|The educational situation in which our children find themselves today
is unfortunately very bleak. There is no need to summarize for readers
of this tract the secular humanist horrors of the public schools,
horrors which have driven so many families to private education, only to
find the same secularism there and, in the case of Catholic schools, a
modernist apostasy that is even worse. The simple fact is that many
parents find themselves in an area in which the only acceptable school
is so far away or so expensive that they cannot send their children to
it without extraordinary, even impossible, sacrifice. And so they turn
to the possibility of educating their children at home.
This may seem an awesome responsibility, but there is only one way to
consider it fairly: to see exactly how it would be done once one has
decided to do it. I urge the reader to put himself in the position of
having chosen home study long enough to find out how it works, and so to
decide whether it might not be God's plan for his family.
Once you have decided to teach your own children, you should decide
whether to teach from your own lessons or to enroll your children in one
of the Catholic correspondence schools, such as Seton Home Study School.
Many of the things which I will advise in this paper are done by Home
Study Schools, which make it easier for parents in some ways. However,
the program can be more individualized if you choose to write the daily
lessons yourself .
An important first step is to write out a Statement of Philosophy, to
make it clear to yourself, your spouse, and your children what you hope
to accomplish. Why is a Home School necessary? What are your purposes?
What are the values you intend to impart to your children? Your
Statement of Philosophy should be in positive terms however, and not
simply reflect your objections to something in the local schools. It is
vital that you and your spouse agree on the Statement and, if you enroll
in a Home Study School, their Statement of Philosophy should agree with
yours. Your statement could prove vitally important as evidence to local
authorities of your "religious convictions" and
"sincerity of belief."
If you do not enroll with a Home Study School, you must decide on a
name for your Home School. Obtain a post-office-box address; have
stationery printed with the name and address. Be sure not to include
"home" in the name of your school. Official school stationery
is needed to order textbooks, teacher's manuals, answer keys, tests,
examination copies (to look over for 30 days), sample texts (which you
may keep), and publisher's catalogs. School stationery is important for
receiving counselor's information regarding colleges, vocational
schools, and achievement tests. Perhaps the most important need for your
school stationery is to obtain your children's school records.
Obtaining school records can be a delicate operation for those who
have once had their children enrolled in the public or parochial school
systems. It is well to locate other Home Schooling parents in your
school district and find out how they obtained the school records.
(Write the National Association of Home Educators, Route 3, Box 324-B,
Gallatin, Missouri 64640. They will pass your letter on to Home
Schooling parents in your area.) In a large metropolitan area, there
probably will be no questions asked if you request your children's
records on your school stationery. In a small community, school
authorities might ask questions about a school which they have never
heard about. Some parents obtain a post-office-box address in another
community for this reason, and others first enroll their children in a
private Christian school, so that records will be removed from the files
of the government school.
If you believe the local school authorities will give you no trouble
(which is possible if you are a former school teacher) or if you feel
strongly about the direct approach, you can go directly to the school
and principal and tell him you wish to teach your children at home. This
direct approach is more successful in the South and, as time goes on,
with larger numbers of families teaching at home, this direct approach
will be more agreeable. However, many principals would rather not know
about your potentially controversial Home School.
Keep in mind that you have the right to your children's records. Also
remember that as long as the records remain in a principal's office,
someone may cause bureaucratic difficulties for you at a future date.
(Of course, if you enroll in a Home Study School, that school will
request the school records for you.) It is important also to keep in
mind that you are within your legal rights to educate your children at
home, even though school officials and even school lawyers may tell you
it is against the law. There are exceptions to the law and different
interpretations by the courts. For example, the State of Michigan had
five different interpretations in two years. Usually once local
authorities realize that you will not be "bluffed" and that
you have legal consultation, they will back down. Please be assured that
the great majority of parents never go to court. Those who do win nine
out of ten cases. One lawyer who has handled 150 Home Schooling cases
has not lost a single one!
Though at present there are no State requirements for Home Study
Schools, it is prudent to follow some of the rules for the government
schools which do not infringe on parental rights. Most states, for
example, require about 180 school days per year. Future legislation,
already in progress, will have calendar and attendance requirements for
home schools; you should be ready for them.
Obtain blank or school-term calendars from teacher's stores or from
Continental Press. Fill in the required number of school days, from
September through June. Be sure to note the non-school days for
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter vacations, as well as holidays and
holy days. You may include as school days two days each year for Teacher
Student counseling, to discuss curriculum, procedure, classwork, or
whatever. These are usually at the beginning of the year and in late
January. Field trips can be included as regular school days also. Public
schools plan about two Field trips each semester, but the Home School
may schedule many more, perhaps two or three each month. Your children
do not have to make up days they are sick (unless it is an excessive
number). Public schools allow up to about seven days a year for bad
weather, which they are not required to make up, so there is no need to
worry if you miss a few days due to family problems.
A Curriculum Guide is most important for your Home Study School. It
is a clear guide for each subject at each level for you, your spouse,
and your children. If you are enrolled in a Home Study School, you
should be provided with a Curriculum Guide on request. Local school
authorities and legal authorities commonly request a Curriculum Guide
from Home Schooling parents. State Departments of Education require
various sections, but a Home School Curriculum Guide need have only
three sections, and those only for the grades being taught.
