the development of Western Civilization: the expansion of the West via Alexander's conquests, and the invention of philosophy. Plato's Republic provides an excellent introduction to this latter contribution, as it's one of the best articulations of the Greek's philosophical achievements, outlining how best to order citizens and the city-state.
            While a number of texts by Aristotle could easily fit here as well, the dialogue format of the Republic makes it much more approachable than many philosophical texts.


            Virgil's text immerses us into the world of the ancients as only a poet can do. Just in terms of the notion of sovereignty, the Aeneid, in many ways, builds directly off of the themes present in Homer. Whereas in Homer, the gods often interfere with human events as a matter of course, Virgil's text suggests a retreat from this position. The hero vocally expresses his frustration with his goddess mother, and Jupiter/Zeus himself states that human beings should make their own way. Virgil therefore lays the groundwork for the modern man's independence from fate.
            Lucan's "The Crossing of the Rubicon" (in his Pharsalia) suggests very similar themes, and in no less epic tones for its comparative brevity.

            Tacitus serves the twofold purpose of giving us a very approachable history of Rome, while also telling us exactly what one Roman thought of its characters. Tacitus made no effort to hide his biases, and especially his disdain for Nero: "Though his heart never knew remorse for the worst of his crimes, his ear, unaccustomed to the voice of truth, shrunk from the sound of freedom, and startled at reproach."
            Livy, Pliny, Plutarch and Sallust all give us worthy histories as well (Livy, in particular, gives a lovely history of Rome's early era), but Tacitus stands out for his candid and engaging appraisal of Rome's heroes and villains, victims, and tyrants.

            Marcus Aurelius' text shows just how far pagan natural law philosophy could go. It is a remarkable achievement on many levels, indicative of impressive understandings of social ethics, metaphysics, and even political theory. To highlight the philosophical compatibilities with Christianity, one might read the Meditations alongside the Gospel of Mathew, where Marcus Aurelius' stoicism almost seems to pave the way for the notion of an omniscient, intelligent God.
     Seneca's Morals of a Happy Life also includes much of the same natural philosophy, but with more emphasis on proscriptive ethics.


6. Augustine of Hippo: Confessions
            Augustine's Confessions stands as one of the most famous stories of conversion, and arguably the best and most important among Christian literature. Augustine literally bares his soul to the reader, and in doing so expresses the beauty and magnetism of pure Christianity to an intelligent man struggling with self-discipline and self-honesty. His story is one to which everyone can relate, and, as it emerges from the early centuries of Christianity, set a precedent of how we "come to Jesus."
            Selections from Aquinas' Summa Theologica might also have been in this spot as a wonderful example of the development of Christian philosophy and theology, but it isn't nearly as approachable as Augustine.

7. Dante: Divine Comedy: Inferno
            Dante's text evinces just how inherent Christianity had become in Western Civilization, that entertainment, theology, and romance can all be bound up in the same poem. While the entire three-part epic is probably too much for a high-school student, the Inferno by itself paints a compelling and vivid image of the fate of the damned. Students of history will be delighted (and sometimes amused) to identify all of the names who Dante places in hell, as well as the reason(s) why he does so.
            De Villehardouin's Memoirs of the Crusades might also take this spot, though is more medieval than renaissance, and more historical than literary.

8. Shakespeare: Henry V
            Shakespeare has to be on this list, but as I'm not really a fan of Shakespeare, I include the text which I appreciate most. Henry V gives us laughs, action, and (of course) rousing monologues of a martial tone. Beyond its readability, the text's influence (and therefore Shakespeare's) on modernity can clearly be seen when encountering such passages as "we band of brothers" and "once more unto the breach."
            A number of Shakespeare's works might fit into this spot instead, and certainly a close runner-up is Hamlet.


