"Hi! My name is _____. I'm a Byzantine Catholic from _____. I am thinking about homeschooling my kids next year but I'm having a hard time finding Byzantine resources to teach my children from. They are grades k,1, and 3rd. Do you have any suggestions for me? I have been looking at Catholic curriculum but I'm fairly new to Catholicism (I converted after my oldest daughter's birth) and I want to give them a good Byzantine Catholic education."
First of all, whether or not you decide to homeschool the kids, it is still your God-given mandate to be the primary educator (along with your husband) of your children (no pressure, right?). So I hope today and tomorrow's advice will be food for thought for all parents. While I am writing from a Byzantine Catholic perspective, it can be applied to Roman-rite and Orthodox households.
Another 'first of all'- the pinnacle of the week should be the Sunday Divine Liturgy. This is where the religious education of our children should begin and end (with religious education and lifestyle in between). I have written before about preparing for the Divine Liturgy here...and here are some more thoughts on that subject:
- Read the troparion, epistle and Gospel before the Divine Liturgy. For homeschoolers, this would be a great read-aloud exercise.
- For older children, ask them after the Liturgy what stood out for them during the homily. You might be surprised at what was the most interesting to them and the discussions your question might spark.
-For younger children, bring them back into the church after the Liturgy is finished. Say a spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving and invite them to say a prayer of their own. Talk about an icon of interest to them or the feast day
-Continue Byzantine traditions with your children during Liturgy- light a candle, kiss the icon, encourage them to sing, make sure they are crossing themselves whenever the Holy Trinity is invoked or the priest gives a blessing
-Ask the priest or another well-educated person to prepare some short talks on being Byzantine Catholic. Even having the priest describe the altar space and his vestments and the icon screen's significance would be a great education for the kids and you. Most children will learn a lot when given visual cues, so giving a short talk after Liturgy with the children in the pews and the priest at the icon screen would be memorable and educational.
Some book and blog resources:
Theological Book Service carries the catechism books we use at church and home. You can order on-line which makes it very convenient. Their catechism books will probably be the backbone of your kids' religious education.
Byzantine Seminary Press has some children's books- it doesn't look like you can order directly on-line. We like their coloring books.
Sophia Press is a part of the Melkites- I don't see any children's books, but I really like their daily worship and "Publican's Prayer Book"
Eastern Christian Publications publishes books with both Orthodox and Catholic standpoints.
"Aquinas & More" is an on-line store that has a section for Eastern Catholic goods- they also don't carry religious articles made in China.
Renee of Claytonopolis is very talented; she does the black outline of icons for her Byzantine Catholic little ones, and they paint them in with the appropriate colors. She might even send you a pdf of her work (hint, hint- Renee!)
The Orthodox Christian blog "Charming the Bird from the Trees" has good homeschooling ideas for little ones; look under the label "learning basket"
Peruse the archives of Like Mother, Like Daughter- I believe if Leila were answering your email question, she would simply say "Live the liturgical year." She doesn't believe in crafts of foam board and has successfully homeschooled seven Catholic children.
East to West has a link list that has some good resources.
tomorrow....more about educating a Byzantine Catholic child!