A few weeks ago, ,I shared a bit about our experience with Accepting the Gift’s book ,Friends & Intercessors for teaching about the lives of the saints. My son, Nathan, is thirteen and has Down syndrome but I didn’t start homeschooling him until two years ago. I use Simply Classical, a curriculum for kids with special learning needs that uses a classical education model. I love it and will use it again this year, but while it’s Christian, it isn’t explicitly Catholic. In many ways, having a Christian-but-not-Catholic curriculum is no big deal. Having grown up Protestant and converting to Catholicism as an adult, I think I have a good understanding of where the differences lie and why it’s important to teach our faith to Nathan, even in simplified forms. Enter Accepting the Gift’s curriculum.
Accepting the Gift’s religious education curriculum comprises two books – the curriculum guide and the workbook – and is available as either a paperback or a digital download in PDF format. The guide provides lessons for parents to read aloud while the workbook offers suggested activities to accompany each lesson. The curriculum covers ten months (September through June), though you could adjust these to fit your family’s plans because the themes for each month don’t have to coincide with specific dates on the calendar (for example, December’s focus is on Prayer, not Advent or Christmas).
The curriculum begins with Creation, then progresses through Bible Stories, Parables, Prayer, Sacraments, Vocations, Virtuous Living, Theology of the Body (for kids), Holy Days, and the Domestic Church. Each month also offers a focused reflection on a virtue – Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice, Prudence, Joy, Forgiveness, Fortitude, Temperance, and Patience. These virtue lessons incorporate quotes from the saints in the lesson and practical ways to live out the virtues in our daily lives. The collection of topics forms a complete Catholic faith curriculum while remaining accessible for our special learners.
The workbook follows the same progression as the curriculum and provides activities to coincide with each lesson. As I shared above, the first month’s lessons cover Creation, and the first activity suggested is Nature Walk Bingo. The instructions are simple: choose a path – a local park, nature trail, or just your neighborhood – and look for items on a provided bingo board. The bingo items include things like a bug, something red, a leaf, something hard, and so on, and encourage your student to notice and appreciate God’s creation.
One thing I’ve learned from experience (and research shows) is that while formal instruction is important, my son learns better when I incorporate movement and hands-on activities. Some of the workbook activities are more craft-oriented (which I readily admitted in my last post is not really my thing) but they are simple enough that even I can do them. One of my favorite activities in the book is the Blessings Tower, which is simple but visually effective. To build a Blessings Tower, each person takes a Lego block and names something they are thankful to God for. As the Lego blocks are stacked, they provide a visual reminder of our many blessings.
Accepting the Gift’s curriculum is a great standalone option for religious education for children who may face barriers to religious education at our parishes or schools or for homeschooling families. ,As I mentioned in my previous post, we have struggled for a while to figure out how to best educate Nathan about our faith because there came a point when he couldn’t keep up with his same-age peers in class at church and of course, there was no religious education in public school. When I decided to homeschool I did my best but I was never pleased with what I was doing – everything seemed either too advanced or too baby-ish for him. Accepting the Gift strikes a happy medium for my special learner. Be sure to download a free sample to see it if will work for your family.
Andi Sligh is a wife and mother of two children with disabilities and three dogs. She is a lifelong Alabamian, Dr. Pepper addict, Catholic convert, and former engineer who rediscovered a love of writing when she became a mom. You can find more of her writing at ,https://andisligh.com/