We believe that parents are the first educators of their children, and as part of our mission to assist families, we offer local homeschooling families the opportunity to supplement their home coursework with Classical Enrichment Courses (CEC) at Sacred Heart Academy.
Our program was developed to meet the growing demand for classically-oriented content taught by faithful, Catholic educators. We offer core courses (English, history, science, math, and Latin) for part-time students in 2nd through 12th grade. Students in the CEC courses meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
What are Classical Enrichment Courses?
Our Classical Enrichment Courses (CEC) program is a selection of part-time courses designed for homeschooling students in 2nd-12th grade. This program, which contributes in an irreplaceable way to fulfilling our mission and perfecting the culture of school, parish, and local community, is an integral part of Sacred Heart Academy. While families involved in these courses may not spend more than a fews hours on campus each week, they are fully a part of our culture with an equal right to participate in and contribute to this vibrant Catholic community.
As a Catholic school grounded in the teachings of the Church on education, the faculty and administration of Sacred Heart Academy believe that the parents are “the primary and principal educators” of their children (Gravissimum Educationis). Contrary to the prevailing beliefs of an increasingly secular culture, the Church holds—and we with it—that parents, not teachers, are the most fitting and equipped formators. Our academy’s role, then, in the formation of children entrusted to us—regardless of their enrollment status—is merely to serve and assist the needs and desires of the family. The faculty and administration wish to fulfill this role with humility and generosity, as competent and well-trained educators guided by professional, ethical, and religious principles and obligations.
What guides the form and content of the program?
Since the program’s inception, academy leadership has decided the structure and course offerings with the principle aim of serving the needs of homeschooling families. In the inaugural year (2013-14), there were five courses offered to 5th-12th grade students: Two courses of introductory Latin, one each for middle school and high school students; a course on formal logic and traditional rhetoric; a one-semester, hand-ons iconography class; and an apologetics class taught by our parish priests.
These courses met on Tuesday and Thursday for periods slightly longer than their full-time counterparts and consisted entirely of part-time students. Families selected and paid for courses singly, purchased their own books, and worked with children on homework and assigned reading on Wednesdays and weekends.
The response to these courses was impressive. As we began to consider what to offer in the 2014-15 academic year, the now dozens of homeschooling families we reached through surveys and information nights communicated a desire for additional courses taught in the same format. In response, we expanded the course offerings to their present breadth, which includes coursework for lower elementary through high school students in the core subjects of the academy curriculum—literature, history, Latin, math, and science—as well as music and art, the principal electives.
In 2015-16 we continued to refine and improve the program’s structure in response to feedback from families. As the academic year drew to a close, we reached enrollment capacity in nearly every enrichment course for 2016-17 on the first day of open enrollment.
What can I expect from Classical Enrichment Courses?
While logistical considerations prevent, in most cases, part-time and full-time students from sharing course sections, we desire that all CEC students and their families consider themselves completely integrated into the academy’s culture. All of our students begin the day with Mass and participate fully in the liturgical life of the Church. They wear the same uniform, are invited to participate in the same extra-curricular activities, walk the same halls and study in the same classrooms under—for the most part—the same instructors. They are also held to the same code of conduct as outlined in the family handbook.
Culturally, Sacred Heart Academy is one school with a single standard for virtuous conduct and academic performance and a single philosophy of instruction. However, the CEC program necessarily and intentionally differs from the full-time program in the pace and content—though never the quality—of its courses. It is vital that families acknowledge that these courses are for enrichment of an already robust and discerning program of study in the home.
Enrollment in Classical Enrichment Courses is not a substitute for or an alternative to a complete course of study, nor is it the academy’s full-time Catholic classical program condensed into two days per week. Instead, it is a parent-directed partnership defined and limited by its own structure.
Chesterton quipped that the “most beautiful part of any picture is the frame,” summing up well the necessity of limitation, and therefore prudence, in all things. This limitation includes strictures of both time and attention. We offer fewer subjects, read fewer books, and teach fewer skills in our enrichment courses than in our full-time courses. What we do teach, we wish to teach to mastery, always with a view to the integrity of the person and the subject.
