When I was pregnant with my first child, I received a book from my godmother that I believe set me on this path of Catholic homeschooling, not only just being my children’s primary teacher, but making sure that they are raised in the faith.
It was “Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers-To-Be,” and it included several quotes from Vatican II about the role of parents that I kept in my heart through the years.
Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate the offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs. – Gravissimum Educationis
As we decided to keep our eldest, and the next two children, at home and embraced homeschooling, we naturally gravitated towards providing them with a Catholic education. At first, I really didn’t know how to start, but I knew that I wanted to give her and her siblings a Catholic education that is more than just memorization of the 12 Disciples, or the Beatitudes without going deeper.
There must be a way to impart the truth and richness of our faith, I thought.
One of my most memorable homeschool experiences was preparing my then second grader prepare for her First Holy Communion. As we read books (not text-books) about the sacrament, I found myself understanding and learning more about our faith… and yes I teared up at times. It was a touching experience that made me yearn to learn more and more.
Components of Catholic homeschooling
Oftentimes, Catholics tend to look at our faith as just a Religion subject. But there is more to it than that.
As parents, it is our role to help and guide our children in the faith, so that they can live in God fully and joyfully.
In our work here at The Learning Basket, a lot of parents ask us for book recommendations. Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about Catholic books and resources.
I’ve mulled over how to share about my faith and about how my husband and I are raising our children to know, love, and serve God, and I came up with six components of a Catholic homeschool.
Here’s a quick guide on how you can assemble your own Catholic homeschooling curriculum for your children. As a parent, YOU have the agency to choose your own materials and methods of teaching according to your beliefs, values, and circumstances.
I hope this will be a helpful guide.
Other than Sunday masses, we read the Bible daily too, for personal meditation and as part of our homeschool.
We use the Douay Rhimes Catholic Bible for our homeschool. It features beautiful language, that is close to the King James version, perfect for reading aloud.
From the Catholic school I attended in my youth, I learned (and remembered!) that we should look for the Catholic Church’s Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat – declarations that a material is free of doctrinal error. Bibles that do not bear these are usually non-Catholic and miss seven books that are part of Catholic theology.
Bible stories are a great introduction. We recommend Nursery Bible Stories by Amy Steedman for ages 6 to 8. It’s an old book recommended in Catholic Charlotte Mason circles and is a good alternative to the usual cartoony Bible story books.
2. Liturgical Living
Liturgical living is something that I learned in Catholic homeschooling circles. It is essentially living our family life focused on Christ by following the Church’s liturgical seasons.
The best way to start is to read up on and to try to incorporate traditions with the beautiful seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter into your homes.
Ever since learning about this in homeschooling circles, we have made it part of our family culture – our domestic church. Our children are growing up with memories of an Advent wreath and a Jesse Tree at the start of Advent, being involved in Sunday masses through the choir (pre-pandemic times), attending the Paschal Triduum in Lent, celebrating Easter in church and at home, etc.
Praying the Holy Rosary is also one great way to meditate on the life of Christ. Our nightly praying of the Rosary made my now 5-year-old suddenly reminded her of the stories that I read to her from her Children’s Bible. This led to her wanting to lead a mystery every night, too!
For more ideas, visit Truly Rich and Blessed’s posts about liturgical living.
Catholic catechism, which is the teaching of the beliefs of our faith, is part of our “formal” homeschooling. This is also what usually comprises religion classes in Catholic schools.
We use the Faith and Life series as our main book; it can be considered a living book (the optional separate workbook isn’t). While we can only still buy this series abroad, there is an online version that you can look into, from Grades 1 to 8.
A friend recommended Catholic Online School, which is what her young son is using for catechism. You can check it out too!
(June 2021 Update) A local book called Building the Faith in Children is also now available at the TLB Book Shop. It is best for young children ages 7 to 9. Click here to view it.
For the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist (and in the future, Confirmation) we used additional books to further help us in their preparation:
* Little Catechism on the Eucharist – This is really illuminating.
* The King of the Golden City by Mother Mary Loyola
Usually, you would also want a Nihil Obstat in the catechism books that you will use.
Locally, The Learning Basket Book Shop carries these Living Faith Kids catechism booklets. The complete set comes with FREE downloadable teaching guides.
As supplement, we also listen to the Catholic Sprouts daily podcast for kids, which features really short episodes (5 minutes or so) “designed to plant one seed of faith each day.”
For highschoolers: My 12-year-old and I are reading together Catholicism: A Heart to the Journey of the Faith by Bishop Robert Barron. When our order for Faith and Life Year 7 didn’t work out (the workbook and not the main book arrived), I thought and thought of what she could read instead.
This, I think, is classified more as apologetics than catechism, but highschoolers (and their parents!) might already be ready for more sophisticated fare. Knowing my daughter, I thought there’s no harm in trying. So far, she’s enjoying it and able to comprehend and explain in her own words what she’s been reading. She has previously read A Case for Jesus by Brant Pitre outside our curriculum, and is able to relate what she’s read there to Catholicism. So yes, harder books are worth trying!
