Monday, July 11, 2016

To All the Curriculums I've Loved Before


It is time again to plan and get ready for Back to Homeschool 2016!  So get ready for a week full of posts all about homeschooling!  Are you ready?

So I thought, as my mind is switching gears back to school and getting ready for next year, I would share with you some thoughts on different Catholic curriculums I have used over the years.

I have been homeschooling for over a decade and have two high school grads.  I have home taught every single grade at least twice.  I am no expert but have lots of experience vacillating between curriculums, for better or for worse, trying to find the perfect one.  I do not recommend this method.

Sadly, there isn't a perfect Catholic curriculum.  Every child is different.  Every program needs a few changes here and there to make it fit just right.  And something that works for one child beautifully can fail horribly with another.

That being said, the following are just my experiences.  I have LOVED every single one of these curriculums but ultimately always go back to one in particular.**


Mother of Divine Grace:
I always go back to MODG.  Even when I think I have found something better I always regret it and end up back in her loving arms.  I have to admit we do not do every subject that they have in their syllabus.  For example we use IEW's Phonetic Zoo for spelling.  In the end, however, it has a good solid outline for history, it is easy to tweak here and there, and the BIG bonus, to me, is it goes through high school.  The program uses lots of wonderful living books and incorporates a lot of the things I have loved about other curriculums under one umbrella.

Some of the drawbacks are that it can be dry and the memorization can be too much.  None of my kids have been keen on the memorization of the Baltimore Catechism.  I would rather they learned it and understood it than to be able to spout back to me line for line what it says.  Which I think is the goal anyway.  These are all easy fixes in my book.

Catholic Schoolhouse:
This is a program I just heard about last year and we tried it.  The little kids really enjoyed it.  There are fun little music cd's to help with memorization and you can do all your kids in one time period.  My kids did learn a lot from our time with Catholic Schoolhouse and we really did enjoy a lot of the fun projects.

My biggest obstacle with this program was the sheer amount of planning I had to do.  They basically give you an outline and you figure out the rest.  They have a GREAT blog with lots of ideas for crafts to go along with what they are learning that week.  But you have to find the subject material in any textbook or reader you can lay your hands on.  You had to come up with the literature selections too.  It also did not go through high school and found that it was not always challenging for my middle schooler (which may have been my fault, focusing so much on all the projects for the younger crowd).

My plans this year is to actually follow the CSH spine and use MODG and RC History as supplements for history and science.


RC History:
RC History is really only a history program but you could also easily use it for religion as well.  If you go with RC History as your history and religion spine I would recommend using IEW's materials for language arts and find a science curriculum that works for your family.

RC History is very thorough and well organized.  There are tons of book selections, and you do NOT have to do them all!  Just pick and choose the ones that work for your family.  Books of your own or ones from the public library.  It also goes through high school!  Bonus points!

The hardest thing our RC History is that it only goes up to the 17th century.  This really is not a full view of history.  They are working on a volume 4, which is supposed to be American and World, but it has been several years in the making.

I do use RC History as a supplement.  They have a lot of great books lists and projects that we can incorporate.


Catholic Heritage Curricula:
This is a fun program.  They have a lot of super cute books and is very well organized.  I really love their Behold and See science programs, but it is hard to do if you have multiple ages.

CHC sadly does not go through high school.  They have a program called High School of your Dreams, but I found it really not that helpful.  Also, and this might make some of you gasp, I fear it is TOO Catholic.  I know, I know... but I do feel that not everything they do needs to be rooted in Catholic tradition.  Sometimes it can be too much when it is everything from your spelling book to you reader.

Mater Amabilis:
I really love MA.  They have an incredible online community on Facebook.  You have a question about anything and those wonderful people will help.  I am a huge fan of Charlotte Mason and some of the book selections have been HUGE hits around here.

Guess what?  Nope, no high school.  It is apparently in the works and if you are on their High School Facebook group you can see some other people's plans for 9th grade.  When I saw them though, my eyes glazed over and I felt like I had been tossed out to sea with only a few saltine crackers.  And I can't even eat saltines.  Seriously though, MA is amazing, but it is challenging.  With a lot of Mason curriculums it can be nearly impossible to get everything in.  They stress short lessons but sometimes that is just not possible.

A lot of people also use the Protestant version of Ambleside Online.  I have also loved and used this in the past.  My problem was in the older grades I wasn't sure I could also read everything they recommended and would have to go through it all to check that the material wasn't anti-Catholic.

If MA had plans for high school, I would probably be using it.  And have thought of using it in the early years and switching to MODG for high school, but ultimately it is a lot of work.  Too much for me to do with 9 kids.


Seton:
This was the second curriculum I ever used as a homeschool mom.  It is often put up there as the ultimate in Catholic homeschooling.  They are very strong in the faith and we still use their readers.  I adore the Faith and Freedom readers.  MODG also uses some of their books, as does MA.

Seton, however, is heavy on busy work and some of their texts can be very dry.  It hit me in the third grade English book when it seemed like it was a full year of just diagramming sentences.  I am not a fan of diagramming sentences... and I'm an English major.  It is also one of those programs that, again, can be a bit TOO Catholic and way too many workbooks for us.

Kolbe:
My first ever homeschool curriculum!  Sigh... the memories.  I pulled my kids out of school in January of 2005 and my mom, God rest her soul, bought the three oldest girls' curriculums from Kolbe.  It was amazing.  I felt like a rebel and a super hero all rolled into one.  Kolbe is very good and, yes!, goes through high school  Their diploma's are very respected and if you are going to enroll your kids for high school I would recommend them whole heartedly.

I also taught at a small start up Catholic high school one year, using Kolbe.  It was a fun year as I only had three boys in the literature class.  We had fun reading the plays aloud and sipping our coffees.  The other side is that Kolbe can be very dry.  It is hard, I feel, to do alone in the older grades.  It really is best served in a co-op environment if you can.  The younger grades did feel heavy on workbook work which not all kids like.


There are other Catholic curriculums out there, but I don't have experience with them.  What are your thoughts?  What programs have really worked for you and your family?  Do you have experience with some of the other choices out there?  Please, share in the comments!

**I am not affiliated with any homeschool programs.  Everything written in these posts is my own opinion and experience.  I received no money from promotion of any kind in writing it.

4 comments:

  1. If I were hs-ing high school on my own, I would use MODG, but I prefer Kolbe. FWIW, a friend of ours just graduated from high school using MODG, pretty much self-taught. She took 7 or 8 AP tests and averaged a 4 on all of them. Her mom says that MODG gives a really good base for AP exams, and they just used the study books to round out her knowledge. She'll be attending GaTech in the fall!

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    1. I like Kolbe too. I wish their high school years had an American History though. Unless that has changed? I should go look, lol. That was also one of my qualms.

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  2. Wow, I can't even tell you how helpful this is! I'm just starting out trying to decide on which curriculum to use and it seems overwhelming! I'm leaning toward MA, because its what I'm drawn to in terms of educational philosophy, but it's so hard to know without trying it what will work for us. So I really appreciate your perspective!

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    1. MA is great. And you can easily adapt it to fit your family! There is also a ton of support through the Facebook groups which is super great!

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