The first section should be Objectives: what your child should be
able to accomplish after taking the course. This includes not only
"knowing" the course material but "appreciating,"
for example, the world of nature, or "desiring" to read during
his leisure hours, and so on. The second section should be Scope and
Sequence: what specific areas of knowledge you intend to teach in the
particular course. Sometimes the "Objectives" and "Scope
and Sequence" can be found in the Teacher's Manual but be sure they
are actually what you intend to teach. Most parents do not limit their
teaching to one textbook. A third and most vital section of the
Curriculum Guide must be how your own particular philosophy, as outlined
in your Statement of Philosophy, is incorporated into this particular
subject area at this level. This section might be titled
"Catholicism in Reading for Grade Two," for example.
A Curriculum Guide takes thought, work, and time. Each subject taught
at each level must have three sections, and each section should have at
least eight or ten points. As for the specific subjects, read your State
Code to find out exactly which subjects are required in your State. Most
states require the following: Reading, Oral and Written English,
Handwriting, Spelling; Mathematics; Natural Sciences, including
Conservation; Health and Physical Education; the Constitution of the
United States, the State Constitution, the Declaration of Independence;
social problems, the United Nations; World Government; socialism and
communism. Most states now require instruction in the harmful effects of
narcotics and alcohol, as well as instruction about venereal diseases.
Because parents may have their children excused from Sex Education
classes in the public schools, such instruction at home may proceed on a
normal basis rather than with a scheduled classtime.
Home Schooling parents should read the whole section in their State
Code on Education. Legislators list the subjects to be taught, but the
State Department of Education recommends which subjects should be taught
at each grade level. You may want to consult a local private or
Christian school, but as long as the required subjects are taught
sometime, there is some flexibility about specific subjects at each
The Course of Studies
Reading selections are completely optional in the elementary grades,
but World Literature usually is recommended for grades nine and ten,
American Literature for grade eleven, and British Literature for grade
twelve. Extra literature courses are optional, such as Shakespeare. The
college-bound student should have three years of Literature.
Phonics is an area which has been seriously neglected over the past
several years. Many schools are now returning to Phonics for first and
second grades. However, I recommend Phonics for five or six grades,
depending on individual need. Phonics at the upper levels consists of
not only a review of sounds of vowel digraphs and diphthongs, but also
analyzes the meaning of suffixes, prefixes, and roots.
General Science is taught through the elementary grades. High schools
today offer Earth Science or Biology to ninth graders, Biology or
Physics for tenth graders, Physics or Chemistry for eleventh graders,
Chemistry or Advanced Physics for twelfth graders. Many schools are
supplementing with courses on the environment. Conservation, either as a
separate unit or as part of another course, is required by most states.
Home Schooling students should take two years of Science even if the
state does not require it; the college-bound student should take three
years. Obviously, some courses might be difficult for the student at
home without benefit of a laboratory, but local colleges or Adult
Education centers often offer such courses for high school students.
General Math is taught through the eight grades. The high school Math
consists of Algebra I, Geometry I, Algebra II, Trigonometry, and
PreCalculus, or Calculus. The college-bound student should take three
years of Math. Some extra options being offered today are Bookkeeping,
Accounting, Consumer Math, and Computer Programming.
Under the name of Social Studies, the government schools are teaching
a variety of subjects, much of which is not State-required. Many of the
texts are teaching a value-system rather than facts about the family,
the community, and the world. High School Social Studies programs often
include Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, "Male and Female in
Today's World," and so on. Much of the material contains
For the first three grades, I recommend books from the library about
explorers, which you can supplement with globe and map work; and books
about famous people such as Christopher Columbus or George Washington.
The public schools teach world culture and geography. Fifth graders are
taught early U.S. History and sixth graders Ancient World History. World
geography as well as State History and government is taught in the
seventh grade, U.S. government and history in the eighth grade.
It is not necessary for Home Schools to adhere to this schedule
strictly, but it is a good idea to follow the program in your school
district if for any reason your children must return to the public
school system. At Seton Home Study School, seventh graders have U.S.
history with a half-semester of State history and government, eighth
graders receive a course in World Culture which emphasizes the
contributions of Catholics in all areas of culture from nations around
Ninth graders in the government schools usually are taught World
History up to the 1500's, while tenth graders study recent World
History. Eleventh graders take U.S. History, and twelfth graders study
U.S. Government or Civics, sometimes called "Problems in
Democracy." Students have the option to take Sociology or
Anthropology or one of the subjects mentioned previously. Public schools
usually require two years of high school "Social Studies" but
I recommend that the Home Schooling student intending to go to college
take three or four years of History and Geography.
English Grammar often is neglected in the public schools or is taught
on a very simplified level. Home Schooling parents should teach Grammar
during all twelve years, separate from the Reading in the Grammar class,
so that students realize the value of learning good grammar as they
write. Spelling may be incorporated into the English class, depending on
how much time a student needs in this area; students needing extra help
should have a special fifteen-minute class, even in high school if
Though high school foreign-language requirements are changing, most
colleges still require two years of a foreign language for incoming
Freshmen. Latin is the best foreign language for Catholic Home Study
students, not only because it is the official language of the Church,
but also because its the basis for other languages, is helpful in other
areas of study such as the sciences and law, and helps students
understand their own English Grammar.