4. Lives of Saints
Contrary to popular belief, Catholics do not worship saints. We revere them for the good examples that their lives were. We draw inspiration from them on how to be like Christ more, because that is what we are called to do.
Our favorite Catholic saints series would be the one by Mary F. Windeatt, and we stock some titles in the shop at times. We tend to hoard them for our personal libraries.
(June 2021 Update) – Click here to check them out! We have loads of new titles.
Here are the other books that we also read to/with our children.
For younger kids (5 to about 7 years old): 5-10 Minute Bedtime Stories for Children was written by a Filipina, Techie Cano-Lopez, and illustrated by homeschool graduate Jewelle Villarisco. My 5-year-old now has a favorite saint because of this book!
For age 8 and up: Yes! The Life of Josemaria Escriva for Young People is a book translated from Spanish about the life of the founder of the Opus Dei and features charming illustrations per page. My 9-year-old boy is reading this now.
For age 12 and up: Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux was the actual book by St. Therese of Lisieux. The language is accessible, and can be read over one year. But reading it aloud to my eldest at age 10 was a wonderful experience; we learned together!
We also try to remember saints during their feast days using our various books on saints (picture books, collections, etc). Of course, we observe all celebrations around the Blessed Mother, Queen of All Saints. Good pictures books about Mary would be by Tomie dePaola and Brian Wildsmith.
Tina Rodriguez of Truly Rich and Blessed, which has a lot of resources on liturgical living and Catholic homeschooling, organized a Filipino Catholic homeschoolers group called ROCKERS, which has a Facebook group and used to organize activities.
It really helped us to be with other Catholic homeschooling families to do things with. You can join the Facebook page so you can ask questions and also see recommendations for Catholic materials and Catholic parenting.
6. Nurture your faith
More importantly however, nurturing our personal faith is something that will tie everything together. Our lives lived in faith, that our children can see, are lessons in themselves.
We are not teaching these “Catholic things” to our children just because. We are teaching them in the faith in order to guide them to the truth and beauty of the Catholic Church, so that they can live good lives with God.
Other than attending Sunday or daily (online) Mass, we can nurture our faith two ways: by seeking to learn more for ourselves, and seeking a community that will help us grow in our spiritual lives.
Educate yourself about the faith through reading, listening to podcasts, and watching videos of reputable resources.
Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Homilies and Word on Fire Show have been instrumental in my faith journey, especially after my family and I watched the Catholicism DVD series. Bishop Barron’s homilies and his programs are truly deep that will make you understand more and do more. His podcast was one of my go-to podcasts while driving, before the pandemic.
You can also inform yourself more by reading autobiographies of saints, or at least reputable biographies. St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul is a great start. I’m currently reading (with my 12-year old) about the life of St. Catherine of Siena.
There would be more resources over at the ROCKERS Facebook page, so that’s a great reason to join!
Belonging to a spiritual community is something I highly recommend.
Around the time that I was feeling overjoyed with what I was learning along with my daughter about the Eucharist and other sacraments (maybe I forgot from my Catholic school or I just wasn’t ready to understand deeply), I got invited to a community of missionary sisters. All of a sudden, I had Spanish nuns for my spiritual direction; they help me immensely on how I live my faith daily.
As a bonus, I became more capable of guiding and being a spiritual mentor for my children.
Where to find good resources for Catholic homeschooling
As homeschoolers, we are free to choose our own materials according to what our families and children need, and not just blindly follow a curriculum, no matter how popular.
We have to question the resources (including this article, yes) and form our own opinions by learning and learning.
Here are some links for you to consider, plus the ones mentioned above for easy reference. The first two are my go-to sites when I feel like I need to skip any book in Ambleside Online, the curriculum we follow.
1. Mater Amabilis – Mater Amabilis, or MA in Charlotte Mason circles, is a free CM-style curriculum for Catholics. It’s a treasure trove of booklists for different grade levels that you can use to just pick and choose what you need, or really follow, like Sanne’s family, as your Catholic CM curriculum.
2. Joyous Lessons – Celeste Cruz is a well-known figure in Charlotte Mason circles abroad. She’s a converted Catholic with a Filipino husband. She uses Ambleside Online, with Catholic tweaks, like us, and I look at her recommendations sometimes for our faith books
3. The Learning Basket Book Shop, Catholic books category 🙂
4. Faith and Life Online – Catechism for Grades 1 to 8
5. Catholic Online School – Free catechism for homeschoolers and others
6. Idente.org – For deep and inspiring articles on walking with God and understanding AND living the Gospels.
7. Formed.org – A membership site full of videos for the whole family to learn more about the faith
8. Genesis to Jesus videos – Learn as a family the basic Catholic principles in this series.
8. Word on Fire – Really wonderful. Podcast and YouTube videos are free.
May this post bless your family and help you grow and mentor your family in our faith!