A truly Catholic homeschool means that you teach the Catholic Faith to your children. The Catholic prayers and the catechism guide your whole day.
Saint Anne's Helper Catholic homeschool resources help you design your own homeschool to fit your own needs.
Preserving your children's souls is the main reason you bring them home: that they may learn to know, love, and serve God in this world. Write that down. It's good to keep it in mind when your morale is low or the day is long.
After prayerful consideration of all the elements involved, you use the resources that you have found and you persevere for the good of your children the best that you can improving and updating as needed.
Today there are so many home education helps available that it can be easier for you to give a good education at home now than it was before the turn of the century. (That's a fun line to write - being one who used to use that term to mean one hundred years earlier!)
If you choose to homeschool, you might even be able to do it without paying tuition by simply finding or buying your own materials and creating your own lesson plans, transcripts, and diplomas.
If you choose to use a full homeschool program (which see below), the curriculum, books, and lesson plans come "in a box". You can also find grading and coaching services, counselors, online transcript services, online planners, and even full online courses as at Homeschool Connections and even YouTube.
You try to make sure that your children have learned, or at least covered, every truth that your children need to learn before they leave home. You at least need to give them a sense of what is true and a chance of being able to keep the Faith through the to the end.
Sorting out the books is truly half the battle!
We own more books that I will not use than those that I will.
We've also thrown out more books than we will use. I want to share with you the good books that we have found, so you do not waste your money on goofy or bad books. At least you'll have an idea of good replacements when you need them.
One clue for me is that many books that are set up in a "text book" fashion have odd agendas, so it is good to have real Catholic books on hand to verify what seems doubtful.
The ultimate classical education is a Catholic education. This is what we have tried to do and think that it will save you some some time money and heartache.
Check out these ideas from throughout our site.
See the following homeschooling resources on this page:
You do not want to waste time with bad books. Me neither.
I cannot spend time writing about bad books, so what you see on this site are the best books that I have found during twenty-five years. Not that there are not other excellent books available, it's just that these are the best we have found.
Many parents choose Catholic homeschooling curriculum (accredited homeschool program, or not) in order to use the Catholic catechism of their choice, and this is a great idea. A good catechism is the best guide as to what is good or bad in other books.
Why? Because it explains the good and the bad. It sets the limits. Well, God did.
When we keep our children home from institutional schools we have the freedom to choose the best books like the Baltimore Catechism and the Douay Rheims Bible. The Baltimore is a handy book with concise easy to memorize answers which is why it is so popular. Most of my recommendations are based upon the truths found in it.
The main reason for this website is to help others to learn the Catholic Faith easily. A helping hand with instruction and drill are always welcome, especially if it is on hand all day at anytime.
There are many helps with video instruction of Math, Science and even Writing out there in the internet, so we're doing our little bit with audios and printables for First Communion and Confirmation catechism. Our audios help with reviewing the questions and answers - so you have a tutor to help with review. This section describes our own Saint Anne's Helper, PrintNPractice, and ColorWithFuzzy products first.
Saint Anne's Helper - Audio Catechism (CDs or downloadable audio books) and verbatim Catechism Copybooks (Catholic Ebooks for Manuscript and Cursive writing worksheets) for First Communion and Confirmation. They teach the questions and answers that are generally asterisked to be memorized in preparation for these sacraments.
You can have your children practice without needing to use paper and ink because the PDF files are all interactive. This means that you can copy the files to a file for each child and they can fill in the worksheets there.
We also have:
See more catechism ideas here.
PrintNPractice is our sister site where you can print practice worksheets for other subjects like Math, Phonics, and Grammar. Oh, how I wish I had put all these treasures here on this site. Pardon my mistake and enjoy wonderful good worksheets and homeschool ideas.
You can download Math practice worksheets, Phonics practice worksheets with Phonics videos so your children can learn the letter and phonics sounds (phonograms, blends, phonemes); Handwriting and other practice printable worksheets.
