S9 E16 | The Healthy Homeschool Family, Pt. 2: Ideas and Insights for Helping Your Family Thrive on the Homeschool Journey (Shiela & Bruce Catanzarite)

S9 E16 | The Healthy Homeschool Family, Pt. 2: Ideas and Insights for Helping Your Family Thrive on the Homeschool Journey (Shiela & Bruce Catanzarite)

Show Notes:

A healthy lifestyle is one of the greatest gifts you can offer your children. In this second episode of a two-part series, Shiela and her husband Bruce expound on what Charlotte Mason believed are important aspects of a child’s health, and how foundational the pursuit of physical health is for learning and brain function. They share some of the science behind healthy habits and also practical tips, ideas and insights to set your family on a journey of health and vibrancy. You’ll realize the power of building family bonds and memories through shared experiences and adventures around fitness and nutrition. Happy Healthy Homeschooling!

About Shiela

Shiela Catanzarite is an author, speaker, editor, and communication coach. She's a 20-year Charlotte Mason veteran homeschooler and has worked as Jeannie Fulbright’s editor and designer for 20 years helping develop Jeannie’s award-winning Apologia science curriculum and most recently her Charlotte Mason products published through Jeannie Fulbright Press. Shiela is the author of the newly published Living Verse Language Arts in Poetry and is finishing up her second book in the series Living Verse Language Arts in Scripture, to be released spring 2024.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a master’s degree in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary, Shiela has been teaching language arts in some capacity for 40+ years. Her passion remains helping students understand the elements of language and how to use these elements artfully to communicate effectively. Shiela is currently a language communication coach, working one-on-one with students who have language learning and communication challenges. She also writes curriculum for her private middle and high school English language communication classes that focus on writing and speaking.

Both of Shiela's and her husband Bruce’s daughters attended private universities on scholarship and went on to pursue graduate studies in medicine and global business. She attributes their love for learning and academic achievement to homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methodology.


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Show Transcript:

Shiela Catanzarite Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a show that discusses Charlotte Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. I'm your host, Shiela Catanzarite, author of the newly published Living Verse Language Arts in Poetry, and soon to be published, Living Verse Language Arts in Scripture. I'm so thankful you joined me today, and I pray this episode deeply encourages you as you learn more of Charlotte Mason's life-giving methodologies and how to implement them to bring greater freedom, confidence, and joy to your homeschool days.

Shiela Catanzarite Here's a riddle for you parents: Homeschoolers love them. Enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? It's the Tuttle Twins books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins help you teach your kids about entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, the Golden Rule, and more. Get a discounted set of books with free workbooks today at TuttleTwins.com/Homeschool.

Shiela Catanzarite Well, hello! I so appreciate you being here with me and I'm really excited about today's episode because it is actually part two of The Healthy Homeschool Child. And last week we talked about Charlotte Mason's thoughts on the effects of a child's health on their learning. In today's episode, my husband Bruce and I are going to share ideas for keeping your children and the whole family healthy and vibrant during the homeschool years. But before we dive in, I want to invite you to my ever growing newsletter community. I send out a newsletter every Thursday afternoon and it's all things language arts. It's really fun, it's got tips and ideas and micro lessons and a word of the week, and I always feature one of my Living Verse Language Arts in Poetry students, or one of the students who I teach in person, or even one of my online homeschool students and I love to honor their writing and feature their brilliance. And so I think you would love my newsletter, and I would love to send it to you. So all you need to do is go to my website — SheilaCatanzarite.com. Scroll down to the end of the home page, and there'll be a place for you to enter your email address and choose one of my free resources, which I'd love to send you, and it will put you on the list for my newsletter and you will begin receiving it every week. So I want to introduce you to my husband, Bruce, and I'm very excited to have him on the podcast today, because he has so much insight and wisdom to share about pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Bruce is a certified health coach and also a certified Personal Fitness trainer, and our daughters and I were so blessed to have him lead us in these areas of health and fitness during our homeschool years. He has a lot of experience and expertise to share with you today, and I am confident that it will be a blessing for you and your family.

Bruce Catanzarite Yes, I'm excited to be here with you and to be sharing about our ideas and journey and the things we've learned over the years about health and fitness as a homeschool family. So I'm really looking forward to this time.

