Beginner’s Guide to Home Education

A Beginner’s Guide to Catholic Home Education

Why Catholic home education?
Our children are our most precious possessions. As parents it is our primary duty to raise our children in the truths of the Faith so that they might save their souls to one day be with us in heaven for all eternity. The home, under the loving direction of the parents, may be the best place to educate children in truth and virtue.

Through Catholic home education, parents are able to:
• Evangelize their children in the Faith providing both catechesis in doctrine and the development of an active spiritual and moral life based upon the sacraments, prayer, and good works.
• Provide their children with a challenging academic education in the liberal arts and sciences reflected in the light of Catholic teaching and perspective.
• Individualize curriculum to meet the needs and goals of each child.
• Personally direct and share in the intellectual, spiritual, moral and emotional growth and development of their children.
• Provide a loving environment which affirms the individuality of each child who is made in the image and likeness of God and which promotes the practice of virtue on a daily basis.
• Fulfill the role of the family as the domestic church and predominant socializing agent of children into an authentic Catholic living of the Faith.
• Protect their children from harmful influences of a secular environment, bad companions, and immoral sex education programs.

Can I do it?
Most parents do not have teaching degrees and learn with their children. Parents often find that home education can be stimulating for them as well as their children. Motivated by love, parents are the natural educators of their children. If necessary, help in subjects such as math, science or languages can be found from curriculum providers, friends, relatives, other home educating families, or tutors. Some high school students have successfully taken classes at community or local colleges. Lastly, we must remember that because God has made the education of children a primary responsibility of parents, He gives parents the necessary graces through the sacrament of marriage.

Does the church approve of home education?
The Church has always affirmed the primary right and duty of parents to educate their children. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) makes the following statements:
• #2221 The right and the duty of parents to educate their children is primordial and inalienable.
• #2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.
• #2225 Through the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children.
• #2229 As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental.

The Charter Rights of the Family issued by the Vatican in 1983 makes this statement: “Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; hence they must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Pope John Paul II in his Letter to Families for the International Year of the Family in February 1994 makes this statement: Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area: They are educators because they are parents. Additional documentation of the Church’s consistent support and recognition of parental rights with regard to the education of their children can be found in the documents of Vatican II and numerous encyclicals.

How does home education affect family life?
Because home education encourages parents to talk with their children about the important issues of life, the parent-child bond is strengthened, which is especially important during teen years. By catechizing their children, parents usually find that their own faith is renewed and deepened. Parents often reflect that home schooling helps them to aspire more fervently in the acquisition of virtue since they cannot give to their children that which they themselves do not have. Patience, self discipline, etc. are suddenly practical necessities.

Children and parents also need to work together in managing household tasks which develops a spirit of cooperation. Children learn generosity from the self- giving example of their parents. We don’t need to be perfect to give good example of striving for holiness and perserverence.

What about socialization? Home education provides the best means for socialization – the family. Parents and older brother and sisters are usually far better role models for children than the peer group. Children of the same age, when left to themselves, often cannot provide each other with the guidance and training necessary for the development of proper behavior. The family also knows and understands the needs and personality of each child, and is therefore, better able to guide the child in overcoming his weaknesses and developing his strengths. Children taught at home are free to be who they are without being critiqued by an insecure peer group whose judgment most often rests upon on such superficial matters as appearance or athletic ability. Because children in home educating families are not required to cater to the demands and tastes of the peer group in order to be accepted, they are frequently more self confident and independent than children socialized predominately by peers.

Home educated children also learn to relate and appreciate people of all ages, which more closely reflects the society in which they will live. Home educated children also have ample time to develop relationships outside the home in other activities such as sports, music, volunteer work, etc. Local Catholic support groups often plan field trips and other social activities or outings, such as picnics, plays and service projects.

Which curriculum should I choose?
Parents can choose from among complete curriculum programs, guided curriculum programs, unit studies approach, or a self designed program. The complete curriculum programs offer testing, lesson plans, tests, and record keeping, etc. The guided programs offer either a suggested curriculum or help in designing a curriculum, but no lesson plans or tests. Complete and guided programs offer parents some certainty that all essential material is being covered and continuity from year to year. Parents need to be aware that even the complete programs may need to be modified and adapted to meet the needs and learning style of each individual child. Unit studies cover successive topics from all aspects incorporating related history, literature, science, geography, etc. A self designed program allows the parent to put together his own curriculum by choosing materials for each child individually. Designing you own curriculum offers greater flexibility but may require a greater knowledge of resources and materials. While the complete and guided curriculum programs usually require tuition payment or a service fee, a self designed program too can be costly since inexperienced parents sometimes find themselves purchasing materials which are never used. Parents frequently choose one curriculum approach and change to another in the following years as needs change and as they begin to know themselves and their children’s needs better.

