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Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education

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Home educator Laura Berquist presents a modern curriculum based on the time-tested philosophy of the classical Trivium—grammar, logic and rhetoric. She has given homeschoolers a valuable tool for putting together a "liberal arts" curriculum that feeds the soul, as well as the intellect. Her approach, covering grades K - 12, is detailed and practical, and it is adaptable by Home educator Laura Berquist presents a modern curriculum based on the time-tested philosophy of the classical Trivium—grammar, logic and rhetoric. She has given homeschoolers a valuable tool for putting together a "liberal arts" curriculum that feeds the soul, as well as the intellect. Her approach, covering grades K - 12, is detailed and practical, and it is adaptable by parents and teachers to any situation. This third revised edition includes a much expanded section for a high school curriculum, and an updated list of resources for all grades.


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Home educator Laura Berquist presents a modern curriculum based on the time-tested philosophy of the classical Trivium—grammar, logic and rhetoric. She has given homeschoolers a valuable tool for putting together a "liberal arts" curriculum that feeds the soul, as well as the intellect. Her approach, covering grades K - 12, is detailed and practical, and it is adaptable by Home educator Laura Berquist presents a modern curriculum based on the time-tested philosophy of the classical Trivium—grammar, logic and rhetoric. She has given homeschoolers a valuable tool for putting together a "liberal arts" curriculum that feeds the soul, as well as the intellect. Her approach, covering grades K - 12, is detailed and practical, and it is adaptable by parents and teachers to any situation. This third revised edition includes a much expanded section for a high school curriculum, and an updated list of resources for all grades.

30 review for Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mystie Winckler

    Own. The majority of the book is reference for planning each grade. The introduction and first chapter give the background and pep talk similar -- but informed completely and explicitly by her faith -- to Susan Wise Bauer's in WTM. Her goal was not only to give her children the classical education that the Catholics have not completely lost as American evangelicals have, but also to give her children a full-orbed culture of faith. She wanted not simply to avoid evolution, but to positively immer Own. The majority of the book is reference for planning each grade. The introduction and first chapter give the background and pep talk similar -- but informed completely and explicitly by her faith -- to Susan Wise Bauer's in WTM. Her goal was not only to give her children the classical education that the Catholics have not completely lost as American evangelicals have, but also to give her children a full-orbed culture of faith. She wanted not simply to avoid evolution, but to positively immerse her children in the history and culture of their faith. That's something the Catholics are better at than we are, but something I hope at least Reformed Christians are regaining (CRE more than any). This will be a useful book, and I will revisit her first chapter for a pep talk when I need it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    This is the first homeschooling manual I have read that has given me a clear idea of what I might do to prepare myself for teaching my own kids. Though this is not explicitly a "how-to" book, it models how one mother organized each year of her homeschooling curriculum in a way that makes it feel much less overwhelming to organize one's own. Especially useful to me were all the resources (including Bible study questions!) for teaching Catechism to kids at all levels. The information about teachin This is the first homeschooling manual I have read that has given me a clear idea of what I might do to prepare myself for teaching my own kids. Though this is not explicitly a "how-to" book, it models how one mother organized each year of her homeschooling curriculum in a way that makes it feel much less overwhelming to organize one's own. Especially useful to me were all the resources (including Bible study questions!) for teaching Catechism to kids at all levels. The information about teaching Latin is great as well. I also really appreciated how patriotism-focused her history curriculum is, even though she doesn't start her kids in history as early as I plan to start mine. Her suggestions for writing at all levels were also very useful. I did think the middle school plans she presented were a bit less rigorous than what I will want, but I'm still 7 or 8 years away from having even one middle schooler so who knows how my mind will change during that time. All in all, this was a great read for getting me excited about my own homeschool and I plan to revisit it when my oldest daughter is officially old enough for kindergarten the year after next.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Thanks to COVID and having a child with cystic fibrosis, a lot of school reopening options just were not going to work for our family. After many days/hours of research and friends’ suggestions, I landed on MODG as our foundation for beginning homeschooling in our home. I read this fast and am more at ease with the decision we’ve made for our children. Plenty of resources out there for those that are interested!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Antonia

    This is the definitive resource to give your child a Catholic, classical education. Berquist is a wise and thoughtful guide - she’s most worthy of your attention.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anna Mussmann