Shiela Catanzarite Me too. So if you didn't listen to last week's podcast, I encourage you to do so, as I shared in detail Charlotte Mason's ideas on how the various areas of a child's health affect their learning potential. And today we're going to talk mainly about physical health and exercise, but I want to touch on Charlotte Mason's thoughts on mental exercise, specifically exercising the brain. And she said that, "The brain is an organ that should be invigorated with daily exercise." And Charlotte Mason advocated for a daily habit of mental work to keep the brain strong and sharp. She said that, "If children were allowed to dawdle without regular, sustained efforts of thinking, then their brains would become as flabby and feeble as a healthy arm would be after being carried for years in a sling." And if you have established the habit of mental work and are using Charlotte Mason's methods of learning, then you can be confident your children's brains are being invigorated with daily exercise. And interestingly, Charlotte Mason had a lot to say about healthy blood and specifically healthy blood flow for a healthy brain. And we know that blood carries oxygen and nutrients to feed the brain, so increased blood flow results in a stronger, more creative brain. And what improves blood flow to the brain?

Bruce Catanzarite Well, one way, one important way, is physical exercise. And Charlotte Mason knew this and felt physical exercise should be prioritized. She tells us, "The children walk every day and they are never out less than an hour when the weather is suitable."

Shiela Catanzarite And obviously there are tons of studies proving physical exercise is positive impact not only on brain health but mood. And we really did try to prioritize physical exercise during our homeschool years. And let's share some of the ideas that we had and see if we can't inspire our listeners.

Bruce Catanzarite Certainly. So one of our favorite ways to exercise is on a trail. We normally would run on a trail, and we still do. Walking and hiking as well were key ways that we had physical exercise and got that charge for our brains, got the extra blood flow and the oxygenation. So we took our girls on trail runs. We actually did some trail races as we were growing up. So I encourage you to consider that, and there's ways that you can do that.

Shiela Catanzarite And I would say one of the benefits of being on the trail that I still enjoy, and that I know that you as a family enjoy being Charlotte Mason homeschoolers — she was a strong advocate for nature, nature study and nature walks — but I always feel like that being on a trail is being immersed in God's general revelation through creation. And every time that we're on a trail, we're really under a canopy of God's grace, his creation, the beauty and all the benefits. There's so many benefits to being on a nature trail in so many areas for our mental health and our physical health. I enjoy so much and I want to I'm going to share about an activity that I did with my students. But let's look at some of the different benefits of being on a trail and being in nature.

Bruce Catanzarite Yeah, there's an article from the Cleveland Clinic that elucidated or mentioned nine benefits from just getting outdoors and getting your heart rate up and that's really the definition hiking. You just get out and you walk to where your heart rate gets to a little faster pace than is currently at. So these nine included reducing the risk of heart disease, it lowers your blood pressure, combats diabetes, tackles obesity, reduces anxiety and depression, improves sleep, helps build strong muscles and bones, improves arthritis, and helps with balance. So those are some benefits and there's actually more than just that. But I thought that was a good summary of those.

Shiela Catanzarite And we actually learned about something interesting didn't we, through one of your friends — the idea of forest bathing. So how did you introduce that to me, I can't remember.

Bruce Catanzarite Well, I have a friend that's a medical doctor, and he does a lot of research. He's been a medical doctor for over 30 years. Very intelligent, has a lot of wisdom, and he sent me an article on this, and I had never heard of it before. This is about a year or so ago when shared that with me.

