Educating Your Kids

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By Rebecca Teti

Fridays: Education

(Join each day’s Coffee Talk discussion: Mon: Parenting; Tues: Open Forum; Wed: NFP; Thu: Marriage; Fri: Education; Sat/Sun: Changing Roles)

Whether your children attend school or are homeschooled, this is the spot to ask questions about curricula, religious education, parent-teacher relationships, or academic concerns of any kind.

Please join us!

Rebecca Teti


  • Any suggestions on helping a first grader improve her writing speed? She is struggling to finish her classroom assignments- particularly when copying sentences. She has started practicing sentence writing at home by copying from the books she reads. Her pencil grip is a little off and she is very resistant to my suggestions to change it. Also, I think she is going to need to keep practicing over the summer- any thoughts there? Thanks in advance!

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 7:06 AM by Anne

  • She has got to change that pencil grip!! Its now or never (may be too late already, but at least there's a chance it may change)! I speak as a mom who was an elementary teacher in my "other life." Try some pencil grippers that might help her hold her pencil properly -- this will save her callouses on her fingers later in life & may improve her speed, too. As far as the writing speed goes, is she taking time to form each letter properly/carefully? If this is the issue, I would talk to the teacher and see if she can extend time on the assignments, at least for your daughter. There is no reason to speed up writing if it sacrifices legibility! Again, this is when the habits of writing are really being formed -- better to go slow and write neatly / carefully than race through assignments whipping out sloppy work. Once she gets her writing down very well, I imagine she will speed up naturally.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 8:10 AM by unknown

  • Is it perhaps a fine motor skills problem? My daughter had a similar issue in Kindergarten, and her teacher recommended The box includes a lot of little toys and activities that help children improve their fine motor skills, finger strength, etc. It seems to have helped my daughter.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 9:42 AM by Maddy

  • I would love help finding the specific reference that tells about receiving sacraments {especially Confirmation} and how RE and others do not have the authority to withhold? I found the reference piece about how parents are to be the first and foremost educators of their children, and I know it's out there somewhere! Help? I know someone wrote in about the youth group a couple of weeks ago and how the young ladies were concerned about pressure for intimacy--and now our youth group is having some problems. They talked with the young girls 13-15 about Theology of the Body. Parents were NOT allowed. One of the sponsors offered to go in and listen, so that she would know what was discussed. She was absolutely SHOCKED when the 3 girls in charge ages 16-19 shared very intimate, sexual details of their lives and exploits. Nothing said about grace, avoiding temptation or anything. This is why they they didn't want the parents in there, I guess. I can't even say how relieved I am that my daughter was not in there! One of our friends, whose daughter WAS in there, was so upset by the stories, that she couldn't quit crying and doesn't want to go through with her confirmation now. I think some heads are going to roll! I want a different training for my kids! I'm going to talk to the RE and priest with two other moms who feel the same way. Please help, or at least PRAY!

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 10:15 AM by Lynnea

  • So we were at mass last Sunday and my 8 year old is kneeling next to me and says what word does He say. And after a minute I realized she was referring to the part of the mass..'Lord I am not worthy to receive you under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed...' What word does he say to heal our souls she repeats again? Ummm...Well maybe ask Daddy after mass. At least she is really listening and paying attention!

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 11:17 AM by Ummm....

  • Thanks for the ideas- i think i'll start with the pencil grippers. Sometimes the easiest solutions are right in front of us and we don't see them. The teacher is already extending her working time- right through recess. :( She does take a lot of time to carefully shape, size, and space her letters, but she's a lot faster copying spelling words than sentences. She has a lot of trouble starting the task (she'll get overwhelmed by a word 3 sentences in and declare she can't do it and not want to start), or staying focused (stop to sharpen pencil, or erase the word because it wasn't quite right, or check out what else is going on). I think a lot of it is anxiety, and so we work on "just finish it and its ok if it's not perfect." I like the sound of writeoutifthebox, but it's a little pricey and I'm worried that she would reject some of the activities as being too babyish. I'll check at the library to see if they have it or similar resources.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 11:53 AM by Anne