What's cool here is that actually, you can also have your children practice without needing to use paper and ink because the PDF files are all interactive, like our Saint Anne's Helper downloads. The practice Spelling words came from the Living My Religion catechism series and the LaSalle Catholic Readers.
All of the worksheets are free or you can buy them in bundles by subject.
See an explanation of our PrintNPractice interactive printable worksheets and coloring pages here.
This is another website we own.
It's a delightful coloring site that you can trust for sweetness and modesty!
All are modest and none contradict Christian faith and morals.
On top of our many sacraments and saint coloring pages on Saint Anne's Helper, we have created loads of free printable coloring pages at ColorWithFuzzy.com.
These notes help me explain our favorite resources for Catholic homeschooling:
Catholic Homeschool Curriculum Programs - Find Seton Home Study School, Our Lady of Victory, Mother of Divine Grace, Kolbe Academy, Catholic Heritage Curricula and more. See a comparison in section 6 below.
This page has a list of my favorite Catholic homeschool reading lists.
Catholic Homeschool Books - These next are our favorite Catholic bookstores: Refuge of Sinners, Adoremus Books, Emmanuel Books, TAN Books, and Neumann Press.
Catholic books - These are good Catholic books for catechism class and a list of Catholic book sellers to help you find Catholic home school books.
Once you have a good catechism for children (my favorite is Jesus Comes - Our Holy Faith series) all other Catholic books can be compared to it.
Why? Simply because all books can be compared to the Ten Commandments and the Apostles' Creed - which are our main Catholic beliefs. All large decisions in life can be compared to the basic Catholic beliefs. This certitude makes using Catholic values so much easier which is the main reason we chose to homeschool.
Catholic homeschool curriculum can be the very best place to start whether in accredited homeschool programs or not; but how do you find the good books?
Well, easy and not so easy. The comparing takes time, money, and effort.
Too bad that we often must buy the books before we find whether they meet these criteria or not. So here's a quick list for starters.
Does the catechism that you use teach these truths?
See the Baltimore Catechism for the most concise questions and answers.
See this list of tricky Catholic answers.
First Communion is usually the first sacrament studied in Catholic homeschooling. You'll want to have books that support what your children learn like little saints and prayer books.
If your children have already received their First Communion, they'll still need to know the same basics and to review them each year.
We have printable worksheets to copy the answers, audio downloads to memorize them, and beautiful Catholic coloring pages that help children love Jesus, Mary, and the saints. They can even be used for handwriting class.
Homeschool is geared toward learning the
Reading little books or stories from the Catholic Bible and the different Catholic saints really fill out the school day. Children learn to love the people in the Bible and the saints from history just as they like learning about their relatives and friends in a photo album. You'll find a short reading list here.
If you want some language arts resources, our worksheets make great handwriting exercises because they help teach the faith. Little children like our:
Confirmation can be a harder subject to find simple instruction in Catholic beliefs. Its questions and answers used to be woven through the higher Baltimore Catechism levels and newer books aren't easy to find in many bookstores. You'd have to read the whole Baltimore Catechism No. 2 to be sure to learn all the answers.
During the early 1900s many parishes had the Confirmation on the same day as the First Communion. With good reason, too. This is the sacrament that gives us the grace to be strong in the Faith and to persevere.
It isn't necessary to know all the basics in order to be well disposed to receive the sacrament. The little catechisms in my parents' time in the early 1930s covered only three or four questions on Confirmation!
The important thing to remember is that the sacrament of Confirmation confers the grace with or without grueling academics. Being well disposed to receive the sacrament does not mean getting an A+ in a rigorous program. It means wanting to receive the graces and being in the state of grace to receive them well. Good academics can add to those graces, but are not esential.