            It's difficult to pass on a lot of texts ranging from Voltaire and Locke to Defoe and de Tocqueville, but Stowe absolutely has to be on this list. Slavery is unequivocally wrong, and yet abolitionists in America struggled mightily for generations to attract more members to their movement. In many ways, it was Stowe's text which finally provided the movement with the momentum necessary to translate into political power, eventually leading to a split of the Union and the start of the American Civil War. Stowe's text methodically destroys every defense of slavery, then in vogue, but does so with an engaging narrative both emotionally and ideologically compelling.
            For a further understanding of the ideas and context to which Stowe was responding, one might also read Calhoun's Disquisition on Government and/or Fitzhugh's Cannibals All!

10. Chesterton: The Ball and the Cross
            Much like Shakespeare, Chesterton has to be on this list. His importance to the Catholic literary revival, and to Catholics in modernity, is far beyond dispute, and this text, in particular, is a masterpiece resulting from Chesterton's attempt to  marry a novel with a criticism of modern social norms of "tolerance." Chesterton's conclusion leaves few without guilt, ranging from the overzealous Christian conservative to the aggressive hyper-liberal atheist, arguing instead that true Christian virtue is a type of moderation and sensibility we ought to have noticed the whole time. 
            For those who prefer a more straightforward, and less narrative presentation of Chesterton's social criticism and theological expositions, Orthodoxy could be read instead.

            In many ways, Harper Lee has updated Uncle Tom's Cabin, but done so in a manner that tells a common story through the uncommon eyes of a child. In so doing, we are forced into a sort of innocence which heightens our awareness of the injustices of the world, the cruelty of adults, and the goodness of which everyone is capable. The importance of this text lies in its ability to communicate in a manner which few other texts have achieved, evoking emotional, as well as ideological responses in its readers.
            No less emotionally evocative, and demonstrative of the importance of loyalty and friendship is Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows, though this text noticeably lacks much of the social criticism present in Lee's masterpiece.

12. Carnegie: How to Win Friends and Influence People / Sheen: Finding True Happiness
            In the last 400 years, Western Civilization has endured an immense democratic revolution greatly changing the manner in which people interact with the world. Carnegie understood the dynamics of this new form of communication very well, even giving his text a deceptive title. Really, the text is about teaching people to be sensitive to each other's selfishness and high sense of self-importance as the key to being an effective communicator and leader.             
          Sheen's text is very short and serves as a Catholic addendum to Carnegie's treatise. Whereas Carnegie focuses on handling others, Sheen focuses on handling oneself. In the modern world, there can be so much noise and distractions that it's easy to lose sight of the simplicity inherent to our Catholic pursuit of happiness. As the pre-eminent Catholic communicator of modernity, Sheen well understood and reminds us that happiness needs to be actively sought every day, but inwardly, not outwardly.

Let us know in the comments what books you would add or delete.

NOTE on translations and editions:. The quality of translations of some of these texts can vary greatly. We have linked to the best translations known to the author. For used copies, we recommend checking for the best prices. Some of the hyperlinks are affiliate links and provide a small referral fee to the author.

Christopher Martin teaches history and theology for Homeschool Connections. He holds a BA in Theology from Christendom College, 2007; an MA in History from National University, 2012; and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in History. He has taught History and Ideologies in Literature for House of Gold Academy and Our Lady of Joy Academy in Oceanside, California, since 2013. Mr. Martin's research interests include the Lost Cause, the Federalists & Anti-Federalists, and the Impact of Wars and Depressions Upon the American Social Mind. He presents at conferences and currently lives in Alpine, California, with his wife and three sons.

* Indicates there is a Homeschool Connections course available for the book.
** Indicates there is a Homeschool Connections course that uses a portion of the book in one or more of its courses.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Can I Be a WAHM and Homeschool?

How to Homeschool While Earning an Outside Income

20 Tips for the Working Homeschool Mom: How to Keep a Job and Your Sanity at the Same Time. 

By Maureen Wittmann

WAHM is an acronym for "work-at-home mom". Combine that with homeschooling and life gets a little complicated. It's not something I recommend, but there are times when it is necessary and even unavoidable. In fact, if a mom needs to help bring income into the home, working at home is one way that can make it possible to keep homeschooling. (If you work outside the home, it is still possible to homeschool. These tips should be helpful to you as well. More than likely, you will need to rely more on outside help.)