  • Intruder Lock Downs in Elementary Schools since Newtown? Can you tell me what you think about them, how your school is going about them? Specifically at the elementary school age-do they hit your sensibilities the wrong way or are they no big deal to you (in terms of burdening the children with fear if they are not handled carefully)? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll tell you quickly, I understand the necessity and want them to occur, but feel they need to be handled very carefully in regards to the age they are dealing with. I am struggling with my school. Would love to hear any and all perspectives and what is going on at your school. God bless and thanks endlessly for your constant support! Josie

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 12:01 PM by Josie

  • Josie, our girls have had lock down drills at their Catholic school twice since Newtown. The teachers cover the windows and the kids huddle in the corners. The classroom doors are kept locked (from the inside) at all times now. During the drill the administrators go through the halls and rattle doorknobs and bang on doors so everyone in the classrooms can practice being quiet. I find it all so upsetting but I have to say that my girls do not seem bothered by it at all -- they regard it matter-of-factly as just another safety drill, like a fire drill. My girls are 8 and 12; the 8-year-old knows nothing of Newtown and the 12-year-old has a vague idea of what happened. But the bottom line is that the lockdown drills do not seem to bother them at all.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 1:43 PM by Anne in NC

  • Josie, I only have one in school right now--my oldest is in kindergarten at Catholic school. In light of Sandy Hook, his school has recently revised their lock down procedures and has worked with out local police department to do so. They used to do the basic "huddle in the corner and lock the door" thing, but now the older grades are also being taught to escape through windows or nearby doors, if possible, and, as a last resort, to fight back by barricading doors, throwing books, chairs, etc. These more extreme measures are being introduced gradually. At the kindergarten level, they're still using the more passive measures of just being quiet. My son doesn't really understand the whole thing. (He calls them "lock out" drills and doesn't know what a lock down drill is for. He has no knowledge of Sandy Hook.) Like Anne in NC said, he takes it in stride and views it as just another safety drill. I'm sad that these drills are required, but I'm glad that the kids are practicing how to stay safe.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 2:42 PM by MR

  • thanks so much Anne, so helpful. do you know ifthey use a code word or do the kids know it is a drill in the event of an intruder? God bless!

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 2:47 PM by josie

  • thanks MR, it helps me so much to see what other schools are doing so i can assess. how much did you guys as parents know before they implemented the procedures? my guys are 8 and 5 in the school and dont know about newtown. i want the drills but i want to be sure they don't cause more fear than necessary. i feel they can accomplish both objectives if they take a few key simple steps. i do think my 10 year old could handle more info, but the little guys i worry about. God bless and thanks so much!

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 2:59 PM by josie

  • Any ideas for how to talk about Lent to a 3 (almost 4) year old? I've mostly just told her that it's a time when we try extra hard to be good to make Jesus feel better for the bad men who hurt Him, and that we're going to give up candy. I don't really know if I can make it any clearer than that, or if it's even that important to talk about at this age? Also, Easter is a little fuzzy for her because she has no idea, I'm sure, what it means to rise from the dead. I'm sure once all my kids are older, the youngest ones will start to get an idea what it's all about from the things we all do together, but I'm loving the fact that I can get started talking about the seasons of the Church, and I just want to present it clearly to my oldest. Thanks!

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 3:37 PM by MaryC

  • Anne - My son is in 4th grade and takes particularly long with his work - esp. math. The reasons are similar to a couple you mention w/ your daughter. He's easily distracted while doing his homework and he is constantly erasing and rewriting to make his letters perfect. I, too, have told him to just let it go - it needs to be legible but not perfect. Josie - I have a 9-yr.old and 5-yr. old in Catholic school. They do intruder drills. Doesn't seem to bother them. Actually, the little ones seem more bothered by the fire drills b/c of the volume of the alarm.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 6:02 PM by Carolyn A

  • I have a couple of things to comment on. The first one is the penmanship issue. I have had students, and have one now, who are so meticulous it cuts into recess/play time, which is just as important as academics or penmanship. I have found this year that a timer is working. If it is procrastination it will work. If the child is obsessing over the formation of the letters it might not. That is another issue. I have found that these issues usually resolve on their own. If they don't, then some kind of intervention may be necessary. Grips do help as well as well as a lot of positive reinforcement. As far as lock down's go, we have started them also. We go into our 'Bear Cave" to hibernate. All the kids are OK with it. We tell them we are practicing to be safe. The parents have seemed more concerned than the children. We just tell them that just like fire drills, it is necessary to practice just in case we ever have to hibernate for real, it is a way to keep safe. It is very sad that we have to do this, but it does get them used to being quiet in an emergency situation.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 6:32 PM by K Teacher