Music, Art, and Physical Education are required by State Departments
of Education, though not always by legislators. Public schools teach
these subjects each year during the elementary grades, and usually one
year of each is required by the individual school systems during the
high school years. High schools offer a wide variety of optional
courses, which gives the Home Schooling student the right to an even
wider selection of courses available throughout the community. Many
vocational subjects may be considered "Art," such as Home
Economics or Woodworking. Many Home Study students at the high school
level fulfill their Physical Education requirements by taking sport or
activity classes in their community.
One of the most serious problems facing Catholic home schooling
parents is obtaining Catholic textbooks. Since the Catholic Diocesan
schools began purchasing secular texts rather than Catholic texts more
than twenty years ago, textbook publishers have phased out their
Catholic Schools Divisions. There is at this time no publisher of
Catholic textbooks for Literature, English, Science, History, Spelling,
and so on. Loyola University Press still has available a Catholic Latin
series and a Catholic History textbook. Anne Carroll from Seton School
has published two history books for high school. But in general
Catholics must search for old, out-of-print Catholic texts, or purchase
textbooks from Christian publishers such as Rod and Staff, A Beka Book,
or Alpha Omega. Seton Home Study School as well as Our Lady of Victory
and Our Lady of the Rosary Home Study Schools all have been able to
purchase a few Catholic titles in quantity.
Home schooling parents who do not enroll in a home study school must
obtain Catholic books from relatives, friends, or retired teachers,
priests, and nuns. They may be found also at garage sales, used book
sales, library-book sales (Catholic books donated but never used by the
library), seminary book sales (usually unadvertised), Catholic college
book sales, and so on. Run ads in your small local newspaper or in the
diocesan paper for old Catholic catechisms, literature books, readers,
histories, spellers, grammars, music books, encyclopedias, dictionaries,
and saint's biographies. Offer $5 for a book and you should receive them
quickly if they are still available.
Books, tapes, films, filmstrips, magazines, and pamphlets sometimes
can be obtained free from local Catholic groups such as the Knights of
Columbus, The Blue Army, Third Orders, missionary groups, and various
apostolates. The Daughters of St. Paul have excellent films. Marian
Shrines usually have a bookstore with a variety of books and religious
items. Don't neglect to use Catholic newspapers and magazines for
religion, history, and reading classes. As a home schooling parent, your
resources are limited only by your own resourcefulness.
When ordering textbooks, remember that almost all publishers will
send you "examination copies" which you may examine for thirty
days. Always order on school stationery. Be sure to order the free
catalogs first. Obtain new catalogs each year since prices and editions
change. Make payments with your school checks. Usually Mother can use
her maiden name as the principal ordering the texts, while the Father
can sign the checks as the Treasurer.
Do not neglect using the writings of the Church Fathers, the papal
encyclicals, or writings by or about the saints as material for your
classes. These can be obtained easily and inexpensively from the
Daughters of St. Paul or TAN Publishers. Since your basic reason for
existence is to teach Catholic values to your children in each subject
area, it would be contrary to your Statement of Philosophy not to
include Catholic writings in each subject area. Catholic selections can
be used for exercises in Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, Creative
Writing, History, and Literature. Following the travels of missionaries
can teach geography. Bible quotations and papal quotations can be found
on just about any topic.
If you do not have your children enrolled in a home study school, you
may be interested in knowing about the specific titles which are still
available and recommended. The Baltimore Catechism (from Stella Maris
Books or TAN Publishers) can be the basic Religion text for twelve
years, but it is wise to supplement it in high school. The St. Joseph
edition can be purchased from the Catholic Book Publishing Company. The Catechism of the Council of
Trent, newly reprinted by TAN, is excellent
for high school students. A successful high school religious series is
published by Cashel Institute. Two series which have solid Catholic
doctrine and which can supplement the previously-mentioned catechisms
are the Know, Love and Serve series from PROW Publishers;
and the Way, Truth and Life elementary level series and the Divine Master series for high school levels, both from the
Daughters of St. Paul. Excellent basic catechisms can be purchased from
the Center for Family Catechetics: The Catechism of Christian
Doctrine by Pope St. Pius X, The Catholic Child's Way of
Life (the "small child's" edition of the Pius X
catechism for grades one, two, and three), The Catholic Faith: A
First Course in Religion for Small Children (to prepare for
Confession and First Holy Communion), and a teacher's manual for The Catholic
Faith. Two other excellent books for high
school combining catechesis and apologetics are Catholicism and
Reason and Catholicism and Life (both from Prow).
Catholic books which can supplement the junior and senior high school
religion classes can be purchased from TAN.
For older religion texts no longer in print but still available,
write the Anna Catherine Emmerick Shrine and the St. Francis Retreat
Center Book Store. Other places to look are church libraries and St.
Vincent de Paul shops. A superior though out-of-print catechism series
is the Our Holy Faith series for the elementary level and
the Our Quest for Happiness series for the high school
level, published by Bruce.
Catholic Readers are available to some extent. A few titles can be
purchased new from Modern Curriculum Press or used from Adams or Wilcox
and Follett, or from the Anna Catherine Emmerick Shrine. Though the
out-of-print Faith and Freedom series (in several editions)
is still the best reading series for the elementary grades, many
excellent old Catholic readers can be found at local book sales and
seminary libraries. Some Catholic reading series to look for are The Christian Child Reading Series by Reardon-Baer Division
of Modern Curriculum Press, the Ideal or New Ideal
Catholic Readers from Macmillan Company, the Cathedral
or New Cathedral Basic Readers published by Scott Foresman,
and the Benzinger American History Readers.