As a homeschooler and full-time WAHM, I hope I can share my own experience to help other moms in the same boat. I help run Homeschool Connections and I'm still homeschooling my two youngest children. I've been balancing work at home, first as an author/speaker (in addition to volunteer work) and later managing Homeschool Connections, for seventeen years. I've graduated five children so far and the last two are rising tenth- and twelfth-grade students.

There are a number of challenges when a family decides to homeschool. Many families experience obstacles along the way - obstacles that range from learning disabilities to disapproval from family members to serious illness and so on. These obstacles are usually surmountable with determination, outside help, and prayer. When the primary educator in a homeschool is thrown into the workplace, the question has to be asked, "Is this a barrier to homeschooling or an obstacle that I can climb? Can I keep up with my homeschool while taking on outside work?"

There have been times when I seriously struggled to balance the two. When I got to that crossroad, I had two choices: quit my job or reevaluate the situation and find a solution so I could keep working. For me, the choice of giving up homeschooling was never on the table. My family comes first. My job and my community work comes second.

To be honest, there are still days when I become discouraged and need to recommit myself to this endeavor but for the most part it's working. The children are thriving and I'm able to also help other homeschooling parents through my job.

Following are my tips for balancing work-at-home and homeschooling.

1. Learn to manage your time and have set routines. Evaluate the tasks you must complete each day and the time necessary for each task. Keep a planner, writing out each task that must be completed. Don't slack in your time management.

Just like you plan and keep a schedule to serve your clients, you need to plan and keep a schedule to serve your children - don't let your homeschool slide even when you're working on a big project. But if it does slide, use your planner to get it back on track.

If needed, make weekly or daily checklists and be diligent in working them.

2. Give chores to the children. Working at home, homeschooling, AND managing your home is not unlike having three full-time jobs. Teach your children home management as part of your homeschool. This will train them to be responsible and prepare for their adult life, as well as help you in present. Get your husband on board too - his example to the children of tackling housework is invaluable.

3. Get creative with meal planning. How many times have you started meal planning at 4:00 or 5:00 PM? When that happens too often, the temptation is to call Dominos for pizza delivery. Falling back on carryout or frozen convenience foods is not good for your health nor your budget.

Set aside an hour each week to plan your meals and create your grocery list (minimizing outside trips to buy last-minute items). Focus on slow-cooker and pressure-cooker meals. Mark your planner so you don't forget to turn on your Crock Pot in the morning. Your days will run more smoothly, you'll have less stress, and you'll save money.

4. Employ your children.  My husband has employed most of our children in his accounting business at some point. By sixteen, all of our girls know how to file and how to work Excel Spreadsheets. They know the difference between FIFO and LIFO. The boys have worked as IT specialists. They know how to problem solve in addition to knowing the inner workings of computer systems. These are all great life-skills that can be taken into the workplace.

I've also employed our children. It's a little easier for me since my work is homeschool-related. For Homeschool Connections, I've had children create memes and infographics for me, render class recordings, review course materials, and more. When I was writing, they were my subjects. When I wrote For the Love of Literature I spent a three to four days a week in the library doing research. My children practically lived in the library in those days. And, they learned a great deal. When I wrote curriculum reviews for Cathy Duffy, the children got to try out all kinds of great new books. When I wrote literature unit studies for Homeschooling Today, they were first used with my children.

I have friends who run Etsy shops, sell homemade soaps at farmers' markets, run farms, own small shops or restaurants. These are all businesses that can involve children. Of course, I'm not talking about child labor. I'm talking about children having a part-time hand in things, earning a little money, and learning a lot of skills. They can learn to keep books (math); help with advertising (marketing); handle customer emails (writing); help with problem-solving (research), and more. Depending on the type of business you run, they may also learn science, art, music, culinary arts, agriculture, and so on.

