Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sex Education Resource

So many times we fight letting our children hear how the public school children learn about the birds and the bees. I don't disagree. I want my children to understand their bodies and their ability to reproduce through God's eyes. There are good resources out there for the physical aspect only that are used in the public school settings. I wanted more than that but what to use? I also found some good Christian based material, but again not perfect in my opinion.

I want my child to learn from the very beginning that the love of husband and wife is representative of the love of the Father and the Holy Spirit creating the Son. I desire to understand the Theology of the Body as explained by The Great Pope John Paul II. But how in the world do you teach your child these deep theological concepts while they are still very very young?

Unfortunately not teaching them is a bad option. Our children see and know much from TV, Internet, ads, and radio. Your first child will know much less than the younger ones but ones. So I recommend the official teaching to change based on the development of each child and their placement in the family, or maybe when they ask.

We found that with our big family my older children had many questions that we glossed over until they were around 10 to 12 years of age. Then we tried to continue to dialogue, taking it deeper. We found one book that really helped with that The Joyful Mysteries of Life by Catherine and Bernard Scherrer published by Ignatius Press.  I recommend reading this with your child. Mom to daughters and dad to sons, if possible. I made the mistake of letting our oldest just read the book on her own, and I was pregnant at the time. The book did a good job of telling her how it happened and that it was a beautiful part of God's plan. She did confront me at one point with, "I know how that happened, I read the book!"
Now this is just a starting point. I would not end with this at all. I am loving the newer resources that are coming out on the Theology of the Body studies for high school and college age.
What I don't love about this book is that is presents the "perfect" side of things. It is almost too sticky sweet. I have never seen life that way and the world has twisted the role of sex in our lives so much. This book is almost too idealistic to be at all helpful to our real world children.
What I love about this book is that it creates the words for us to start with. It gives the mechanics of sexual intercourse in a non threatening manner. I love that the language is soft and loving. I love that the reality is so pleasant that if presented the right way your children can see the truth behind the lies that society tells. I love that our beautiful faith is the basis for the facts of life.
Use this book to start your conversation with your child. Do not think you are finished when this book is over. Point out in a movie or show how the characters get it or don't get it according to our faith. Stay involved and as they hit the high school years start looking for a Theology of the body resource.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Catholic Coffee Club

The Catholic Coffee Club is a group of home-school high-school students that join together to discover and discuss the Catholic faith. We are in the area around Spring, TX. We gather once a week during the school year to discuss what we learned while reading that week’s chapter. We base our discussions on the books printed by the Midwest Theological Forum in the Didache Series. We are a group of teens that gather together to explore the faith and become friends in Christ. The teens are guided in these discussions by a few adults that also love the faith in the fullness and beauty, love the teens for who they are, and own the answer books.

Years ago I decided that I wanted my daughter to have one class that was with her peers. I believe that once a child is in high school that social time together is very important. I didn't want the study of our Faith to be reduced to just another "class" with a "grade" given. The solution was to join with some others to study religion while also accomplishing the goal of sharing my love of my faith with my high school daughter and her peers. I worked up the idea that has grown into the Catholic Coffee Club.

The group has always met at a Coffee House or somewhere that sells a good cup of Joe. As moms we both loved our daily cup and wanted our daughters to learn to let the study of their faith be a part of every aspect of their lives, even the social aspect. At first it was two young ladies and one friend from traditional school that would meet once a week and dive into a wonderful set of books teaching the faith. My goal is that these teens will learn that their faith doesn't stop when they leave school. It is up to them to continue their learning. It is a great idea to start a catholic book club. I hope and pray that as they mature into adults they will encourage their peers by inviting them to have a cup of coffee with them and discuss an great teaching of the church.
The moms purchased the answer book and we went from there. Those three girls graduated last year. We now have about 17 teens that join us. The older one stick around and do a Bible study on their own. We have grown and I have learned so much. I just hope that the teens have also. The really exciting news is that a few cyber friends from around the country have copied this idea. We also have a second group in our own area filled with another group of teens. Across town two other groups formed and pretty much follow our format. I try to keep my group organized by using a free yahoo group. This allows us to send reminders and share information very easily.
We all come prepared having read the latest chapter. We pray and invite the Holy Spirit to guide our discussion. We share any surprises that we learn from the chapter. I am amazed that I still have those "no way, I didn't know that" moments. (Pretty sad considering this is my second time through this year.) We then turn to the back of the book and spend an hour discussing the questions that are listed. This isn't so bad considering the adults have the answer books/teacher additions. We then wrap up our discussion with everyone listing their prayer request. I love hearing what is on the mind of the teens.

It is a simple and wonderful way to share your faith with your highschool kiddos. I recommend this approach to my friends with kiddos in traditional highschool as well. Meet with your son or daughter once a week in a warm setting where you can discuss the faith. Encourage them to learn and to fall in love with the study of our Catholic heritage.

Phonogram Cards

I have used almost every reading tool, game, and book out there with my wonderful children. The kids are dyslexic and I have kept searching for the perfect solution. Hours and hours we have spent trying the best new program out there.

The Riggs Institute offered me one of those programs. Their stuff is a tad expensive but I believe their program is solid. I agree with their approach. I think that the research is solid.

What I didn't love was that it is another phonogram set. It is hard for some young ones to have the skills to write the letter the way the program requires. It is another intense program. It isn't a quick fix, by any stretch of the means. I used the cards in a very simple manner, and they worked for us.

What I love about these cards is that they teach handwriting while they teach the sounds. I think this is so important. It really does help the dyslexic learning. It is a great way to help the child "touch" the letters. It is so important for some of these kiddos to connect the physical action with the sounds. Children leave these cards with beautiful handwriting.