At the high school levels, the best Literature series is the Thomas More series, written under the direction of Catholic
University and published by Singer. Another excellent series is the Cardinal Newman series published by Harcourt. The earlier
editions of Macmillan's Pageant of Literature series are
very good also. All three of these series are out of print but can be
obtained as noted previously. Additional older books which are not
textbooks but which are helpful are The Catholic Tradition in
English Literature by Carver, published by Doubleday; English Literature by Shuster, published by Allyn and Bacon;
The World's Great Catholic Literature by Shuster, published
by Macmillan; and Joyce Kilmer's Anthology of Catholic Poets
by Liveright Publishers.
If you cannot locate the old and used Catholic readers or Literature
texts, you may want to use Christian readers or literature texts from
Rod and Staff publishers, a Beka Book publishers, or William B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company (which publishes from the National Union of Christian
Schools). Mott Media, a publisher of Christian materials, has an
excellent high school supplementary series called "Lifeview: A
Christian Approach to Literature Studies." These inexpensive
pamphlets contain questions for discussion from a Christian perspective
on such high-school reading selections as Ben-Hur, Old
Man and the Sea, The Hobbit, and many more.
Supplementary readers are a must for home schooled children because
they learn so rapidly. Many are available at the local library (ask the
librarian for the readers which have a controlled vocabulary limited to
the phonics most children learn at certain grade levels). Other good
supplementary readers are The McGuffey Readers, Christian
School Edition from David Thoburn; and the Lippincott Publishers Basic Reading series, 1970 or 1964 editions, still available
from used-book stores. This last series is especially good for
In addition to supplemental readers, additional books should be read
as much as possible. These should be for fun and a matter of choice.
Daughters of St. Paul publishes a large quantity of saints biographies
for children and teenagers. Lists of classics or good reading selections
may be obtained from Seton Home Study School for the elementary, junior
high, or senior high levels.
A long-time leader in phonics publications is the Modern Curriculum
Press, but their Catholic materials are no longer available. Their
Phonics workbooks are very good, though not Christian. Both Rod and
Staff and A Beka Book offer good Christian phonics workbooks. The
secular Professor Phonics books by Sister Monica are
excellent tools for the parent-teacher to use for dictation, but are not
in workbook form for the student.
Catholic reading comprehension workbooks are no longer available, but
Rod & Staff, Continental Press, Harcourt, and Modern Curriculum
Press offer good series. Reading comprehension is an important area
which must not be neglected. Far too many children learn their phonics
but cannot explain what they have read in their own words. Parents must
constantly question their children to make sure that the reading
selection is properly understood. In addition, parents must discuss the
application of the reading to the child's own life: "Was the hero
acting according to God's commandments? As a Catholic, how would you
have acted in this particular circumstance? Why?" Reading class
offers a daily opportunity for parents to discuss Catholic views. Along
with Religion class, it is one class that should never be omitted.
Although some children learn enough vocabulary through their daily
reading, educators at the college level complain that students do not
have an adequate reading and writing vocabulary. Consequently, parents
who would like extra help for vocabulary studies for their children
might obtain Wordly Wise, a series for grades four through
twelve, published by Educators Publishing Service. Harcourt publishes a
good Vocabulary Workbook series for the junior and senior high-school
English Grammar should be taught for twelve years along with Creative
Writing or Composition. The old Catholic Loyola University Press series Voyages in English is available at local book sales; Seton
Home Study School has purchased a large supply for their students.
Loyola recently has revised the series, editing out all Catholic
references, but it is still an excellent series, with workbooks and
Teacher's Editions. Rod and Staff and A Beka Book have good Christian
English series, but there are a few anti-Catholic references in the A
Beka Book series. Secular but good series available from the publishers
are Harcourt's Warriner's English Grammar and Composition
series (popular in Christian schools), and Harper and Row's Basic
Language series, both of these for only the junior and senior high
Creative Writing assignments are contained in the English textbooks,
with excellent suggestions in the other Catholic texts. Good but secular
Creative Writing workbooks are available from Harcourt, such as the
Harcourt Reading/Writing Workshop, for grades seven through
ten. The recent study done by the Carnegie Foundation on the nation's
public high schools concluded that English and Creative Writing are the
most seriously-neglected subjects.
Catholic Spellers are no longer available. Rod and Staff (Christian)
incorporates Spelling into the Language Arts Workbooks. Seton Home Study
uses the secular Spell Correctly series by Silver-Burdett,
but encourages parents to include words from the Religion lesson which
follow the spelling pattern to be learned in the particular lesson.
Other good spellers are published by Laidlaw and Harcourt. Christian
handwriting books are likewise available from Rod and Staff. Children
learn not only how to form their letters, but they also learn about
people in the Bible. An excellent but secular handwriting series is
published by the long-recognized experts in handwriting, the
Zaner-Bloser company. Zaner-Bloser also sells many extra handwriting
aids, such as extra practice books, lined handwriting paper for
different grade levels, a manual for teaching the left-handed student,
and wall-sized letter charts for daily reference.
