Monday, March 28, 2011

More Homeschool Thoughts

I had so many very helpful comments on a recent post that I couldn't possibly express my replies in a comment back. So here is a post instead. :-)

First, thanks so much for the encouragement, well wishes, and prayers from all of you great ladies! It's so great to hear positive comments from ladies who've been there or been through that.

Deborah, don't you EVER worry about making a long comment on my blog. I can't say how much I love comments, especially the long ones. Your daughter's birth story was such a blessing. I get truly excited when I hear about someone who takes their health into their own hands.

Katerina (The Bobbin Aubins), I too have been in the exact same place. We were sort of impatient for a new baby. I had shared that fact with a very few people, and some of them had the reaction, "Another one?! ...Already?!?!" I guess I've never said it, but my thought is "And you don't?!?" I think that I am equally surprised, and perhaps appalled, that some people don't want kids.

Twylia (Twinkle Toes), I know what you mean about having 2 toddlers running around. Of course, I don't have 6 others that are in school, lol.

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Now onto the school stuff. I think I'll start with why I'm turned off to A Beka. I find it to be laid out well with easy to understand lesson plans. I think that it moves pretty quickly, but that a good foundation is laid before a new concept is introduced. A Beka places huge emphasis on writing: something I sorely missed in school. I didn't even start to write organized papers until 11th grade! What I HATE about it is that A Beka is truly a classroom curriculum. Our families' evaluator has often told me that what works in the classroom doesn't often work in the living room. She is right! The kids can usually do the worksheets independently, but the instruction time can sometimes be too time consuming with A Beka.

Another thing with A Beka that leaves a sour taste in my mouth is this: I find some of the graphics to be inappropriate. There are frequently times where children are swimming. That, of course, I have no problem with. The problem is that the children are in modern swimwear. My kids don't wear swimsuits. Period. Lydia and I swim in dresses. The boys swim in below-the-knee shorts and dark colored shirts. This is what we wear when we go to the creek and what we wear in the backyard water sprinkler. When the kids encounter a graphic like this in a story or on a worksheet, they spazz! "Mooooom, there is naked on my school work!!!" Unexcusable. Also, very often there are girls pictured in shorts, sometimes to the mid-thigh. There have also been stories that are magical without using the word "magic." For example, Cinderella was a short story in a reader.

I remember in K4 that we had a problem with some of the stories from an academic stand point. In the reader the sentences to be read, for example, would be "See the red hen? The hen has an egg." What would be pictured would be a red hen standing above an egg. There were times that I knew that the kids would skim the words and decipher the rest from the picture.

The only two curricula that I have at all had any sort of peace with are Landmark and Rod & Staff. Landmark is an Independent Fundamental Baptist curriculum. I am an Independent Fundamental Baptist, and I feel that our families' choice of curriculum should reflect that. Maybe that's crazy talk to some, but that's just how I feel. My pastor also told me that when he was assistant pastor and Christian school principal, their school used Landmark. He said that it was much like A Beka, just not as "flashy."

Rod and Staff, a Mennonite curriculum. There will be no problems with dress. The readers will always be character building. There will be doctrinal issues. The curriculum only goes up to 10th grade though, but I'm sure that we can cross that bridge in high school. The highest math they offer is accounting. I see no sort of algebra, geometry, trig, pre-calculus. From looking at the overview of their science, even their highest science looks like it belongs in 6th grade. I see nothing even close to anatomy, chemistry, physics, biology or anything. I really don't mean to offend anyone using it. If you love it, great! I just have my doubts.

Another place that concerns me is cost. I realize that Landmark is cheap, but I get most of our homeschool stuff CHEAP!!! We live sort of near Pensacola. A Beka is a publication from Pensacola Christian College. Many, many people here use A Beka in the homeschools. Last year I spend about $15 dollars per new student worksheet book, coming to $90 per grade. I bought them from Pensacola Christian Academy and didn't pay shipping costs. All other things I got at a fabulous homeschool consignment shop in town at a fraction of the cost.

