Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Telling My Daughter About Santa Claus

I had an unexpected discussion with my just-turned 8-year-old a couple of weeks ago.  At a much younger age than I expected, she guessed the truth about Santa.

As a child, I found out at about the same age, but the sole reason was that I read it in one of those very silly children's books that gives away the secret.  I am not super analytical by nature, and I don't think that I would have reasoned it out, at least not that young.  My little G., on the other hand, is very logical and is a deep thinker, and she basically just figured it out on her own.

While she actually did not ask me for the truth directly, she presented a number of reasoned out points which she said were making her not believe.  While I am comfortable continuing this long Christian tradition with my children, I was not comfortable making up a lot of fictional answers to her reasonable points, and so I told her.

Interestingly, her first reaction was a sort of relief - relief, I believe, that what she was thinking did indeed make sense.  Her second reaction was some sadness.  I remember when I found out as a child being so disappointed that there was no source of gifts that was not limited by budget or other parental concerns.

However, for her part, G started to cry a little and said, "You mean some kids don't get presents?"

I wanted to cry myself at this; I was so touched that her first reaction was to think of others.  I told her that is why we are here - to help each other - and that is why we have donated toys at Christmas time and filled shoeboxes for poor kids and so on.  I had to really assure her that everyone wanted all children to have toys at Christmas, and that there were many groups that would help parents who couldn't afford presents.

At some point in there she also did say, "But it was a lie." And this is why some friends I know don't "do" Santa, because they believe it is lying to their children.  This was my opportunity to explain to her why I don't see it that way.

"It's a myth," I told her, "a legend."  These are concepts she is very familiar with, as she loves Greek mythology.  We have also talked many times about a legend having its roots in history, but being embellished over time. 

She seemed to accept this explanation, and we talked about St. Nicholas.  I have always told my children that Santa is St.Nicholas, and I love him so much that they know all about him.  She also never questioned the reality of St. Nicholas during the discussion; she had already intuited the way the tradition had developed from the real historical events of his life.

I told her what I really believe: that Santa is the spirit of St. Nicholas living on through all of us.  The spirit of giving in secret, without a chance of being thanked, is what Santa is all about.

We talked about how this is a big secret know only to "big people," and of course we talked about how she couldn't share it with other kids.  I told her that although I was disappointed when I found out about Santa, my best memories of the tradition are from when I was older, when I was able to help my mom be Santa to my younger siblings. 

 I asked her, "Would you like to help me and to be my 'elf' now?"

"Oh yes!"  Her eyes shone as she said it.  And I knew: the spirit of St. Nicholas is alive.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Curriculum Choices of a Newbie Homeschooler

I'm not exactly sure why you'd want to know my curriculum choices, since I am brand new at this homeschooling thing.  But in case you're curious, here you go.

I always though that I'd be a "boxed curriculum" type of gal if I ever homeschooled, since I see many benefits to structured school.  However, I surprised myself when in came down to it that I really just wanted to pick just what I wanted!  I guess I figure that even if homeschooling wasn't our first choice this year, I might as well reap its benefits, like being totally in control.

These books and subjects were also all chosen with simplicity in mind.  I'm not out to win "homeschooler of the year" here.  My goals are the following:
- to keep the girls on par with their classes at school
- to get my first grader reading chapter books fluently
- to have fun and focus on a few areas that we all will enjoy

So, here's what I picked, by subject, for my 1st and 3rd graders:

Saxon Math 1
Saxon Math 3

Exciting, right?  This is what the girls used at school, and many homeschoolers use it as well.  They're used to it.  Why mess with it?

All About Reading Level 1
All About Reading Level 2

My mom is now an Orton-Gillingham trained reading specialist, so I knew that I had to look for something using this method.   Even though H, my first grader, can sound out words well and knows many sight words, we're going to go ahead and start with Level 1, but go through it quickly.


All About Spelling Level 1
All About Spelling Level 2

See above - this is obviously the  related program.  They recommend starting with Level 1 if you've never done the program before, so even my third grader is going to start there.  However, I have a feeling we're going to need Level 3 very soon.

A Reason for Handwriting Manuscript A
A Reason for Handwriting Cursive D

As my friend who recommended this program put it, if they're going to be writing something, they might as well be writing Scripture!  I like how this program has a special page at the end of each week that they can write in their best handwriting and decorate.  My 3rd grader learned cursive in school last year, so I went ahead and got her the 4th grade cursive book.

Abeka Language 3

I was raised on Abeka books, and all of my siblings and I are grammar geeks.  My sister is even a professional writer and editor.  So again, why mess with what works?

Prima Latina

Prima Latina Set   -     By: Leigh Lowe

Our Catholic school started Latin in 1st grade, and I am determined to keep up with it.  This seemed to be the most academic program of the few that exist for elementary students.

American Girl History Study
The dolls having a glass of wine to start off the school year.

You'll be hearing lots more on this one!  This is the "fun" subject that I allowed myself.  I knew that I wanted to give my girls a better sense of American history, and what better way than through the stories of their beloved dolls?  I have lots and lots of ideas for this one - that's definitely a whole separate post.

The Magic School Bus Science Kits
The Magic School Bus: Explore the Wonders of Nature Kit  -

This is going to be an occasional subject, mostly consisting of "workshops" conducted by Daddy on the weekends, supplemented with watching the show and reading the books.


I've saved the most important for last.  This is an academic subject in that there is much to learn, yet I don't want it to seem like "just another subject."   All three children will be attending an Atrium, staring in a few weeks, which will be their main religious instruction.  Besides that I am still pondering what other materials to use, beyond what we normally do as a Catholic family.  That is probably also a future post.

Well, these are the books I've chosen, for better or for worse!  Now, I guess I have to teach with them . . .

This post contains affiliate links for some of the books.