With respect to foreign languages, for the Catholic college-bound
student, Latin is the best language to learn. It is not necessary for
Latin students to have absolutely correct pronunciation, which makes it
easier for the parent-teacher who may not speak any foreign language.
Loyola University Press publishes the Father Henle Latin
series, which incorporates papal quotes, various prayers, and Church
history along with Roman history.
Mathematics, of course, is intrinsically neither Christian nor
non-Christian, except with respect to the types of word problems it
solves. The best Christian Math series is published by Rod and Staff,
though all grades are not yet available. A Beka Book has reprinted an
old but excellent series, the Upton series, but only some levels are
available. A Beka Book is publishing a new Christian Math series, which
is available from pre-school level through eighth grade. (Bob Jones
University Press materials are unfortunately marred by anti-Catholicism
in varying degrees). Continental Press Basic Mathematics
workbooks and Harcourt Growth in Mathematics workbooks are
good for extra drill exercises. Inexpensive out-of-print math texts and
workbooks can be found easily at local K-Marts and grocery stores.
There is a wide diversity of opinion regarding high school Math
textbooks. I recommend for the home schooling student Algebra One,
Algebra Two and Geometry, along with
the Teacher's Editions, published by Merrill. A popular series in the
Christian schools is the Houghton-Mifflin Modern Algebra and Modern
Geometry. A new series which has received a great
deal of praise but which I have not finished evaluating for the home
study student is John Saxon's book Algebra 1 and Algebra 1½, published by Graffdale.
Use only Christian History and Geography textbooks. Fortunately, at
the high school level, there are two Catholic series in print. Anne
Carroll, the principal of Seton School, has written a Catholic World
History text which can be used for both 9th and 10th grades: Christ the King, Lord of
History. She also has written a
United States and Latin American History text for 11th grade: Christ and the
Americas. In addition, Loyola University
Press still has copies of Western Civilization, a world
history text for 9th and 10th grades. TAN Publishers has reprinted Bible History and
The Story of The Church, both
excellent history textbooks for junior and senior high school level. Our
Sunday Visitor will be reprinting Our American Catholic Heritage, a collection of biographies with numerous photographs of
Catholics involved in important historical events. Some very old but
solidly-Catholic high school series were published by Doubleday
(Conceived in Liberty: The Common Good); by Sadlier
(Christianity and Civilization); and by Holt, Rinehart,
Winston (Man and History).
The twelfth grade "Social Studies" program is optional in
most high schools. However, a course in United States Government, which
is required by State legislature, often is taught in the senior year.
This is sometimes called Problems in Democracy. Christian
schools teach Government or Civics, and stress patriotism and basic
Biblical principles of government. Some Christian schools offer
excellent courses on Communism and its philosophy as compared with
Christianity; such a course is available from A Beka Book company.
Catholic home schooling parents should teach a Contemporary Problems
course in addition to a United States Government course. The
Contemporary Problems course should deal with the issues our Catholic
young people must face as they enter the business world or the world of
the secularized college. "Textbooks" can be encyclicals, the
Bible, Catholic dictionaries and encyclopedias, Catholic newspapers and
periodicals. Probably the least-offensive U.S. Government textbook is
Magruder's American Government, published by Allyn and
Bacon. Harcourt's American Civics is a fairly good text; the
material is not difficult, and it has a workbook and test booklet. To a
degree, the suitability of such texts will depend upon your own
political viewpoint. Catholic political principles can be learned from
the encyclicals of the past century. Along with the American Government
or Civics course, include a study unit on your own State Government,
utilizing the resources in your local library.
The old Catholic History and Geography books for the elementary
levels are difficult to locate. Some few titles are still available from
the used-book companies, Adams, and Wilcox and Follett, as well as from
the Anna Catherine Emmerick Shrine. Three out-of- print series were
published by Silver-Burdett, Sadlier, and Laidlaw. If you cannot locate
the old titles, you may want to purchase texts from Rod and Staff,
though not many grades are available. A Beka Book publishes History
texts for all the elementary grades, but the books omit the important
place of Catholics in U.S. History, and even become anti-Catholic in the
upper grade levels.
Three Christian publishers which have elementary Science series are A
Beka Book, Rod and Staff, and Bob Jones University (check BJU texts for
occasional anti-Catholicism). Although there are some areas which need
correction, such as concern Galileo and the Catholic Church, and these
texts endorse Creationism as a scientific theory (a position Catholics
may — but are not required to — embrace), the books offer an excellent
overall Christian perspective. Bob Jones University publishes an
excellent high school science series also. An excellent Christian
textbook for the advanced high school student is Search for Order
in Complexity, prepared by the Creation Research Society,
published by Zondervan Publishing.
Health courses are required by State legislators, and are usually
taught through the elementary and high school levels. Rod and Staff is
the only publisher of Christian Health books, but some of the A Beka
Book science books contain Health information, as do some of the secular
science texts. The secular texts often contain sex education, population
control, too-detailed information on drugs, and other miscellaneous,
often objectionable information.
