As a homeschooling father of ten children, I know that the homeschool market has become a chaotic mess of craziness. The social media posts I see from homeschool parents make me cringe, for homeschooling appears for most to be little more than another branch of online fashion. Mother show off their boxes of books like new shoes, and there’s no mention of any philosophy, history or, most importantly, results. Bloggers post pictures of their “first day of school” layouts, but none of their sustained habits, or last day of school achievements. Homeschool parents allow reviews from anonymous online users to affect their curriculum decisions, whom they can’t even confirm to be real people. Experience in education, or support from authoritative sources are given no consideration at all. Catholic homeschooling looks much more like a flea market than a monastery or ancient school of philosophy.
If you’re the type of parent who simply wants children to study and progress in real Catholic learning, I’d like to offer the help I wish was available to me 20 years ago. I’d like to assure you that in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, you can be sure to have a (1) free (2) classical (3) Catholic (4) homeschool (5) curriculum.
Our Curriculum is Truly Free
Some publishers advertise their curriculum to be “free”, but when we look, we find that lesson plans are free, but hundreds of dollars of books and supplies must be studies. A good example of this is found in Catholic Heritage Curriculum, which claims to be a “free curriculum”, but is not. If one cannot study without spending hundreds of dollars, the “curriculum” is not free. In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, we make the entire classical liberal arts curriculum available for study at no cost on our Curriculum pages. Our program is truly free.
Our Curriculum is Truly Classical
Many publishers advertise their books and supplies as “classical” when they are not so in any way. A good example of this is found in the Mother of Divine Grace curriculum, which claims to be “classical” but is actually based on the ideas of a modern feminist writer, Dorothy Sayers, rather than any classical or Catholic schools in history. The use of the term “classical” is simply a marketing gimmick. In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, when we use the word “classical”, we don’t mean that our program follows the ideas of a 20th century English woman, but that it is the true course of studies descrived in Sacred Scripture, the writings of the great Greek and Roman philosophers, and taught by the doctors and saints of the Church throughout history. When we use the word “classical”, we mean the real classical liberal arts and philosophy: Grammar, Reasoning, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Astronomy, Ethics, Physics and Metaphysics. The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is the only classical Catholic homeschool curriculum that is truly classical.
Our Curriculum is Truly Catholic
Some programs claim to be “Catholic” by awkardly adding Catholic books or pictures to a secular curriculum, yet their curriculum itself does not proceed from any principles of Catholic philosophy or learning. A good example of this is Seton Home Study. Seton claims to be “traditional” and “Catholic” yet, boasts of secular accreditation and leads students into a modern K-12 course of studies that serves a modern school calendar. There is nothing about the program or materials offered by Seton that can be found in Catholic schools of the past. It is a modern K-12 school program with Catholic content tacked on to make it appealing to the Catholic homeschool market.
If we were to look back at Church history, to the writings of the doctors and saints of the Church, would we find any such thing recommended to us? Isn’t that what we mean when we say that an educational program is “Catholic”? In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, this is what we mean when we use the term “Catholic”. If you were to bring a saint back to earth and show him the Classical Liberal Arts Academy course list, he’d feel right at home. That wouldn’t be true of other programs.
Moreover, in our Theology courses, we lead students to study the sources of Church teaching directly, not through piles of second-hand books written about them. We lead students to study the Sacred Scriptures directly, to study the Baltimore Catechism directly, to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church directly, to study the Summa Theologica directly. These are the true sources of Catholic faith and morals, and these are our “textbooks”. We don’t use selected Catholic content as a springboard to promote our own personal social or political messages. The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is the only classical Catholic homeschool curriculum that is, in this sense, Catholic.
Our Curriculum Serves Homeschool Students
Some “homeschool” publishers try to act like schools and make parents imagine that they are subject to private school tuition and policies. Their curriculum is arranged like a K-12 school, even serving the modern 180-day school calendar, and they boast of accreditation, transcripts, diplomas, etc., though none of these are appropriate for homeschool students. These programs are not “schools” at all. A homeschool student does not need to enroll in a school program because he already is enrolled in a school–the family homeschool. A homeschool is a real school, and homeschool parents are the legal administrators and teachers of that school.
When a family subjects itself to one of these fake “school” programs, all of the advantages of homeschooling are lost. What are these advantages? First of all, our children are not lumped by their date of birth into “grade levels” with large numbers of other students are treated like products on an assembly line. They are home, with their parents and siblings, where they are normally the only student their age. There is no need for artificial “grade levels”, but every children is educated individually. Second, the family is free to arrange itse schedule and academic calendar based on the best interests of the family. The homeschool calendar and schedule can be based on when Dad is home from work, the time of daily Mass, the weather outside, the family business schedule, the gardening calendar, when relatives are visiting, and so on. Third, homeschooling eliminates expensive tuition costs. If no school buildings, buses, gymnasiums, administrators, teachers, etc., are necessary–shouldn’t the cost be much lower than school attendance? Lastly, if the parents are the ones running the school, shouldn’t the program be designed to serve the goals that inspired them to homeschool, rather than the low goals of modern secular schools? All of these advantages are lost when homeschool familes unnecessarily subject themselves to fake “school” programs online.
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is the only classical Catholic homeschool curriculum that preserves the advantages available to homeschool students.
Our Curriculum is Actually a Curriculum
Most homeschool “curriculum” providers are simply selling books to homeschool families. Catalogs of books are assesmbled based on what happens to be available for resale, or what they happen to publish themselves. The book lists are composed of books pulled from a thousand different disconnected sources and lumped into grade level boxes for sale. This is not what it means to offer a curriculum.
In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, we offer a true curriculum–a complete course of studies that leads students from beginning to end in a true progression of intellectual development. Our courses are those which were developed by history’s wise men to lead students naturally and logically from the simplest elements through the highest levels of philosophy and theology. Our curriculum is not a patchwork mess of pieces stitched together, but a real system of learning that builds part by part, from the first lessons of Grammar through the last lessons of Rhetoric; from the elements of Arithmetic through the arts of Geometry, Music and Astronomy; from the first lessons in Reasoning to the highest lessons in Metaphysics; from the first lessons in Catechism to the right interpretation and use of Sacred Scripture.
At the same time, we offer students the opportunity to complete modern math and science requirements, but we don’t confuse this work with the real work of studying through the classical liberal arts curriculum, and what a students finds taught in one course will be taught in all other courses as well.
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is the only classical Catholic homeschool curriculum that is actually a curriculum.
I know that there are many products being marketed to homeschool families, but I encourage you to consider that the Classical Liberal Arts Academy is the only source for a free, classical, Catholic, homeschool, curriculum.
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy