You are using an unsupported browser. Please update your browser to the latest version on or before July 31, 2020.
K-8 Curriculum Information
print icon

Elementary and Middle School Course Planning 

When planning your courses for your student, we are here to help. Choosing courses is ultimately dependent on the strengths and needs of the individual student. Our website lists each course we offer for each grade level. Some parents choose to do all the courses offered in each grade level, but how many you choose is up to your student’s needs. You want to balance your student’s academic growth with their overall development as a whole person. It is usually not advisable to select every course offered at each grade level. It is important to plan time in your student’s week for extracurricular activities, friendships, and family time.  


Foreign Language, for example, is always optional. Many of the courses will be an easy choice. For example, for Reading in first grade, if they are at grade level, there is one option. For some of the courses like History, Math, or Science, you will get to decide which textbook series you prefer. We have provided extra tips and suggestions on choosing courses and establishing a schedule below. 


Course Selection 

Kolbe offers families a wide selection of courses for pre-school, elementary, and middle school children. The number of options available may seem overwhelming, but it is important to remember that Kolbe does not require all those subjects be used. In fact, Kolbe does not have any requirements for the type of subjects or the number of subjects your elementary or middle school student(s) need to take. The guiding factor in determining what subjects to choose is what your state requires you to teach. The other critical element is what you as the primary educator want to teach your child. Once you determine the subjects required by your state, choosing the additional options is next.  


Language Arts (General Guidance)

Language Arts is the broadest subject as there are many elements. There are many components, and they may or may not all be necessary. It may be helpful to consider each Language Arts choice individually and determine if your child really needs that particular aspect. For instance, if they are a fluent reader, Phonics may no longer be necessary. Maybe you would prefer to have them learn vocabulary through literature rather than take it as a stand-alone subject. Should they complete both traditional Composition and Classical Composition? And what is the difference between Reading and Literature? These are the kinds of decisions you as the parent can make. Kolbe advisors are happy to assist you by answering your questions.  



While Kolbe does not have individual course plans or enrollment options for Penmanship (handwriting), for parents who want their students to study the discipline of handwriting, we do carry handwriting books for grades K-8. There are many benefits to including Penmanship in an elementary course of study. For the youngest students, learning to write using a systematic approach helps with important motor skills and cognitive development. As students mature, a handwriting program will reinforce these skills and “train the brain” through copywork and repetition. At all grade levels, a handwriting program encourages students to develop the good handwriting habits necessary for turning in neat and orderly written work. 


Reading vs. Literature

Kolbe Academy’s reading program and literature program serve different purposes, but both can prepare students for our high school humanities courses. Both Kolbe Academy’s reading and literature programs have comprehension questions, vocabulary, and include a wide range of genres.


Kolbe Academy’s reading program uses a basal reader, an anthology of short stories, poems, and excerpts from longer works designed to build on previous skills learned. The stories are archaic in language and are intentionally used by Kolbe Academy for this reason. This language prepares the student to experience the wonderful texts that shaped Western Civilization that they will read in high school. The stories increase in difficulty, leading the student in a gentle and orderly fashion to a higher level of reading. Many students have commented that they really enjoy the stories.


The Kolbe literature program is focused on whole works of literature. Students are exposed to classic literature which prepares the student well for high school reading. The literature exposes the student to varying styles from poetry to fantasy. The students will focus on bigger themes of family, friendship, and virtue in this course, as well as consider character development and plot. Kolbe Academy’s literature focuses on writing in addition to reading.


Composition Choices

Kolbe Academy offers two tracks for studying Composition: Classical Composition and Voyages in English 2018 composition instruction. There are 5 courses in the Classical Composition series. Parents may choose either option (or a combination of both) to teach their students to communicate through the written word and to prepare them for the rigors of writing in high school and beyond. For parents who choose to use the Classical Composition series alongside the Voyages in English courses, they may follow the grammar instructions and skip over the composition instructions found in the Voyages in English courses while following the composition instruction found in the Classical Composition course plans instead. Parents may also choose to use the Voyages in English composition lessons as their main form of instruction for composition and have the student complete some of the Classical Composition at their own pace for enrichment.  

We recommend that students begin Classical Composition in grade 4, but parents may choose to begin students in earlier or later grades depending on what best suits their student’s academic needs. Composition instruction is included in each Voyages in English 2018 course from grades 3 through 8. 

Classical Composition 

Based on the fourteen stages in the progymnasmata (a set of preparatory exercises originated by the Greeks to ready the student for rhetoric), the Classical Composition series offered by Kolbe Academy teaches students to write according to traditional teaching methods. The progymnasmata exercises were adopted by the Church from the ancients, adapted during the Renaissance, and practiced by the West until recently. Students will gain an appreciation for sound writing, the habits of good writers through imitation of their structure and style, and the ability to read and write analytically, which will allow the student to tackle any given writing task.  