The older editions of the Laidlaw Health series, either
the 1966 or the 1970, available at used-book sources, contain good
health information yet avoid controversial subjects. The new Healthful Living series from Laidlaw, the 1970 or 1974
editions, still may be available from Laidlaw directly. Correct or omit
chapters as necessary. Health books and booklets usually are in ample
supply from your local library's pamphlet file. Free health pamphlets
may be obtained from Health agencies, doctor's offices and State Health
Departments. Of course, your local Red Cross offers materials as well as
First Aid classes. Your local library or bookstore may have a copy of Free and Inexpensive
Materials, which contains a great
number of items on Health, including filmstrips.
Usually one year of Health is required for high school students. A
subscription to Prevention magazine or another Health
magazine can provide ample material for class studies, plus reading
researched in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature.
Contact Health Food stores and your Red Cross for ideas for educational
field trips. Check television listings for programs relating to good
Most State Departments of Education require Art, Music, and Physical
Education through all the elementary grades, and at least one year of
each at the high school levels. For the very early grades, Daughters of
St. Paul have coloring books on the Rosary, the Sacraments and other
religious topics. If you enroll at Seton, you will be given ideas for
art projects conforming to the Liturgical Calendar. Otherwise, you can
obtain arts and crafts books at the library or teacher's stores and
adapt the ideas to conform to your Statement of Philosophy. This is an
area in which you should consider the special artistic interests and
abilities of your child. For older students, a Catholic art appreciation
class would be appropriate, emphasizing religious art and architecture,
with field trips to local churches and museums.
Catholic music books for children are available, as well as records,
from the Daughters of St. Paul and other Catholic bookstores, and even
some good ones from Protestant bookstores. Music requirements can be
met, however, by singing in the Church choir, by taking weekly music
lessons, or by dancing in a local amateur production.
For Physical Education, books on exercises games, and other
activities are available in the children's department of most libraries.
Be sure to follow the instructions carefully; this is one area in which
it is better to do too little than too much for undeveloped muscles.
However, this requirement can be met by enrolling your child in local
classes in swimming, fencing, or whatever meets the needs and interests
of your child. In fact, simply arranging a weekly physical activity for
your children (even on the weekend), such as roller skating, sledding,
bicycle riding, and so on, will fulfill the physical education
Scheduling and Testing
Most State Departments of Education have a suggested weekly time
allocation for the various subjects at each grade level. This is
contained in your state's Minimum Standards for Elementary or High
Schools. Borrow a copy from a friendly Christian school principal.
Of course, these "suggested" requirements are for the public
and certified private schools. However, as home schooling legislation
increases, and as educational and legal authorities examine the Home
Schooling movement, regulations in this area will be forthcoming. (It
would be prudent for home schooling parents to follow any State
guidelines which do not compromise their principles).
The following guideline is from the State of Ohio, but it should be
about the same in most states (My comments are in parentheses):
Reading: 120 min. per day (includes Phonics)
Language Development: 30 min. per day (English, Spelling, Creative
Handwriting: 20 min. per day
Math: 30 min. per day (recommend
Social Studies: 30 min. three times per week (History
Science/Health: 30 min. twice each week
Art & Music: each 60 min.
Physical Education: 30 min. each week
Reading: 120 min. per day (includes phonics)
Language: 30 min. per day (Grammar) (combine Grammar & Creative
Spelling: 15 min. per day
Creative Writing: 15 min. per day (I recommend Handwriting 10 min. per day)
Math: 30 min. per day (I recommend 45 min.)
Social Studies: 30 min. three times per week (History &
Science/Health: 30 min. twice a week (includes Safety & Fire
Art, Music, Physical Ed: each one hour per week (reduce each by 10
Reading: 90 min. per day (recommend 120; have your child
read the Science or History
lesson) (includes Phonics)
Language: 30 min. per day (Grammar) (Combine with Creative Writing)
Spelling: 30 min. per day
Creative Writing: 20 min. per day (recommend Handwriting 10 min.
Math: 30 min. per day (recommend 45 min.)
Social Studies: 40 min. three times each week (History &
Science/Health: 40 min. twice a week (includes First Aid, Safety,
Art: one hour per week
Music & Physical Education: 70 min. per day (reduce to 60 min.)
Grades 4, 5, & 6:
Reading: 60 min. per day (must include vocab. development,
and Phonics: extend to 75 minutes)
Language: 45 min. per day (Grammar, Creative Writing, Spelling)
Math: 40 min. per day (recommend 50 or 60)
Social Studies: 40 min. per day (History & Geography)
Science: 40 min. three times per week (increase to four times)
Health: 40 min. twice per week (decrease to once a week) (includes First
Art, Music, Physical Education: each 40 min. two times per week
(decrease one or two
subjects by 10 min. according to child's interest)
Grade 7 & 8:
Reading: 45 min. per day
English/Spelling: 45 min. per day (includes Creative Writing)
Math: 45 min. per day
Social Studies: 45 min. per day (History, Geography, Government)
Science: 45 min. three times per week
Health: 45 min. twice a week (includes First Aid, Safety, Fire
Art: one hour per week
Music & Physical Ed: each 45 min. twice a week
Grades 9 through 12:
Classes usually 45 to 50 min. each day, except Art, Music &
Physical Education once or twice a week.
For writing the daily lessons for each child, you will need a lesson
plan book. Buy one at a teacher's store or order from Continental Press.
You can record the grades in the back, including final grades. Children
should check off the assignments after they are done. The parent-teacher
must schedule time each week to write up plans for the following week.