It is good to find a mentoring friend for the first year or two but do not simply follow in their footsteps- your family is unique what is perfect for your friend is not necessarily perfect for you. As you learn more about your children and yourself, you will too become an expert on your own family! Learn & grow together.

Is it important to have a Catholic curriculum?
Yes, it is extremely important to have a Catholic curriculum in order to provide our children with a truly Catholic education which will prepare them not only for this life but for eternal life as well. Only Catholic catechisms and religion texts will teach our children the Faith properly. Catholic readers and literature provide inspiration while a child is acquiring reading skills.

Only Catholic history texts incorporate the lives of the saints and give the unique Catholic perspective on such events as the life of Christ, the Protestant Revolution, contributions of Catholics in America, etc. Even when a Catholic text is not available for a subject in a particular grade, one should always strive to incorporate Catholic materials and ideas. For example, one should incorporate the teachings of the Church on evolution when studying high school biology. Several Catholic Homeschool curriculums are outlined later in this document.

With home education you now have the flexibility to attend daily Mass and go to adoration as it fits your schedule. You will be surprised how many families and older ladies will be lad to sit with you and help manage crying babies or potty trips during Mass. Also, each day you can incorporate the “science of the saints” and study their lives. Remember heaven is our goal.

What about the Christian programs that are not Catholic?
Christian programs are designed to instruct according to Protestant traditions and teachings. Some programs, such as Abeka and Bob Jones, are at times decidedly anti-Catholic, openly attacking Catholic doctrine even in unexpected places. Perhaps even more problematic, however, is the integration of Protestant belief into the curriculum which unfortunately is not always recognized by Catholics. Because parents frequently are not skilled in apologetics or have been poorly educated in the Faith themselves, they are often unable to recognize subtle Protestant errors. Parents themselves find that they need the guidance of orthodox Catholic materials. Protestant programs also omit or have a different understanding of many Catholic beliefs such as the sacraments, the role of Mary and the Saints, man’s redemption, the Bible, the authority of the Pope, etc. Protestant history texts particularly distort and omit facts since the history of civilization is so closely intertwined with the history of the Catholic Church.
To check out more on our catholic faith see:
here you can read encyclicals, sermons, and much more

Do colleges accept home-educated children?
Yes. Check with the colleges you are considering before you begin high school. They will tell you what they require. Most colleges recognize home educated students as assets to their programs. Some colleges will require a diploma which is provided to a student enrolled in a complete and guided program. Students not enrolled in such programs can take the GED which is easily passed by most home educated students, but many programs still place these students below those with diplomas for scholarships and aid- always check with the colleges of your choice early. Colleges recognize that there is a great deal of discrepancy between academic standards of all high schools. They rely more on the student’s scores on the ACT and SAT college entrance tests as an indicator of the student’s ability to succeed in college. Again check with the college- some prefer one test over the other. Most home school students score very well on these exams. Colleges also look to see if students have taken academic subjects rather than a vocationally geared program. Because students who are home educated usually have developed good study habits and are accustomed to working independently, they quickly adjust to and function well in the college setting.

Is home education legal?
Yes. An important first step for any home educator is to become familiar with their state’s regulations related to home education. The State of Ohio Regulations are available from the Ohio Department of Education. A link to these regulations is available at Parents should also visit the HSLDA homepage for more information on legal issues related to homeschooling.

What is HSLDA?
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a Christian organization which offers experienced legal counsel and representation by qualified attorneys to every member family who is challenged by government officials in the area of home schooling. All attorney fees and costs are paid in full directly by the association. HSLDA fee is $100 per year. Many homeschool support organizations and some curriculum offer discounts on HSLDA memberships. HSLDA’s monthly newsletter and e-mail updates keep homeschooling families well informed on legal issues related to homeshooling across the US and overseas.
Phone: 540-338-5600. Web: HSLDA

Is support available?
For a list of Catholic Support groups across the US check out Catholic
or HSLDA for a list of homeschool support groups in your area. Finding good local support can be a tremendous help especially to families new to homeschooling.

Catholic Text Books
Below are listed some suggested textbooks for a Catholic Curriculum. The publishers and distributors carry many more helpful books to complete a Catholic curriculum. See Publishers and Distributors on the last page.

