Sunday, August 16, 2020

Why we are homeschooling this year (and which curriculum we picked!)

Dear Reader,

I apologize for my absence!  Three weeks is way too long, and I missed my little blog immensely.  Of course, it was for good reason - we have been working hard on room organizing (specifically my son's room), and setting up our new homeschool space :D (and lots of home reno projects, and decluttering and lifeeee).

So if you'd like to take a little peak into what that looks like (well, the beginning stages of it - there's still a few more things to do to make it look pretty!) - and see which curriculum we picked, and why, then read on.

                                           But first, save this pin for future reference:

bohemian catholic homeschooling curriculum home school

Right now, there a lot of families who are struggling to figure out what's best for them and their family (and the answer can look very different from one to the next!).  
And sadly, sometimes what the family wants to do, and what they can do is very different.  

We can appreciate that we are very fortunate to have had options to weigh and choose from, and don't take that privilege lightly.

However, having three out of six people in the home be considered high risk for COVID-19 complications, made it pretty easy for us to decide to continue social distancing and embrace homeschooling this year (what next year brings, who knows?!).

I had gone to college (though did not graduate, but did get an early childhood education certificate on the side while there) to pursue a teaching degree, and have had the joy of teaching Sunday school, Religious Education classes, and Faith Formation for many years.  I really enjoy it and had planned to teach my kids from the time we had decided to start our family.  Sadly due to my chronic health issues, I would not be able to be as consistent as I would like - and if not being able to devote the energy to making our own lesson plans (which would save us thousands!), we decided for public school. 

This fall, my kids will be entering 2nd and 1st grade.  And though we knew they would not be going back, we also knew I would need a curriculum that would be all encompassing (work books, lesson plans, etc), so if I was having a hard chronic illness day I would be able to open the book from the sofa, and still teach.

So I dived into the homeschool curriculum world and after several weeks of research (because there are SO many options), we found the one for us!

We chose . . . Catholic Heritage Curricula [ link ].

catholic heritage curricula chc bohemian catholic homeschooling

Now before I dive into it (and share pictures of our unboxing!), let me tell you a little bit about why I picked this one . . .

right after I share how I surprised myself by picking a Catholic company over a secular one!

Of course you might be saying to yourself, "Isn't she Catholic?  I mean, of course that's the one she'd go with" - but actually I had seriously prayed about it beforehand for a few reasons:

- I am raising two white men (likely hetero, likely CIS, and likely Christian) in America.  Between systematic racism, and toxic masculinity, my husband and I have always made an effort to teach that compassion doesn't end with the people who are like you (Matthew 5:46-47).  We want our children to meet, know, and befriend people who are different then them, who think different then them, and help each other affirm our own beliefs (or shed toxic ones), while being respectful of others.  In fact, it was one of the reasons we enjoyed several years at a UU fellowship hall and why we chose public over private school.  We want that diversity in their life, and true empathy for everyone (not just the ones who look and think like them).  I personally feel that I will be judged by God for both my convictions in my daily living, as well as my compassion to all of God's creatures (to read a bit more about treating others as Living Icons, please read my blog post here)

- not every Christian based homeschool curriculum embraces diversity, or the generally accepted science in the world today.  I won't name names, but I have literally run across curriculum that preached that Ancient Civilizations fell, "because they did not believe in God" (yikes!).  Strip away science, culture, history and the like - and that's the reasoning some of these people feel justified to go down the fire and brimstone route.  I find it a sin of presumption to even think about who is going where in the afterlife (I leave that to God), and will never advocate to teach my sons something as glossed over, watered down, and dismissive as that.  So I felt it would be "safer" to teach something secular based, and then supplement the religious studies at home.

- I also didn't want to do a Bible based program, that would teach things such as the Earth only being 6000 years old, and avoid current topics and cultures around the world.  Sure, "the world is our ship not our home" (St. Therese Liseux) - and we should be focused on Heaven, but we are here for a reason.  "God doesn't need our good works, but our neighbor sure does" (Martin Luther).  And for that reason I find it vitally important for our sons to become men of worth who will help lift those around them, to help people feel seen, heard and loved.  How can they be open to the discussions that will help in that, if they don't even know there's a big, wide, world out there?

So basically, I knew what I did not want . . . But we also were going to be skipping Faith Formation this year (they were planning an online version, but with the money I would need to spend on the curriculum, I decided to skip it this year).  But my oldest son is getting his first communion in the spring (cue tears of joy!).  Which meant, I needed a program that was:

- all encompassing

- had lesson plans/workbooks

- taught all the major subjects

- and prepared my son for the sacrament of the Eucharist and Reconciliation (no small feat!)


from their home page:

And then I found the CHC website and was floored by their core kits that answered each and every single thing I was concerned about, and offered patient reassurance.  

