It is that time of year where everyone is figuring out what to use next school year. Social Media is swamped with questions and suggestions from other home educating mothers with the “what worked,” “what did not work,” and the simple, “what do you think of this?” conversations. Curriculum selection among home educators can be confusing and difficult since we cannot walk into a room and flip through the texts or programs ourselves. We rely on what experiences other mothers have had with their children in their home schools, which is fine but be sure you ask TONS of questions and keep your individual children in mind.
Recently, we switched out of Our Lady of Victory School (OLVS) with our four smaller children then ages 9, 8, 6, and 4 but our eldest who was a junior will continue using it until he graduates. We were not disappointed with OLVS at all but I did have a situation where my then nine year old son was bored. He is a gifted child (high IQ), he is artistic, had trouble learning to read, is a bit lazy, and needs help with Spelling and Writing. He was bored with the workbooks and the long check lists of things to do. At the end of the day I was not happy that he did not enjoy school. Now, please do not think I am telling you to go with every whim your child(ren) have against doing school work. It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that OLVS was not working for my son. I did recall that when we did lapbooks or projects, he was super engaged. So that was my starting point. After much research I realized I needed a program that gave me the flexibility to be as hands on or not as we needed to be. I decided that the Classical Education approach was something that we have always appreciated, so I began researching all of the Catholic Curriculum that use this approach.
In addition to hands-on, our son has a love for music and also for historical facts, so I started searching for a program that had a strong history curriculum. The other thing I was looking for was to be able to teach most of the four small children most of the subjects together. This came in the heels of a field trip we made last Fall to a One room schoolhouse. The idea of teaching all of the children from kindergarten to high schoolers never really crossed my mind but a group of us from my parish went and voila! it was possible. I was able to see most of the afternoon lessons and to speak to the lady who ran the day as the school teacher and realized that it was really an ideal way of homeschoolers to teach their children instead of having four different topics to discuss we all would be discussing and digging further into one topic! Here are pictures of our field trip and our little group, we did fill the schoolhouse that day:
So, with the one room schoolhouse idea in mind is where I began my search and ended with Catholic Schoolhouse. Now many of my friends were concerned that it was a program designed for Homeschool Co-Ops, which in its original form it was but I could see how it was possible to be used at home exclusively. I have been using it as my core curriculum since last February, 2015 (why yes! I did switch curriculum with four months of school left). My husband thought I was crazy (I might be) but it was either the children in brick and mortar schools or me in a straight jacket! So switching curriculum in February was not so crazy after all, it turns out. What sold me on this program? This video by Delena of It’s on My To Do List:
So what makes this program so awesome?
First, the children working together for most subjects. Can you imagine? When went to a one room schoolhouse, I could not imagine what it was like for the student or the teacher (aside from what I have seen on Little House on the Prairie), so this trip really helped me to see the benefits of the older children learning alongside the smaller children. Also, seeing the smaller children learning from the great answers and discussions they have with the teacher.
Second, the Music. All of the memory work (Religion, Science, Math, Grammar, History, and Latin) is set to catchy tunes. Tunes your children will love and your toddlers will learn. Hey, better they sing these than “Let it go!” no? You can preview the music on their website. I also love learning about the different composers and that my small children are able to identify the great composers and their pieces by name! Here is my daughter singing the first part of Psalm 23, and after learning the story of the Good Shepherd:
Third, the Science. I love that they have placed all of the materials needed and the objectives of the lessons organized by specific science subtopics. I love that they have a memory verse to learn pertinent facts about our lesson. Learn more about their hands on Science. Here is an example of what we learned in Science this year:
Fourth, the Art. Along with the history, the program also teaches art from the time period. I love that the Art guide has beautiful color pictures to help explain the lessons and also the detailed plans for the art lesson which teachers so many things. I love the art vocabulary the children are learning as well as art etiquette (did you know there was such a thing?) Learn more about their integrated Art program.
Fifth, last but definitely not least, the History and Geography. My children and I are such visual learners that this part of the program really sold it for me. There are five timeline cards per week which you go through history in the different years (Years 1, 2, and 3). Marking different times, events, and people important to the time in history, not excluding Catholic events and people, of course. Here is a lesson we were doing on George Washington. I was reading to the four children in our living room and they had their notebooks out. They drew what they wanted from what I was reading to them. This is my then four year old’s work:
In summary, I highly recommend this curriculum as an option for an at home program. Mainly because you can teach all of our children together while supplementing in specific areas such as Reading, Spelling, Mathematics, Religion, and Writing (as in you can continue using the texts you already use in these subjects). I like the flexibility to be as creative as you’d like with the ability to add to the program when needed. The timeline cards help the visual learner while the wonderful CDs with catchy tunes help the auditory learner master Religion, Science, Math, Grammar, History, and Latin facts with ease. Lastly, I love the idea of a one room schoolhouse in our Catholic homeschools and the fact that the program is incredibly economical.
Who created this program? (psst….Kathy is Lacy from CatholicIcing’s MIL)
Have more questions? Leave me a comment OR contact Catholic Schoolhouse directly!
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