We recognize that our limitations are both systematic and individual. Each child is unique, but by necessity any institution must design its norms for what is common in the constituency it serves. To the extent that we are able, we desire to serve students of exceptional ability and need of whatever kind. While relying on the providence of God, we recognize acutely the limitations of our time and skill. Parents are not only the first and primary educators of their children, they also know and love them better than any teacher can. It must always be understood that parents and teachers are close colleagues in education.
Expectations by Grade
We believe unreservedly that the best place for the youngest students is in the home. Our offering of early elementary enrollment exclusively for full-time students (excepting the Montessori half-day schedules) is intentionally limited and requires great discernment on the part of the parents.
The transition to formal schooling differs by family and by child. For some families, it may not happen at all. As an acknowledged inferior substitute for learning in the home during this period of life, the academy offers no part-time courses to students younger than 2nd grade.
Prior to enrollment in the lower elementary program, CEC students should be able to participate in Mass actively and patiently without assistance, listen to and follow multi-step directions, and possess an appropriate mastery of elementary reading skills (with a strong preference for systematic phonics) and math facts. Students who are new to our enrichment courses should arrange math and reading placement tests prior to the beginning of the school year.
Unlike other grades, the lower elementary courses are not offered on an à la carte basis, but are in normal circumstances taken in toto. This structure, a bit of wisdom gained from our first year offering elementary coursework, greatly reduces disruption to the day and reinforces routines for our youngest students.
Parents must take a very active role in providing additional instruction in reading and math for students in 2nd-4th grade. Little homework is given—seldom more than 45 minutes to an hour—outside of reading and math in order that families might spend additional time on instruction in these crucial subjects. History, Latin, science, and music are purely enrichment. These subjects may require some enjoyable, project-based work outside of class at these grade levels, but reading and math are always the priority. These subjects are the tools of learning without which students cannot continue grow and thrive academically.
As students continue to develop maturity and independence, moving from the elementary to middle school grades, the need for personal responsibility increases and the depth of coursework grows proportionally. Students should expect an hour or so of work outside of class per academic course per week. They must also use diligently any time spent in study halls or given in class for work. These older students are also responsible for recording homework assignments and must begin to self-advocate with their teachers when they need additional help, lack understanding, or miss class for any reason.
As students ascend through middle school, the responsibility for instruction transitions gradually from the parent, as it is in the 2nd-4th grade, to the teacher. Once students reach high school, parents can expect that instruction, limited by the description of the course, happens primarily in the classroom. However, because courses meet only twice per week, parents must be vigilant to enforce disciplined study in the home.
Our high school courses are designed to culminate in college-preparatory work for independently motivated and self-directed learners. The transition to college-level expectations, like all others, is gradual. However, by the end of their career at Sacred Heart Academy, our oldest students must be competent thinkers, speakers, and writers, able to engage with texts and with each other in thoughtful, reasonable, and rigorous dialectic.
These students assume the primary responsibility for recording and completing their assigned work and for seeking help from instructors when necessary. Students should expect to spend as much time outside of class in preparation as they do in class.
Because of the length of courses, our high school offerings are more limited than those for elementary and middle school students. Therefore, it is as necessary for our oldest students as for our youngest that additional coursework supplements their CEC schedule. No diploma is offered for part-time students.
- Course Rotation
A critical logistical consideration in the CEC program is our cohort system which groups students in 3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th, 9th and 10th, and 11th and 12th grades. Within these cohorts, a number of courses, typically literature, history, and science—as well as high school electives—follow a rotating schedule with a “Year A” (14-15, 16-17, 18-19) and a “Year B” (15-16, 17-18, 19-20). Below you can see the progression of this schedule for each cohort.
Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Literature 2 Literature 3 Literature 4 Math 2 (Singapore 2A and B) Math 3 (Singapore 3A and B) Math 4 (Singapore 4A and B) Latin 2 (Song School Latin 1 and 2) Latin 3 (Latina Christiana I) Latin 4 (Latina Christiana II) Music 2 (Ward Method Book I) Music 3 (Ward Method Book I) Music 4 (Ward Method Book II) History 2 (The Ancient World) Year A Year B Natures Studies History 3 (Medieval and Early Modern) History 4 (American History) Life Science Earth and Space Science
5th/6th Cohort 7th/8th Cohort Year A Year B Year A Year B Literature 5 (Ancient World) Literature 6 (Medieval World) Literature 7 (Modern Classics I) Literature 8 (Modern Classics II) History 5 (Ancient World) History 6 (Medieval World) History 7 (Early Modern World) History 8 (American History) Nature Studies (Year A) Nature Studies (Year B) Earth and Space Science Physical Science Courses offered each year. Latin 5 (First Form Latin) Latin 6 (Second Form Latin) Latin 7 (Henle Latin IA) Latin 8 (Henle Latin IB) Math 5 (Singapore 5A and B) Math 6 (Singapore 6A and B) Math 7 (Saxon 7/6) Math 8 (Saxon 8/7) Math 9 (Jacob’s Algebra) Art and Sacred Music
9th/10th Cohort 11th/12th Cohort Year A Year B Year A Year B Classical Literature Medieval Literature British Literature American Literature Classical History Medieval History Government American History Physical Science Biology Physics Chemistry Grammar & Composition Logic & Rhetoric Apologetics Economics – 1 Semester Theology of the Body – 1 Semester Courses offered each year, based on demand. Latin 1 – Henle Latin I Latin 2 – Henle Latin I Latin 3 – Henle Latin 2, Latin Prose Latin 4 – Adv. Latin Prose and Poetry Algebra 1 (Jacobs) Geometry (Jacobs) Advanced Math (Jacobs) College Preparatory Math (TBD)
- Expectations by Subject
First and foremost, it is important to note that there are many subjects which are not taught formally in the CEC program at all. Many of these subjects are indispensable to a complete education, but are outside the scope of what the academy can offer. Such subjects include: Phonics and handwriting, both necessary prerequisites to entering the 2nd grade; grammar and composition, offered as a formal course only to 9-12th graders, but invaluable to success in middle and high school; spelling; vocabulary; physical education; and religion, though theology electives are offered to high school students.
Many homeschooling programs, as well as the State of Michigan, recommend or require specific content as well as credit totals necessary to complete a high school course of study. Please familiarize yourself with these requirements and remember that while the academy keeps records in our online gradebook (Infinite Campus), the primary record-keeping and transcripting responsibility belongs to the parents.
The Classical Enrichment Courses literature sequence is a beautiful introduction to lifelong reading and enjoyment of good and great books. The key to success in these courses is a strong complement of home study in language arts. Our literature courses involve significant writing, some correction and instruction in grammar and spelling, as well as conversation about vocabulary and usage. However, each of these subjects, along with handwriting and phonics in the early years, demands a complete course of study each year in the home. From our literature courses students will receive expert instruction and will cultivate their ability to read closely and speak clearly about what they have read.
For literature courses at each level, students will do recitations and will have their literature curriculum supplemented with poetry. At the teacher’s discretion, journal entries or responses may be assigned nightly or weekly in addition to lengthier assignments to be taken through multiple drafts. At all levels, literature is designed to complement the ideas and events studied in the concurrent history offering.
Our history sequence provides the context, including people, places, dates, and events, which anchors stories read in literature within the unfolding story of God’s providence. Three historical cycles are completed over a student’s 2nd-12th grade academic career, each taking a student from the foundations of Western Civilization in Greece and Rome to modern times. Literature courses follow this same cycle. This progression allows students to receive first an introduction to imaging these times and places (2nd-4th grade), then an encounter with the big questions and principal facts of these periods (5th-8th grade), culminating in a mature study of primary sources drawn from each period (9th-12th grade).
In each history course students should expect assigned reading, map quizzes, encounters with significant characters of the period, and work on a progressively built timeline. Because we believe that the Incarnation is the Hinge of History, we view all subjects of study—BC as well as AD—as bearing a deep relation to this most primary fact of history.
To learn a second language is to develop an irreplaceable insight into both your first language and the nature of language itself. Our choice of Latin is both practical and fitting. We choose Latin because it is by far the most significant source of both the structure and the vocabulary of English, because of its inherent order and power to order the mind of the learner, because it is the parent of all Romance languages, and because it was the language of the West for 1500 years and remains the language of the Church. The study of Latin demands discipline, but the rewards are great. Dedicated students find without fail that their knowledge of Latin makes their subsequent studies come more easily—no matter the subject. All full-time students at the academy take Latin each year, and it is our strong recommendation that all CEC students do the same.