The place where the rigorous academics can help the disposition is when the questions and answers, method, and way of life all teach the student to know, love and serve God. The better he studies the better he might know God, which means he has the better capacity to love Him and to serve Him. This is one reason religious and parents are thrilled with a bright student. This is also a sign of a vocation since the student often has a better start knowing and loving God and can deal with complicated matters of faith with greater ease.
In Catholic homeschooling the learning never quits. Whether we are actively studying or simply doing our routine chores we have the opportunity to learn. All our learning is supposed to lead us to God - this is the very purpose of education. At home the Faith can be better integrated with the family since the members are all learning the same things.
Confirmation is also the subject more adults need the answers to because so many did not go on to receive the sacrament of Confirmation after being baptized or receiving Communion.
Often homeschooling parents learn right along with their children. Having an audio book catechism for them is so handy since they can learn the basic Catholic beliefs as they drive or do minor chores. The review is easy!
All the questions required or asterisked in little booklets are included and all have an Imprimatur. They're good for parents and students alike.
Teaching from the board and homeschool dictation is so important. I found it super handy to have a whiteboard, K-10.
I am so glad to have used three sizes of whiteboard:
You can make a whiteboard quickly.
This has been a huge life saver in our family. A friend recommended years ago that we get an 4' x 8' melamine white board to use in our classroom. It was one of the best decisions and best investments we've made.
These boards are usually less than $30 if you get melamine coated Masonite at a building supply store (think cheap white bathroom wall board for the shower or bathtub surround). You can either cut one for small whiteboards or leave it whole for a huge whiteboard.
Frame yours, if you like, with inexpensive molding-board. The mold board can even be used to hold your dry erase pens if you get it wide enough. We've left ours plain, so I set my pens and erasers on a cabinet next to the board. This also keeps the pens away from the little ones.
The trouble with leaving the board with no frame is that you might sometimes over-write the board or the eraser can drag the dust that forms to your clothes or the wall behind. It usually washes out of clothing fine, yet if your wall does not have a glossy finish the markers and the eraser can stain the wall. The trouble is the same if a wooden frame does not have a glossy finish.
We all enjoyed having the full four feet by eight feet sized board. It is so great to have plenty of space to write without needing to spend hundreds of dollars on a whiteboard. Ours is over fifteen years old and still has a great writing surface and cleans well with water and paper towels.
Sometimes you need to clean the whiteboard better, perhaps once a week. For a DIY whiteboard cleaner we simply used window cleaner. It has not affected the surface.
Lowe's and other lumber stores have melamine coated Masonite. If you're looking for a magnetic whiteboard, many office supply stores carry proper whiteboards that you can use in your Catholic homeschool classroom. The magnetic boards are great for using magnets to hold up charts, pictures, and dictation work.
Some phonics programs have magnetic letters or you can use the toy type letters for word building.
I have friends who have used sheets of plexi glass or simply use the sliding glass door or window.
Sometimes you can salvage whiteboards from offices or schools when they close or redecorate. If they're not already worn out, these are often of furniture quality.
Use whiteboard paint to freshen the surface as I found out the hard way that regular gloss spray paint does not work. The painted space stays stained.
We still use this same large whiteboard for our Catholic homeschool and love it. This meant that I could easily keep the date or other info on the board along with the assignment of the day.
Previously we'd been using a 3'x4' free standing whiteboard with an aluminum stand. That was a bit precarious once in a while, so my husband made a lovely wooden easel to put on our dining room buffet.
The 4'x8' is such a big help!
Across the top I've kept the manuscript alphabet with the few cursive letters that are different. I keep the alphabet at the top and only added the cursive strokes as we came to them. I also keep a few tricky cursive letters there like F, L, and Z, etc.
I also keep notes about the phonogram rules and about twenty words that are the main way the words are spelled (to, by, week, for, etc).
Along the left side I have a list of common prefixes and to the right side I have a list of common suffixes. Now I have many more prefixes and more suffixes; and all I have to do now is point to them since our children are all older. The Orton/Spalding/Sanseri books have a list of the main suffixes, so you can simply copy that list to the board. It's practically what I had done.