Shiela Catanzarite And I got very intrigued, I remember. We were on a trail, I think, when you told me about it, and I became very intrigued about this idea of forest bathing. So I looked it up and I found an amazing article in a travel journal on forest bathing. And the students that I teach, we have a Language and Composition class. It's Advanced Language and Comp for my high schoolers, and when I saw this article, I thought, oh, this would be perfect for them to study. This year they're taking my Word Artistry course, where we study the structure of a passage and the artistry. So we're really looking at how the author of that piece of writing structured and beautified the writing. And so I found that I thought, this is going to be great. So I printed it off and in class, we studied this article and it was in a travel magazine, but it was so beautifully written, a lot of just beautiful language devices and some advanced punctuation. So my students studied it, and then I told them when they came to class the next week, that I wanted them to wear tennis shoes and to dress comfortably. And they looked at me like, okay, where are we going? I said, "Well, you'll see." So we drove to the trail that we usually run and that we run as a family, and I told them, "We are going to go forest bathing today." And so they were kind of like, okay, looking at me. And I told them, "I just want you to walk on the trail and I want you to use all your senses to see what you can experience. I want you to think about what you're seeing, what you're smelling, what you're hearing, what you're feeling." And we actually saw an owl right at the beginning of the trail. We were kind of going at dusk, and we saw a nocturnal frog on the way back, but we walked for about an hour and a half and they would stop and take notes. I had them sit on old logs and they were filling a couple of pages of everything that they were... just having this sensory experience under this canopy. And I remember even at one point I heard the girls laughing and I looked behind me and they were skipping on the trail. They had had such a stressful week — it was a Thursday night, and they were going into some exams the next day and I'm like, "Why are you all laughing?" And they said, "We just feel so... This is therapeutic. We feel so free. We feel like we're children again." And it was just amazing to be able to take them out under the canopy of grace, as I call it, in God's beautiful creation, with so many different sights and sounds and feels around us, just so much beauty and the health that it brought them. They literally relaxed on that trail. They were completely different by the time that we finished and the next week they came back and I had them take their notes and I said, "I want you to model this article on forest bathing that you studied, but I want you to write it in first person and describe your experience." And it was incredible. They wrote them and I had them read them, and it was some of the best writing that they had done because it was such a deep experience for them. And so just from a mental health perspective, I mean, we like to enjoy the trail for the exercise, but just the mental and emotional health experience that they had was really amazing to see. And if you take your children out regularly, I know probably you do, but if you are really intentional about just the health benefits, not only physically like were mentioned — balance and, you know, agility and muscle strength and all the different things that our bodies can experience, but just the emotional health and taking in God's beauty and what that does for our minds. I think that's an amazing thing that you can plan into your homeschool routine to bring health to your children.

Bruce Catanzarite Also mention related to that, just running period. You can be running on a road versus just being on a trail. And I did several running races with my daughters. We've done some as a family. We have done trail races together, but in particular, I ran a road race with my youngest daughter out in Southern California. We took a vacation, just her and I together, a daddy-daughter bonding time. We ran this race on the 4th of July and the race length was 7.4 miles, July 4th and we had a great time and this part of Southern California is beautiful, and we just spent time talking about a lot of different things, having meals together. And a few years later she came back and she said to me, I didn't know this, she said that was one of the best times and best vacations she ever had. So I really, really enjoyed that. With my older daughter, Ashley, our older daughter, I've done races with her. Just a couple years ago we ran a race together, a 5K and she said, "What do you want to do on your birthday?" And I said that and we had a great time of connecting, we had a really good breakfast after, and we had kind of an interesting experience, that it was in the year of 2022, and Ashley took second in her age group, I took second in the race and my time was 20 minutes and 22 seconds. So that was just kind of a fun coincidence. So I would recommend that. And you could possibly run races and you don't have to run, some people walk these races. You don't have to be strenuous. But being together as a family is amazing. In fact, we did this with one of Sheila's students, who is also a client of mine. We went with him and his dad. We all four stayed together the whole time. We took plenty of time. We didn't really run the race, we just walked and we had this amazing experience. Halfway through, we got to a place where there were some horses on this person's property. We stopped and the horses were very friendly. We petted them, got pictures with them. It was probably the best race I've had outside of with my daughters. And it was just, another thought about something you can incorporate into your homeschooling.

Shiela Catanzarite And I think that you were so intentional about building relationships with the girls through some of the sports that you did with them — just taking that one on one time and really building relationally and building relational health for them while you're engaged in the atmosphere of a physical race, pursuing some type of an adventure and I would say that you kind of had dual health benefits there.

Bruce Catanzarite Yeah and I would say when you're exercising, you can get what some people call the runner's high — you get increased endorphins and we'll talk a little bit more about this as we go through this podcast, but that even helps with the relating. Your brain is more, again, more alert, you get the extra oxygen, but when you run hard, you also stimulate your entire nervous system and your endocrine system. So it even enhances the relationship in the relating that we had.

Shiela Catanzarite Definitely. Do you remember doing P90x?

Bruce Catanzarite Yeah, some of you may have heard of P90x, and it was something that was really popular in the mid 2000's, and it's a pretty intense workout, but you can modify it, you can modify it to what level you're at. And it was just a great time. We did it every day for, just like the name says, 90 days — that's the challenge. I remember Tony Horton, he was the leader of the fitness classes online on DVDs that we watched, he was pretty funny. So we had some laughter and we made sure we didn't miss a day. If one of us said, "Oh, I can't do it." Or we said, "Oh, we can just do 89 days." One of us would say, "No, we have to do it." If we couldn't do in the morning, our normal time, we said, "Let's get our work in at night." So that was just a fun time of working out together.

