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The One Room Schoolhouse Approach: Catholic Schoolhouse

Catholic Schoolhouse ReviewIt 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:

Catholic Schoolhouse Science Lessons
Science Lessons on Insects with Memory verse (song) and diagramming in our notebooks!

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:

Catholic Schoolhouse history
Learning about George Washington, we do notebooking in composition books and the children write, draw and diagram what we are learning.
Catholic Schoolhouse History
This is the book I was reading from, while my daughter was notebooking.
Catholic Schoolhouse History
Here is my four year old’s interpretation of President George Washington and his horse.

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.

Includes Year 2 Tour Guide, Year 2 Art Book, Year 2 Science Book, Year 2 History Cards and Year 2 Memory Work CD set. Price: $169
Includes Year 2 Tour Guide, Year 2 Art Book, Year 2 Science Book, Year 2 History Cards and Year 2 Memory Work CD set. Price: $169

 

Helpful links:

I have decided to use Catholic Schoolhouse, now what do I do?

Ready to buy?  Next year is Year 2.

Want to know more?  Join the Catholic Schoolhouse @ Home – Facebook Group

Check out the Catholic Schoolhouse Pinterest board

What else should I use?

What is their Scope and Sequence?

Want to join one of their Co-ops?

Who created this program?  (psst….Kathy is Lacy from CatholicIcing’s MIL)

Have more questions?  Leave me a comment OR contact Catholic Schoolhouse directly!

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Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Mass Motherhood Raising Saints The Latin Mass

10 Steps to Selecting a {Catholic} Homeschool Curriculum

Selecting a curriculum can be a truly overwhelming task each year for homeschooling mothers.  So many times I have said to myself, “if I could see that book, I’d know if I want it!”  Right?  Then you hop online look through blogs of perfect homes, with perfect mom teachers, that have the perfect school rooms, and then there is Pinterest…then you are headed to Confession, jealousy is a lousy sin.  No seriously, is it not just frustrating?  😀  How do these women just *KNOW* that’s the right Math book?  Why did it not work for *MY* child?  🙂  Well, here’s why:  There IS NOT one set curriculum that is perfect for everyone.  There I said it.  So here’s another secret that lady that introduced you to homeschool forgot to mention, the beauty of homeschooling is that you are able to create a custom curriculum that is beneficial to *YOUR* family.  What works for another family may not be the best fit for another, or *gasp* what works for one of your children may not work for another.    Okay, so now lets take a deep breath and investigate how these ladies on their blogs look so with it.  I confess many times I have said, “when I grow up I want to be just like Jessica from Shower of Roses.”  Don’t laugh, I have said it..even to her. 😀

Over the years our family has tried a variety of things – ranging from being an eclectic homeschooler, to using a complete curriculum package to creating things to use, and it has morphed into a combination of pieces that we now use together as a family and components that we use individually to round out the various subject areas.  So how do you decide what is the right fit for your family/homeschool?

10 Steps to Selecting a {Catholic} Homeschool Curriculum:

  1. Think about your educational philosophy or teaching style. There are several methods of teaching, depending on the method that both you and your children are comfortable will also determine which books you will select for your homeschool.  There are several homeschooling methods to pick from, if you haven’t you might want to look back at our previous articles in this series.

  2. Consider your children’s learning styles. Every child is different in their learning approach and may process information differently. Some pieces of curriculum are tailored to meet the needs of various learners, so this is very helpful to know.  Some children will need a particular style of curriculum to help them succeed.  Again, weighing in what homeschooling method you have selected would be helpful.

  3. Write down and decide on the educational goals have you set for your children and family. This is another area that is important to look at because you want to have a long range plan in each subject so that you feel confident that you are meeting these goals.

  4. Do you have a spending budget? This is really important and I strongly advise setting a budget and knowing your spending limits.  Start off by making a list of the books you select and then finding out what their retail rate is.  It is important to think long term within your budget.  If the book fits your needs and you can reuse it with subsequent children, it’s a long term savings!

