Happy Easter, everyone! I know it is only the middle of April, but yes, I have already prepared my curriculum for the next homeschooling year! Keep in mind that I'm only teaching one child, so I have more time than many of you to get a heart start.
Very often I encounter some sort of difficulty or suffering during Lent, and this year was no different. There was a death in my family right before Lent began, and that was a sorrowful time. But what was keeping me awake at night toward the end of Lent was a peculiar crisis in which I felt anxious about how I was going to approach 7th grade literature. I think this came about because 7th grade means junior high school, at least for those of us for whom "middle school" was not a thing growing up. So this is the phase when children become teenagers and are gearing up for high school. It's the beginning of the big leagues, and I knew I would need to present new experiences and greater challenges.
In order to work through the crisis and start sleeping well again, I had to go ahead and hammer out the curriculum. Thank goodness for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the wonderful moms who answered my questions and supported my ideas in various Facebook homeschooling groups. I appreciate you more than you can know!
What I've come up with is a curriculum which reflects a synthesis of approaches recently discussed here at Organic Mothering--Charlotte Mason, the Scholastic Method of traditional Catholic education, and Classical studies and principles. I explored the connections between these philosophies, and I'm now feeling like I can proceed confidently forward. I'm calling this synthesis, Vintage Catholic Home Education.
Initially in my struggle with how to approach literature and historical fiction for 7th grade, I considered working with the study guides from Memoria Press. But after much prayer (and debate in my own mind!), I've decided to continue in the CM method, transitioning from mostly oral narrations to a greater practice of written ones. (I will, however, be using a mini-guide for Mara, Daughter of the Nile, that I found at Rainbow Resource Center.)
This spring term I've begun having Beezy answer chapter study questions that I write, and those will be incorporated next year as well. At the end of each book will be a final exam, basically a CM-style essay. I've also added Laura Berquist's classical compilation of poetry, speeches, and Shakespeare, The Harp and Laurel Wreath, which includes lessons for dictation and study questions. This is a most excellent resource, and I'm excited to get going with it!
I've assimilated CM well over the years, but I will continue to read her Original Homeschooling Series and refer back to books I've already read as needed. I want more structure for science next year, so I'm adding Seton's 7th grade text/workbook. We will continue to take nature walks and keep the nature notebook, but especially during the winter it will be beneficial to study science and health subjects more formally. I've also added a couple of art lesson books, as this is an area I felt was weak in our curriculum this year. Though I've always designed my own curriculum and have been intent upon following Charlotte Mason very closely, I realized that for going to the next level I felt more comfortable adding a little more of the traditional materials.
Please note that music is being delegated to others for the most part next year. Beezy will have Choir and Musical Theater classes with a homeschooling co-op and will continue with her piano lessons. Physical education this year is being covered by a tumbling class, and that will continue next year. These are subjects of intense personal interest, and I think it's important to feed those needs. And we homeschooling parents cannot do everything ourselves!
As usual, my curriculum outline is set up for the requirements of my state. If it seems like an overwhelming number of books, please know that I don't expect to get through everything in one year. Like Sarah Mackenzie says on her blog, Amongst Lovely Things, planning is guessing! We will likely defer some of this plan to the 8th grade. Feel free to use what you would like for your own curriculum!
I. Vintage Catholic Home Education: We will be using a self-designed curriculum integrating the Scholastic Method of traditional Catholic education; the philosophy and method of Charlotte Mason; and Classical studies and principles. Drawing from the books and resources listed below, learning tools such as living books, narration, copy work, dictation, and memory recitation will be utilized, with a core of Religion and the liberal arts.
II. Curriculum Books and Resources:
- Seton Home Study School (www.setonhome.org)
- Memoria Press (memoriapress.com)
- Catholic Heritage Curricula (www.chcweb.com)
- Charlotte Mason Original Homeschooling Series
- The Holy Bible, Douay-Rheims Version
- Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
- Public and home library selections
- Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss
- Ambleside Online (amblesideonline.org)
- Mater Amabilis: A Charlotte Mason Style Curriculum for Catholics (materamabilis.org)
III. Subjects and Books/Materials:
Language Arts – A Book of Fortitude (Seton reader); Mara, Daughter of the Nile (McGraw) and mini-guide from Rainbow Resource Center; A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys and Tanglewood Tales (Greek myths by Nathaniel Hawthorne); Lassie Come-Home (Knight); King Arthur and His Knights (Robinson); The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (Pyle); Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb; Bard of Avon and Good Queen Bess (Stanley/Vannema); The Harp and Laurel Wreath (poetry and dictation); The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Twain); Language of God grammar and composition (CHC); Handwriting for Young Catholics (Seton); correspondence; popular fiction (free reading); Learn Spanish with Grace!
Religion, Geography and History– Religious Education class at parish church; Prayers for Young Catholics (Daughters of St. Paul); Pure Faith: A Prayer Book for Teens (Evert); The Gospel of St. Luke; Bible History for Young Catholics (Seton, Old and New Testament volumes); Journeys with Mary (De Santis); Our Catholic Legacy Vol. 1 (Seton world history); A Child's Geography of the World (Hillyer); Usborne Essential Atlas of the World; The Life of Saint Patrick (Reynolds); Augustine Came to Kent (Willard); Columbus and the New World (Derleth); Pocahontas and Captain John Smith (Marie Lawson); Fifty Stories from Ohio (Martzolff); Sauder Village Farm and Living History Museum membership; States & Capitals flash cards
Mathematics – Hamilton’s Essentials of Arithmetic (measurement; fractions; time and money; place values; addition and subtraction with regrouping; multiplication; division; decimals and percentages, etc.); TheMathWorksheetSite.com; Archimedes and the Door of Science (Bendick); math manipulatives; flash cards; calendar; board games; baking
Science and Health – Science 7 for Young Catholics (Seton: history of science, scientific method, geology, chemistry, electricity, space flight, the five senses); General Hygiene (Overton); Nature Anatomy (Rotham); The Meaning of Trees (Hageneder); Nature walks and notebook; The Feelings Book: The Care & Keeping of Your Emotions (American Girl); sustainable living and organic gardening; Humane Society volunteer work
Physical Education – Tumbling class; basketball team; dance; daily outdoor play; hiking; sledding; trampoline; running; swimming; scooter; climbing; horseback riding; bicycling; dog walks
Fine Arts – Choir and Musical Theater homeschool co-op classes; piano lessons; The Story of Painting (Janson); Creating Art: Lessons & Projects for the Grammar Stage (MP); Draw and Write Through History: Greece and Rome (Gressman); Anholt’s Artist Books for Children series; folk songs and hymns; card making; art museum visits; attendance at plays and concerts; dramatic play; parks and recreation/library arts and crafts programs; movies and documentaries; videography and photography; creative writing
First Aid, Safety, and Fire Protection – Continued reinforcement of these subjects through library materials, field trips, and home safety plans