Catholic home schooling families often depend on parish programs for catecheses, or select a curriculum program such as Seton or an umbrella school like Mother of Divine Grace that contains a catechetical element. Also, students can sit in on religious education classes at local parochial schools during the week. Parents might, however, prefer to integrate their religious instruction with their current pedagogical program or philosophy, or supplement one of these standard programs with further resources.
Begin instruction with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Older children will want a version published after 2000 for reference. Students of history or advanced students might want to visit an older catechism, such as the Catechism of the Council of Trent. The Baltimore Catechism, published early in the 20th century, follows an easy format for teaching basic concepts to the children in a straightforward way. The traditional format of question and answer means these texts are ready-made for simple teaching.
Make sure your reference Bible is a Catholic Bible (Catholic Bibles contain several books that Protestant versions sometimes omit). Young people sometimes enjoy the melodic language of the Jerusalem Bible or the simplicity of American Revised versions.
Purchase complete curriculum packages from Catholic publishers such as Ignatius Press and Our Sunday Visitor. These programs are often used by schools and parishes, but you can adapt them for home use. Use workbooks from these programs for independent study time.
Use visual or interactive, eclectic selections to educate younger children. Supplement a solid foundation of instruction about the Mass and the Sacraments with stories from the lives of the saints and photographs of medieval and Renaissance art. Don’t discount, particularly for younger children, the value of travel to grottoes, churches and shrines.
If you are home schooling from a particular pedagogical perspective, approach your catechises from that perspective. Classical or Trivium learning can bring Church Latin into the program, or the Masses of Schubert, Mozart or Haydn. Teachers using a Charlotte Mason approach might look into Quigley and Faulkner’s Mater Amabilis curriculum. Unschoolers might attend daily Mass and let the child’s questions and interests guide their next explorations.
As students move past basic concepts, older children might benefit from including some version of apologetics or discourse in your program. Amy Welborn’s “Prove It” series is a good place to start, as is the Kevin Orlin Johnson book “Why Do Catholic Do That.” Teens can begin reading publications like “The Christendom Review” or begin historical studies of figures of the faith by writers like Hillaire Belloc. Independent readers can begin choosing devotions. The publication “Magnificat” guides readers in traditional daily prayer and publishes a version for children called “Magnifikids.”
Remember to follow the liturgical calendar in your program, using holy days of obligation, feast days, and times of fasting and penitence to deepen your student’s understanding of the faith.