St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Homeschool, Non-Catholic Classical

I have many, many non-Catholic friends in my circle of homeschooling.  I am asked on a regular basis, “what do you do for school”, “what do you use?”  Because we have home schooled through high school and into college, with traditional home schooling, I end up being the “target” for these queries.  That’s okay, because I don’t mind talking “school” at all.  It’s pretty much my favorite subject!   This last Thursday at our local co-op, was no different.  I find that many of my protestant counterparts in home schooling just don’t know WHAT to do with their children as they move up in the ranks.  Or what to do for their special needs children.  Money is sometimes an issue (i.e. to pay for therapies or specialized treatments, evaluations, etc.)  …and understandably so. I will be writing another post on special needs home stay tuned for that one coming later!  I do believe:  where there’s a will, there’s a way….it is my long standing philosophy!

First, when asked by my non-Catholic friends about curriculum I always suggest a classical repertoire first.  If I were not Catholic, following a Catholic classical program, I would do this next best thing which is very similar:

Classical Core Programs – Memoria Press

Here is the THIRD GRADE sample of a whole year; what’s awesome about this program is that you just pay for the books, (and just replenish the consumable ones from year to year).  Another great thing about the Memoria Press core program is it comes with awesome lesson plans!….that offer a day by day breakdown of subjects and are so simple to follow; something I love and do have available to me with the current program we use.

I even love Memoria Press’s motto:

Saving Western Civilization One Student at a Time


Classical?  Why?  This is the other question. 

Classical because of this:

"Liberal education, which we also call classical education, is such an education….. It begins in wonder and aims at wisdom. It involves the seven liberal arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. It also includes the study of nature, the soul, ethics and politics, the highest created objects, and finally that to which all the others are ordered - theology, an understanding of the divine." ~ Laura Berquist

So, it isn’t just ANY education.  …begins in wonder and aims at wisdom…..and understanding of the divine….let’s just stop right there.  Our public school system is terribly lacking in the disciplines of course studies that lead to GOD, yes, the DIVINE in this case.  In the Christian Classical realm….all studies are ordered to the highest aim, which is the Almighty. 

Classical education is an education that produces young men and women to think for themselves,  – active learners – not passive learners being spoon-fed information for the sake of passing the test or just getting the grade; or an education that narrows or tracks you into one field only.  Students of classical education are able to see what’s real and what’s fluff.  What’s meaningful and ethical, and broadens their minds and horizons and what is simply mediocre and stripped or devalued.  They also have a broad and wonderful world view in the context of none of it being censored or eliminated.

When my husband and I made the decision that I would stay home and home school, we looked over many home schooling options; I even ordered a boxed curriculum twice in the earliest grades…and when I came upon the book Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, and I understood that if I’m going to give up an income by staying home, I wanted it to pay off down the road in the biggest dividends …a top-notch education for our children.  Classical was offering that.  My husband looked at how deficient his own public and Catholic school education was……He did not want the same for his children.  He is a wise man :)

So, yes, Classical. 

If not Classical, what next?  Seriously, I would consider a taditional curriculum like Abeka straight across the board because they stay current with changes in standardized testing and they are a good rigorous program covering every subject area.  If you were to need support in the higher grades, you could enroll with their school on line (a bit pricey also, but well worth it I’m sure).  Okay, Abeka may be kind of workbooky, but it is beautifully done and I suppose if I had to use any workbook course material, I would prefer it to be something well done, in both appearance and content like Abeka.

What I would not do… hop, jump and skip around from curriculum to curriculum.  It’s one thing to maybe swap out a math text in exchange for a different approach if you find it isn’t working for your student and you can’t seem to get it to work.  But not switching curriculum in a fickle way from year to year.  Most curriculum is written to build upon it’s predecessor from the year before….this even goes for simple parish religious ed textbooks….(oh the gaps I can attest to from year to year with teachers not using the book! and just winging it *sigh)  in academic education this leads to terrible gaps in especially math!….It’s wise to stick with a program and see it through.  Remember you will have some grumbling regardless as material increases in difficulty.  And if resources are worth their salt they will increase in difficulty, challenging the student, and rightly so.  This prepares them for higher thinking at a different level, such as college. 

May our great God bless you with the wisdom and grace to provide for your children the best education that will lead them to always know and follow Him, who is our true destiny.

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