Spiritual Studies in the Episcopal/Anglican Homeschool

We were on vacation last week, enjoying some sun and sand.  After a rather rough time with the loss of people this fall and a beloved pet especially this spring, it was good to get away for a little bit.  The wonderful thing about vacations is that hopefully one finds time to think (although my joke is always that taking a trip with children is really a holiday, not a vacation! LOL).

At any rate, I was feeling a little consumed by some little words from the Book of Common Prayer found in the Baptismal Rite…In the baptism of a new member, the entire Body of Christ in the parish re-affirms his or her own baptismal vows –  to continue in the tradition of the apostles in fellowship, teaching and communion; to resist evil; to be a good example of Christ’s love in the world, to love and serve all people, to strive for justice and dignity and peace among all people, to respect the dignity of all every human being.  After baptism and chrismation, part of the prayer said by the priest is:

Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Sprit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all Your works.

Those words always strike me as such a dovetail to what I want for my children to receive from our parenting and from our homeschooling.  And this brings me to Anglican Spiritual traditions within homeschooling.  This is actually not an easy subject.  In the Christian homeschooling market, there are many resources for all denominations of Christianity.  Yet, I think perhaps because there is such a strong and large tradition of Anglican and Episcopalian school choices, that at least here in the United States, I cannot find any single resource at all specifically directed to families of the Anglican Communion who are homeschooling.  The few resources I have found and adapted I have commented upon in blog posts in the past.

We learn about the church in community by attending Liturgy and also through activities within our church body. We break bread together on our knees in community, our baptisms are in community, we love in community.  Our children are involved heavily in choir and the Royal School of Church Music program.  Yet, in our home time where we are together as a family and a small home church so to speak , I have to be conscious and mindful.  My goals for right now when we start our school day include:

To open with prayer- which by its very nature, brings in The Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican view of time, the Saints we hold in communion, and the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church (for example, this week we celebrate St. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, 1012; we celebrate St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1109; and St George, the Patron Saint of England; but we also celebrate John Muir, whose life story fits into one of our mission marks:  “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew life on earth”).  During this time, we explore also different paths of mysticism within the Anglican tradition and within the Body of Christ, and icons.

To read the Bible together and discuss intimately.  Some of the books from Cowley Publications, which is a ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a religious community for men in the Episcopal Church, have been helpful, along with books by author Vicki Black.

Lastly, we will spend a few moments each day discussing any of the following:   the Episcopal Church’s tenets, tenets of good Christian living, famous Episcopalians and Anglicans through biographical format, the Visual and Musical Arts of the Church, the three Creeds we follow, and the history of the Church of England, the Episcopal Church in America  and the Anglican Communion as a whole.

Many blessings and light,



5 thoughts on “Spiritual Studies in the Episcopal/Anglican Homeschool

  1. Thank you so much for this! I know so very well what you’re talking about— there seems to be literally nothing out there about Episcopalian/Anglican homeschooling. Our family is Episcopalian and we are going to transition to a homeschool co-op situation in the fall and I have a toddler who will follow suit. Thank you so much for your tips and resources here, I appreciate them so much as we navigate these new plans!~

    • Hi Heather!
      Glad you are here. There seem to be very few of us out there, I think with you that you are the fourth family I have heard homeschooling who are Episcopalians (Combination real life and on -line).

  2. Carrie, I’d like to use John Muir as part of our saints & heroes block for 2nd grade. Is there any reason why you think he would be an inappropriate choice? We visit Yosemite twice a year & live an hour & half from Muir Woods in CA so we head there each Winter Solstice & for hikes sometimes. We already have a storybook on the camping trip he took with Roosevelt that led to the establishment of our national parks. So my oldest is already a little familiar with him. I like what you mentioned above in your post about how you ” celebrate John Muir, whose life story fits into one of our mission marks: ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew life on earth’).” I’m not always clear how your family celebrates things given the different ages. We’re visiting & celebrating the centennial of our national parks this year as well so he ties into our nature block too. The Waldorf Journey blogger ( http://www.awaldorfjourney.com/2016/06/waldorf-summer-books/ ) recommended him for 5th grade Botany instead so not sure if there’s some reason he would be age inappropriate for 2nd. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the big picture of a developmentally appropriate Waldorf curriculum. 🙂 We are Catholic but I don’t feel I need to limit us to Catholic saints for this block. Also did you teach the saints & heroes for 2nd grade as a block vs festivals on their feast days throughout the year? Again since we’re Catholic we’ve been celebrating saints days as festivals for years developing or adding more each year so while I like the Waldorf idea of blocks I don’t know that this will work for us for this. I know you celebrate alot of saints days too as a family so am wondering what worked for you? I hope this was the best place to ask these questions. Let me know if not & I can ask elsewhere. Thanks in advance for any insights!

