Blending Catholic Schoolhouse and Mother of Divine Grace in the Primary & Grammar Stages
This is a post by Chantel Ricci, a contributing author of the Catholic Schoolhouse blog.
As a member of a Catholic Schoolhouse Chapter and an enrolled Mother of Divine Grace family, I am often asked what it is like to juggle two curriculums. Truthfully, in our experience it has rarely felt as though we are following two separate curriculums! Because of the similar and classical philosophies of MoDG and CSH, both of the programs have blended and complemented each other well to create an enriching classical education for our family.
I appreciate the daily lesson plans and accountability that MoDG provides for my family. The MoDG assignments and resources have exposed us to truth, goodness and beauty that I could not have encountered without the school’s guidance. At the same time, I love the enrichment and family unification that CSH brings to our family and homeschooling. The memory work is a part of our family culture and we love to come together for read-alouds and field trips that correspond with the topics being studied. Lastly, our CSH community and our Chapter’s class days are an aspect that would be unmatched from any lesson plan curriculum that we could otherwise follow. It is truly our favorite part of homeschooling!
The Primary Stage (K-2nd Grade)
One of the aspects that I love about the MoDG curriculum is the absence of busy work— all of the assignments in our lesson plans have a purpose in the methodology. During the Primary Stage (K-2nd grade), actual time spent for lessons are minimal, which allows the child plenty of time to play, explore and learn from daily life. Adding CSH memory work to the curriculum is effortless and enjoyable for little ones.
For the primary stage I trust that the CSH memory work is enough. I do not dig more deeply into the history timeline, nor do I try to add in extra Latin, Geography, History & Science assignments. Instead I believe in the classical method and choose to encourage my student to learn their memory work for a strong foundation for future learning.
On a more practical side, my primary students receive credit for their CSH science and art classes on our Chapter days. I also look through the beautiful MoDG literature and read-aloud lists for these grades and try to choose books that might supplement our Catholic Schoolhouse topics. It would be impossible to read them all, so being intentional about your choices can go a long way. For example, while we are studying the geography of Asia, I might choose “Little Pear” by Eleanor Frances Lattimore for a read-aloud (found on MoDG’s 1st-grade literature list).
I should note that MoDG also has a lot of memory work incorporated in their curriculum, particularly in the memorization of the Baltimore Catechism. We have found that CSH has been a great support for us here- we are constantly encountering Baltimore Catechism questions that we have already memorize in one subject or another and enjoy reinforcing and reviewing the topic.
Takeaways and Tips for the Primary Stage
- Follow MoDG for your Core Subjects.
- Be intentional and choose literature and liturgical read-alouds that supports CSH History periods, Geographical regions, Saints and Artists.
- The memory work is enough for this stage! Do not add extra geography, latin, science or history assignments.
- Write about CSH Saints in your 1st and 2nd Grade MoDG Saint Books.
- Remember that both programs focus on memorization of the Baltimore Catechism and will support each other.
- Plan some of the “Mommy it’s a Renoir” art activities with your History Timeline cards.
The Grammar Stage (3-5th Grade)
Many of my recommendations for the Grammar stage are similar to Primary stage. The workload of a Grammar student does increase however as subjects like history, latin, science, and geography are added to the MoDG curriculum. It helps to be intentional about how to utilize all of the resources that both programs offer without doubling your workload.
Our CSH Chapter’s science class is sufficient for our MoDG science credit. At home I also follow the Abeka and Concepts and Challenges textbooks recommended by MoDG and alter the order of the chapters to correlate with CSH topics. If you stick with both programs for all three years you will cover most of the subjects included in the textbooks and give your child the gift of many hands-on experiments along the way through Catholic Schoolhouse.
I have discovered that both art curriculum approaches are similar and focus on observation skills, artists, movements and art techniques. CSH Tour II even includes learning the recorder— something that MoDG suggests for 3rd and 4th graders. Personally I prefer to follow the CSH art topics to enhance family unity, but I do read about MoDG’s objectives in art and make an effort to ensure that they are all being met through our CSH projects.
MoDG students typically begin Latin in 3rd grade to support their study of language arts and grammar. I have been so grateful for the foundation that my students have from the CSH memory work! English from the Roots is covered in Tour III and I trust that these root words will be reviewed as we cycle again through CSH. For 3rd Grade I typically use the MoDG-approved course called Prima Latina by Memoria Press. It is a gentle introduction to Latin and will be very familiar to your student who has studied Tour I. With our CSH foundation we have been more than prepared for MoDG’s Beginning Latin in 4th and 5th grade.
By the Grammar Stage you will also notice a lot of overlap with religion. Both of the programs compliment each other perfectly well— giving us build-in review and reinforcement.
Rather than following CSH’s classical cycle, MoDG focuses on the history of the United States for 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. This is based on the Charlotte Mason methodology that we should start history with what the child knows and can relate to, and then work our way out. This leads to your main question: how do you follow CSH History and MoDG History in the Grammar stage?
I think that there may be several ways to go about this. Personally, I have enjoyed the richness of the MoDG history courses. They are literature-based and move at a nice pace for 3rd to 5th graders. While CSH studies Tour I and Tour III I would highly recommend following your MoDG history class in addition to learning the CSH memory work. The timeline will not match up perfectly for the entirety of the year, but the topics and subject matter are similar and your students will love making connections, and as a parent you will appreciate the built-in review and reinforcement that following both timelines will provide.
This year however, CSH is studying Tour II AND I have a 4th-grade student. After much deliberation, I made the decision to have him take the MoDG History Class and to simply focus on the CSH Memory Work (without diving deeper into the historical events at home). My son has not had a problem separating his (MoDG) history course from his timeline and memory work at CSH. Also, homeschoolers may noticed that starting around 4th grade Charlotte Mason students typically study two timelines– so this is not beyond their developmental capabilities. In fact, it has been a wonderful experience to discover unexpected connections from this experience.
If this idea drives you crazy you could definitely consider the option of choose a different history curriculum (or design your own) while your family is studying Tour II. Your MoDG consultant may be able to suggest a few and you would simply have to input these lesson plans into your curriculum yourself.
As homeschooling mothers I think we are often tempted to want everything to match up as a beautiful unit study, but if you trust the classical philosophy of MoDG and follow the 3-year cycle of CSH (our Primary and Grammar students will review it twice-through!) then I have found that CSH and MoDG blend, compliment, enrich and give us built-in review.
Tips and Takeaways for the Grammar Stage
- Plan ahead for Math 4-days a week: The MoDG curriculum is written generally as 4-day weeks, with the exception of a couple of subjects, specifically math. We have made this work for our family by starting our math books 3-4 weeks before our first day of school. With only 24-chapter days, this means that we can (for the most part) stick with 4 days of MODG in addition to our CSH Chapter Day.
- Be intentional and choose literature and liturgical read-alouds that supports CSH History periods, Geographical regions, Saints and Artists
- Re-order the sequence of recommended science textbooks to support CSH topics. Have your grammar child read the chapters aloud to younger siblings for family unity.
- Utilize CSH presentations for some MoDG Accountability (when applicable, recite memorized poetry, narrate history books, share saint presentation at CSH)
- Read the MoDG course objectives for each subject and see how you can work CSH topics (such as art, latin, science and history) into these.
Of course, no two homeschools are alike and this is by no means a strict guide. I hope that this post encourages MoDG families and those of you who prefer daily lesson plans to consider including CSH in your homeschooling journey. And please, let me know in the comments how you blend MoDG (or Seton, or Kolbe) with Catholic Schoolhouse!
This is a post by Chantel Ricci, a contributing author of the Catholic Schoolhouse blog.