5. Have older children tutor younger children. This is a win-win for everyone. Studies show that we retain information better when we teach. Enlisting an older child to tutor younger children, helps the older child relearn and retain the subject matter, helps the younger child learn, and helps free up some of your time.

As an example, one of my older daughters tutored her younger siblings in math. She earned a little extra cash and she went on to graduate with a bachelor's degree in mathematics.

6. Encourage your children to be self-directed learners. I believe that children are born with an innate sense of curiosity and a natural love of learning. As homeschoolers, we can nurture that love and encourage children to continue to learn on their own. One way to do this is to simply model it for your children. Let them see your love of exploring. Let them see your curiosity. Let them see your joy of discovery.

One way I encourage my children is to let them take ownership of their education. I include them in the discussion when I am planning our school year. While I have veto power, and make the final decisions, the children do have a say in the direction of our homeschool.

As they get older, help your children organize their time and resources so that when they are ready to learn a new subject on their own, they can do so. Teach them how to plan their school week and stick to that plan. Show them how to take notes. Homeschool Connections offers a FREE study skills course called How to Be an Excellent Student that will help you teach your (7th to 10th grade) children to be self-directed learners.

7. Teach your children how to research and find answers on their own. Organize your home library so that desired books are easily found (your older children or your husband can do this for you). Teach them the Dewey Decimal System and how to find reference materials at the library. Show them how to use the Internet responsibly - and how to bookmark/file their findings.

8. Keep control of the computers. This can be tricky since so much of our modern life depends on media. Set the rules and use a timer. Unplug the router during certain hours of the day. Many children today spend hours surfing online instead of exploring outside. Unplug.

Another concern is online safety. I recommend keeping computers out of bedrooms and in common spaces. If a child needs to go to his room for quiet study or for an online class, insist that the door is kept open. Use parent controls to see what websites children are visiting. And insist on keeping their passwords for email accounts.

9. Keep a calendar, and check it. I can't tell you how many times life happened and I completely missed an important event because I forgot to either write it down or to check my calendar that day. As a homeschooler and a WAHM, you have a lot on your plate. Take the extra 30 seconds to mark your calendar. I use an online calendar so that I'm sent email reminders of upcoming events.

10. Keep a to-do journal. This is a step up from the to-do lists. This is where I keep my long-term and short-term plans and where I take notes in business meetings. I often transfer the notes to Google Drive so I have a digital copy, but I like handwritten notes. It helps me retain and retrieve information.

Similarly, you can keep a journal (or a binder) for your homeschool and your children. Take notes on ideas for curriculum, enrichment, book lists, local resources, keep important phone numbers, and so on. You could also store your record keeping or planning forms if you keep it in a binder or in hanging folders.

11. Take care of yourself. Exercise and eat right. A few years ago I quit going to the gym when I overtrained for a half-marathon (walking not running) and found myself injured. One thing that became evident quickly, in addition to gaining weight, was that I accomplished less in a day even though I was saving three to four hours a week by staying home from the gym. My sleeping habits suffered and I was more fatigued. Eat right, exercise, and, while you're at it, get a good night's sleep.

12. Determine what can go and must stay. What is non-negotiable? What can be let go? In your to-do journal, on page one, write down your non-negotiables. Perhaps it's read-aloud time during lunch. Or nature walks on Saturday mornings. Or weekday Mass.

Then write down what can be removed from your schedule, or given to someone else in the family. It could be that you're doing too many outside activities or assigning mere busy work to the children. It may be as small as having a high-maintenance haircut or changing a wreath on the front door with the seasons. Eliminate the extraneous things that don’t help you reach your homeschool and/or business goals.

13. Find a housekeeper or mother's helper. I have a housekeeper who comes to my home for three hours every other week. As a professional, she is able to accomplish more housecleaning in three hours than I could do in six. I also like that it motivates me to tidy up so that she can focus on deep cleaning.