    This book isn’t designed to provide a deep look at either the philosophical or the practical questions of classical education. Instead, although the forward offers a brief overview of the writings that influenced Mrs. Berquist’s “take” on education, the bulk of the book consists of an outline of the subjects and curriculum she used to teach various grades. It’s intended as a reassuring resource for busy moms who wonder what they really need to include to make sure their kids get a good education This book isn’t designed to provide a deep look at either the philosophical or the practical questions of classical education. Instead, although the forward offers a brief overview of the writings that influenced Mrs. Berquist’s “take” on education, the bulk of the book consists of an outline of the subjects and curriculum she used to teach various grades. It’s intended as a reassuring resource for busy moms who wonder what they really need to include to make sure their kids get a good education. I always appreciate hearing how other families have structured their children’s home education, and I actually found this book surprisingly refreshing. At least in the homeschool circles I frequent, many classical and Charlotte Mason-influenced families today seem very keen to be whole-hearted--even “purist”--in their educational approaches. This can mean that they operate under a lot of “rules” they feel they must follow. In contrast, Mrs. Berquist, a homeschooler of the past generation, seems cheerfully ready to cite both For the Children’s Sake and Dorothy Sayer’s famous essay as formative influences on her own outlook. She refers to stages of learning, but doesn’t seem to interpret this as requiring young children to memorize anything other than poetry. She talks a lot about having children “tell back” what they have learned, but doesn’t attempt to recreate the “correct method” of Charlotte Mason narration. I rather liked that. I plan to keep this book around and glance at her recommendations as my kids get older.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    The title is incredibly misleading. This isn’t a guide to creating your own curriculum, rather it is a curriculum that you can adjust if needed. It doesn’t give the ins and outs of creating a curriculum. It gives you a curriculum and gives you some minor choices along the way. While the idea behind it is classical, the actual curriculum plan feels more traditional to me. It is very similar to, but much more limited than, The Well Trained Mind. If you are wanting a classical-ish curriculum that i The title is incredibly misleading. This isn’t a guide to creating your own curriculum, rather it is a curriculum that you can adjust if needed. It doesn’t give the ins and outs of creating a curriculum. It gives you a curriculum and gives you some minor choices along the way. While the idea behind it is classical, the actual curriculum plan feels more traditional to me. It is very similar to, but much more limited than, The Well Trained Mind. If you are wanting a classical-ish curriculum that is pretty much done for you— this is your book. If you’re wanting to actually design your own curriculum, this is not the book. If your wanting everything laid out but with more options, The Well Trained Mind is your book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Helpful for planning a homeschool curriculum. The book could be updated to include recently developed resources and books. Many of the recommended history books are out-of-print and difficult to find.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Really useful resource but somewhat dated as many homeschool and classical oriented materials have appeared in the last 20 years. So a great place to start but definitely be prepared to do some legwork after reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Gillespie

    Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, written by the woman who edited The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum, is not an apologetics manual for homeschooling or classical education, but rather a practical suggestion for what to cover in each grade and how. I find it helpful to read about what other families have done and found successful, so I can tweak what might work for us. Although the book is classical in focus, the author does draw heavily from Charl Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, written by the woman who edited The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum, is not an apologetics manual for homeschooling or classical education, but rather a practical suggestion for what to cover in each grade and how. I find it helpful to read about what other families have done and found successful, so I can tweak what might work for us. Although the book is classical in focus, the author does draw heavily from Charlotte Mason, emphasizing short lessons, memory work, living books, nature study, narration, artist and composer study, and habit training. Because the book is about individualizing your curriculum, you could easily make substitutions in subject areas where you disagree with the author. For example, if you are not Catholic (as I am not) you could glean some helpful ideas from the history section, but would probably prefer to select different focus areas in some respects. {Read my more detailed review on A Spirited Mind}

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I really liked the section on the early grades. The book was approachable and not nearly as overwhelming as many homeschooling books, especially compared to "The Well-Trained Mind." The example schedules gave me and idea of how I could actually do all this in real life, and that was very helpful. However I don't see myself sticking with a lot of her specific curriculum recommendations, and I definitely think I would take a different approach to the upper grades. While I am homeschooling in part t I really liked the section on the early grades. The book was approachable and not nearly as overwhelming as many homeschooling books, especially compared to "The Well-Trained Mind." The example schedules gave me and idea of how I could actually do all this in real life, and that was very helpful. However I don't see myself sticking with a lot of her specific curriculum recommendations, and I definitely think I would take a different approach to the upper grades. While I am homeschooling in part to provide more rigor, and in part to protect my daughters from the traumas and excesses of the public school system and popular culture, I am not nearly as conservative as Berquist. I am scared of Hannah Montana's influence, for instance, but not of my 11th grader reading Ovid, Plutarch, and Aristophanes! I also don't think it would shatter my daughters' faith to read some books written after about 1900, or to study evolution (which the Church now accepts, last I heard!) So Berquist and I differ there. Still, it was good to see the classical approach laid out in such a straightforward and simple manner, and I will probably make use of a few of the anthologies she recommends.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Not sure I'd call my style classical, but there are certainly some classical elements to it. I'm not sure if that is because a liberal education filled with good and great books naturally tends to embrace some works that are classical and thus looks classical at times...but I do appreciate the philosophy of classical education. I pull this book out every year to see how what we're doing lines up...in my completely backwards way, I do this after everything is planned, ordered, and already in use. Not sure I'd call my style classical, but there are certainly some classical elements to it. I'm not sure if that is because a liberal education filled with good and great books naturally tends to embrace some works that are classical and thus looks classical at times...but I do appreciate the philosophy of classical education. I pull this book out every year to see how what we're doing lines up...in my completely backwards way, I do this after everything is planned, ordered, and already in use. I don't mean for it to be an afterthought, but I always find that our plans have much in common with Laura Berquist's. I suppose I use it a little like a scope and sequence which offers some security along with a general guide.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    A good guide to designing a classical homeschool curriculum for Catholics This book came highly recommended for designing classical curriculum, so I decided to check it out. It is far more overwhelmingly Catholic in its bias and assumptions than I had been led to expect (it does proclaim itself a text for Catholics, but I hadn't expected that bias to dominate the text as completely as it does). It really is a good guide to a classical Catholic education, but if far less use to someone not specifi A good guide to designing a classical homeschool curriculum for Catholics This book came highly recommended for designing classical curriculum, so I decided to check it out. It is far more overwhelmingly Catholic in its bias and assumptions than I had been led to expect (it does proclaim itself a text for Catholics, but I hadn't expected that bias to dominate the text as completely as it does). It really is a good guide to a classical Catholic education, but if far less use to someone not specifically looking for Catholic ideas.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I'm not 100% thrilled with her approach but I have basic respect for it. This is sort of a old-school stuffy classical approach. I love the classical approach but this feels very forced. That said, her book lists are pretty decent from fourth grade on. Certainly there are other equally good resources out there but as a Catholic homeschooler this one has a lot of really good and safe options. I'm glad I have this book. It's a resource I will consult each year when I am making up our reading lists. I'm not 100% thrilled with her approach but I have basic respect for it. This is sort of a old-school stuffy classical approach. I love the classical approach but this feels very forced. That said, her book lists are pretty decent from fourth grade on. Certainly there are other equally good resources out there but as a Catholic homeschooler this one has a lot of really good and safe options. I'm glad I have this book. It's a resource I will consult each year when I am making up our reading lists.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Duckie

