Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the TOB Parent School?
A: A new initiative of parents across the Archdiocese of Portland who model TOB lessons in their homes. In exchange for free teaching materials, parents submit lesson documentation via pictures and video clips for this site.
Q. Tell me a little more about this concept ...
A. We strive to empower and support parents who want to teach their kids about their bodies and human sexuality through a more holistic lens. We provide curriculum and fun events to educate the parents, which in turn, empowers them to teach their kids. It’s a right and responsibility that inherently belongs to parents, and we are working to get it back into their hands. Basically, the sexual revolution of the 60s occurred, the downfall showed up in the 70s, and in the 80s, Pope John Paul II addressed it all with a series of talks later called the Theology of the Body. It teaches that the body and soul are one; the body represents the soul, and vice versa. We learn that our bodies are gift, how to treat other people as gift, and how to be a sincere gift to others.
Q: What is TOB?
A: TOB (Theology of the Body) is a collection of 100+ talks given by Saint Pope John Paul II, about the gift of the human body and personhood. It directly addresses, but is not at all limited to, human sexuality. TOB is sometimes called Human Anthropology or Humanity 101.
Q: What is the goal?
A: To combat the moral crises of our time by teaching about the gift, purpose, and challenges of human sexuality. And to spread enthusiasm for this topic amongst our Archdiocese so that we can hopefully see a full adoption by every Catholic home, and all interested parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Portland in the near future. There is power in community; we don’t want to educate our own children, only to send them out as “sheep amongst wolves.” We want them to know their true value as children of our Father.
Q: What curriculum do you use?
A: ROOTED (k-8) and CALLED TO BE MORE (9-12) by Ruah Woods Press, which is the only K-12 TOB curriculum available. Their philosophy is “Beauty will Save the World” and their creative and engaging lessons use award-winning children’s literature to tell the story of TOB in a parable-like way, just like Jesus. We also use supplementary Catholic and TOB content, as well as anatomy, biology, and science resources.
Q. What is this curriculum like?
A. It’s so fun! There are many creative suggestions in the teacher guide. You can also come up with you own ideas based on the themes. For example, the K curriculum is based on 2 children’s books - one about bears & blueberry picking (theme: order of human v. animal), the other about eggs in nests (theme: design and purpose of life from early stages). The activities are fun, engaging, interactive, creative, visual, and tactile! Some of the activities are: cut and paste eggs in order from smallest to largest, draw an egg with tendrils to show purpose in design, nature hunt for twigs, shells, feathers – create a robin egg nest, watch a live cam of robin eggs hatching, compare fertilized and unfertilized chicken eggs, go blueberry picking, and preserve berries, compare our footprint to that of a bear, plant seeds to watch them grow.
Q: Why become a TOB parent-teacher and not just do it on your own?
A: We offer free materials, teacher support, supplementary lesson ideas, motivation, accountability, and community- all aimed at helping busy parents do what's most important to them - root their kids in truth and dignity.
Q: Ok, so why a bunch of random parents?
A: Our approach is 2-fold: Top-Down AND Bottom-Up. We believe that the best change happens at the grassroots, so our initial focus is the Bottom-Up. Our hope is that beautiful video and photo documentation of these amazing lessons happening in Catholic homes across our Archdiocese will inspire not only other families, but also leaders of Church/Schools to adopt TOB curriculum in the near future. Also, having a representation of parents across our Archdiocese casts a wider net of inspiration, rather than focusing on a sample of parents from just one parish.
Q: What is the parent time commitment?
A: When a parent becomes a TOB Parent School teacher, s/he commits to providing ten lesson documentations to this website. Each lesson takes 20-60 minutes, based on how detailed one wants to be. So a parent can expect to spend between 3 - 10 hours a year teaching their children TOB. You can do the lessons in a few weeks, months, or spread them out over the year.
Q: Are all the teaching tools provided, or do parents have to create their own lesson plans?
A: As a parent-teacher, you receive the main curriculum from Ruah Woods for free (in the younger grades this includes two curriculum guides and two books of children's literature, in the older grades this includes free login to online materials). The teaching tools, reproducibles, and lesson plans are all included. In addition, you have access to dozens of books in the local TOB Library, and supplementary lesson and craft ideas via the TOB Parent School Pinterest page.
Q: Are lessons interactive? Can we see a short example/screenshot of a typical lesson?
A: Yes! Lessons are entirely interactive and fun. To see examples, please check out the grade level tabs under the "Lessons" tab.
Q. Are there tips for getting kids excited about learning about this topic? Kids may not want to engage in more learning after being in school all day.
A: Yep! On the grade level pages under the "Lessons" tab you will see that all of the lessons are fun and engaging so that kids don't really even realize they are learning. As for older children, we would suggest incorporating these lessons into fun and meaningful outings. For example, a mother may take her high school daughter out for coffee, and discuss lesson content there informally.
Q. What is the duration of the program, I.e. 6 weeks? ... 6 months?
A. A parent can chose entirely how to structure their time. Here are some examples: 1 lesson/month for 1 year. 2 lessons/month for 6 months. Weekly lessons for a season, like 'winter', or 'spring'. A weeklong 'TOB Camp' in the summer, where materials are studied and explored intensively for one week each year. We encourage you to try different avenues and see what works best for your family. Often a hybrid of options above will work best.