Grade School Texts

St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism (Catholic bookstores, Saints and Scholars, Emmanuel Books, Seton)
Faith and Life Series (Catholics United for the Faith or Ignatius Press)
Image of God Series (Ignatius Press)
Our Holy Faith (Neumann Press)
Bible History by Knecht and Schuster (Tan)
Land of Our Lady Series (Neumann Press)
Pioneers and Patriots, Old World and America, and How our Nation Began (Tan)
Faith and Freedom Readers (Seton Press)
American Cardinal Readers (Neumann Press)
National Catholic Readers (Neumann Press)
Little Angel Readers (Catholic Heritage Curriculum)

Jr. High and High School Texts

Apologetics series by Jim Burnham (877-327-5343)
The Didache Series (Midwest Theological Forum)
Following Christ in the Modern World (Seton Press)
Intro to the Bible, Chief Truth’s of the Faith, Mass and the Sacraments, Catholic Morality, and
Catholic Apologetics by Fr. Laux
Catholic World Culture (Seton)
Christ in the Americas (Tan)
Christ the King, Lord of History (Tan)
Story of the Church by Johnson and Hannan (Tan)
Bible History & Workbook by Johnson & Hannan (Tan)
Life Science: All Creatures Great and Small (Seton)


Of Home Schooling Interests:
Catholic Home Schooling, a Handbook for Parents
 by Dr. Mary Kay Clark. Presents Catholic teaching on education and family life and offers practical help with discipline, home management, socialization, and much more. (Tan)
Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist. Shows parents how to assemble a classic Catholic curriculum that feeds the soul as well as the intellect. Many resources, book lists. Covers kindergarten through twelfth grade. (Ignatius Press)
Educational Philosophy of St. John Bosco by John Morrison. Explains St John Bosco’s preventative system of education which uses reason, religion and kindness to influence children. Excellent.
(Salesians Publishing PH: 914-636-4225)
Responsibilities and Rights of Parents In Religious Education Excellent resource for home educators, especially regarding relationship to the parish. Short and concise. ($10 post paid). Catholic Home School Network of America (CHSNA), PO Box 6343, River Forest, IL 60305. Fax: 708-386-3380

Child-Rearing Materials
Catholic Faith and Family 
provides reliable news and information that affects your family from a Catholic perspective. Monthly magazine. National Catholic Register covers Catholic news and issues. Weekly newspaper. Both published by Circle Media PH: 800-421-3230

What about secular texts? All texts present some point of view of man and his relationship to the world. Secular texts are basically from an atheistic or, at best, indifferent viewpoint with regard to the existence of God and His role in our lives. Modern secular texts, either as a result of omission, or by direct indoctrination, promote materialism and humanism. Catholic education should integrate a Catholic perspective throughout the curriculum. We would never knowingly teach incorrect math or science facts, so why should we knowingly distort reality for our children by omitting God from life? Using Catholic materials helps our children to see the Faith as part of our daily life. Stories of great Catholic men and women and their accomplishments in various fields help to inspire our children and create a Catholic outlook with regard to all avenues of life. Most importantly, Catholic texts and programs help parents and older students learn to evaluate the classical, secular works of literature, history etc. in the light of Catholic teaching. All of the content of our curriculum and our daily life should be evaluated from a Catholic perspective.


Catholic Heritage Curricula
Catholic Heritage Curricula offers complete programs with lesson plans at each grade level, yet it is not a ‘pre-packaged’ curriculum. Rather, CHC’s plans and guides are constructed to allow maximum choice and flexibility to fit your student, while at the same time providing a complete education. To learn more about CHC’s educational approach, and to assist families who are exploring the homeschooling lifestyle, they have compiled an archive of Staff Consultant answers to your homeschooling questions, indexed by topic. You are invited to request a catalog and enjoy perusing the online samples of CHC’s unique Lesson Plans and exclusive Pre-K–12 materials.

Kolbe Academy Home School
PH: 707-255-6499 Fax: 707-255-1581
Kolbe Academy offers a Catholic and classical home school program for grades one through twelve. Kolbe provides syllabi and weekly course plans, assistance from proctors, books for all courses, quarterly inspection of work, and examinations with parental reports provided. Retention of students’ cumulative folder, report cards, transcripts, diplomas, and assessment and achievement testing are also provided. Parents adapt weekly course plans to day-to-day work and are responsible for preparing and grading of tests and papers, although detailed reports on student work is available on request. The works of great authors upon which western civilization is based form the foundation for the high school curriculum. A family discount for additional students enrolled is provided. Books are purchased separately.

