Signing up with one of the various Catholic home school programs has many advantages. With most of these programs, you get:
Many times these programs are attractive to new homeschoolers because they take a lot of the guesswork out of homeschooling. There is someone to ask questions of and an already laid out curriculum for each grade. Basically all you have to do is sign up and everything you need is delivered right to your door.
Many of these programs are also considered accredited schools. This means that they have been inspected by an outside independent agency. The agency checks a school's course of study, their academic records, accounting practices and business practices. It essentially shows that the school is following certain educational standards set forth by the accrediting agency.
So you might be wondering if there are any drawbacks to these home school programs. Some homeschoolers feel that they can be very constricting. While many of the programs have loosened up a bit over the years, if you join one of them, you will basically be following the curriculum that they have set up. If you want to make changes in books or subjecs to their curriculum, you usually can, but it will require coordinating with the counselor and may mean you will have to do your own lesson planning.
Another drawback that some people find to these home school programs is that they feel under pressure to get things done in a certain time frame. Many of these programs are set up by quarters, with quarterly testing and reports. Sometimes people have a hard time sticking to the schedule and feel that they are always behind and under pressure to catch up. This can be very stressful for many people.
The biggest disadvantage of a pre-designed program can be the money that it costs to enroll each child and get all of the materials. If you have a large family, there are usually breaks in tuition, however the cost per year can still be sizable. It is definitely something to carefully research.
As you can see, there are some major advantages to signing up with a Catholic home school program. This type of homeschooling method would be good for you if you are just starting out and do not feel very confident about how to teach or what to plan. Of course, money will also be a determining factor. If you like this option and can afford it, then there are a variety of providers to choose from. Most popular among them (listed in no particular order) are:
Another option you have is Catholic Heritage Curriculum. They are a curriculum provider, as in they offer a complete homeschool program with lesson plans for K - 8, but you do not sign up with them so there are no additional fees beyond the books and lesson plans. We've used many of their workbooks and they are wonderfully Catholic books. This is a nice option if you want some structured help.
Spend some time checking out all of your options. There are a lot of similarities between them, but also some big differences. All are solidly Catholic. Talk to other homeschoolers and get their opinions. If signing up for a Catholic home school program doesn't sound right for you and your family, continue to explore because you still have many options.