Unlike modern composition teaching methods, each stage of the progymnasmata builds upon the skills learned in the previous stage. Therefore, a student should work their way through the Classical Composition series beginning with the first stage (the fable stage) regardless of the student’s grade level. Kolbe’s Classical Composition course plans offer parents suggestions on adapting the pace of the courses for older students. If parents are relying on Classical Composition to prepare their students for writing high school essays, students should complete Classical Composition courses 1-4, and if possible, course 5, which is a one-semester course. 

Voyages in English 2018 Composition

The composition instruction provided in the Voyages in English 2018 textbooks follows a modern, but traditional, format. Voyages in English 2018 offers comprehensive language arts instruction. It builds students’ confidence as effective writers, readers, listeners, and speakers. The textbook is organized into two related yet distinct parts: grammar and writing. The course includes lessons that integrate these two parts to show the relationship between grammar and writing.  

Students using the composition instruction found in Voyages in English 2018 receive instruction for completing many types of composition assignments including personal narrative, letter writing, how-to articles, book reports, persuasive writing, creative writing, expository writing, and research reports. Each chapter of composition instruction focuses on understanding the structure and logical steps necessary to complete a particular type of writing task from beginning to end. Unlike the Classical Composition courses offered by Kolbe, which should be taken in sequence, students may take the Voyages in English 2018 courses according to their appropriate grade level. 


History Choices

In grades 3 through 8, Kolbe Academy offers a choice in history tracks:


  1. History 3: Stories of a Changing World, History 4: Stories of the Old World, and the Catholic Textbook Project History Textbooks
  2. Land of our Lady Series

Parents may follow one track or the other from beginning to end or mix and match the textbooks to suit the academic needs of their students. 

History 3: Stories of a Changing World

History 3: Stories of a Changing World offers an overview of ancient through modern-day World History through 55 select biographical narratives of civic leaders, explorers, inventors, pioneers in the arts and sciences, and faithful servants of God. The course provides a foundation of knowledge about the influence of these important figures throughout history. Each lesson includes key vocabulary terms, timeline work, close reading, and reflection activities that highlight the significant virtues and accomplishments of the historical figures.  

History 4: Stories of the Old World

History 4: Stories of the Old World moves forward from the narrative style of History 3: Stories of a Changing World to an event-focused text that incorporates a timeline and map studies skills. The course is broken down into four units covering ancient Egypt and Israel, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Era of Christendom. Students will move through the different time periods in ancient Egypt and Israel and will briefly touch on Persians, Babylonians and other cultures that paved the way for Christ’s coming in the fullness of time. The student will then move on to Greece, seeing the conquest of the ideas of the Greeks and their transmission to others via Alexander the Great. Then on to Rome where they will learn about the unification of the western world. Finally, they will read about Christ’s birth, the foundation of Church and the rise of Christianity. The barbarian conquests, monasticism, the conquest, the high Middle Ages are all covered. The course ends as the world moves into the era of exploration. The textbooks can be supplemented with material from other sources, such as D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. The textbook ends with the rise of Christendom, preparing students to move into American history with the 5th-grade text From Sea to Shining Sea

Catholic Textbook Project Series 

The Catholic Textbook Project books offer a contemporary presentation of history in story form enhanced by the lives of the saints, maps, and illustrations. The four books used in grades 5 through 8 are: From Sea to Shining Sea (the history of North America from the Native American nations up to the Twentieth Century), All Ye Lands (world history and cultural overview from prehistory up to the mid 1800's), Light to the Nations: Part One (world history from the coming of Jesus Christ, through medieval Christendom, to the Enlightenment of the 18th century), and American Venture (U.S. history from the first settlements to the mid-20th century). 

Land of Our Lady Series 

An alternative to studying Kolbe Academy's Stories of a Changing World in Grade 3, Stories of the Old World in Grade 4, followed by the series of four history books by the Catholic Textbook Project, the Land of Our Lady series is a traditional set of five textbooks first published in the mid-twentieth century. The series contains a concise and interesting explanation of the Catholic influence of religion, culture, and morality in the history of America. Book one, Founders of Freedom, begins with Creation. Book five, Guardians of Freedom, ends with the Korean War. Many families find that the writing style of this series lends itself to teaching history to several grade levels at once, making it an ideal choice for parents who wish to simplify their teaching schedule by using the same materials for multiple children. Parents can read the text aloud if some students are too young to read the text themselves and adjust the academic expectations for assignments and assessments depending on the grade level of each child. 


Math Choices

Kolbe Academy offers a choice of math tracks for grades K-8:


  1. Modern Curriculum Press Math for Kindergarten, and Sadlier Math in grades 1-8
  2. Singapore Math in grades K-6

This provides parents with more than one math option to suit the academic needs of their students. 

Modern Curriculum Press (MCP) Math and Sadlier Math 

Kolbe offers MCP Math as one option for kindergarten. MCP is a traditional, straightforward math curriculum that utilizes a consumable student book containing daily worksheets. This program does not require a large amount of hands-on time to explain the lessons, and its lack of complexity for younger students is an appealing quality 


Sadlier Math is offered in grades 1-8. The Sadlier Math curriculum utilizes a linear approach to presenting new math concepts. Students who plan on taking Kolbe’s Foerster’s Math curriculum in high school may find that Sadlier Math’s linear approach will provide an optimal transition to taking those courses. 