Never write plans for more than one week in advance, since children
often proceed more slowly or more quickly than you anticipated. For
easier grading buy an E-Z Grader at local teacher's stores
or write E-Z Grader, P.O. Box 24040, Cleveland, Ohio 44124.
Have your children do their work in notebooks rather than on
loose-leaf paper. Loose-leaf papers do not store well and, until the
children graduate from high school, you need to keep a record of all
their work, or at least for the previous two or three years. You must be
prepared in case you have to produce records for educational or legal
authorities. Be sure the children date each page, indicating the book
and page number.
Use a variety of materials from around the house for additional
learning experiences. The kitchen makes a wonderful "lab" for
science projects, for Home Economics "experiments" and for
"real life" mathematical application problems. Use games such
as Scrabble for Spelling class, card games for Math skills as well as
eye-coordination for young children. Make use of maps from National
Geographic; put them up in the classroom and around the house. Buy
inexpensive microscopes atlases and globes from schools and garage
sales. Magazines and newspapers are great for current events and reading
comprehension. Students can use tape recorders to listen to their own
reading expression, pronunciation, and spelling words. Records from the
library about historical events such as You are There can
make learning more exciting. Check the television for educational
programs; especially good are the Wild Kingdom type shows,
Shakespeare dramas, and science classes. Old family albums can provide
topics for interesting discussions. Religious materials can reinforce
Religion class. Your home resources can extend beyond what any classroom
in a school building can offer.
Your classroom can and should extend beyond your home. The Library is
your best outside help for supplemental materials. You can borrow books
encyclopedias, records, films, filmstrips, pamphlets, paintings, and
even projectors. If necessary, buy a used 16mm sound projector at a
school sale at about half price. If you cannot borrow 16mm films from
the library, order The Educator's Guide to Free Films from
Educators Progress Service.
Libraries also have workshops for children to show them how to use
all the library resources. Besides the library, children can visit local
museums, small factories, bakeries, historical places, rest homes for
the aged nuns, Marian shrines, churches, government buildings (the State
Capitol), health agencies, the fire department, and so on. Take your
children when you go on business trips or visit relatives, and
"study" educational and historical sites .
Home-schooled students should be tested yearly by a
nationally-standardized test. Educational and legal authorities cannot
accept the fact that parents may be educating their children as well as
certified teachers. The fact is that home-schooled children consistently
obtain higher scores on achievement tests than children in public
schools. Test scores from an objective outside testing company give
assurance to the parents as well as to the child that progress is being
made. A few states are passing laws that home schooling students must
pass annual achievement tests. The State of Arizona insists the
parent-teacher pass an achievement test!
Some home study schools, such as Seton, provide standardized tests
for their students. If you are not enrolled in a home study school, or
the home study school does not provide one, then you should check which
test is being used in your local school district and use that particular
one if possible. Order from the testing company on your school
stationery. Order a catalog first and then a sample packet, which should
contain a test, a manual for administering, an answer key, and a booklet
explaining and categorizing the questions (so you can evaluate any weak
area). The tests are secular in values, so give only the Language Arts
and Mathematics sections to your child. The Social Studies and Science
sections are not required by most school districts, and the questions
will often not conform to your Catholic program .
The most popular test among Christian schools is the Stanford
Achievement test which can be ordered from The Psychological
Corporation. This test is easy for the parents to grade whereas some
tests are geared for machine-scoring. Most tests are for two grade levels, but have two different forms. Order one form
for the lower grade level the first year, and the other form for the
higher grade level the second year.
Other tests available, in order of difficulty (in my opinion), are
• The Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (California Testing Bureau,
McGraw-Hill, Del Monte Research Park, Monterey, Calif. 93940);
• The Iowa
Tests of Basic Skills (Houghton-Mifflin Company, Beacon St.,
• The SRA tests (Science Research Associates, 155 N. Wacker
Chicago, IL 60606);
• The National Guidance Testing Program
(Educational Testing Service,
Princeton, N.J. 08540).
In addition to the annual achievement test, home schooling students
planning to go to college should take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)
or the ACT (American College Test) in the 11th grade. These are the
standardized tests which U.S. colleges use to evaluate achievement
potential for freshmen applicants. Though public and private high
schools (and Seton Home Study School) provide the test application
forms, the tests are arranged by the individual student with the testing
company. Home schooling parents can obtain the application forms for
their students by first applying to the testing company on school
stationery for a "School Code Number." Once you have the Code
Number, you will receive information about the test, application forms,
and other information useful for the college-bound student.
Because the test scores are important for the college-bound student,
and most important for those seeking scholarships, home schooling
students should prepare themselves for the test by studying from the
review and test practice books available from local book stores. Some of
these are Preparation for the Scholastic Aptitude Test by
Gruber, How to Prepare for the American College Testing
Program by Shapiro, How to Pass National Merit Scholarship
Tests by Tarr, and Standard Written English Test for College
Entrance by Gruber.
For college-bound students who want more intensive review and
practice, the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Centers (and some others
newly appearing on the market) offer courses consisting of four or five
hours once a week for about three months. These "classroom"
review sessions are supplemented with long homework assignments. The
centers are located in all major U.S. cities. The course is excellent
for review in Math and the Language arts, as well as giving confidence
and practice in test-taking. As a rule, home schooling students do very
well on college entrance tests.