Q. Is there an opportunity for parents/kids who are participating in the program to interact with one another/share ideas and experiences on a private site? Or zoom?
A. Yes! Subscribers of this website can join forums, and there will be quarterly grade-level Zoom conferences scheduled (elementary, middle, high school). Parent-teachers are further encouraged to get together with one another and their children informally to build friendships and support once we emerge from the pandemic.
Q. Coming from someone who does not know much about TOB, I’d love to understand more about what TOB is and how our kids will benefit from learning about it. I want to know why this topic is important enough to take time to teach about it. How will this program affect my children's perspective on their own bodies and apply it to real life?
A: It can seem that our lives are too busy to take on one more thing, but in reality this is THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. THING. we can do for our kids. The culture has told them that their bodies are utilitarian and undefinable. This message promotes a gross confusion and misuse of the gift of body, and leads young people down a road that can sometimes be hard to come back from; 'using sex,' 'using' people, the pain and regret of abortion, lack of self-worth, demise of self-image, confusion about identity, complete misunderstanding of biology and anatomy, addiction to porn, shame and guilt, and the slippery slope of 'underage porn' which makes vague the fine-line toward sex-trafficking. Our culture is hurting, confused, and deeply troubled. And our youth are silently screaming for reasonable and competent guidance that they can trust to surface in their lives. Your job, as their parent, is to be their primary educator. And the time is now to usurp the agenda that the culture has been pushing for years.
Q. Why was this important to St. John Paul II?
A. St. John Paul II was "in love with love." He saw infinite potential in every human person because of two “laws of love:” every person is created in the likeness of God, and every person is “gift.” He promoted and defended the primary good of every human life and recognized the natural law of love imprinted by God on every human heart. The two laws of the life of every person, likeness and gift, reveal to us our origin (likeness of trinitarian love) and our destiny (to manifest ourselves as gift to God and to one another).
Q: What were some of St. John Paul II's teachings about this?
A: By the age of 20, Karol Wojtyla found himself alone. He had experienced the loss of his mother, his brother, and then his father. Living under the threat of the Nazi occupation of Poland, his beloved country, his faith in God never waned. The violence, suffering, starvation, death and despair of the Second World War did not keep Karol from seeing the greatness in people. War taught people to use one another but Karol saw a better way of living. He saw the eternal value of every single human being, their infinite dignity and God’s presence in each one. Daily Mass, prayer and study were his food and, even in the middle of a war, he continued to study. In 1946, at the age of 26, he became a priest. He taught religion in Poland and befriended young adults, both married and single. He took them on hiking and canoeing trips and learned of their frustrations, aspirations and joys. He saw their hunger to know and live out their dignity and he deeply understood the questions they were facing: “who am I, why am I here, what’s the purpose of life, why am I male or female, what is love, how do I find true happiness?” He taught these young people about the love of God and, in 1975, began to write the answers to these foundational questions, which he delivered verbally in his Wednesday audiences - weekly public addresses at the Vatican- until 1984. The compilation of these writings is called Man and Woman He Created Them and today we refer to them as the Theology of the Body.
Q: Why did he think it’s important to be educated about this?
St. John Paul II believed that every person has been created for a purpose in the Kingdom of God, Who is LOVE... and, that we discover ourselves only in a sincere gift of self to God and to others. Our origin is God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our destiny is to become sharers in divine life! Theology of the Body is this amazing saint’s map to bring us from our origin to our destiny of everlasting communion in God. Theology of the Body is a philosophical, theological, practical and living answer to many of the questions we face today in the most basic of human relationships: who is God, who am I, what is the purpose of marriage, why does the church believe in faithful, fruitful, free and total love, how can I respect each person’s dignity, how can I understand abortion and contraception in light of the dignity of every human life, how can I love God and others more fully, how can I find the true meaning of my life? St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body offers us a deeper understanding of human persons and, thus, a better way of loving
Q. What grade level should I teach?
A. Since TOB curriculum can flow up or down a grade or two (not as black & white as math curriculum, for example), you could teach a variety of grades. If your child is going into 3rd grade next year, it would be appropriate to teach them the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade curriculum, (or all of them!) and adapt instruction to their comprehension as needed.
Q. What if I want to teach my 3 or 4 year old?
A. Since the ROOTED curriculum is not yet available for those grades, you can use the K curriculum (its about animals and eggs! I used it with my 3 year old while teaching my Kindergartner – easy for 3 and 4 year olds to grasp).
Q. Why should I commit to this above other worthy causes? My time is so limited.
A. TOB is what we need to combat the moral crises of our times. And the conversations need to start YOUNG, far younger than we think. Society is silencing us as Catholic parents, and inundating our youth with misinformation about the purpose of their bodies. We are behind the game, and it’s vital to catch up NOW! Your child gets the benefit of a fun, engaging, and theologically sound lesson on their body from YOU - their parent. You get the materials and support to do this for FREE! Plus you are helping to build an inspiring and thorough database of documentation that will help to get TOB into instruction at the institutional level. We will not be able to do this without a grassroots parent commitment upfront. You could be part of a huge movement for our Church!