When my children were all little, I employed a teenager from our homeschool group as a mother's helper. She would engage the children while I worked on writing and special projects. If your children are young and your work hours are set in stone (for example if you teach online classes from 1:00 to 3:00 or meet one-on-one with clients), a mother's helper or babysitter is a necessity.

14. Determine your spouse's role. Can he help more, either teaching or doing housework? What expectations does he need to let go of? If you are working outside of the realm of homemaking and child rearing, it is vital that your husband takes a more active role in homeschooling. If not, he will likely need to lower expectations regarding meals and housekeeping.

If you're a single parent, you have a much more difficult job balancing work and homeschooling. You will likely need to rely more heavily on some of the other bullet points in this list such as paid help or engaging the assistance or your parents.

15. Schedule time just for your kids. Block out certain hours where you take no phone calls and conduct zero business. Giving your children your undivided attention for predetermined blocks of time will free up your time later when you need to get down to business. In the long run, your children will learn that they can't interrupt you during "office hours" and that they'll be rewarded with solid "mom time" later.

Manage your schedule. Work before the kids get up. Work when your husband gets home. But make sure you get enough sleep. When I co-wrote my first book, A Catholic Homeschool Treasury, I worked into the wee hours of the night. I didn't want to take time away from my children, so I waited until they went to bed to work. The problem was that I was subsisting on four hours of sleep over many months. I ended up seriously ill, which wasn't good for me or my family.

16. Seek outside help. Co-ops, private tutors, or online courses can help take the edge off. Note that you still need to be engaged as a homeschooler - making sure deadlines are met, work is getting done, and holding your children accountable - but you'll still save time since direct instruction is being done by a trusted source.

17. Multi-task. What tasks can you combine to save time? One of my favorites is "carschooling". When driving, the children and I can pray a rosary, listen to an audio book, have a Socratic discussion, plug in an educational CD, and so on.

18. Demand respect from your spouse and children. Once my husband came home and asked, "What do you do all day anyway?" Once.

I used to have a bumper sticker that read, "Mothering: A Proud Profession". Raising and homeschooling children is as important, if not more, than working in the business world. Additionally, you are juggling multiple jobs. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job. Being a homeschool mom is another full-time job. Add "business woman" to that and you are stretched. Demand respect.

19. Grandparents. Grandparents can be an amazing resource. They have the wisdom and experience that comes with age. Think about how your parents can engage your children. Perhaps your dad is outdoorsman who would love to spend time in nature with your children. Perhaps your mom is a whiz at science and would volunteer to do kitchen-table experiments with the kids. Ask them if they'd like to be a part of your homeschool.

20. PRAY!!! This could be both first and last on this list of tips. It is certainly the most important. Don't let the busyness of the day interfere with your prayer life. Have a set prayer time with the children. Get time before the Blessed Sacrament. Get to Mass a little early so you have time to reflect and talk with our Lord. And, get those kids praying for you - every day!

If you have further tips and examples of how you balance homeschooling and outside work, please share with the rest of us in the comments.

PS I found a couple of books on the topic of homeschooling and working at home. I haven't read them, so I can't recommend them one way or the other. But, if you want to check them out, including reading reviews, here you go:
Schooling at Home, While Working at Home
How to Work and Homeschool: Practical Advice, Tips, and Strategies from Parents

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why Take Accounting in High School (Online Classes for Homeschoolers)

10 Reasons Why You Should
Sign-up for Accounting

By Peggy Morrow


Whether or not you are interested in either an Accounting major in college or working in the field, following are 10 reasons why having a basic understanding of accounting will benefit you in life.

