Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I start year 1 for PreK/Kinder?
A. We include a little bit for PreK and Kinder within each of the 4 Years of Salt and Light Homeschool. I am considering writing an entire fun program for PreK & Kinder but until then, they may do the minimalist PreK/Kinder program within each guide and/or join in with older students in the 1st-12th parts of the guide. Keep in mind that Salt and Light Homeschool is a minimalist program that favors a later start versus an early start.
Q. Do I have to start with Year 1 or may I start with Year 2?
A. You can totally start with whatever year you want! However, keep in mind that year 1 is the base level that builds. It welcomes you into the minimalist approach to homeschooling and each year builds on that first year. The history in year 2 is a continuation of the history in year 1. If you start with Year 2, you will be jumping into Medieval era to modern times with church history and saints. Totally fine to do, but it’s up to you! You can always come back around to it.
Q. Will they get a complete education if they don’t do all 4 years?
A. This might be the wrong question, but I’ll try to answer this. Usually this comes from a worried homeschool mama and I’ve totally been there. Each year is complete, so if they start at 1st grade, they’ll get through the 4 volumes/years three times. If they’re starting at a middle school level, likely twice or once plus a couple years. If they start at a high school level, they will go through once. If older than 9th grade, they won’t go through all of our 4 years. What I do is make sure for the high schoolers that the literature picks feed their intellectual growth. That is, we choose books that grow them in theology, faith, critical thinking, vocabulary, and world views. That way if they start later, they’re still getting all they need to go into the world as strong Catholic adults that are well educated in how to be a lifelong learner, and to articulate themselves well. When you shift the focus to this, the rest is just added bonus.
Q. Can I add to Salt and Light Homeschool? Substitute Language Arts?
A. You are totally free to add or take away anything from Salt and Light Homeschool that doesn’t work for you. We created it to be adaptable to your family. Salt and Light Homeschool is a minimalist homeschool curriculum. This means that we have tried to keep it very stripped down to basics however this does not mean that it is lacking. If you were to do it fully, every activity and writing assignment, it would be A LOT of work. You do not have to do every elective within the school year. You can do herbal studies or ocean and marine science in the summer! Think outside the box and know that you do NOT need to check all of the boxes. I used to be extremely type A, so I get it.
Q. How is grammar/language arts taught?
A. Salt and Light uses a Charlotte Mason approach to grammar, spelling and all language arts components. If you’re new to homeschooling, check out these articles for more info on what this means. Read this here, and this here. Then this article, trust me, and this one. We largely integrate grammar and spelling into the history, faith, science and other electives within Salt and Light Homeschool. We focus on an intuitive learning method which works wonderfully! IF you want to add something for learning these types of sentence structures, I recommend Essentials in Writing. Helpful for dyslexics just learning how to write AFTER learning to read. It’s not recommended to do this every single year. Once they have a grasp on the concept, simply keeping a grammar handbook like this one on hand [or this one] and continuing to read, write, do dictations and narrations through Salt and Light Homeschool is more than enough to make them competent writers.
Q. Is it enough? We are done in 2 hours!!!
A. Oh, yes, it’s enough! If you’re coming from public or private school, this will seem like a very short homeschool day. Consider this : Your child while at school has many distractions. They have to wait until every child understands the new concept, even if your child already does, there are bathroom breaks, waiting in lines, shuffling from class to class, etc. When you remove all of that, you can just focus. Things are completed quicker.
We considered sending our two eldest children, who are almost entirely homeschooled [kindergarten and 2nd grade is when they were pulled out of public school – and I had no clue what I was doing those first few years. Read that again.] to private Catholic schools last year. They shadowed at the top schools for a few days. Not only were they able to jump right in, they could answer the questions the teachers asked when the fellow students could not. They were just as surprised as I was, honestly. Mostly because we have unschooled for the majority of our homeschooling. At the most, minimalist schooled for years now. How were they able to answer questions in classes they had never attended?! We read a lot. To be fair, I do not have kids that would choose reading over playing with a device/cell phone. This is a non-negotiable in our home. Seven days per week they read for 1-2 hours minimum. Books for fun, classic literature, faith based books, books with different views than ours…all lead to conversations with our children. We talk about politics, other faiths, differing views and why we believe the way we do. And children, being the sponges that they are, absorb this and grow.
