Thursday, October 06, 2005

Advice For Anyone Considering Homeschooling

A dear friend of mine is thinking of homeschooling, and since I took the time to write a very long response to her via email, I figured I'd post it here in case anyone else could benefit from it.

My long list of Homeschooling advice/ links for a new Catholic

The books and websites that have helped me
the most have been:

1) The
well trained Mind
(not catholic but very good)
This is a very
popular homeschooling book that explains the basics of a Classical Education.
(emphasizes the basics of reading, writing, math, and history and science). you
study history chronologically and in the older grades the kids are reading the
classics like Plato and Aristotle etc.. They study Latin and history. This
book is in the library (click on the link above), and you can buy it at chapters
or the homeschooling bookstores here in town We are loosely following
this. They recommend a whole curriculum from grade 1 to grade
12. On their Website they
have more resources including a message board that is helpful.
These authors
have also written a very good language arts program called First
Language Lessons
for grade 1 and 2. This is in the library. They
also have a history program for grades 1+ that's in the library too called Story
of the World
2) Designing
your Own Classical Curriculum
by Laura Berquist.
I have this book
and it is excellent and not as thick as the one above. Laura Berquist is a
Catholic and I really enjoyed her book. She tends to be more focused on
American history, so her material wasn't as useful to us as I had wanted, but
she has a website that
is very good, and she runs a 'school' where they will keep track of your work
and give you lesson plans, report cards, an advisor you can phone for help
etc.. (this is pretty $ and not really important until maybe you have a jr
high kid or a high schooler).

3) A
Charlotte Mason Companion
by Karen Andreola
Charlotte Mason was a school
teacher in Britain many decades ago, but she has had a big influence on the
homeschooling movement. She encourages the use of 'living' books instead
of text books. These would be real books written by people who are
interested in what they are writing.. i.e. for history, they could be historical
fiction books, autobiographies etc.. . Not boring textbooks
anyways. She also encourages the children to have very short lessons but
help them to focus on the habit of 'attention'. She also focuses a lot on
nature study and letting the kids get outside everyday. This is a good
website explaing her theories:
This is a really nice website with some very inspiring articles and a good forum
page where you can discuss homeschooling with other catholic moms. I have
never read her book but I really want to get it.

There is also a
website where 2 homeschooling moms have designed a FREE Catholic CURRICULUM
based on Charlotte Mason principles. It is found at and
I'm going to be looking more seriously at their suggestions next year.

4) Not a book that I've read, but a very gentle approach to
Catholic Homeschooling that is very popular: Catholic Heritage Curriculum. They have
lesson plans layed out for most of the grades, and excellent and inexspensive
curriculum that is thoroughly catholic. Here is a good review of their
lesson plans:

stuff is available at in

5) Some good message boards for hearing other people's
experience and asking questions:

Some good CAtholic Homeschooling websites:
excellent webiste that talks about catholic homeschooling and reviews all sorts
of curriculum and materials:
also see

7) Some
local Calgary/Alberta Resources:
a homeschooling magazine published in calgary every few months
Their website
has EXCELLENT resources for knowing about homeschooling in Alberta. Click
on HOmeschooling in Canada and then follow the menu to alberta. You can find out
about all the different school boards that you can register with, as well as you
can find out about alberta learnings curriculum. (if you want to follow what the
government is teaching.. we don't care ourselves, but some people like to know
what they are 'supposed' to be teaching each grade). the
Catholic hs support group in calgary an
alberta homeschooling info page

8) a List of Catholic
Homeschool 'Schools'
that you can register with or just use their curriculum
advice. If you register with them you get a teacher to help you with any
questions, they give you report cards and help you keep good records
(more important for jr high/highschool)

I've probably overwhelmed you by now, but these are all really good places to
start looking. What some people do if they really want to get their kids
out of the school system asap is they just start with a prepackaged curriculum
like Seton (see in 8 above) which is similar to normal school, and do that for
the year while they think about what to do the next year.

Grade 1
is very easy and there is only about 2-3 hours worth of work a day 4 days a week
at most that needs to be covered. So don't worry :-)

Look down in my august archives of my blog and you will see where
i've linked to all the curriculum that WE are using this year. I will use
different things next year probably, but we are enjoying what we have for

1 comment:

Nan said...

Hi! Fellow homeschooling Calgarian here. Just wondering if you actually live in Tuscany? We do. Also, do you post on the WTM message boards? I am nancypants over there.

I found you via a Google search. I am trying to find out if musical instruments are covered under funding or merely music lessons? Can you advise me on this? If you follow my link back to my blog you will find my "e-mail me" link there if you can help at all!