A Brief Overview of Catholic Homeschool Curricula
(by Fran Rutherford )
Are you new to homeschooling and don't know which curriculum to choose? Before you choose a curriculum, you should ask yourself a few questions: Why do I want to homeschool? How organized am I? How motivated am I to do this? What is my goal for my children? How much can I afford to pay? Once you have answered those questions you can move on to choosing a curriculum.
Homeschooling requires the teacher, usually Mom, to organize her life in such a way that she can give her children the one-on-one attention they need. The younger the children, the more one-on-one attention they require. The new homeschooling mom may not realize what this entails, so I recommend a structured program for starters. In the early years, the most important things to emphasize are reading skills and comprehension, as well as development in the Faith. If you build a solid foundation in the younger years, your children will become independent learners in the later grades and your contact time will be focused more on discussions, oral presentations and the like.
Aquinas and More offers curriculum materials for the following Catholic homeschooling programs:
St. Thomas Aquinas Academy offers a classic-based, orthodox Catholic K-12 curriculum. The program helps the parent to train the student to think logically and to express himself through a study of many of the Great Books of Western Man and also through a methodical study of math, science, Latin, modern languages, English and logic. In addition, the program provides solid formation in the Catholic Faith, again through the Great Books, as well as a solid religious education curriculum.
St. Thomas Aquinas Academy provides assistance in establishing a curriculum for the students, an adviser one can call for help, lesson plans, record keeping and a high school diploma. The parents administer an assessment test to the children and the results of the test aid the staff in placing the students in the appropriate levels of materials. This type of program allows for flexibility in specific materials but is structured enough to ensure that the students receive a thorough education.
Mother of Divine Grace helps parents design their own classical curriculum based on Laura Berquist's Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum. This program offers various options in level of support from the school. The curriculum is solid and “aims at establishing the tools of learning so that the truth may be attained more easily and accurately.”
Mother of Divine Grace provides detailed lesson plans which can be purchased as part of a complete program or separately. In addition, Mother of Divine Grace provides syllibi for Latin and other subjects.
Kolbe Academy provides an Ignatian (emphasizing formation rather than information) classic-based curriculum. The school provides lesson plans for grades K-12, telephone counseling and assistance with curriculum planning, lesson plans, record-keeping, tests and high school diplomas. The program provides a thorough grounding in all of the major subjects and emphasizes the skills to create faithful thinking young people.
Seton Home School is the most highly structured program offered. The books are purchased by the family and the program includes teacher support, grading of assignments, online support, records and diplomas. Assignments can either be uploaded to the Seton website or they can be mailed. Feedback is provided by both methods as well. Though the record-keeping can be a bit daunting, it is valuable in teaching the parent how to stay organized. In addition to the full curriculum, individual classes can be purchased, a feature which is helpful for high school students.
Aquinas and More is now offering Greek Classics and Ancient Rome which are study guides for the classic curricula offered by St. Thomas Aquinas Academy and Kolbe Academy in their high school programs. The Student Books have questions which direct the student in his reading of the works and space is provided for the students to answer the questions right in the books. The Parent/Teacher Guides provide the answers to the questions—a big plus for busy parents who do not have the expertise or the time to read all the books themselves. The books, used by students and parents, provide the basis for discussion of the ideas and works presented, which is another way to reinforce the lessons gleaned from the reading. In addition, the guides have maps, vocabulary development, suggestions for research and beautiful illustrations. They are a valuable help for parents who desire a classical education for their children but have felt defeated by the lack of help in approaching the curriculum.