Mother of Divine Grace
PH: 805-646-5818 Fax: 805-646-0186
Mother of Divine Grace offers a consultation service to help parents develop a classical, Catholic curriculum for each individual child in the family from grades one through twelve. Director Laura Berquist is the author of Designing Your Own Classical Curriculm. Enrollment in the basic program provides parents with three consultation periods with director Mrs. Berquist or her assistants. The initial consultation period is devoted to the selection of the curriculum for each child. Adjustments in the curriculum and some analysis of each student’s work is done in the second consultation. Evaluation of the year and curriculum planning for the next year is done in the third consultation. Additional consultation time with teacher is available as needed. Syllabi with day-by-day lessons plans are available at an extra charge. Parents are advised about sources for purchasing books. Also available at an extra charge is the Teacher Assisted Program, which allows for student-teacher interaction, and the special needs program for children with learning disabilities.

Our Lady of the Rosary School
PH: 502-348-1338 Fax: 888-FAX-OLRS
Our Lady of the Rosary provides a complete curriculum program for pre-kindergarten through grade twelve. Catholic materials are used predominately. Weekly lesson plans, quarterly exams, teachers on call, counseling, cumulative record of grades, transcripts, and diplomas are provided. Teacher services include grading of quarterly exams, book reports, major papers, and creative work. All texts, teacher’s manuals, workbooks are included in the program. Placement testing and standardized achievement testing is available. Single course enrollment is permitted. A family discount is offered when more than one child is enrolled. Books may be kept until the whole family has used them. Curriculum materials may be purchased without enrolling in a program.

Our Lady of Victory
PH: 208-773-7265 Fax: 208-773-1951
Our Lady of Victory provides a complete Catholic curriculum for kindergarten through grade twelve. Three options are offered. 1. The full enrollment program provides, lesson plans, answer keys, tests, tutor service, report cards, honor roll, diplomas and graduation ceremony. Records are kept, quarterly progress reports and report cards are issued. Books are purchased in addition to the above fees. 2. The satellite program offers lesson plans, answer keys, and tests but does not include textbooks. Parents assume responsibility of correcting assignments, issuing grades, and keeping records. 3. The last option is purchasing of books only. Our Lady of Victory offers a traditional religion program and encourages only the Latin Tridentine Mass.

Seton Home Study Program
PH: 540-636-9990 Orders only: 540-636-9996 Fax: 540-636-1602
Seton Home Study Program provides a complete curriculum with daily lesson plans. All tests and quarterly exams, teachers on call, counseling, cumulative recording of grades, transcripts and diplomas are included. Teacher services likewise include grading of major tests and quarterly exams, book reports, major papers, and creative work. All texts, teacher’s manuals, workbooks are provided. Placement testing and standardized achievement testing is also available. A tuition prepayment discount is offered as well as a payment plan and a family discount when more than one child is enrolled. Seton is a highly academic, college prep program. Excellent Catholic materials are utilized, many of which are produced by Seton itself. Some books must be returned every year unless other arrangements have been made. Special needs teachers and programs are available. Curriculum materials may be purchased without enrolling in a program.

Web sites
While there are hundreds of beneficial web sites, we offer these because they have listings of additional but lesser known Catholic curriculum providers. We suggest parents carefully evaluate these programs themselves before using them. Another good resource page is Keeping it These sites are loaded with information for Catholic homeschoolers.

How do I design my own curriculum?
This approach offers the greatest flexibility but also requires knowledge of curriculums and resources and possibly greater self discipline. The decision to use a particular program or a self designed approach does not necessarily have to be a permanent decision. Families periodically reevaluate their curriculum choices and often make changes as needs or circumstances change.
If your children have already been in school, you might want to go with a “total package program” (like Seton, CHC or MODG) for one year. This will give you peace of mind knowing that you covered all necessary bases and will give you another year to look at the options and decide if you want to create your curriculum. Doing this will also likely give you some confidence. You will be spending this first important year, not creating, discovering or second guessing individual subject and curriculum choices. You can “dive right in”, focus on home schooling itself and blending that with outside opportunities (including support group activities) with your child. That being said, many homeschoolers opt to create their own curriculum for their child. It can be more work, but it is fun and can really make you feel good when you’ve fit something well with your child. For most programs, you can buy the books without purchasing the full service. This may be less expensive but you won’t have the school’s help and advice so you may want to enlist a vetern home school friend.