Shiela Catanzarite And that's what's great about doing it as a family, because you're bonding over a shared goal. And it was a 90 day goal, but it was really hard to do. I remember some days I was like, "I'm exhausted." And then someone was always rallying the family, "Let's go, we've got to finish!" And so if you plan like a 5K race with your family or with your children, or a YouTube series, something where there's a short term commitment, then everybody joins in and it just becomes a family goal that you're pursuing together. And it really deepens your relationship and you're holding each other accountable in a really fun way, it's a friendly competition, and I just highly recommend that you plan for it maybe once a year, some type of a formal event that you're all working toward that physical goal together, enjoying it together and completing it together. And remember the color run that we did with the girls, the color run, that was a special race where they threw color on you. It was a 5K at night and you glowed in the dark. And so even as your children get older into the teen years, you can find some of these runs. We did the Spartan Run. That was an obstacle course. And so there are all kinds of like mud runs, different runs that you can do and walks that you can do that have themes. Another great thing about doing these races is they usually benefit a cause like cancer or homelessness, so you can research with your children a cause that you really care about and decide, oh, we're gonna... we really care about this issue of children with cancer, so we're going to find a race that benefits this, and you pay your fees and sometimes you can get people to sponsor you and they'll give money if you're walking for a certain amount of time. Together, as a family, plan just something that you're going to support together and go out and do the race. And not only are you building relationships with each other and getting exercise, the entry fee that you paid is actually going to support a cause that you care about, and that's a wonderful thing to do. You could do it every year at the beginning of the year. Look at the race schedule in your area and pick something out that you're going to do together as a family.

Bruce Catanzarite And some other ideas for workouts and exercise might be biking — that's one of the things that we did. But you can bike, mountain biking, you can bike in the road. We had really fun times doing that as a family a few years ago. Those are mainly outdoor activities, but you can also go indoors like P90x is an indoor one. But lifting weights together, going to the gym together, maybe even doing your own routine. Getting a gym membership is a great way to exercise and bring your family together. There's workout classes that are available, and you can also customize the workouts to, again, what your level is or even if you have a disability. I have a coaching client — he's a teenager and he has some disabilities, and I'll customize the workout to his level of what he's able to do. We'll do some exercises and some of the things he has a challenge doing, if it takes more balance or coordination, but I look for things that he's really strong in. For example, he can run really well or you can do set ups really well. So we take more time to do those and that encourages him, helps him believe in himself and continue to develop some of his motor skills. And last I'll mention in the area of exercise is a seven minute workout — I've actually created one, I put it on my website. But our thought is that families and homeschool families can actually create their own short workouts, maybe as a break in their homeschool days. And I'll let Sheila maybe explain some possibilities around that.

Shiela Catanzarite Well, yeah, I thought about... This would be a fun idea where you could... Maybe you can watch Bruce's seven minute workout, or go to YouTube and find a short one and something that's really easy to implement into your day. If you can't get outside, like Charlotte Mason recommends, or it's raining or snowy and the weather's bad, you can have this go-to seven minute, five minute workout to where you're still exercising and everyone's doing it together so you can figure out, okay, we're going to do this many jumping jacks or this many sit ups. You can even take into consideration every person's interest. So if you have someone that loves basketball or soccer and you have those items at home, you can include that and have like even a seven minute obstacle course where you go dribble a couple times and then you go kick the soccer ball, and then you get on the ground and do sit ups and jumping jacks, so you can create a type of a workout where everybody weighs in on the exercise that they want to do. And I would have your children create a sign and you can have different stations. And then they could write down and you could go to the station, "Okay, it's time for the workout!" And everyone goes and you read, "Okay, five jumping jacks! Now everyone get down and do this many sit ups, this many squats." It would be a really fun thing to do as a family. And the idea with health and fitness is you want to make it a family experience that everybody shares. It's so important that your children see you pursuing a healthy lifestyle, and once they see that you are pursuing that and you make it a part of your everyday homeschool family life, they begin to absorb that and naturally begin to live out that healthy lifestyle. We'll talk a little more about that, but we've seen that in our adult daughters. They've continued to carry on with some of the things that we did as a family because it became a part of their identity. Being healthy and fit was a part of their identity because it was a part of our family identity and we took seriously... we believe that God had called us to steward our bodies and steward our health the best that we could, you know, in this imperfect world. And so I want to encourage you that every time you think about bringing all these areas of health into your homeschool day, in your homeschool routine, you're doing it together as a family. I remember thinking, I just want to be a fun, fit, energetic homeschool family. Really that was important. I kind of had that idea and we really tried to make that a priority.

