Thursday, January 14, 2016

How to Choose a Catholic Home School Curriculum

I  had a friend ask for input in choosing curriculum when starting out, so with a few updates, (including links to everything I mention!) I thought I would share with you what I shared with her.

As I was home-schooled myself,  I had a lot of first hand experience, plus saw what friends' families did..... so I thought had a pretty good background for choosing and implementing curriculum in our own home.

I thought I would keep the things I treasured growing up, but "improve" on things I didn't like. I had a lot of preconceived notions about what our home-school would be like. Everything would run like a well oiled engine, NO SICK days, my kids would always be obedient and respectful, and several years ahead of their peers in all subjects. And most of all, we would sit around the fire, reading aloud books for hours every day! (Are you laughing at my pre-children ideals yet?)

So far, the main thing I have kept is the Math curriculum Math U See (I LOVE Math U See, couldn't imagine ever using something different!!!!)

Every thing else has been trial and error. My best advice is to be flexible. Commit to something for just a year, but be willing to change it up if it doesn't work, even mid year.

Where to Start:
If you are just starting out, I think it helps if you narrow down what your style is (also keeping in mind your children's inclinations)

Do you like workbooks? The sense of accomplishment of checking off boxes, and an "official" organization telling you "this is how you do it"? Then you might like mail order curriculum. Of which their are many flavors, some more workbook based like Seton, Some more classical literature like Mother of Divine Grace, and some more gentle, like Catholic Heritage Curricula

Do you like to read aloud a lot? If you do, a Charlotte Mason style would suit you better. There are many resources, but not really "all in one packages" that you buy that are Catholic

There is a free online syllabus Mater Amabilis that I get a lot of inspiration from. I found it too complicated to do everything on their list though, especially once I had multiple school age children.... Ambleside Online is another (non- Catholic) resource for this style

Do you like craft projects and open ended study? Then you might like doing Unit studies or similar. That is what we are doing this year, with Catholic Schoolhouse, which is for multiple ages. (4 -10 years) It follows a 3 year cycle of history, where the art, religion, geography is all integrated (we are also using their science) We just add our own spelling and Math to it to make it a complete curriculum.

Do you hate schedules and pressure? Then explore Unschooling. While not the option that I prefer all the way through for my kids, this is what I myself did from 6th grade through high-school. I had one year of almost complete un-schooling my own kids when the twins were born, and it has benefits for sure, but I find I need a bit more structure to our days now.

I actually was interviewed for a friend's podcast, and I talk a lot about unschooling on it if you want to listen My Podcast Also check out John Holt's books (NOT Catholic, but some good insights)

No matter which way you choose, my ALL TIME FAVORITE book about homeschooling is A Little Way of Homeschooling by Suzie Andres  It is more of an un-schooling book, but I recommend it to everyone, because it really gives a glimpse into other families lives, and lets you know it's OK to find your own groove!

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