  1. Helping you to discern God’s will - According to Bishop Barron’s recent eBook titled How to Discern God’s Will For Your Life, in the end, all discernment boils down to one ultimate goal: finding the path of greatest love. If you are passionate about all things related to running either your own business or someone else’s this course will help you discern whether you should pursue further study. In addition to business considerations, according to my parish priest, If you are called to be a priest, you will need to have a basic understanding of accounting. Should God’s will call you to only need some basic background, you’ll be prepared for a vocation to married, single, or religious life!
  2. Requires basic math skills - accountants and bookkeepers spend a lot of time adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.  For these activities, they use calculators, spreadsheets, and other specialized computer tools.  Other math skills such as advanced algebra, geometry, and calculus are not required.  So if you were always successful at basic math courses (even if you were not so good at algebra and beyond), this may be a good class for you to check out!
  3. Never flip a burger - in my senior year in high school, I worked for an electrical contractor who trained me to process their payroll and financial transactions. I got to work Monday through Friday after school, and went home by dinner time. They paid me more than minimum wage, also giving me several raises and bonuses. Additionally, they taught me skills that both allowed me to earn money during college and understand the importance of attending college.  If you think that you want a skill beyond fast food, this course is a great starting place as you will learn enough to seek a bookkeeping position.
  4. Work anywhere on the planet - Accountants and related occupations are needed everywhere.  So you can live anywhere in the world, and will still be able to find employment.   That can include working from home. My Grandma worked as a bookkeeper almost her whole life for the same moving and storage company in Washington D.C.  Once she got married and started to raise a family in the 1930s, her employer asked her to keep working from home as many hours as possible while tending to her family.  So she was a pioneering telecommuter!  Since my Grandmother’s day, the possibilities of working from home have only increased!  
  5. Leadership - Whether your ambition is to run a small or large business, a church, or a diocese, accounting skills will equip you to be an effective leader. Accountants possess the knowledge of the entire operation (not just 1 segment). They obtain this knowledge because they need to understand what financial transactions are happening throughout the entire organization. For this reason, about a quarter of all CEOs are accountants and/or have an accounting background. Even if you don’t become the boss, your skills will provide leadership to others. Accounting involves using problem solving and helping everyone out in an organization– trying to figure out how to record a transaction, how to make a budget work, how to interpret a contract, and other guidance on what to do and how to proceed.
  6. You’ll always have a jobaccountants and related occupations are in high demand (no matter the industry) and are usually the last to go when a business is closed since they have to pay the bills. There is a wide variety of jobs available within the accounting field.  Besides accounting ops, there is financial management, auditing, budgeting, consulting, policy, taxation, financial analysis, etc.  On a related note, Business Intelligence (BI) is a growing area of employment.  People who have the combination of business sense, financial analysis, statistics, and data extraction/manipulation and reporting skills are in great demand right now and are paid well.
  7. You make decent money - Whether you become a bookkeeper which requires little post-secondary training and earns $38,000, or a financial manager which requires a bachelor’s degree and earns $120,000 or more per year. You will earn enough money to live comfortably.
  8. You’ll gain a better understanding of both historical and current events - References to accounting and accounting practices exist throughout history including biblical times. For example, the Apostle Matthew was a Tax Collector (requires an accounting degree today), in Luke 16:2 the dishonest steward is asked to “give an account of his stewardship,” and Leviticus 25 provides financial guidance for the Israelites.  Understanding generally accepted practices will enlighten your perspective on current and past events. Click to read more on this topic.
  9. Always something happening  - Accounting careers have both routine work and variety.   For example, your routine will consist of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual duties.  You will always have something to do so you will not get bored. Since you’ve got lots to do and there are things that are routine, you get a sense of accomplishment when you finish a task. Additionally, because you will understand how a business is run, you will be the first to know when changes or unexpected events arise as you know the financial standing of the organization.
  10. Personal financial management skills - Accounting is a life skill; i.e., everyone needs to know how to manage their finances, so training in accounting gives you an edge in this life skill area.

I hope this top-10 list helps you as you plan your high school career as well as your vocation. May God bless you and your future.

To sign up for Accounting Part One (fall semester) at Homeschool Connections:

To sign up for Accounting Part Two (spring semester) at Homeschool Connections:

Once the live course is completed, it will be available as a recorded course through our Unlimited Access Program.