Q. So…then what do you do the rest of the day?
A. Whatever you want. I do not play camp director to my children. If they tell me they are bored, I will give them chores. I’m not kidding. I’m also not sure why they would think a busy work from home mama would have a clue on what they could do for fun with all their free time. Ha! My mom and hubby’s mom also gave us chores when we expressed our boredom to them. This forces them to be creative! Boredom is the birth of creativity! They can grumble all they want, but they always come up with something to do. In boredom my children have : learned three foreign languages, how to build complicated things with legos, how to paint, draw, journal artistically, write fan fiction, learned photography, pray novenas, learned something new about a saint – and then added them to prayer litany, discovered poetry, written poetry, learned about redwoods, the grand canyon, life in Poland, how to sew, how to knit, how to crochet, how to felt, how to carve soap, and honestly more than I could possibly ever write down here. Let them be bored. They’ll be fine.
Q. How is this different than Seton/Mater Amabilis/Etc?
A. I still sometimes use Seton for math because it’s simple and straightforward…and has pretty Catholic imagery. So we are similar to Seton in that we use pretty Catholic imagery. Both of those use lots of literature within their curriculum. While we try to stay minimalist, literature is the building block in Salt and Light Homeschool. We try to find free options, or options you could find at a library [better luck at Parish libraries versus a public library – but you could request them to purchase the book!] We kind of pull from many homeschooling methods. We love the Waldorf artsy lifestyle and natural materials, but of course we do not ascribe to the anthroposophy at all – Catholic only here. The work that I do involves purchasing mass amounts of books, researching, experience and then time away from my family to write. Bless my husband for his help while I write.
Q. How can you write a Catholic curriculum as a new Catholic?
A. Actually no one has asked this question, but just in case you’re thinking it, here’s the answer. I was an anti-Catholic protestant prior to 2019. I have been atheist and was raised Muslim in an islamic country. I feel like I have pretty firm grasp on the attacks Catholics receive from those faiths, I just now know how to ague them back with truth. I can’t even put into words, how incredibly passionate I am about the Catholic faith. I thought I was an “on fire Bible believing Christian” always reading my Bible [which made me Catholic…] The deep love I have for my Catholic faith does not even come CLOSE to how I was as a protestant. And if you knew how much I loved Jesus then, it’s ten fold + infinity now. Not only that, but I feel like it is my mission to make sure that our children and your children grow up STRONG in their faith. They have to be able to defend it, stand for it, and lovingly help others come to it. Catholic faith is the truth, fully and complete.
Q. How do I teach my kids how to do research?
A. You teach them the same way that you do research. I often use google and books to find answers to anything I want to know. You want to search alongside your children so that they see first hand how to find a legit, reputable source for information. You are their first teacher! If applicable to the topic, find a few different opinions and discuss them with your child. What do you believe? What does The Church say about it? For all topics in Salt and Light Homeschool, we teach all from the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church. Any research that is assigned is pretty straight forward within the guide.
Q. How do we do art notebooking?
A. While there is a guide in the curriculum, try to not overthink this. Your student does not need to create perfect masterpieces. When it is uploaded I will link a video here showing the growth our children had in their notebooks. They used to grumble but now enjoy it so much. They especially love flipping back through old ones, remembering what they learned and seeing how much better at art they are. Not everyone is a born artist. None of us in our family are, but we developed a skill.
Q. Is there an alternative to the art notebooking for a child particularly struggling with it?
A. Oh yes! An easy alternative we have done in our joy & wisdom journal is printing out pictures and then writing about it. We still do this in our journals even though we watercolor in our art notebooks.
Q. How do I get started in watercoloring?
A. We did not take a class or even learn from a book, we just jumped in and learned as we went along! I feel like that could be my entire motto for homeschooling. More water gives us watery colors, better quality watercolors keep it from getting chalky on the paper and looks better, we don’t always use watercolor paper, but it does help. But if you really want it, here are some videos here and here.
Q. Why did you change from a 6 year cycle to a 4 year cycle?
A. If you aren’t new to Salt and Light Homeschool, you may remember that we had a 6 year cycle that you repeated a second time [fully if your child was young enough for the first cycle through]. Now it is a 4 year cycle that you repeat 3 times [or less if your child is older.]
However, I know that many of you are like me and you get ‘curriculum burnout’ or just want to try something new. We have partnered with Tan books in the past for history review and I just love their books so much that we use them, too! If you don’t want to change it up, no worries, just repeat through. BUT if you want a little change up, the options and lessons will be there for you. Most of it you repeat because your student will still be older and getting a new, more mature perspective each time through, but there’s enough change that it feels fresh each cycle through.
By 2022 there will be several solo guides and a PreK program for you to choose from anytime you want to toss in a new elective or subject! Who knows what else I’ll dream up by then!