I’ve decided to use Catholic Schoolhouse.
Now what do I do?
We get asked this question a lot. You love the idea of bringing in more classical elements into your homeschool. You love the idea of having fun learning with your kids. You REALLY love the idea of all your kids studying the same topic.
No more ancient history with your 10 year old while your 8 year old is deep into the pilgrims.
No more space being studied in the 3rd grade book, while the 1st grade book has you labeling the parts of the flower.
This is it! We’re all going to discuss ecology together at the dinner table tonight! And we all know who Henry VIII is…get ready, Dad, for some stimulating conversation rather than the list when you ask, “Kids, what did you study today?”
So, you want to know, what do I do???
Begin by reading Delena’s blog, Itsonmytodolist. She will take you on a wonderful tour of one mom’s first day.
Then, check out the CSH Blog (click Blog at the top navigation bar). Each week of the current year will have a blog post with additional ideas to try at home for all the subjects. Fun writing ideas, projects, field trips, activities, games, and links to other great resources will be posted in the Blog, as well as free printables and Lapbooks that go with the current year material. (2014-2015 is Tour I)
If the link does not satisfy your needs for extra fun, check the Cathschoolhouse Pinterest board. Yes, that’s Cath Schoolhouse. Catholicschoolhouse has too many characters, what a disappointment.
Next, open the book and look through it. Here’s an example thought process that is based on the Tour III Material to give you an idea of how Catholic Schoolhouse can work for you:
You’ll notice that you will be studying the 10 Commandments for the entire first semester. This unit based approach will let you take this opportunity to get all those great books about virtue off your shelves and begin reading them to your kids. Ask them which commandment is associated with a particular virtue or vice. Like, when you cheat, you are really stealing a reputation that does not belong to you. Kids entering the dialectic stage love this stuff! Set your older students up with a unit on Catholic morality. If you also have the Catholic Schoolhouse Tour III Art, you’ll notice that the 10 Commandments light and value project falls just as you are memorizing the last commandment.
Take a look at the artist. The CSH Art projects will begin to teach the basics of perspective during this unit, but you may also wish to let your kids have fun with coloring sheets, found on the Pintrest board. While you’re at it, da Vinci is a pretty interesting Catholic guy…
St. Ignatius of Loyola and George Frederick Handel–what do they possibly have in common? Well, all of these famous people lived around the same time period. I was surprised too! Read Handel and the King of Courts, by Opal Wheeler. This wonderful out-of-print-but-being-republished series has stories about many of the great musicians. You won’t just learn about Handel, but also a lot about the culture of the time. As a bonus, they even include sheet music for your budding classical pianists! Your young warriors will love St. Ignatius. If you haven’t discovered the little blue “In the Footsteps of the Saints” series, this is a good one to try. Don’t Turn Back! A Story of Saint Ignatius Loyola is a lovely and engaging Level 3 reader by Brother Roberto. This is another out-of-print series that just can’t be beat by the modern stuff. They also have Level 1 and Level 2 stories for your beginning readers. My kids LOVE these! Mary’s Books is graciously bringing these back in print for us. (Inside secret, if you e-mail Mary, she’ll put together a package of all the saint books for Tour III and make life very easy for you.) Don’t forget yourself; treat yourself to a read of The Golden Thread, by Louis de Wohl. It captivated me as well as the latest steamy best seller–but this one taught me things I could share with my kids!
So, all this is fun, but it feels like Schoolhouse Icing (Yeah, for those of you who haven’t been, that’s a CatholicIcing.com reference) Let’s get down to business.
Math. You see skip counting. Your young kids will be skip counting in no time if they sing along to the CD. This is a great time to review those times tables with your older kids. Dust off the times tests or play fun games from pinterest. You’ll work on this for a quarter and then let it go–it will come back for review the first quarter of next year. Meanwhile, keep going with the curriculum you love. If you need an idea, check out Singapore math for your elementary kids, MEP (free) for your middle schoolers, and Jacobs’ Algebra and Geometry. MCP is a fine basic program as well–don’t worry about the extras, they’ll come up in Catholic Schoolhouse. If you want a hands off program–hands off isn’t the kind of mom you are, though is it?–look into Aleks.com. Two months free trial here.
In Science you’ll be beginning a unit on Ecology. The possibilities are endless. Your older kids can do the classification activity in the CSH Science guide, while your youngsters parade in their ‘Mommy Monera, Papa Protista’ masks from pinterest. This is also a great time to look at cells, because each of these groups has distinct types of cells. Don’t focus too much on coordinating with the specific memory work, just do all things ecology/biology for the next six weeks. If you’re feeling classical, this is a great time to begin Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study. If you’re feeling a little more textbook-y, the Real Science 4 Kids series is excellent for little ones and you may wish to try Exploring the World of Biology for your middle schoolers. This one’s available from Sacred Heart Books, and Linda will give you oodles of personal help if you need it. Keep in mind, that Animals, Plants, and the Human Body each have their own unit in other years of CSH. If you love the science curriculum your children are using–no worries. Many families let CSH memory work simply serve as review and reinforcement–another contact point for the information.
Geography is a blast! Every year the first three weeks are spent reviewing the basics so we don’t forget, then you will branch off into continent based units. You will know your 5 (yes, 5) oceans in no time with the CSH song, and can find oodles of activities on Pinterest and the CSH Blog. The first unit this year is Australia. While you are working your way through the memory work and making maps, don’t forget to make a didgeridoo or a rain stick and learn to speak Australian. You may even wish to study the Great Barrier Reef, an underwater biome, that coincides with your study of biomes in science. This could also be the beginning of a big ocean study which you can conclude with the regions of the ocean memorized in week 12. My family has been using the 7 continents series together and love the extra lessons. 7 Continents Series We even had an additional Geography Club (2nd-7th graders) that met at the library and worked through this book together. Hopefully it has not been realigned to the Common Core :-\. Oh, and make sure you put a map of the continent you are currently studying under a clear plastic table cloth on your kitchen table. You’ll learn so much more than reading the cereal box and will give your family the opportunity for after dinner impromptu quizzes. Does anyone know where the Azores are? (Secret–my oldest kids are geography whizzes, in spite of me never teaching geography, don’t tell)
Classical Roots are for memory and are pulled from English from the Roots Up. The book gives ideas for expanded lessons, and they even sell games to play with the roots. (next year we’ll be back to memorizing Latin prayers with Prima Latina.)
The History Timeline is what the year is built around. Each week you get 5 new cards in your timeline. The history sentence will give you one thing to focus on if you prefer and you’ll have the fun songs memorized in no time. Play the games suggested in the cards, make a Book of Centuries, set the cards in a basket and let your kids read the backs as they wish. The opportunities are endless. Read The Child’s History of the World, by V.M. Hilyer as a family read-a-loud. It’s like Little House on the Prairie–I’ve read it three times and never get tired of it. Read LOTS of books set in the time period and biographies. Try Bethlehem Books if you don’t know where to start, or check out our upper level reading list on the resource page. Ask students to pick one card to present on at dinner–you’ll all learn something, and they can each present at their own level–it sure would be perfect if you had exactly 5 children…
If you are still wondering how to round out your child’s education, play the CD in the car. You’ll be amazed at what they remember. I like Delena’s word for it–carschooling!
Still looking for more. Read Delena’s blog post for Week 2
What Else Should I Use – subject by subject curriculum ideas for each year of Catholic Schoolhouse