Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Vintage Catholic Homeschool Curriculum (2015--2016)

It's hard to believe that we are in the last month of this homeschooling year! My teacher friend will be here this weekend to do my daughter's portfolio evaluation, which is one of the options for reporting in Ohio. As such, I have prepared my curriculum for next year, which I will share with you here. Our school district asks for a brief outline, so my book lists are not entirely comprehensive, but a large portion of our literature will be sourced from the elementary cycles at the back of Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss.


Section 1 of the curriculum write-up gives a description of our Vintage Catholic Home Education style. As many of this blog's readers will know, I use a fleur-de-lis symbol (see above) to focus my homeschooling vision. The base of the fleur-de-lis is always Catholic Faith Formation, represented by the Holy Family--Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The three upper petals symbolize the methods/philosophies from which I draw inspiration and practical tools. The last designation I used was Maria Montessori, Charlotte Mason (CM), and relaxed homeschooling.

Because my child is almost 11 and will be in 5th grade, and I want to provide a more rigorous academic experience, I have replaced the relaxed homeschooling petal with Classical Christian Education. Already having in mind the type of changes I wanted to make, I happily came across a pertinent online article, "Charlotte Mason and Classical Education" by Christine Miller ( Miller combines the joyful guided discovery of Charlotte Mason, the benefits of the modern "school as play" movement, and the rigorous tradition of classical education into her Classical Christian Homeschooling approach.

I think that the "school as play" lifestyle element is intrinsic to both CM and Montessori, and the Classical Christian approach reflects my idea of relaxed homeschooling (the classic concept of schole, study as leisure), so these three "petals" (Maria Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and Classical Christian Education) perfectly encompass my entire vision. I use the word vintage with a dual meaning, indicating both the implementation of older, time-honored educational traditions and the use of vintage books. A third meaning of vintage refers to the pioneering days of homeschooling, before the advent of boxed curriculum companies and conventions (and before the internet!), when home educators had to forge their own paths. In my opinion, it isn't necessary to choose just one method, but at the same time one does need to limit the options so as to have a clear purpose and way to accomplish one's goals. The fleur-de-lis model, in my experience, helps to strike the desired balance, custom designed as you see fit.

I also know that many home educators have become discouraged and over-burdened from trying to strickly follow a curriculum package or one particular methodology. They sometimes feel like failures for not perfectly embodying the standards. Drawing from multiple but related sources allows you to truly individualize the education of your children and to tailor your homeschooling lifestyle to best suit the needs of your family; the learning styles, talents, and interests of your kids; and your own teaching style and preferences. From this standpoint, whatever you are doing is "right"! Your home education efforts can develop organically with you firmly at the helm, steering your ship as you choose, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I think it's important to mention that the Catholic Faith, according to the Church, must permeate the entire curriculum. However, I don't interpret this to mean that every single resource must come from a Catholic writer or publishing company. What I believe is necessary is that you use as many Catholic materials as possible while also prioritizing using the best books available (which may not always be Catholic ones); that the atmosphere of the home (a.k.a. the domestic church) as well as direct teaching promote a living faith; and that truth, goodness, and beauty prevail. Of course you will take care to avoid anything anti-Catholic in flavor. As such, it may be wise to choose secular, neutral materials when suitable Catholic choices aren't available or don't meet your needs, rather than Protestant resources which could compromise your child's faith development.

copyright Organic Mothering

The 2nd part of my write-up lists the specific books and resources I use as the parent-teacher in creating my self-designed Catholic curriculum. These direct my way to the philosophies and particulars of the methods I employ. I wish to draw from these sources inspiration and wisdom; information regarding the learning tools directly employed; knowledge of the Faith and Catholic parenting; and specific book suggestions to be used with and by the child in her lessons. 

The third portion of the outline divides the books and materials used by and with the child in the lessons into the subject areas required by our school district. Though not required, I listed religion along with the history and geography category. You will find here both specific book titles and general subject matter to be covered. There are many other books, materials, and resources that could have been listed, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals such as "On the Christian Education of Youth", and Montessori's own works.  I hope that you will glean something useful from this curriculum guide. Please feel free to borrow anything you would like and to ask questions or give suggestions in the comments.

I. Vintage Catholic Home Education: We will be using a self-designed curriculum incorporating the philosophical methodologies of Dr. Maria Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and Classical Christian Education, drawing from the books and resources listed below. "Living books" will be the predominant choices for lessons, which are those written by an author who takes special interest in his subject and in which facts are presented in story form. Classical learning tools such as narration, copy work, memorization, and dictation will be utilized, with a core of Religion and the traditional liberal arts.