Lines. Top, mid and base lines are a huge help, especially for little ones beginning to learn their letters.
If you have the lines on the board, your children will know how the letters sit on the lines or descend below them. This is why we made our PrintNPractice phonics and alphabet flashcards and videos with the blue top, mid, and base lines.
You cannot see the lines in the middle of this picture because they wore away through the year as I wrote. I did replace the lines at the beginning of every year while we still had younger children.
I had used a permanent marker to draw the lines, yet with use the lines usually only lasted a few months. It was good for the beginning of the school year. Any year that we had a beginning writer I re-marked the lines when the school year started.
With all this writing on the board there remains plenty of space for me to put short to medium length sentences in the middle of the board.
The space in the middle with the size of my handwriting actually works out to be the approximate size that our children could write between their margins in their notebooks and loose leaf paper. This is "in general", and helps me have a scale of how many words to write per line.
There's also plenty of space for three children to go to the board to practice their Math tables or spelling words. We made our PrintNPractice Math worksheets, phonics, and spelling sheets to assign for practice or "homework".
Writing with a whiteboard pen is much slicker than using chalk on a chalk board. Personally, I like the friction of chalk as it helps for pretty handwriting much like a pencil does instead of an ink pen. BUT. I cannot stand the screech chalk can make or the chalk dust on my hands. It's great for the kids though.
In spite of it all, for myself, I think you'll really like Expo's Dry Erase markers. I like the chisel points for writing on the big whiteboard and the fine point for the mini boards we'd use on the couch. I especially like that Expo pens are low odor.
With a phonics dictation method the teacher teaches the parts of words first and does not write the words unless, after trying, the student has trouble with a new word. Then the teacher can write the words on the board for the student to copy or correct his own writing.
Otherwise, you can teach from dictation with some copy help for your younger students and the whiteboard is so helpful for this.
You can remind your children of a particular phonics rule or then model how a big word is spelled. Dictation takes longer, but rewards some students with life-long spelling skills, although some students struggle no matter what you do.
Just keep at it. Most kids "get it" at some point.
Also, we left our small whiteboard under our large whiteboard so that our little ones could be at my feet playing or copy what I was doing. They were a bit underfoot yet it was nice to have something for them to do for a few minutes and was a wonderful help in keeping the little ones busy. The first child I tried this with has the best base line in his handwriting. The aluminum frame made his bottom line perfect.
You can also dictate sentences and the math facts. Writing at the board is a fun change from sitting at the desk or table, especially if several are able to go to the board.
Over the years I kept much of the notes on the board as we had new children coming while the older children needed new reminders. Click the image to see it a bit bigger if you'd like to see how helpful these notes can be. Here are some explanations:
I love this whiteboard! It has been such a wonderful help with homeschooling. It's a bit encyclopedic because it has grown through the years as we have grown as a family. It is very handy to have these notes for every day use.
If you're interested I include a close up of the English diagrams below using abbreviations. The purple is for Latin terms. Again, click the images to make them larger.
You can either make your own calendar whiteboard or buy the type that has a calendar chart with blanks for the days of the week or month.
You can keep the calendar whiteboard by the phone or the door so everyone can see it. A whiteboard calendar is great for keeping track of times for altar boys to serve, music lessons, visiting tutors, and everyday life like shopping and appointments.
How do you compare Catholic homeschools like MODG, Kolbe, Seton, or OLVS?
First, in many of the classes they use the same books
Some people can find fault whichever program they're using. The answer? Weed out what does not work and replace with what does. Here are some of the positive general differences I see.
OLVS seems to be the oldest Catholic Homeschool program. They even reprinted the best Catholic books that had been previously available, yet were disappearing fast in today's virtual and colossal book burning.
They stick closely to the most important Catholic books like the Baltimore Catechism, the Douay-Rheims Bible, and the traditional Daily Missal.
