Home Education: workbooks are not as boring as I expected.

I must admit that as I began to adjust the home education approach here to a more workbook based way of learning I was a bit worried that while I wouldn’t have to be using up energy I don’t have trying to plan and work through stuff, that the children would soon become bored rigid.

As it happens the children seem to enjoy their workbooks. Ronan has learned a lot about St. Josaphat while doing Grammar; and I have learned a lot of grammar while helping Ronan as well as getting to grips with a fascinating story about someone I had previously never heard of. English for Young Catholics 3 has so far proved a great workbook that stretches him (and me) but has all the information and explanation within the book, so there’s no extra cost of the teacher’s book to go with it. Ronan is so taken with the story of St. Josaphat that not only has he not moaned about predicates, he has asked if there is a proper book about the saint of the Byzantine Rite.

I like the Seton approach to workbooks as they use a story and teach from there. So it’s not such a massive step away from the Charlotte Mason method after all.

I have come across discussions in some places about the pros and cons of workbooks that are so religiously based. Do we want our children to be so steeped in their Faith that no matter what the subject they are learning Church history, saint stories and theology?

It seems that most people treat it as a Marmite question. You either love it, or you hate it. I am straddling the fence on this one. I don’t buy all the work from Seton, although I respect their very high standard. I do want to the children to learn about their Faith and it’s history obviously, but I think they need to learn more than that and so we have other stuff that has other approaches to subjects such as Usborne books and some that have no specific approach other than to teach the subject such as Math U See and Life of Fred.

Some parents in the discussions noted that the reason so many homeschool publishers tend to tout the fact that they are Christian/Catholic or have a Christian focus is because so many curriculums have quite deliberately and dishonestly edited out anything Christian or even basic morals from their stories. In a reaction to this some homeschool publishers have released books that are definitely Christian and allow a child to grow in their Faith by reading about other people who also believe and behave as they do and if they don’t have the good grace to be sorry.

Our home ed books are a mix of the “very” Catholic to the “it’s just part of life” Catholicism of say, Tomie DePaola through to the God Who? kind of books, that would never mention Himself, but aren’t overtly anti-Christian either.

I have been a little uncomfortable of too much overtly “holy” stuff as a method of teaching other things. While I think it’s important the children know about their Faith, it’s more important that they have a relationship with Christ and His Church through prayer and practice. In a culture that is unfriendly to Christ and His ideals, there is a danger that we could swing off to the other extreme (what I think some would call the ghetto mentality) so I want to be wary of that.

Meanwhile the children are learning and seem settled with the routine and adaptable to my shifting abilities.

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