Handbook for Parents by Fr. Paul Wickens is a short concise guide with information for Catholic parents on how to raise Catholic children. (Neumann Press)
Lifeline by James B. Stenson gives advice and encouragement for raising children. Discusses leadership, discipline, standards, responsibility, courage, self mastery, and confidence. (Scepter Press PH: 800-322-8773)
The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson is a “how to” book on discipline and child rearing focusing on sibling rivalry, hyperactivity, self esteem and common errors parents make. (Seton)
You’re a Better Parent Than You Think by Dr. Ray Guarendi. Offers sensible, down-to-earth guidance on disciplining and raising children with lots of examples and true life situations.
(Simmon Schuster Press any bookstore.)

Miscellaneous Readings
Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church
 is the official Catechism of the Church. It includes topics about Catholic belief, liturgy, sacraments, morality, virtues and prayer.(New Hope Pub.PH: 502-325-3061)

Preview Family Movie & TV Review is a conservative Christian critique of movies and TV programs. Published monthly. PH: 800-807-8071 Fax: 972-669-9040 with signature

Organizations That Support Family Life:
CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare™ System
 is a true method of family planning. A method that can be used in two ways, to achieve, as well as, avoid pregnancy. These principles make this system distinctly different from contraception, artificial or natural.

Couple to Couple League(CCL) offers classes on the sympto-thermal method of natural family planning. Newsletter discusses family and health issues. (Note: CCL’s New Corinthian series is not recommended.)
PH: 513-471-2000

Family Life Center International (FLCI) offers books and tapes on marriage, parenting and homeschooling.

St. Joseph Covenant Keepers is an organization within FLCI which offers support to fathers. Monthly newsletter. PH:941-764-8565 Fax:941-743-5352

One More Soul promotes the Church’s teaching of Humanae Vitae(against contraception). Excellent books and tapes including the tape: Contraception, Why Not? By Janet Smith, PH.D. They also have a directory of Natural Family Planning Only physicians.
PH: 800-307-7685 or 937-279-5433 email:

Booklists for Suggested Reading for Children:
Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum
 by Laura Berquist. (Ignatius Press)
Honey For a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. General reading lists for every age level. Order from any book store.
In Review lists wholesome general and historical books for junior high and older children. A series of six booklets.(Bethlehem Books)
Let the Authors Speak by Carolyn Hatcher. Reading lists for 4th grade and up that coincide with historical eras. (Emmanuel Books)

Other Family Resources:
Catholic Kids Net
 offers an excellent orthodox Catholic program for kids 6-12yrs old. Monthly badges to earn, activity calendar w/stickers, activity book, information sheet for parents, information package for group leader is also available. Wonderful for schools and support groups. PH: 877-KIDSNET.
Little Flowers and Blue Knights is a guideline for organizing and leading small groups of young children in activities designed to strengthen faith and foster virtue. (Catholic Heritage Curriculum)
Pilgrims of the Holy Family is a family-focused, Catholic alternative to scouting and 4-H. Seventy-four challenging activities for children ages ten and up! Theater, Astronomy, Architecture, and Swimming are just a sample of Achievements in five categories designed to reflect our own pilgrimage toward our Heavenly Father. (Catholic Heritage Curricula)

Special Needs
Recommended reading: Homeschooling Children with Special Needs by Sharon Hensley (Seton)

Special Needs Curriculums. Consult curriculum providers including Seton, Mother of Divine Grace, and Rosary.

Diagnostic Testing
Dr. Cheryl Smith-Winbury, PhD. is a licensed clinical psychologist and pediatric neuropsychologist who offers a whole range of testing services for children and adults, including evaluations for autism, dyslexia, attention problems, nonverbal learning disorders, and sensory dysfunction. She can also advise families on available resources for their child. Looks favorably on home schooling. 145 S. Rochdale, Suite D, Rochester Hills.
PH: 248-651-6706

Sensory Dysfunction
Sensory dysfunction is the impairment of the individual’s ability to process sensory information, including such senses as sight, sound and touch, even the sense of balance and gravity. For information contact: Sensory Integration International, P.O. Box 9013, Torrance, CA 90508.
Or call Carole 248-486-5375. Testing: See Diagnostic Testing above.

Catholic Colleges and Universities:
Ave Maria College
PH: 877-283-8648

Christendom College, VA
PH: 800-877-5456

Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH
PH: 740-283-3771

Magdalen College, NH.
PH: 603-456-2656 web:

Our Lady of Corpus Christi, TX
PH: (361) 289-9095

Thomas Aquinas College, CA
PH: 800-634-979

Many thanks to the Dayton Catholic Homeschool Network who allowed us to use and modify their Beginners Guide to create this one.

The Heart of Mary Homeschool provides this guide as an informational tool only. The HOM is not responsible for the content of the websites and curriculum noted above. Please contact the organizations directly for more information on their products and services.