They've also encouraged new authors like Jim Fitzhenry and helped other book sellers like TAN Books and Mary's Books (Brother Ernest books). On the whole and personally?
Personally? I'd stick with OLVS as my base, yet keep an eye elsewhere for what to add in or replace MODG/Great Books/Classical style. See more here.
Some of Seton's books have really great ideas like their 5th and 6th grade handwriting books that tour Catholic places in the United States and the World. They've sure improved the availability of truly Catholic textbooks over time - even some awkward places in the New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism for First Communion.
My favorite aspect of Seton is that most of the Clark family and many of their employees actually homeschool. In actually using the books they catch what other book sellers cannot even see.
Besides, sometimes it's a huge relief to simply have a workbook to chug through the necessary basics and not have to invent your own curriculum and lesson plans. Read the assignment. Answer the questions. It's all done for you. Read more here.
Laura Berquist's Mother of Divine Grace School must be an education powerhouse! You have a huge amount of lea way as to which books you want to use and how to use them.
Written tests? Essays? Oral quiz? You decide.
They recommend many of the same books as OLVS and Seton do. Find MODG ideas here.
Kolbe Academy has three levels of commitment for parents and students. You can choose to do a college prep program and get a diploma for it. See more here.
If you have a good Catholic school to send your children, rejoice!
If you do not, consider searching for another school in your area. The traditional Catholic orders have built schools or formed parent co-ops where many parents teach their children with other families in a school setting.
If your circumstances preclude being able to use a brick and mortar school, consider these next thoughts.
Why do parents want or need to homeschool?
There are as many reasons to homeschool as there are parents and children, yet there are principle reasons that must take precedence.
It is our duty as parents to give our children a Catholic education.
It does not have to be a super academic education, or a high tech education.
As a matter of fact, if the children want music, high tech careers, special trades, they can get them alongside their home education or after they graduate.
Our children's salvation was our first motive in homeschooling.
If it is yours, and you pray for God's grace, and do the better thing every time you can; God will send you the graces necessary to persevere or you will find other options as God provides.
This does not mean that it is not hard, yet it can get easier in time with total dedication, delegation of chores, and better family habits.
Money. Sometimes the fees at Catholic schools, Catholic homeschools, and even online courses are prohibitive.
Time. Sometimes the driving time necessary burdens the family budget, conflicts with second or third shift, or keeps little ones driving around in a car for one and two hours per day.
Health. Sometimes a child simply does not have the health necessary to bear the burden of leaving home.
Academic reasons. Sometimes children need a year or so to "catch up" or review.
Remote locations. Sometimes you live in remote locations where there is little in the line of school available.
Travel. If your main livelihood causes you to travel much, or you're in the military and travel to countries that do not use your language you might need to homeschool your children.
There are many more reasons Catholics choose to homeschool.
Country? I am in the United States, so I am not familiar with what you might have to do in other countries. There might be private schools in your country that can be helpful. Move near to them if you can. Otherwise, especially for high school, there are often boarding schools in other countries that might teach what you want your children to learn.
Ensuring that our children can be taught the faith is what we should be teaching our young couples as they prepare for marriage; yet alas, we often do not see our future duties well and laws change.
State? Each state, or province, has different laws. Check for your state's requirements, especially for high school diploma requirements.
Homeschool or Unaccredited School? In some states you sign up as an unaccredited school. It has its hazards (2015 ESSA anyone?), yet in some states your signature on the diploma is as good as any other unaccredited school's principle's signature.
Help. There are organizations that can help you learn the law. Ask at local homeschool coops, conferences, Church organizations, or Homeschool Legal Defense (HSLDA).
Or, as above, see what OLVS, Seton, MODG, and Kolbe recommend.
I wish we all had had access to these good Catholic homeschool books and programs years ago. In even the last ten years there are so many more resources than there used to be.
Take advantage of them to ease the burden on you and your family.