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Bruce Catanzarite So let's talk about another topic, that was a lot of information. Hopefully it's helpful on exercise: fresh air. A lot of people don't think about this too much, but Charlotte Mason had something to say about it, actually. She says, "The importance of giving the children daily airings and abundant exercise of limb and lung in unimpoverished air." She talked about how important that is. So just a couple things about that, is when you breathe in fresh air, like in a forest, like we talked about earlier, you're inhaling oxygen rich air, which can support proper oxygenation of your blood and subsequently can benefit your brain function. And again, forests are really —one person called it — chock-full of phytonicides, which are anti-microbial compounds released by trees and plants. And also air when you're around water, especially the sea or ocean where the waves are crashing, it can create what's called healthy negative ions. And when you breathe these negative ions, they have such a healthy impact on your body. They can relieve stress, increase energy levels. They can help with mood, again, it can help with allergies. So those are some of the benefits of air. And you can just step outside — if you can't get out out in the forest, you can't get to next to a body of water, you can just breathe deeply. Have your kids, have your family step outside. Just walk a bit again. Tell them to take some deep breaths, bring that in to their bodies, and even while you're doing that, you can almost feel almost instantly better when you can take in air like that. So let's jump to the next topic, which would be sunshine. Again, another topic that some people don't think about when it comes to health. Actually, they think the opposite — that going out in the sun is dangerous. We hear that all over the place — that you're going to possibly get skin cancer, cancer from too much sun exposure. Well, there's some truth to that for sure, but you can get out in the sun for limited amounts of times and it can be healthy. Some say if you go 15 to 20 minutes out in the sun, you're going to be okay. And what you get from sunshine, most people know this is vitamin D a you get a natural and abundant source of vitamin D that's more viable than what you might even get from food or supplements. You get immunity and calcium absorption that can help with bone strength and protection. Again, the vitamin D helps to, just facilitate that. And one thing that people don't think about often, as well around sunshine is that there's something called phytonutrients. And phytonutrients are just nutrients that are in light, which are not even fully understood yet, but they can complement the vitamin D, and there's just benefits from the sun we haven't even explored fully through science. And one quote on that is, "When we've safely absorbed" again safely "all the sun's phytonutrients, we can sleep better, cope more easily with stress, feel happier, and reduce the risk of most degenerative and life threatening diseases even." So it also finally, sunlight can help regulate your sleep cycle. So overall, the benefits are there and they're just outside waiting for you.

Shiela Catanzarite And I would say a benefit that Charlotte Mason, expounded on was this idea of mood. And she felt like sun was very favorable to a child's mood. And she recommended like, doing the lessons on the side of the home where the sun is coming in. And we know that mood is everything in our homeschool day. We want to plan as much as possible to give our children the best opportunity to have a positive mood and a life giving mood. Of course, our words affect that, of course our own attitude is a big effect, and whether or not we're allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through us so that we're showing the fruits of the spirit to our children. That, of course, is first, but the idea of light in sun is so important. When I lived in Russia, I was there for a few years as a missionary, and we actually had people on the team bring in certain lights because there was pretty severe light deprivation during the winter, only maybe 4 or 5 hours of sunlight, and people would get depressed and have mental health issues. And so it's a real thing. If you're experiencing the long winters with not a lot of sun, or if you've had a week or two of rain, try every chance you can to get your children out exposed to the sun. Even just something as practical as looking at your weather app on your phone — I do this even now: I'll look and if it's going to be cloudy, you know, I might say, "Oh, at 2:00 there's going to be a sunburst." And I do try and get out and walk to try and get that sun. So again, just really focusing on the mood of your children and having a light, bright, airy, sunny homeschool area for the lessons is really important.