Singapore Math 

Kolbe offers Singapore Math for grades K-6 as an alternative to using MCP Math in kindergarten and Sadlier Math in grades 1-6. Singapore Math utilizes modality learning, and as a series it allows students in the primary grades to retain the same math curriculum in the lower elementary grades and then transition to a new curriculum for Pre-Algebra and Algebra (if appropriate) in middle school. Singapore Math utilizes both A and B book sets for each grade level, which makes it easy for a parent to start the math course at the beginning of a grade level or midway through the grade level depending on the academic needs of their student. Each A and B book set includes three books (student text, student workbook, and teacher book). All three books are integral to teaching the course. This is a wonderful program for the student who thrives in a tactile learning environment and parents who desire a math program that emphasizes instructor engagement in the lessons. 


Science Choices

In grades K-6, Kolbe offers two science programs: Science and Living in God’s World (grades K-2) and the Harcourt Science textbook series (grades 1-6). Parents have the option of completing Science in God’s World through grade 2 and then beginning the Harcourt series in grade 3 or switching to the Harcourt series in grades 1 or 2 depending on what best suits their needs. In middle school, Kolbe offers Holt Life Science and General (Physical Science) and Pearson Earth Science.  

Science and Living in God’s World 

The Science and Living in God’s World curriculum is a delightful and simple way to introduce students in grades K-2 to the wonders of God’s creation and appreciating God in the world around them. The Science Experiments Recipe Book available in the Kolbe bookstore makes a wonderful companion to this course. 

Harcourt Science Series 

The three Harcourt science textbooks each contain two years of instruction: Grades 1/2, Grades 3/4, and Grades 5/6. For each grade level of the series (grades 1-6), students will complete units of instruction in Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science. The textbooks are vibrant and captivating. 

Life Science, Earth Science, and General Science

Kolbe Academy offers Holt Life Science, Pearson Earth Science, and Holt General Science (Physical Science) in grades 6-8. These courses provide excellent preparation for high-school-level science courses. They may be taken in any order, but many students take these courses in the following progression: Life Science in 6th grade, Earth Science in 7th grade, and General Science in 8th grade. For students planning to take high school level Algebra 1 and Physical Science in 8th grade, we recommend that they take Life Science and Earth Science in grades 6-7. Please also see our Help Center article that addresses Kolbe Academy's Recommended Science Sequence for Middle and High School.


Foreign Language Choices

Kolbe offers several options for the study of Foreign Language study in K-8. However, Foreign Language is not required during these years. When considering Foreign Language for a K-8 student, we encourage parents to consider what workload will be appropriate for the academic needs and goals of their student. 

Latina Christiana 

Latina Christiana is a wonderful way to introduce Latin to elementary students. The course materials are very user-friendly and may be completed as written for a structured introductory Latin course or used as enrichment when time allows to familiarize elementary students with Latin. 

Little Latin Readers 

Little Latin Readers is a new series of courses for the Kolbe curriculum. Little Latin Readers is an excellent academically structured Latin curriculum designed for elementary students. We recommend that this series may be started in grade 3. Students may begin at their own grade level without completing the prior courses in the series if they are motivated students with a strong grasp of the language arts, particularly grammar. Students completing the sixth course in the series will be ready to take Henle Latin 2 upon entering the 9th grade. 

Basic Greek in 30 Minutes a Day 

Basic Greek in 30 Minutes a Day is a two-year introduction to the Greek language. Students will learn the Greek alphabet, basic Greek pronunciation, and a general outline of Greek grammar. The course teaches students the meaning of hundreds of New Testament words as well as the background of dozens of religious terms by explaining the Greek components that form them. We recommend that this two-year course be taken in grades 7-8. 

Spanish 1A & 1B (Online Only)

These courses cover about half of the High School Spanish 1 curriculum in one year and are aimed at middle school students. These courses are designed to teach the student Spanish grammar and to develop the student’s ability to express himself both in writing and speaking the Spanish language. Students will learn skills for developing a Spanish vocabulary; learning and applying standard Spanish grammar and composition rules to writing effective sentences and paragraphs; and developing thoughts and ideas logically in Spanish so as to become an effective writer and speaker. Students who do well in 1A and 1B middle school levels are eligible to begin Spanish 2 afterward.

French 1A & 1B (Online Only)

These courses cover about half of the High School French 1 curriculum in one year and are aimed at middle school students. These courses are designed to teach the student French grammar and to develop the student’s ability to express himself both in writing and speaking the French language. These courses teache skills for developing a French vocabulary; learning and applying standard French grammar and composition rules to writing effective sentences and paragraphs; and developing thoughts and ideas logically in French so as to become an effective writer and speaker. Students who do well in 1A and 1B middle school levels are eligible to begin French 2 afterward.


High School Courses in 8th Grade

To learn more about earning high school credit in 8th grade, please see our High School Courses in 8th Grade Help Center article.

1 out of 1 found this helpful

scroll to top icon