    I felt that this book was a gentle introduction to classical homeschooling, however, I feel that it was incorrectly titled-- it's really not a guide to creating your own classical curriculum. The book includes a small resource list, and mainly the author gives her own scheduling and advice, and it falls short of being helpful. However, the author did break down homeschooling into manageable chunks, but her philosophy differs greatly from mine, so I think this book will be kept for a reference. I felt that this book was a gentle introduction to classical homeschooling, however, I feel that it was incorrectly titled-- it's really not a guide to creating your own classical curriculum. The book includes a small resource list, and mainly the author gives her own scheduling and advice, and it falls short of being helpful. However, the author did break down homeschooling into manageable chunks, but her philosophy differs greatly from mine, so I think this book will be kept for a reference.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brandie

    I've had a feeling that Protestant classical curriculum can ere on the side of Rationalism. I was thinking a Catholic perspective might fill in that poetic void. Laura Berquist follows the educational philosophy of Aquinas. It has a definite laid back "Charlotte Mason" feel. Only a few pages are devoted to philosophy of education. Most of the book is a long list of explicitly Catholic homeschool resources. It wasn't as helpful as I had hoped. I've had a feeling that Protestant classical curriculum can ere on the side of Rationalism. I was thinking a Catholic perspective might fill in that poetic void. Laura Berquist follows the educational philosophy of Aquinas. It has a definite laid back "Charlotte Mason" feel. Only a few pages are devoted to philosophy of education. Most of the book is a long list of explicitly Catholic homeschool resources. It wasn't as helpful as I had hoped.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Lamothe

    Before I read this book and started using Mother of Divine Grace, homeschooling my children was becoming a chore that they and I hated. Giving this classical, Mason-esk, curriculum a chance, changed our lives. I can now say I love homeschooling and so do my children. They are learning so much this year and enjoying it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    This is a good resource, but I would have liked it to be more focused. It gives lists of books where I would have liked some in-depth reviews of pros and cons and the teaching tips are nice but often vague and very general. For those who have no education experience, this is a nice overview text.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Givan

    I was so anxious to read this having grown up around the Berquists. This book did not disappoint and has wonderful advice for Homeschooling parents. Full of ideas of what to teach and when, it's on my must read list for Classical homeschoolers. I was so anxious to read this having grown up around the Berquists. This book did not disappoint and has wonderful advice for Homeschooling parents. Full of ideas of what to teach and when, it's on my must read list for Classical homeschoolers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    A less thorough Catholic version of the WTM. I found the intro interesting as she outlines her thought process for approaching curriculum decisions.

  20. 4 out of 5

    leslie

    I'm finding this book helpful while trying to formulate what education in our home might look like. I'm finding this book helpful while trying to formulate what education in our home might look like.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    very useful information, will consider purchasing for future planning

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maureen O'brien

    A MUST HAVE book for Catholic homeschoolers....great literature lists.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Even though I'm not Catholic, this book is one I reread almost every summer because her suggestions and reading lists are so good. Even though I'm not Catholic, this book is one I reread almost every summer because her suggestions and reading lists are so good.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angela Boord

    I'm rereading the sections from 7th grade and up. I'm rereading the sections from 7th grade and up.

  25. 4 out of 5

    H Miller

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Moi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Jones

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

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