Bruce Catanzarite And so another idea, or maybe a thought around that is to expose as much skin as possible and appropriately obviously. And again, be aware of your own limitations or sensitivity to the sun. So those are some ideas around sunshine. The next topic we'll talk about is good nutrition. Very common topic when it comes to health. It's usually the first one people think about. And again Charlotte Mason has a quote on this: "No pains should be spared to make the hours of meeting round the family table the brightest hours of the day. Here is the parents opportunity to train them in manners and in morals to cement family love." So she's just talking about the relating around food, and that is very important. It's an opportunity to really connect well and also to ensure that there's a loving atmosphere and a positive atmosphere when you're eating, because that actually helps with digestion. So she advocated for variety in a child's diet to properly nourish the brain as well. And I want to mention just some brain foods that are out there, some common ones, or some very important ones I should say are nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Those are brain foods that are high in protein and omega fatty acids. Hemp seed is another type of seed, salmon in terms of meat or lean red meat, beans or legumes, blueberries, dark and leafy greens, avocados, tomatoes... Blueberries are probably one of... Are said to be one of the highest antioxidant rich berries that are out there. So we try to eat blueberries several times a week. We love to have kale — that's one of the darkest leafy greens, so like lacinato kale. So those are some of the more maybe scientific benefits. And there's some ideas that help you incorporate high nutrition and great nutrition in your diet. I would say one thing that I would recommend is a primarily plant based diet. You don't have to be vegan and totally cut out all animal products, but it's very well researched, especially in recent years, how important it is to incorporate plants. Obviously, those plants would include fresh fruits and vegetables and even some cooked vegetables, and those can actually sometimes be better digested for some people. We eat 4 to 5 salads per week. You can do the same. Our salads are pretty elaborate, but you can make real simple or even prepared salads. There's plenty of places, restaurants to eat where you can get a good salad. We also try to eat 3 to 4 fresh berry breakfasts per week with blueberries like I mentioned, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries. Sometimes I put some toasted coconut on that or include some oatmeal. So just some ideas around that that you can incorporate very simply without an elaborate recipe for those.

Shiela Catanzarite And you can create your own muesli, which would be a really fun thing to do. I was thinking, as far as getting your children involved, you could just take some raw oatmeal and have some almonds, some types of sunflower seeds or walnuts, chop them up. You can put some chia in there and then fresh fruit on top. And then you can even add a little milk at the bottom, or almond milk and drizzle some pure maple syrup on there and create a raw, a really healthy, raw muesli oatmeal type breakfast that has fresh berries on it. And those are fun to put together for your children to, you know, you can arrange them and they can pick the different berries. You could put things out in different bowls. So there's lots of fun ways to, make nutrition creative for your children. And I would say make it a fun adventure. It's so important for your children to learn to appreciate food. God gave us so many beautiful foods, fruits and vegetables and nutritious fruits and vegetables that are really critical for your children's ability to thrive. And a lot of children don't like kale. And I know our younger daughter would not eat anything green for years, she said she liked bread and candy and cookies. I feel like she just wouldn't... And she eventually became healthy. But you know, you can make these smoothies and you can add in your berry smoothies — you can put kale in there, stick a few kale leaves in there. You can put some fresh tumeric and ginger, coconut water... But our girls, I remember they got into smoothies for awhile and you make it fun. You can even stand there and the children can drop them in and "We're putting in blueberries, they're really good for our brain. And let's add some strawberries, these have, you know, this vitamin in them." So you want to educate your children about the importance of all these fruits and vegetables and why God gave them to us, but make it a fun adventure. One idea would be to create a nutrient dense garden. I know a lot of homeschoolers garden. You could create a garden specifically with nutrient dense foods. Do the research, make this an educational experience for your children. Say, "We're going to look at the most nutritious fruits and the most nutritious vegetables that God has given us." And you can plan it out. Do some research, make a list, you can actually draw out a garden and how you're going to plant it. And a fun idea would be to create, you know, how people create those markers of what you've planted before it starts to grow up and you could like, have a bush and say, blueberry. And then you could put, you know, what the vitamin was and they're good for brain health. And so there are just a lot of fun ways to really honor these sources of health that God has given us. If you begin to educate your children young, and you live this lifestyle where you're planning your food around nourishing rather than feeding... I read that in a book. I thought it was such a great way to think about it: We nourish our bodies, we don't just feed them. So it's the idea that when we're eating, we're being a good steward of the bodies God gave us. We're nourishing our brains, we're nourishing our children's brain so they can think well, and so that they can learn well and just make it a fun adventure for your children. And let them look on Pinterest or Instagram. They can have fun making fresh pizzas, they can do fruit salads, and even a grazing board is a great idea. We love to do these grazing boards where you can do a healthy grazing board, and you just get a big board and you can look on Pinterest, they have a lot of them, and just have your children choose the different fruits and vegetables and talk about, "We're going to eat this because it helps our bodies with this. We're going to eat this because it helps our heart." And you can arrange them in a beautiful way. And so again, you're focusing on nourishing your body and your brain for the optimal health so that your family can thrive and have the energy and have a fun homeschool adventure together.