Here's a rough break down on last year's cost for John:
readers: 10 books at $5 each= $50
teacher book, math and language/phonics $15 each = $30
teacher spelling book= $10
science, health, history student readers $8 each= $24
test books, 2 at $5 each=$10

That's about $125 in stuff that can be used again and $90 in consumables. If Landmark is completely consumable then it would be considerably more expensive.

Anyway, that's all my musings. All the comments have been extremely helpful.

I sure am ready for this morning sickness to lighten up. :-)

14 edifying expressions:

Twinkle Toes said...

Sounds about exactly how I feel about Abeka! It was taking too much time to "teach" so that I didn't have time for everybody. I will say that I've used Rod and Staff some too and encountered much the same problem. It's got a lot of "teaching" in it. There were not too many doctrinal issues that I recall. The only thing I didn't agree with was their interpretation of "1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;" Not too big of a deal, but not doctrine either. I just found it to be just as much, if not more, work for me which I do not want.

Landmark is basically completely consumable. So you do have to pay the $40 per subject per year. Unless you can find it elsewhere. I did find some on homeschoolclassifieds.com but wasn't what I needed this year. I haven't ever check ebay or anywhere else. There are very few pictures so far as I can tell, so no worries about "naked" people popping up! (my kids do the same thing, they just say "mom, that person's E-modest!"LOL)

I too like that they are IFB and KJV. I am really finding that it works well for us. I am not trying to persuade you to "do what I do", just letting you know what my experiences have been :D

I hope you feel better soon! ♥

Sarah said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Congratulations again! ;)

I'm sorry to hear that you have had some negative comments about your wonderful news.

I honestly don't understand the modern perception of children as a burden? I just adore feeling of life growing inside of me, sweet fuzzy newborns, rambunctious toddlers and happy, helpful older ones!

I will be praying for you throughout your pregnancy!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on curriculum, especially Landmark...I had never heard of them before! I will be definitely checking them out. Do they do high school text books? Ireland does not have ANY Christian text books! I'm not kidding! There are some 'religious education' books but they often go into detail on other 'world religions'. ALL the science books state the big bang and evolutionary theories as fact! I have resorted to buying in materials from the US wherever possible...just recently we purchased Apologia astronomy! But we are waiting to start it until the new school year.

I am starting to piece together my daughters high school curriculum now, so I will have plenty of time to look around and make the best choice for her.

Thanks for sharing!

Kimberly said...

I told my husband that you were about to join the handful club, his response was really cute, he's happy for you and your Hubby!

We didn't last long with Abeka either, back when we began homeschooling our oldest- back then there were less choices available and the internet was just getting going, so we weren't able to research the choices.

We've really liked Rod and Staff; you are so correct about the character training throughout. We are at a crossroads with our boys right now, as they are 9th grade. They are currently doing the "record keeping" math book, which is the highest level currently offered. {it is amazingly thorough in teaching, business accounting, and of course everything is done manually the old fashioned way, which really solidifies the concepts} Our boys are not interested in college degrees per say... We are training them to someday have their own businesses, as not tobecome dependent on an employer... Rod and Staff is encouraging towards that goal... However, we have at least a couple more years of schooling to get through... We will most likely be choosing curriculum from Christian Light for the remainder of their home educations, they offer the regular subjects up through 12th grade and have vocational curriculum also. Both companies use the KJV for scripture. When we first began using R&S I was concerned about teachings coming from the Mennonite perspective, that no longer is a concern. As they've grown we've been able to talk about the differences in doctrine that came out of the Reformation period.

For the ages that your children are, just stick with what is working now. God will give you the curriculum for the next steps as it's needed, that's what we've learned anyway.

Lori said...

I've slowly phased out Abeka in our homeschool. This will the last year that we use any of their things. For us, it was all about the price and the "school" curriculum. Abeka is not made for homeschoolers. Their homeschool teacher lesson plans are the same ones in the big gray book for schools. They are not special needs friendly, nor do they work for students that need a hands on approach.

There is so much more out there for homeschoolers now days that really focuses on everything as a whole. I've been reading Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks of Homeschool Curriculum and found several different options that I'm going to be researching.

