Start your own CoffeCon!

Aquinas CoffeeCon: Refreshment for the Mind and Body 

In April 2017, about a dozen new and veteran moms from the Manassas Aquinas Learning Center gathered in the gym post assembly for the inaugural CoffeeCon, the brain child of several moms, but hosted by first-year mom Rebekah Daly. The moms gathered to share ideas, support, and conversation about the Aquinas Learning experience, as well as highlights and bumps along the way.

Most described how they appreciate that all kids share unified texts and the same learning cycle at different depths and levels of discovery. Tiffany Mathias, mom of four kids ranging from 9th and 7th grade to preschool and a newborn, shared how her family covers catechism on Friday mornings at all levels. Her Parva level son has the book with the “best pictures,” while the oldest two have more reading to cover, but they are all working together on the same subject. “It’s like a school bus,” she said, “with everyone on the bus, but getting off at their own stop” (she attributes hearing this analogy at a homeschool conference sometime in the past).

Along the same lines, Tiffany shared how she was initially stressed about the level of difficulty of the logic program for her 7th grader but relaxed when she found him on the sofa one day, explaining the nature of the “essence of things” to her five year old son.

Several noted how the class student presentations were an unexpected boon and much-loved by parents and kids.

The Manassas Center has had an exceptional year of organized field trips, thanks to a strong two-person team, Carrie and Jessica Wilson, and many expressed appreciation for their work and the amazing learning opportunities supporting the educational material covered this cycle.

One mother, Jennifer Davis, described her appreciation for the community support of the Aquinas Learning family, particularly the help of mentors when her kids hit rough patches. She recalled getting referred to Rosario Reilly years ago by her parish priest, and having Rosario pick up the phone while at IKEA to share ideas about what she could do. Jennifer’s family joined the Woodbridge center and eventually found themselves in Manassas. One of her sons had a habit of hanging out under the table during his early times at Aquinas, and Jennifer recalled how his mentor said he’d “come out when he was ready” and even took the class down under the table one day. Her son is now an active Schola Alta member.

Several of the moms with children in fourth grade and up shared their appreciation for the Institute for Excellence in Writing and logic programs, noting how the years build on each other, with the younger grades absorbing while the older grades put the information to work. It was noted how these students are lucky to have challenging conversations at a young age when many of their parents never had them till college.

Mothers with long commutes described putting car drives to use as audio story-time for the required read alouds; this worked particularly well in the case of Swallows and Amazons, as the British reader was exceptionally competent at delivering the sometimes complicated sailing terminology in an engaging way and bringing the lively adventure story to life (read by Alison Larkin, purchasable on Amazon for $7.49).*

Rosario related that her family often relies on audio support as well for their children in multiple levels who have different required read alouds. Two families shared how having dad help out with the required reading created a special family learning time and favorite memories for all.

It was noted that read aloud time often works smoothly with kids gathered at the table coloring appropriately themed materials. Andrea Kelley recalled finding a good coloring book on Amazon (such as The Old Fashioned King Arthur Coloring Book—there are cheaper versions, but this one has beautiful illustrations) to go with the King Arthur reading. Discussion ensued about the importance of picking the right edition for the family read alouds, searching out the unabridged text, as well as good illustrations to support the quality of the story.

The Manassas Aquinas Learning Center plans to host one CoffeeCon a quarter, addressing different questions at each meeting.

Start your own CoffeeCon! Email Rebekah Daly at for an invitation template.

*You don’t need an Audible subscription to access audio books. Audio books can be purchased a la carte from Amazon and listened on your phone, iPod, tablet, or computer using the free Audible app. Audible changes its prices regularly, so double check prices before checking out so you aren’t unhappily surprised by a price change.


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