  • Josie -- I don't know about a code word during the drill; I think they just announce over the loudspeaker that they are having a lockdown, but I'm not sure. Before the first drill the principal sent out a memo that was sensitive to parental anxieties and explained some of what would be happening. Most of my information comes from my daughters. MR -- throwing books and escaping out windows, wow. So sad and scary. I'm glad that the kids don't have a problem with it. MaryC -- for Lent at that age I think you should go for visual and tactile experiences. Get or make a set of Resurrection eggs; they are wonderful. We always have a "prayer garden" during Lent -- we cut flower shapes from colored paper, and each day we right an intention in the center. Then we glue it to green posterboard and say a prayer. We also put aside a can of food every day and bring it to the church food pantry once a week. Don't be afraid to have some fun too -- I try to make Holy Week in particular a week that is different from every other week of the year. Do a palm craft on Palm Sunday. We have Palm Sundaes, with ice cream. We also play pin the tail on the donkey, since a donkey was a key player on that day. We use purple napkins and placemats throughout Lent, and then white on Easter. There is a website called Catholic Icing that has lots of great ideas.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 7:41 PM by Anne in NC

  • Mary C- my 3.5 year old knows Easter is when Jesus died but came back from the dead and that's really cool because he's the only person who can come back from the dead in real life. Maybe it helps that he knows about mummies and has seen Daddy and uncles play video games where you die but then come back to life? Anyway so far I've just explained Lent as a time of getting ready for Easter, just like Advent was getting ready for Christmas. I figure he'll naturally see that the tone is more somber by the lack of cookie baking and caroling! Anne-does she have a cousin or aunt or someone else who could be a pen pal? Doing some fun casual writing like that would be good practice but with a lot less pressure and anxiety hopefully!

    Posted on Feb 9th, 2013 at 6:04 AM by Lindsay H

  • Hi everyone (and Josie)-- a bit more info about the lock down procedures at my son's school. Right after Sandy Hook, the principal sent a letter saying that the school leaders, parish leaders, and police were going to revise the procedures--the new ones are the ones I described above. I don't remember if he asked for parent input, but I think it would have been welcome (although I'm sure the opinion of the experts would have been held in much higher regard). Parents were not notified about what the new procedures would be in advance, though. On the day they did their first drill after Christmas (last week, I think), the principal sent a letter home outlining what the new procedure is. Also, I should have noted that one element of the new procedure is to eliminate the use of code words. Now, the plan is to use the loudspeaker to communicate as much information as possible, clearly and concisely.

    Posted on Feb 9th, 2013 at 2:25 PM by MR

  • Lynnea, That sounds like a huge red flag to me. I would share your concerns with your priest, who ultimately is the authority over administering the Sacraments...not the DRE or religious educator at your parish. These 2 booklets outline the Church's strong support of parents' PRIMARY role in educating their children in the Faith & in preparing them to receive the Sacraments: Home Schooling and the New Code of Canon Law (by Dr. Edward N. Peters, Christendom College Press) & Responsibilities and Rights of Parents in Religious Education (by the Catholic Home School Network of America). At one time, both were available from Seton Educational Media. Stand firm in what you know to be best for your child (especially in preserving their innocence) & do not allow yourself to be bullied if it unfortunately should come to that. I would be cautious is using Theology of the Body materials with teens, as some of Christopher West's TOB materials tend to be over-sexualized & do not touch deeply enough on our tendency towards sin, modesty, chastity & being mindful to keep away from (or from being) an occasion of sin. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you & be confident in the Sacramental graces of your marriage to do what you know is best for your child(ren). God bless!

    Posted on Feb 10th, 2013 at 1:32 PM by Patricia

  • Thank you so much, Patricia, for writing back. I have felt so lost these past few days, and am, most likely, going to make an appointment to speak to both of them. This past summer, the priest and RE director held a 7 week course of TOB. I considered going, until I was informed that NO parents were allowed. At all. I decided that we would not be taking that class. The problem is, the RE director is ALWAYS trying to separate parents and their teens. I find it wildly frustrating, and of great concern. Then, this whole situation with the girls from Confirmation class helped to catapult me off of dead-center, and into problem-solving mode. I will go in with 2 other moms who feel much the same way, but I believe I may have to be the spokesman, as they are both shy and intimidated by our priest. I was able to find one of the booklets you mentioned, and have it on order. Thank you, and please pray for me and the success of this endeavor!