Bruce Catanzarite Great, Sheila. We'll talk now about hydration and the importance of getting enough fluids in your body. The most important thing is water. And there's a rule out there that some people say you should have a half an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. So, for example, if your child weighs 100 pounds, he or she should drink 50oz of water. I'm a bit more intuitive about that, so I don't follow that rule exactly, but something you can consider to make sure your family gets enough water. And another thing is electrolyte drinks. Especially if you start exercising more and you perspire, if you drink too much water, that can actually dilute the electrolytes in your system. And, I've actually made a homemade recipe of that. You can buy some on the market like Gatorade. You've probably heard of that and other drinks that are made and found right on the store shelf. But I would recommend avoiding some of those if there's too much sugar, and there's more and more that are coming out without sugar in them. But in my drink I just put coconut water, regular water, some maple syrup which actually has electrolytes, salt, and a fresh squeezed lemon. And there's other ways you can make those, but I will have that recipe on my website if you're interested in that. And you can, even with your children, you could come up with your own electrolyte drinks. You can research what kind of foods and what kind of spices, perhaps like salt, have electrolytes in them. So Sheila has a story about the importance of water I'd like her to share.

Shiela Catanzarite Yes. I actually experienced this idea of hydration when I was in Russia. I was my second year there, and I became very sick. And during that time that I was sick, I was living in Moscow. I became dehydrated, and I didn't know I was dehydrated, I just knew I was very sick. And so my supervisors put me on a flight, an emergency flight out of Moscow, and I ended up going to Helsinki, Finland, where I was in the hospital for eight days. But by the time I got to the E.R., I was severely dehydrated and I was really at risk of not making it. And the interesting thing I learned is that once you get to a point of dehydration, you don't realize you're thirsty, you're really not thirsty anymore. And I remember thinking, I'm not thirsty, I don't feel like I need to drink water. And that's when I was really in the danger zone. And so since that time, we tried to focus on hydration with our daughters and always having a water bottle everywhere we went. And I would say even now, to pack more water than you think that you're going to need, especially on hiking trails. People get in trouble with dehydration on hiking trails, and sometimes you go longer than you expect or someone's thirsty... I would recommend with your children, getting in the habit of taking more water than you need and having extra water in the car. It's really scary how quickly you can get to that place of dehydration and your children may not even be aware that they're feeling dehydrated because they don't feel thirsty. So my recommendation is always, always keep that in mind wherever you're going, where you're going to be exercising, or you're going to be exposed to heat, just overdo it when it comes to water. It's a wise idea.

Bruce Catanzarite Great, great. And let's transition to our last topic regarding health — spiritual health and how it relates to physical health. Another quote from Charlotte Mason: she talks about prayer, she says, "But though there is this continual commerce between God and the soul, the habit of prayer must be strengthened by set seasons, places and purposes." So you can see there that exercise can have a purpose. And so we've talked about you can exercise in many places but you can incorporate prayer into that. Again trail running is a great example of that. One of the things that we've done as a family is while we're running a trail, or even when we run on roads, is to actually pray while we're running. Shiela and I have done something called "thank you runs". So when we're running on the trail, we'll just pray but we'll just say prayers of thanks to God. That's been a really neat experience. While you're exercising, you meditate on truth or scripture. Maybe you memorize. That would be a great thing for you to do with your family. As a homeschool family, you could have your students and children actually memorize a scripture, and then while you're exercising, it's easier when you're walking or running or hiking. Quote the scripture, talk about it, teach them how to meditate on it. And last thing that we've done as a family is when we've gone to church, we would go out for lunch, ideally a healthy lunch, by the way, and we would talk about the sermon. We'd ask each other questions, we'd say how it impacted you and some practical application from those. So just a couple of thoughts on integrating your spiritual life with your physical health.

