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