    • HI Michele!
      My perspective on the Saints block is that they are saints from sacred traditions that have connections in an otherworldly way to the natural world and to God. So I don’t include modern heroes in my Saints blocks usually (like Martin Luther King Jr or Mother Teresa or Gandhi). John Muir fits in wonderfully into sixth grade (mineralogy) and all his work on glaciers, fifth grade if you are doing biomes since we worked in really specific areas and in establishing places where you can look at specific flora in a specific place. I think you can bring him before that but I would just tell a simple little story or have a storybook. The stories we use in those grades are much more detailed as to the scientific end of it. I tend to let things unfold in life as we go along if it is before the time when we normally get to it in the curriculum – so storybook as part of trip, yes, Junior Ranger program talking about John Muir,sure, but I wouldn’t do too much outside of that.
      So as far as marking his day….the Episcopal Church honors John Muir on a special day, but we don’t give him the same weight as our great theologians or traditional Saints. It is sort of a lesser feast and fast and a commemoration. Sometimes our marking is as simple as remembering this real life person, finding a prayer from one of our prayer books – if this modern person also happens to be one we are studying, we tend to go into a little more depth with books or a community celebration (of course Mass for the principal Feast days or for leading up to a big Feast day we have our pre-Feast activities or fasting involved). I hope that makes sense.
      So, at this stage, for second grade, I would actually try not to get to cerebral about the whole thing. Second graders typically have one foot on the rainbow bridge to speak and one foot on earth. This is why they can relate so well to St. Jerome and the Lion or stories like the ones found here: http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=brown&book=saints&story=cuthbert&PHPSESSID=0544a9496b9d8cf2ae0a64a088e9a55fhttp://www.mainlesson.com/display.php author=brown&book=saints&story=cuthbert&PHPSESSID=0544a9496b9d8cf2ae0a64a088e9a55f — Remember as the curriculum progresses it goes from fairy tales to folk tales to what I call “world traditions” (surrounding the world’s religions)/mythology/legends and periods typified by an incredible person who personifies a whole era to biographies of real people doing real things for the middle schooler. It is not that we don’t bring in real people doing real things before but I find these make the most sense in terms of trips, family traditions, community celebrations – real life. Let real life be the guide for what comes up. And yes, for second grade I normally do Saints in a block but we also do celebrate throughout the year since we are part of the Anglican Communion. I tend to separate school from life a little I guess. I know if they were at a Waldorf School the saints would most likely be brought in a block or some of them marked with school-wide celebrations, like St. Nicholas or St. Lucia, so I tend to think of our home Feast days as separate but complimenting second grade.
      I hope that helps! You will find what works for you and your family. 🙂

    • These insights are very helpful Carrie, thank you!!! 💕 I see your rationale on Muir being a modern biography, on the significant blessed supernatural aspects of the Saints, & on approaching Saints as blocks vs festivals for 2nd grade. I’ve struggled with timing in the past for example when fairytales in a 1st grade block didn’t fit our season or were subtly related to a festival at another time of year. It bugged me & I let it throw me off. I’m going to have to really think through (& plan, lol) how to do each Saint whether as part of a LA block or traditional family festival or both. Christopherus gave the option so its good to hear how another devout family approached this successfully. And I’ll consider the exemplary virtues my child needs of course. Thanks for the tip on St. Jerome & St. Cuthbert & for the link to The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts. I’d seen that Live Ed covered several St. Cuthbert stories so was bummed that Christopherus didn’t. I’m also still wrapping my mind around how Waldorf approaches Saints for where it meets the child’s developmental soul needs vs. how a devout Christian or Catholic approaches them. Want to make sure I cover both bases! I’ve been meaning to finish listening to a free podcast online that WE may have to clarify that. I certainly see the value of blocks & don’t want to take away from the focused development of Language Arts by chopping it up. I haven’t been clear about this Saints & Heroes block in the progression of the Waldorf curriculum. I need to read more about the big picture! Admittedly I’ve been eager to more formally address Muir since he’s already come up so much in our travels & I admire naturalists & want to encourage that. St. Francis is my favorite saint so we’ll definitely cover him! How our life experiences & the Waldorf curriculum mash up has felt tricky. I’m going to think about all this! 😀

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