II. Curriculum Books and Resource:

- The Charlotte Mason Original Homeschooling Series (six volume set)
- Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss
- Mater Amabilis: a Charlotte Mason Style Curriculum for Catholics (
- Ambleside Online (
- The Year and Our Children: Catholic Celebrations for Every Season by Mary Reed Newland
- Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education 
  by Laura M. Berquist
- For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
  by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
- Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Your Self-Directed Learner by Lori Pickert
- The Holy Bible, Douay-Rheims Version and Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition       

III. Subjects and Books/Materials:

Language ArtsPrayers for Young Catholics (Daughters of St. Paul); "Faith and Freedom" Ginn Readers; American Cardinal Readers; classic literature; Poetry for Children and Other People; Ingri and Edgar Parin d' Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths; Emma Serl's Primary Language Lessons; Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb; Parables from Nature (Gatty); Making Words (Cunningham and Hall); Montessori Moveable Alphabet; Native American literature; public library visits and programs; Latin (Prima Latina, Memoria Press); Grammar workbooks (Frank Schaffer Publications)

Religion, Geography and History – Religious Education class at Sacred Heart Church; The Baltimore Catechism, No. 1; United States puzzle map; globe and maps; America's Founders and Leaders by William H.J. Kennedy and Sister Mary Joseph; A Child's History of the World and A Child's Geography of the World (Hillyer); Native American history and tradition; history of cultural, seasonal and holiday traditions; visits to Sauder Village living history museum; The Saint Book by Mary Reed Newland; Vision Books biographical novels of the saints (Ignatius Press); Hurlbut's Story of the Bible; The Loyola Treasury of Saints; Tree in the Trail and Minn of the Mississippi (Holling C. Holling)

Mathematics –  Intermediate Idea Book for Cuisenaire Rods (Learning Resources Inc.); Total Math (American Education Publishing); measurement; fractions; time and money; place values; addition and subtraction with regrouping; multiplication; division; decimals and percentages; Cuisenaire Rods and other related manipulatives; flash cards; calendar; mathematician biographies; board games

Natural ScienceHandbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock; The Story Book of Science by Jean-Henri Fabre; One Small Square series (Silver); Kingsolver Encyclopedia of Horses; nature walks and nature notebook; study of trees and leaf collection; study of flowers and flower pressing; study of insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and dinosaurs; the seasons; climate; sustainable living and organic gardening; science museum visits; calendar; ecosystems/animal habitats; chemistry kit experiments; dog training classes; volunteer work at the Humane Society

Health EducationGeneral Hygiene by Frank Overton; study of bacteria, mold and viruses; nutrition; food preparation and baking; herbology; vegetarianism; The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls by Valorie Schaefer and The Feelings Book: The Care and Keeping of Your Emotions by Dr. Lynda Madison (American Girl)

Physical Education – Gym class at St. Patrick; dance; Parks and Recreation soccer program; yoga practice; daily outdoor play; hiking; sledding; trampoline; running; swimming; scooter; pogo stick; horseback riding; hiking; bicycling; dog walks

Fine Arts – Art class at St. Patrick School; painting; drawing; poetry, music, and art appreciation (artist, poet, and composer studies; classical and folk music; hymns); pottery; Come Look with Me Series by Gladys Blizzard; art museum visits; attendance at plays and concerts; dramatic play; Parks and Recreation/library arts and crafts programs; Fayette Opera House concert series; piano lessons; movies and documentaries; needlepoint; crochet; creative writing

First Aid, Safety, and Fire Protection – Continued reinforcement of these subjects through library materials, field trips, and home safety plans


  1. Please stay away from Yoga! It is very dangerous . . . especially for Catholics. Why not just do some good old fashioned stretching and keep your children's souls safe?

    1. I appreciate the concern regarding yoga. I know this is a heated debate among Christians. The Catholic Church only says to exercise caution. She has not banned the faithful from practicing it. I realize that its origins are Hindu, but in the U.S., most yoga is not associated with Eastern religion. It's up to the informed conscience as to whether it presents a near occasion for sin. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. @dancingmomma is correct. The Western world has redefined yoga and simply because one calls it that doesn't mean they are doing the practices or intents. We could call it stretching or ballet or pilates or any other name but people in the West look at you and say "Yeah, you're doing yoga."

    Love the article, btw. Makes me excited all over again about homeschool. And vintage is so hip right now. :)

    1. I'm happy to have been inspiring! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I've always been a big fan of vintage. I used to dress mostly in lovely vintage clothing, but alas, have physically outgrown those pieces!


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