Shiela Catanzarite And I was thinking that would be really fun thing to do. Maybe you could plan on Friday afternoons, we are going on a thank you walk, and we're just going to thank God for everything that he did this week. Well, we know the neuroscience benefits of keeping a thankful journal or a grateful journal, and God is the one who tells us to be thankful, give thanks in all things. So actually, that idea came from God. And he tells us in his Word and I think it would just be really special if you developed a habit of thankfulness. Go out and walk and exercise. If you're exercising on a thank you walk, the brain is getting more oxygen so your thinking is clear and more creative. And wouldn't that be special if as a family, that's what you did and then everyone as you walked, "I'm thankful for this." And you could turn it into a prayer, "God, thank you for this week. Thank you that we got our math lessons done." Anything your children can think about if you start that habit. These are the things your children will remember when they leave your homeschool, they will remember the things that you did together. No one is going to remember the math page sitting at the table or the workbook page. They're going to remember the time that we went out as a family and pursued a goal together, did an adventure together, had fun together. So those are the types of things that you want to think about when you're thinking about this idea of pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Keep in mind, it's something that the whole family can do together, and even something as simple as strawberry picking every year, or blueberry picking or going to the apple orchard, something that the children can look forward to and know that this year our family is going to go do this together. And if you center it around a healthy lifestyle or some type of a physical fitness adventure, it's even that much more memorable.

Bruce Catanzarite Great. So in conclusion, I want to just quote from Charlotte Mason again. She says, "The physiological matter may seem like the lowest rung of the educational ladder, but the lowest rung is the necessary step to all the rest." She also writes that, "For it is not too much to say that in our present state of being intellectual, moral, even spiritual life and progress depend greatly upon physical conditions." I would just like to mention a little plug at the end for my newsletter, which you can find on my website. You can go there and subscribe to that if you have interest. There's recipes that are out there, including the electrolyte recipe, and I'll be adding more over the time coming up in the future. There's offerings, different product offerings that I have out there, and I mentioned the free seven minute workout. So that's there and there's several other things that you can check out there.

Shiela Catanzarite Yeah. And so I just want to end just reminding us that Charlotte Mason knew that a child's health was integrated and to be able to access the highest level of learning, we have to prioritize all the areas of our children's health because a child's health is integrated. All the different areas are integrated to create the whole health of the child. So prioritize health consistently in your homeschool. Make it a daily pursuit. The academics and lessons are important to your child's growth and development, for sure, but homeschool is only for a season. These formal lessons are not going to last, but your child's health and fitness are for a lifetime. So don't miss the opportunity to give your children the gift of healthy living. Model it for them, and pursue it together as a family. It's something that your children will possess. It'll be a lifetime possession, and it will be a lifetime pursuit, and it will impact every aspect of who they are as an adult. You're really giving them a gift that's going to continue to give to them throughout their lifetime. And make it a fun family adventure. Just decide that, hey, we're going to be a fun, healthy, fit homeschool family and live that identity out. Gather your children and plan ideas and adventures around exercise and nutrition, and have everyone share in the pursuit. Let all of your children give their input and their ideas. And if you approach your homeschool this way, your family will thrive and everyone will enjoy an energetic, positive home atmosphere. You'll build strong bonds of family unity and memories that everyone will cherish for a lifetime. So thank you so much for being with us. We hope that this podcast episode was so inspiring for you, and that you got ideas of how you can incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your homeschool, and that you will come away from this committed to giving your children the gift of knowing how to be a great steward of the bodies that God has given them, and how to enjoy a healthy lifestyle that will enable them to have energy and will enable them to thrive throughout their life. And I just want to remind you to go to the show notes to find my website, ShielaCatanzarite.com and also my husband Bruce's website, WholeHealthGroup.com. You can sign up for our newsletters on our websites and like Bruce mentioned, he'll have a recipe for his drink in the seven minute workout and some other articles that you might enjoy. But we certainly enjoyed sharing with you our adventure of healthy living and I know that if you implement some of these ideas that Charlotte Mason encouraged us with, you will find your homeschool adventure to be way beyond what you dreamed it could be. If you're intentional about it and you plan for it, then you'll make it happen. Hope you have a wonderful week. See you next time.

Bruce Catanzarite Bye everyone, it's been a pleasure.

Shiela Catanzarite Thank you for tuning in to the Charlotte Mason Show. If you want to learn more about Charlotte Mason and discover a beautiful Language Arts curriculum that uses her methodologies, go to my website at ShielaCatanzarite.com. There you can find my new blog where I discuss Charlotte Mason's principles for Language Arts, and how to implement her philosophy in your homeschool. Please enjoy my free resource on how to mark a poem. Simply provide your email address and I'll send you the free PDF that teaches a simple, hands-on, Charlotte-Mason-inspired way to bring poetry into your homeschool. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom to let us know what you thought of today's episode.

Shiela Catanzarite Don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve healthcare you can trust. To learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medishare.

Shiela Catanzarite Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the U.S.. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I hope to see you there. Have a wonderful week. I look forward to being with you next time.

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