We’re a Catholic homeschooling family working with gifted Catholic kids. After four years in a highly structured, traditional classical co-op, we’re finding peace in delight-directed curricula.
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The beginning of our homeschool journey relied on a classical co-op. At first, it seemed like a good compromise: we had the flexibility of homeschooling with the experiences of a classroom. But leadership changed, children grew, and before I could stop to catch my breath, every single one of us was stressed to the max.
Why did it stop working? Well, my oldest daughter doesn’t eat much, unless you consider Wings of Fire and various and sundry art supplies as food. Additionally, WolfGirl is the kind of kid who will sit and talk about her favorite subjects for hours. Co-op became a highly structured, lecture-based environment.
You can imagine how well that went.
Our second daughter put up a good front at co-op, but all was not well when we tried to school at home. She pushed and she fought and she begged me not to send her. It took a full three months for me to finally back down.
I knew I had to get back to the root of our homeschool. I had to bring joy back into the heart of our home.
Plan Your Year from Pam Barnhill was an absolute God-send. I was able to go back to the beginning – my hopes for my children – and start with them at the center of our school.
This year we’re trying something different. We’ve said goodbye to the co-op for good. I cobbled together a host of curricular resources that would bring the joy of discovery back into our homeschool. We’re using a more delight-directed approach this time around, and my, does it feel good.
Delight-Directed Curricula for Gifted, Catholic Homeschoolers
Grade 5 (AKA Tween City)
This series combines grammar instruction with storytelling, a technique my voracious reader eats up. Problem solving replaces busywork, and practical application helps the pieces make sense.
I looked at a bunch of different offerings for history. Only MODG covered the time period we wanted in the way we wanted: American History from a literary perspective. We’re currently knee deep in Genevieve Foster’s George Washington’s World and loving it – think Story of the World but on American soil.
My oldest knows everything there is to know about animals, but the human body remains a mystery to unfold. BookShark’s Health and Human Anatomy curriculum seemed like the perfect solution, and so far we haven’t been disappointed.
Last year, math kind of took a back seat to our stress. We’re still finishing up grade 4 and loving it; we’ll move on to grade 5 in the next few weeks.
Faith and Life is the gold standard of Catholic religious ed, and I’ve used it pretty much every year since we started homeschooling. This year we’re using the physical books instead of the online program in an effort to get my daughter off of screens.
Additionally, I’ve decided to use this beautiful journal, written by my friend and colleague Amy Brooks. With space for prayer journaling, reflection, coloring, and more, my daughter will grow in love for Christ and respect for herself.
Literature and Composition
This is where I’m letting my daughter take the lead. She’s been reading Wings of Fire, the works of Edith Nesbitt, Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, etc. The other day I even found her with an illustrated copy of Wind in the Willows by Graham Greene. I’m just going to let her read whatever she wants, and on occasion, we’ll have book discussions to pick elements of plot, conflict, characterization, etc.
The same holds true for composition, as I’m letting her to decide what she wants to write and when. Over the past few days she’s been working on a fantasy story, a project she’s collaborating on with a friend.
Grade 2 (AKA Do-It-Myself-ville)
Reading is by far the subject we’re we’ve struggled the most. When I stumbled upon Little Angel Readers at the IHM Conference in June, though, I knew right away this would be the right choice. My daughter loves theology and is drawn to all things Christ. This sweet little series combines a light dose of those elements with phonics instruction, and I’ve been able to keep her engaged ever since.
So far, MODG’s history curriculum is off to a slow start. We won’t really start moving until week four, which is when we’ll get to pull some of these fantastic books from the shelf and read them together. She does still listen when her sister reads excerpts from the Foster book, so I figure that, even if things are slow right now, she’s learning by simply following along.
I never thought I would say this, but science is her favorite subject right now. She’s devouring the Usborne Book of Knowledge: we’re studying mammals, and every time we read a selection she dictates a page’s worth of notes on what she’s learned.
We’re still working on finishing up Alpha, but she’s blowing through the lessons and should be moving on within the next few weeks.
This is a big year – First Holy Communion prep! She’s super excited, and I am, too. I think it’s going to be good for her. (We’re also using a few supplemental resources, like this book on the Sacraments and a booklet/game from Holy Heroes).
Literature and Composition
Again, I’m letting my kiddo take the lead. We’ve been reading a lot of Elephant and Piggie books, and she’s been dictating and drawing lots of stories for me.
While in some ways I’ll miss having the girls go to co-op, we’re all really happy with the pace we’re keeping now.
Things are laid back, learning is peaceful, and we feel like a family again.
This post is part of the iHomeschool Network’s Back to School Link-up. And speaking of iHN – come check out the really cool instagram giveaway that goes live Monday 9/4 at 11 AM EST. We’re giving away $800 cash to one lucky homeschooling family!