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Teaching Religion in the {Catholic} Homeschool

Quite often I am asked about how I deal with teaching religion in our homeschool. My thoughts on this have evolved over our 15+ years of homeschooling, mainly because I have evolved over that same time. When we first began homeschooling I was still in the learning phase of my faith; although I guess a more accurate term would be the “re-learning” phase because supposedly I had learned about my faith during my 10 years in CCD. What a joy it was to go through religion books with my oldest children when they were first starting out and learn right along with them. I think back in those early days we used almost every religion program out there: Seton, Faith and Life, Image of God, The Baltimore Catechism.

As our knowledge and our children grew, we began to venture out into the world of activities more often. We happen to belong to a homeschool group that is very focused on activities that revolve around the faith. It was after a few years of being involved in processions, Masses, field trips to religious places, talks given by priests and lay faithful, religious ceremonies, reading saint stories etc. that I realized that this was our religion class. Yes we still needed to read about the specifics and learn the ins and outs of our faith, but living it is what made it all come to life.

Around this time we also began to pray more as a family. We began praying the rosary, by ourselves and with other families. My husband and I began to go on retreats and we began bringing the kids to monthly evenings of recollection, Adoration and confession. We incorporated daily Mass and weekly Adoration into our lives as a family. This afforded many opportunities to discuss our faith, what it means, who the saints are that we were celebrating, and so much more. We could have learned about this through workbooks and textbooks, but living it and encountering it in our daily lives made it so much more accessible and so much more personal.

Once the oldest girls reached high school, I did formalize their religious learning and have faithfully used the Didache series for all of them. By this time they were very knowledgeable about their faith, so this allowed them to get more in-depth, as well as get them used to some structure in their learning.

So my advice to moms who ask me how to teach religion in their homeschool is to, first and foremost, LIVE it. Pray together, go on religious field trips and vacations, check out a shrine while you’re traveling, take your kids to Mass and Adoration, meet up with other Catholic families and do Catholic things together. Take every opportunity you can to bring the faith alive to your children. That is learning they will remember. Of course, you should also incorporate formal religious learning into your homeschool curriculum. Take a look at all of the options out there and decide which one fits best with your children.

Another fun way to learn the faith is to do unit studies centered around the saints and the faith. Unit studies are a great way to teach multiple grade levels at the same time. They can be simple or they can be more complex. I found that there aren’t really any pre-planned Catholic unit studies so I wrote my own!

Take a balanced approach to learning religion and your children will not only learn their faith but will remember it and ultimately love it. Book learning has its place, but real-life learning is always the better way to go. The way I see it, if all we do is get to daily Mass but not manage to accomplish anything else remotely educational, at least we’ve all heard some scripture, (hopefully) gotten an educational homily, prayed for others and received our Lord. What a great way to learn about what an awesome God we serve!

~ Article Submitted by Catholic Homeschooler, Laura Dominick

 

About RaisingSaints

RaisingSaints is a group of Catholic Mothers throughout the United States that chose to bring their children home to educate them. “Catholic homeschooling is the planned and organized teaching and training of children at home, for their peaceful and effective life in this world, and for their eternal salvation in the world to come.” ~Father John Hardon

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  • Scott Harmon - Great post. I liken teaching the faith to teaching your kids to be a Packers can. We can read a book on the history of the Packers but for a small child that probably would not be very helpful. Better yet we could buy some Packers gear and go to a real live game. Your kids will be what you are into. Teach them by doing and then provide great books and they will naturally want to learn more. Of course you have to formalize the teaching for sacrament preparation. Thanks for your witness!June 2, 2013 – 2:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Homestead Catholic - Thanks for this. We’re in the process of re-evaluating our curriculum and methods for next year right now, and the idea of unit studies is great. Ours are 3 years apart (the two in homeschool anyway), so they already are learning from each others’ work. Thank for the great tips.

    BTW Scott, it’s the Colts, not the Packers. 😛June 3, 2013 – 2:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Connie Rossini - I also have created my own Catholic unit studies, but I do this as our regular curriculum, with the Golden Children’s Bible as our main text book. Then we use other living books and various subject areas to connect the text to all aspects of life. I am focusing on helping my boys live a contemplative lifestyle and teaching them to pray and be prayerful. I have posted a few of my unit studies, in brief, on my blog. Here is one:

    http://contemplativehomeschool.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/jacob-and-esau-contemplative-homeschool-unit/June 3, 2013 – 9:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Marci Rouse Buckley - Hello, we have four children age 7-13. We moved to Europe last year and currently the closest English speaking mass is apprx an hour away. We attend mass typically in German or French (children are learning German but we are fluent in neither) . I would like to continue their religious education in English via homeschooling. Could anyone recommend how to do this? Where to order books? etc. Any help appreciated. Many thanks!January 24, 2016 – 1:30 pmReplyCancel

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