    Posted on Feb 10th, 2013 at 4:35 PM by Lynnea

  • Lynnea, A website for you to look at: Family Honor is an organization that understands and embraces the parents as the primary educator of their children with a special emphasis on the virtue of chastity. You might find some helpful resources there. Also, the Catechetical Formation in Chaste Living: Guidelines for Curriuclum and Publication put out by the USCCB in2008 would be a good reference. Look at #2 under the section titled "Role of Parents/Guardians" where it strongly states "parents/guardians are to be the first and foremost educators of their children. This God-given responsiblity cannot legitimately be taken away by other powers or institutions." #3 under the same heading talks about how parents have the choice of where their children receive education in human sexuality.

    Posted on Feb 11th, 2013 at 10:15 AM by Jenny

  • Jenny: Great resource! Thanks! Lynnea: I understand teachers not wanting parents present at times so that it is not a distraction or so youth can speak more openly...the flip-side is...separation & restriction of parents being present with their children can make the situation look suspicious when a good reason is not given. When our children were in parish religious ed. at our old parish, I asked to review the materials that would be used ahead of time. As a parent, you have that right. Your parental role should not be usurped & a barrier should not be set up between you & your children when a well-intentioned, but often misguided, DRE seeks to be the trusted adult in your place. Remember, you have every right to take charge of your daughter's Confirmation preparation. There are tons of solid materials out there to assist you if you are hesitant. You are in my prayers! Be calm, not confrontational, making it perfectly clear that you are grateful for the parish's involvement in Confirmation preparation & that you only want what you feel is best for your child. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. God bless!

    Posted on Feb 13th, 2013 at 1:03 PM by Patricia

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  • will not have another day, minute by minute will not go back, so be sure to cherish every minute. There is a pursuit, obviously disappointed, but would not go back. There is an effort, obviously fail, but do not want to stop. There is a love, obviously wrong, but would not let go; there is a beautiful, obviously fantasy, but do not want to wake upLife is sometimes not with right and wrong measured; life is not a coin that is not being anti-; life is not go, either black or white. Life, so many things in life, this is a lot of love, there is no reason, and without reason, love is love, love is love, there is no result, and without result, willingly, no regrets. Life is not really perfect, not only is the most perfect real beauty; life is not always successful, is the real success only stood up in frustration, only the flash of life is both eternal life. Do not pessimistic that he is very unfortunate, even more attitude towards life, happiness is their own thing, as long as like, you can always replace their remote controls, to adjust the window to the soul happy channel. Learn to be happy, even sad, but also smiling face. Institute of loneliness, not who will treat you as guarding treasure. Learn to be independent, can no longer blindly trouble others, their own thing their own. Institute of unsympathetic, the roll to roll, stay on the left. Learn to grow up, you can not be so capricious. Learn to forget, can not live in the past time. The mood is an emotional state, it has a good mood, it has self-confidence, and then have a young and healthy. To have a future life of longing, full of expectations, so we have a good mood, because the life is luck and happiness. Give yourself a good mood, let the world smile at you; to others a good mood, make us smile for life, good mood is the wealth of life, let us always accompanied by a good mood. People on such a life, fun is the day, is not happy day, so you must make yourself happy. People on such a life, not something wrong again, another broken heart is difficult to heal, so you will not regret it. People on such a life, after today unfortunate than you actually are still many people; not optimistic that he is very great, in fact, you just drop in the ocean. Learn to adapt, make your environment becomes bright; learn to adjust, so that you no longer feel sad; learn to be tolerant and let your life without trouble; learn dedication, make your life full of sunshine. In fact, the skies are blue, clouds the total to be scattered; in fact, the sea is not wide, the other side even to this shore; in fact, tears are sweet, when your heart to do so. With emotion to see the world is a tragedy, a comedy is a rational look. Sometimes not understand, just do not want to understand, and sometimes do not know or just do not want to say it. Sometimes he does see, but understand not do anything, so he remained silent. Some words, for keeping everything just some pain, only for silent forget some memories, only suitable for occasional out aftertaste. All the days will come, all the days, and will be the last, as if everything happened, and as if everything did not happen.Has been called back for a century,

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