Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In our homeschool, we use the Faith & Life series for our Catholic catechesis. The ever dutiful newbie Homeschooler, I bought everything–the student text, the activity book and the giant teacher’s manual.
Religion took nearly as long as learning to read. And it didn’t take long before she spaced & I lost her. Obviously, the teacher’s guide was NOT a useful resource for us. When I realized that there was a Family Guide for the Faith & Life series, I emailed them to request a copy.
I love almost everything about the Faith & Life Family Guide Volume A (Grades 1-4)! It’s divided into two volumes (A & B). The first covers grades 1-4 and the second 5-8. There is a great intro that tells you how to use the Faith & Life Family Guide and it’s basically the same every week.
A large (8-1/2×11), spiral bound book, there is a two page spread for every chapter in your child’s book. Each spread has the following elements:
1. Focus– a summary for parents about key points of the lesson.
2. Begin- each weeks discussion begins with a prayer, something to do (like show your child his baptismal gown) and a bible passage to read.
3. Summarize- they give you a way to summarize the lesson for your child.
4. Review– several Catechism questions (and answers)
5. Apply- three questions to draw out a little more thought as opposed to memorization.
6. Conclude- in first grade, it’a just saying the “Our Father.”
7. Follow Up– 3 projects for you to do WITH your child. An example would be:
Help your child pick one thing he can do this week to get his soul ready for Jesus. Use his answer to Q3 from Step 4 as a starting point for ideas.
8. References- each chapter also includes references for the topic in the student text, the Bible, and the Catechism. (And speaking of the Catechism, have you seen these cool catechism topic tabs? They are on my wish list for my next order!)
As a Homeschooler, the family guide is MUCH better than the teacher’s guide. I think Catholicism is best understood as a practical way of life, rather than an extra subject and that’s why I like the family guide better.
Once we received it, we stopped doing daily religion for 30+ minutes with the teachers guide, which included things like hymn singing, discussions activities, art study, catechesis question review PLUS the student reading & activity page.
Instead, we now spend 2 days a week on the student text & workbook. The third day, we use the Family Guide to go over the chapter’s main points. Sometimes we need to spend an extra day on a topic, but usually 3 does it.
I love the questions for review because while I try to have her memorize the questions at the end of chapters, short answers let her concentrate on content over the “proper answer.” I also like the follow up projects. I didn’t get to many this year, but I’m hoping to do more next year.
My only complaint is about the color coding. Each grade is color coded for easy use. But the colors of the tabs don’t match the book covers. Which is kind of irritating to me.
If you are a Catholic Homeschooler & use the Faith & Life series for your Catechesis, I highly suggest that you pick up the Faith & Life Family Guide. If you have to pick between it and the teachers guide, I’d pick the Family Guide. It makes the subject more Charlotte Mason-ish.
If you aren’t a Homeschooler but wish you were or just want to bring the faith more fully into the home & your child’s school or religious education program uses the Faith & Life series, you would benefit from this book, too. It’s a great way to help your child understand that religion isn’t just a class at school and Mass on Sunday, but should be part of everything you do.