They didn't shy away from science, but also offered the Catholic faith throughout the subjects.  For example: their social studies section includes the whole world (and Saints from each continent - I LOVE how diverse our Catholic Church is from the devotions our Hispanic members bring to our parish, to the Sacred Tradition of St. Thomas the Apostle and the Indian Catholics and the Vietnamese Lay Dominicans, and the underground survival of Catholics in Japan for hundreds of years and every nation in between.  The Catholic Church really is far reaching and culturally diverse because of it).  But I digress (that's a whole 'nother post!). 

The CHC religious courses are packed!  And their Language Arts section is expansive.  Add in teacher's key packets for science and math, and even extras for art and handwriting, and a little bit of Latin - and we have an expansive curriculum! 

Their website made it really easy to browse through their collection, order a free catalog, and navigate an extensive FAQ section.  I was excited to go through their online full catalog (with examples of lesson plans) - and then checked out a few reviews online, as well as youtube videos that families uploaded.

Between hubby's input, prayers, and the reviews - I bit the bullet, and we used some our stimulus money to buy two core kits (which arrived one week ago!).  If you're still here (thanks for reading this far!), but I know how much I loved seeing the pictures of the curriculum in the reviews,

So now onto the fun part - the unpacking!!
Bohemian Catholic CHC unboxing boxbohemian catholic unboxing box chc

It took just under two weeks for everything to arrive - and they were two decent sized (i.e. heavy) boxes, but were definitely packed compactly (which we appreciate not wasting space in this household ;) ).  While the kids played with the packaging, I began unpacking and arranging all the books by sort of order:

                                              Language Arts:

Probably the "meatiest" part of the core kit, is the Language Arts section: spelling, grammar, phonics, handwriting, reading and comprehension.  As you can see there's definitely a lot of faith spread throughout the package - but it's more like, "T for Trinity", and stories about building moral character :)

Something I noticed with the handwriting books are that the binding is at the top, which is great for kids who are either right or left handed. 

Math & Science:
(I forgot to take pictures of the teacher's answer key pack, but you get one for the Science book ;))  Anyways, the thickest books of the core kits are definitely the science and math books, and then there's the social studies section (which I talked a bit about earlier in the post).  It's a pre punched stack of information, worksheets, and things to do, so I did buy a small binder to keep it straight.  And then I also invested in the "Art Pack" for my youngest, which has some pull out card stock art activities that are easy to follow, and cut out, etc.  I think he'll really like it :)


Here's probably my favorite section - the white packets behind the books are both the answer keys for me, as well as activity packets for the kids (mass booklets, trinity crafts, etc).  You have your general formation studies, but then of course the book that will help prepare my oldest for the Sacraments he'll be receiving in just a few months - "Preparing to receive Jesus."  Then there's one for my youngest, "God's Wondrous Love" which is age appropriate and I think will be a great resource to help answer those six year old questions about God and the faith <3

Something I do want to reiterate with fellow reviewers is that you will want to take a look at the lesson plans ahead of time, and adjust the suggested religious subjects to better fit the liturgy calendar (otherwise you'll be doing the Nativity lessons in February for example).  But this really doesn't require more work than pulling out a calendar and switching a few dates around and marking it accordingly.

So after putting them by subject (and adding the daily lesson plans in one big binder), I set up a small space in their room which was perfect to hold it all in place.  But I know homeschooling isn't about work at a desk (one big benefit for my oldest who struggles with SPD and ADD!). 

                               And so here's the minimalist version:

(We also have a sensory bin for the fidget moments and a doodle pad and chalk board for their hands while I read to them).  One thing I am hoping to finish in the next two weeks, is a large chalkboard above this dresser to highlight themes/seasons, and decorate with some educational posters as well.  We'll also be using a timer, and a general schedule where we will break up the day in two parts to give the kids a mental break (since it is a lot of writing!)

And that's it, for now!
We will be starting our homeschool in two and a half weeks (we are hoping to stay close to the school calendar of their public school in case they are returning next year).  And I do not feel overwhelmed at all - which considering how things have been going in the last few months: the uncertainty of life, the anxiety around upcoming holidays, the daily requirements of social distancing, etc, etc. - not feeling overwhelmed when it comes to our schooling this fall, is a GOD SEND <3

Much love

Stock Photo Credit: Sarah Dietz via

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