Some of the errors in Catholic books are due to ineptitude, some are simply wrong, and some are purposely put; but by God's grace and heroic Catholic publishers this is changing for the better now.
Pope St. Pius X's encyclical Pascendi explained so much a hundred years ago that we are now able to see plainly in retrospect. Compare to the Ten Commandments, the Precepts of the Church, and common sense to eliminate what is not Catholic.
Catholic homeschools, authors, and teachers have offered many improvements through these recent years.
Compare. See what you can improve on your basic lists as time passes.
If you believe that you have a duty to use only good books, the best that you can, continue to see some wonderful Catholic homeschool books here.
Pray to St. Anne, patroness of Catholic mothers who teach their children. Pray for the graces you need to find good Catholic books, homeschool curriculum, and other resources.
May God protect us all in our teaching, writing, and speaking. Do please contact me wherever wherever you find better resources. If I can, I will share them here.
Be assured of my prayers for you and all our visitors.
Speaking of calendars, do you use a homeschool planner?
I'm a paper and pen kind of girl when it comes to using a planner.
My favorite is the Week-At-A-Glance where each day is a strip down the page and all seven days are on the two page spread. It's like having a list of things to do. When I don't get it done, I just put an arrow to the next day. It lays flat next to my keyboard.
I use red pen for guests arriving or for things outside the house - whenever someone else's schedule must be met like altar boy practice or serving. I also like to mark the Catholic holy days and feast days.
DIY homeschool planner: Right now I've striped a 70 page notebook and put the dates across the top. This works very well in the mean times till I can get a "real" planner. It's really just lines down the page - I've even quit using a ruler. Easy enough for the kids to do. I marvel at how much more important it is to have a place where everyone can look as the children get older.
If my notes were neater, I'd send a picture of how easy it is to do. My handwriting can be teacher perfect, but not on my planner. I don't even use a ruler any more. Hm....
'Just had an idea. I'll skip to the future and take a picture. See it above. :-)
It is very helpful to plan your school year around the Catholic holy days and the larger feast days.
Catholic Holy Days of Obligation - Catholic holidays are usually referred to as Catholic Holy Days of Obligation and feast days. Holy Days of Obligation are just like Sundays for Catholics. Feast days are the days that venerate titles of Our Lady, the Catholic saints, or the merits of particular patron saints. Keep track through your Catholic homeschooling year. You can also sign up for a near monthly reminder.
Catholic Liturgical Calendar - Many Catholic calendars have a separate list for patron saints and another for Catholic saints list in a booklet like Is it a Saint's Name? (Tan Books) You can also use the back half of a daily Catholic Missal which lists the different saint days. A Catholic Missal is the original "thought for the day" book!
Roman Catholic Saints - Catholic Saints names lists are also excellent for choosing a name for Confirmation. Many Catholic calendars have a separate list for patron saints and another for Roman Catholic saints list.
These home school websites have great resources and ideas too:
Homeschool Articles at Homeschool-Living.com
There are several excellent Catholic homeschool articles on this page. You'll like these two best:
Since learning Latin and knowing the four temperaments have been giant helps in our family, I think you'll like them, too. They actually offer short cuts in school and daily living.
Anna Marie has a great respect for the value of Latin and of knowing the four temperaments. Not only have her children graduated from college, she has a son who is a priest and one preparing to be a lawyer!
Her site is down, yet I still recommend the above articles if she ever publishes them again.
Leane Vanderputten at Finer Femininity has an awesome Catholic Mother Goose book for preschool and kindergarten children! I wish I'd had this for our children when they were little. They even like it now when they're older.
Catholic Homeschool Blog Directory
See this Directory for Catholic Homeschool Blogs for resources listed by state: chbd.blogspot.com.
Hopefully these ideas make Catholic homeschool easier for you.
You may want to have each of these Baltimore Catechism No. 1 Communion audio, ebooklet, and worksheets for kids (and adults). Same text throughout.