A survey conducted two years ago revealed that big-name colleges and
universities, as well as small private colleges, are not interested in
the certification of an entering Freshman's high school. Peter H.
Richardson, Director of Admissions at M.I.T. wrote in a letter to a home
schooling high school student that his school tries to "look at
where students are and where they might go; we worry less about the
particular route that they have taken to get there." According to
Tim Chapman of the Holt Association (for home schooling) "most home
schoolers we know who have applied to colleges and universities have
little trouble getting in." Christian colleges are enthusiastic
about home schooled students because they are self-disciplined, serious
about their schoolwork, and not likely to turn to drugs or unacceptable
behavior. State colleges and universities are sometimes not allowed to
accept a student with a diploma from a non-State-certified high school.
However, they can accept these students if they pass the GED (General
Educational Development Testing Program), usually called the high School
Equivalency Examination. The survey indicated that Catholic colleges and
universities will accept students based on the SAT, ACT, or GED scores.
For a transcript of your child's high school grades, order a packet
of Record Forms from A Beka Books. Use the printed Permanent Record
Form, and fill in the high school grades. This can be used for the
elementary level grades also. You can attach the SAT or ACT score label
on the Record Form. Type in your school name and address, and mail in a
copy of this transcript to the colleges. Most colleges will never ask
any questions at all, and never inquire if it is a home school.
Finally, State legislators are concerned about some areas in the
schools outside of schooling. For instance, schools must be responsible
for keeping Health records and make sure children have their
immunizations up to date. Take this responsibility seriously and keep in
touch with your physician. Legislators also insist on accurate
attendance records. Make a note in your Lesson Plan book each day your
child is sick; at the end of the year, record the number of days your
child was "present" in class on the Permanent Record Form.
State legislators also require Fire Drills usually once a month,
county authorities often twice a month. Home schools have no such
requirement yet, but it would be prudent for obvious reasons to have
monthly fire drills. Have a Fire Drill Exit plan on your classroom wall
and conduct drills. If the classroom is upstairs, invest in a good
strong rope, ready to use at a moment's notice.
An important key to success in home schooling is to relax and to have
a relaxed atmosphere for your children. Your "classroom"
should be decorated with maps and science posters, religious pictures
and work produced by the children. Post the school calendar and the
daily schedule of classes for each child to refer to. Buy decorative and
religious stickers from the Christian bookstore or teacher's store, and
apply to papers done well. Have other motivational items for young
Most important to mental progress is physical exercise. Young
children's mental progress is directly related to their physical
activity, as noted by doctors and teachers alike. Older students can
become mentally and physically still if they sit for long periods of
time. Between classes, have your children take a five-minute stretch to
exercise, jump rope, or do pushups.
As you schedule your busy day, do not neglect to schedule housework.
Have your children help you between classes by doing small jobs around
the house. This will give them exercise and give you much-needed time.
Consider other time savers, such as paper plates for breakfast. Some
home schooling children make their lunches in the morning and keep them
in a lunch box! If you have several children at home, schedule the
classes in such a way that you can be helping each when needed the most.
Whether or not students have scheduled schoolwork or homework after
regular school hours is entirely up to the parent, since home schooling
children are working more intensively in any case, without the
distractions and interruptions which occur daily in large classrooms.
Home schooling has as its primary purpose the teaching of family values,
Catholic attitudes and doctrine, an appreciation for the Catholic
cultural heritage, a love for God and His laws. Secondarily, we hope to
equip our children with the necessary skills to provide for themselves
and their families in this world, and how rigorously this is done will
depend upon the needs of the child and the interests of the parent. Some
home schooling programs such as Seton, offer very demanding academic
Be sure that Father is involved in the home schooling program.
According to the Bible, fathers have a great deal of responsibility in
the matter of teaching their children. The father can be a great help,
especially in the areas of Science and Math. Most important, the
children come to appreciate him as a teacher, as a man of knowledge and
experience, a special perspective which gives children more respect and
love for their father.
The value of daily family prayer both in and out of school hours, can
not be over-emphasized. Home schooling is not easy. You cannot succeed
without a great deal of spiritual help and mutual help from all family
members. It requires a great deal of patience and self-sacrifice. Call
on spiritual help from the Mystical Body. Have the saint for the day
help you through the day. Ask friends to pray for you. Offer up
Communions and sacrifices for the souls in purgatory, and ask them to
Consecrate your family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He promised St.
Margaret Mary that everyone devoted to the Sacred Heart would receive
all the graces necessary for his state in life, peace in the home,
comfort in time of afflictions, and abundant blessings for undertakings.
We must strive perseveringly to obtain a good Catholic education for our
children. We must not be too selfish to make the necessary sacrifices.
Rather, let us generously strive to obtain for them the religious
education Jesus desires. Let us remember that we shall have to give an
account to Jesus for every soul entrusted to our care. Remembering this,
may we courageously fulfill that most important duty of every parent — to give proper spiritual instruction
to our children.
This Common Faith Tract is available courtesy of Christendom
You may order printed copies of this glossy-covered booklet from:
2101 Shenandoah Shores Road
Front Royal, VA 22630
This tract was written in 1983 by the President of Seton Home Study.
For the latest information and programs for Catholic home schooling,
Seton Home Study
1350 Progress Drive
PO Box 396
Front Royal, VA 22630
Web site: www.setonhome.org