No matter a child’s age or experience, there will be a fitting entry point for their study of Latin. Each cohort (excepting 2nd grade) offers multiple placements in Latin, and each time a student transitions to a different cohort, a new curriculum is presented (Song School Latin – 2, Latina Christiana – 3/4, First Form Latin – 5/6, Henle – 7-12). This provides an opportunity for experienced students to deepen their knowledge and new students to have a fresh start. If you are unsure about the right level of Latin for your child, contact Ms. DeRocher (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mr. Good (email@example.com).
Whether they are passionate about the beauty of numbers or struggle to provide assistance which advanced children need, parents often find mathematics to be a source of anxiety. Though expectations for a part-time course in mathematics vary widely, we have found that the good of offering these courses outweighs the difficulties. As we continue to sharpen our ability to do so effectively, it is vital that common expectations for student performance are established. Because math curricula are designed for 180 days of class (which is beyond the scope even of most public schools) and CEC classes will never meet more than 60-70 times each year, our aim of working through two lessons for each class meeting allows completion of around two-thirds of any given text by year’s end. This means parents must give active support, especially for elementary and middle school students, both providing homework help and proctoring take-home assessments.
For success in high school and beyond—and for fostering a child’s love and understanding of mathematics—we believe this is a fine speed of progression. It is our strong preference that high school seniors leave the academy with a confident mastery of geometry and algebra rather than a cursory understanding of these and a year of calculus. When calculus becomes the goal of high school studies, many students are rushed through more foundational material and lean increasingly on “plug and chug” strategies in order to progress at the required rate. However, not even the most achievement-focused schools, which tend to pursue rigor more than mastery, complete a book in its entirety each year.
The slow-and-steady strategy, in most cases, produces a stronger intellectual foundation for advanced study and a greater likelihood that students will enjoy the subject and consider ongoing study of mathematics in college. If covering 100% of the book each year is important to a child or parent, then summer work or simply completing an independent course of study may be the best option.
Studying the natural world is best done in a natural setting. For this reason, much of the homework involved in nature studies in elementary and middle school will involve observation in your backyard. Though we are limited by our setting and the logistics of a part-time course, our goal is to make science instruction hands-on as much as we can. Therefore, most science courses include a materials fee that covers the cost of consumable materials used by Delta Science Modules.
When books are incorporated in elementary and middle school science curricula, they are often “living books” which illustrate and narrate what students cannot experience directly. In high school, we utilize textbooks in addition to experiments to introduce students to advanced concepts, especially in chemistry and physics. Each year we take strides toward improving our science programs by acquiring new equipment and designing more of our own materials.
All elementary and middle school students at Sacred Heart Academy study Sacred Music. These courses are primarily devoted to choral instruction with strong preference given to Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. Each level of instruction also incorporates elements of music theory, composition, and history. Students in 2nd-4th grade study under teachers trained in the Ward Method of instruction, which you can learn more about here: http://musicasacra.com/music-pedagogy-for-children/ward-method-instruction/.
Older students continue their studies under Dr. Daniel Page, music director at Sacred Heart of Jesus parish. Twice each year at the annual Advent Program and our May Magnificat, students of all ages give a concert of songs and recitations for parents and parishioners. Student choirs sing at many daily Masses and feasts and solemnities throughout the year. Extracurricular choirs, as well as the drama program’s annual musical and variety show, provide additional opportunities for performance.
In art courses in the CEC program, students learn and practice techniques in a variety of media. The mastery of fundamental skills and principles necessarily precedes the highest creative expression. While this systematic study is dominant at the middle and high school level, elementary courses more frequently include historical components and studies of great artists and their work.
- Study Hall
Students in middle and high school who have not elected to take courses during all periods of the day must spend their free periods in a study hall, usually in the academy library. During study hall, students must work quietly without the distraction of devices, games, or conversation. Attendance is taken and rules are enforced by study hall monitors.