  5. What subjects can your children work together in? Some families focus on specific grade levels and books while other families work on certain subject areas together as a family. Subjects like Science and History are great examples of working as a family on a particular topic with varying expectations depending on the child’s abilities. This will help you save money as well.

  6. What works for your current life situation? There are some programs that are more labor-intensive than others, searching for living books when you are about to give birth to baby number six and all your children are eight and under might not be a realistic goal.  Do not set yourself up to fail by doing this.  Also, if you cannot afford certain programs do not put so much pressure on yourself.  I have seen families with financial burdens homeschool for almost nothing.
  7. Do you have access to a good library system?  Before you start spending money, check your local library.  A lot of times they carry those wonderful books and you can reserve them ahead of time and even have them delivered to your local library.  Sometimes you can go to the children’s section and make suggestions on certain books.  Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of times they are willing to purchase these recommendations.
  8. Have you asked others for their opinions?  Warning.  This is a great thing with this day and age of technology BUT the warning comes in not becoming overwhelmed with so many suggestions.  There are groups on Yahoo and Facebook that can be gem or a burden, if you ask a curriculum question in a group, take the good from what others suggest.  Do not be afraid to ask questions you will find other homeschooling mothers who have become experts at certain curriculums and can be very helpful.  You can also visit a homeschooling conference near you to listen to speakers and also get to see the books first hand.
  9. Did you check your own bookshelf?  Starting with what you already have saves you time and money.  Sometimes we homeshcooling moms might pick up a book that was on sale, or someone gave us and forgot about.  {I know it never happens to you, but it does me.}  You should also make a list of the books you own and keep this list handy so that you do not purchase duplicates of books you already own.
  10. Have you checked out SWAP groups or thought of borrowing?  Once you have selected a product you like, it is much easier to buy things used or online.  Yahoo Groups has a group and so does Facebook Groups where you can post WTB (Want to Buy) and ISO (In Search Of) threads looking for a used book to avoid paying retail.  You help another homeschooling mom and she helps you save money.  Oh, also, if you have books you don’t use anymore, SELL THEM!  They don’t need to be collecting dust on your shelves.  Sometimes, you can even borrow books from other families.  There is a family at my church that has a son in 11th and 9th, I have a son in 10th, I give her my books for her 9th grader, she gives me her books from her 11th grader.  We both win!  🙂

With all that said, there are times that you find out part way through the year that something you thought would be perfect just isn’t. Sometimes you discover that curriculum is just not working. The tweaking involved in the process, and while it’s frustrating – it’s ok, and good. The first bit of homeschooling involves a learning curve where you are discovering your areas of comfort in teaching and your children’s learning grooves.

So with all that said, I have spent the last six weeks in the arduous task of getting my children’s curriculum together.  As we enter our fifth year of home education, I am finally feeling pretty good about all of our curriculum selections for our children.  We will have a kindergartner, second grader, third grader, and a tenth grader, oh yes, and of course our little tag along three year old toddler.  I don’t promise this won’t change one more time, because it might, and it’s okay.  But as of now, this is our 2013-2014 curriculum selection:

Frequency: Daily

 


Grammar {Daily}

Spelling {Bi-Weekly}

Writing {Daily}

Reading ~ {Daily}

Kindergarten Core

For the bulk of our year we will be using 26 Letters to Heaven by Sarah Park as our core. Technically Noah is kindergarten this year, although he is academically ahead in a few areas, so we are adjusting things accordingly.

Phonics ~ {Daily}

Handwriting {Daily}

Frequency: Daily

Frequency: Twice a Week


Frequency: Twice a Week

Art {Once a Week}

Music {Bi-Weekly}:

All Children:

Latin {Bi-Weekly}:

Spanish {Bi-Weekly}

Electives for our High Schooler (in addition to Latin, Art & Music):

 

 

Other articles in this Raising Saints Homeschooling series.