Embarking on my first year of homeschooling, determine what I want my curriculum to contain, has been the biggest challenge.
At the start of our school year I had purchased a spelling book from Catholic Heritage Curriculum. We had used it a few times but at that point I was also diving into the ideas of Charlotte Mason and so I put away more traditional work in favor of poetry and reading aloud.
Recently, I have brought that spelling book back into the mix. My daughter loves doing self-guided work (and I love it too) and she really took to the spelling book on our second attempt. Also, I needed curriculum that could travel with us and workbooks like that one meet that need nicely. Thirdly, I like knowing that she is progressing through a curriculum. It’s an easy way to see progress.
Witnessing how much we both enjoyed the spelling book led me to wonder what other curriculum CHC had to offer that I had perhaps overlooked.
We settled on two other subjects: science and religious studies. Both were suggested for 1st grade but that’s one of the benefits of homeschooling: you pick curriculum based on YOUR CHILD’S specific level, not a general grade-based approach.
I want to give a quick review of the three curriculum we now use for our homeschool as well as a taste of our current schedule, having gotten into a very nice rhythm, at least a temporary one that works for our current traveling life.
1. My Very First Catholic Speller
Each lesson focuses on a phonetic sound and includes words that include that sound. We start by discussing the sound for the day. Then she reads her spelling list to me and then goes through the activities. With this book, I can be available in the room but do not have to sit with her for every step.
We do spelling most days and we do an entire lesson (two pages). However, at the start of the year she only did one page and we worked up to two. If you do break up the lessons I suggest to make sure you do them two days in a row, without a break, to retain learning.
2. Our Heavenly Father
Since we do not have religious education classes available to us right now I realized I needed to provide at-home lessons. I wanted a more structured format to ensure I was covering what I needed to.
Each lesson is only a couple pages of text, includes a few vocab words, a lovely painting to reflect on pertaining to the topic, and a review question with an answer from CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church).
We do this about twice a week. There’s also an activity book that helps build on the lesson and an answer key for those activities (which I figured was better to have than not, though I’m not yet sure it was necessary).
We’ve done two lessons at this point and I have been very pleased with how age-appropriate they are without being dumbed down. I will typically ask her to review what we just read (similar to a CM narration) to make sure it’s sunk in.
3. Behold and See: On the Farm
This science book is broken into seasons. It starts in Spring (which is a little odd since most school years start in the Fall). If I had started with this curriculum in September, I would have just jumped ahead to Fall.
I really like how the topics are so concrete and applicable to the physical world around us. Spring covers plants, weather, and animals. It introduces scientific words in a very approachable way. The lessons can also easily be enhanced with living books that support the topic of the day or week.
We do this about twice a week as well. I’ve already been caught off-guard with needing supplies so we just kinda skip around to lessons I can do immediately and plan accordingly for the more material-heavy lessons.
And since it it a Catholic curriculum, it frames everything within the realm of God and His Gifts to us. There are quotes from famous Catholic scholars within each big lesson section.
I personally enjoy this one from Pope Pius XII:
“Man learns from two books: the universe, for the human study of things created by God; and the Bible, for the study of God’s superior will and truth. One belongs to reason, the other to faith. Between them there is no clash.”
Finding the right curriculum can be tough. It takes trial and error. Knowing your personal education goals (one of mine being to couch most of our studies in the bigger picture of our faith and our purpose) helps narrow the overwhelming options.
I’m curious: Do you have a favorite homeschooling curriculum you’d like to share?
Until next time,