I've seen some of Landmark's Curriculum ~ very similar to Abeka's. I have a friend who uses it.They like it very much.

Taryn said...

I noticed that Christian Light Publications sold a NKJV Bible in their catalog so I wondered if the Christian Light Education books were all KJV Bible Scriptures. We have only used some of their readers and the hardcover 7th grade world history book. The first-grade readers for the first semester has a lot of references to "going to school".

Taryn said...

We did find a few mistakes in the Landmark Freedom Baptist high school books but found that the only one worth calling them about was the one my son found in the biology book. We ordered some Abeka science/history/english books through Christian Liberty Press and used the CLP tests as worksheets. Just as our Saxon math books had the answers for the odd problems in the back of the book we did the same with the Abeka books(doing 50%to 80% of the work in the math/english books). I write "Omit" often in books. The Landmark books can be passed down to younger children if a notebook/folder is used instead of writing in the books. There is a good book called Disney and the Bible(1996). Our youngest son(18) of the 6 children really liked Abeka's geography in 9th grade.

Taryn said...

I was in a hurry before- my last comment should say-the(CLE) first-grade readers HAVE a lot of references... There was an odd story in one of the CLE first-grade readers(book 4) where a few boys find a baby rabbit and discuss killing it and eating it. Book 3 has an image of a short-haired Jesus whereas Rod and Staff does not have any images of Jesus as far as I've seen. I like the Landmark Bible high school books.

Taryn said...

Both keepersofthefaith.com and Landmark Freedom use the McGuffey Readers but I don't think they use the same ones in each grade. Interesting reading over at ladyofvirtue.blogspot.com-she recommends the revised ones not the original McGuffey Primer,etc. We used the Hewitt-Moore(Raymond and Dorothy Moore-Seventh-Day Adventists even though we go to a Baptist Church. Their books were popular in the eighties with homeschoolers)edited McGuffey Readers with colored pictures but will recommend the revised for our grandchildren.

Taryn said...

You're right about the Abeka swimming pictures. We really liked the Abeka high school health/P.E. book especially the way they taught about alcohol but there are two swimming photos of young men that I would have edited out. Off topic-there's another post about exploding glass bakeware. This time it's over at agodlyhomemaker.

Taryn said...

Did you see the DVD The Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers? I just watched it on youtube-3 hours. It says they were not Christians but were Masons,etc. Makes one reconsider using overly patriotic books like Abeka and McGuffey readers. Landmark Freedom high school American history was fair if I remember correctly. They mentioned Deism,etc. I think. The DVD uses a lot of Scripture.

Twinkle Toes said...

@Taryn~WHY? Just because they weren't Christians doesn't mean we should omit our patriotic heritage does it? Not that it's good, but still, all our founding fathers believed in God even if they weren't "Saved" so why is it a bad thing to study about our history? And really, since when does one believe everything you read or see from the media or online? I personally choose to believe what's written in the diaries of the men who started this country. Ie...George Washington talks of his love for God and was baptized by a baptist preacher, Christopher Columbus also talks about his salvation experience in his diary...I could go on, but the point is...Yes they weren't perfect. They made mistakes, but isn't that part of what history is about? Learning about where you come from and learning from the past? Be it good things or mistakes?

And just out of curiosity, who are you? I clicked on your name and you don't even have a profile? I'm just wondering :)

Taryn said...

The DVD was recommended by Jessica at workingonafullhouse-on the side at stevenandersonfamily(they have my address). It mentions David Barton. I don't buy homeschool history books of the Reformed theology. Years ago-I've been home educating(6 children) since 1985(this is our last year)- I bought Peter Marshall's(Reformed) homeschool history books and they spoke many times about America being the New Israel(too patriotic for me). Christian Liberty Press(Reformed) has a George Washington biography that mentions the Masons and is fair. We are deciding what books to use for our 5 granddaughters(we bought Rod and Staff(KJ) readers for them). I was told that the Bob Jones history books do mention the founders were deists,etc. My third son bought the Thomas Jefferson Bible-it leaves out the virgin birth,Jesus' miracles and reurrection. He was disappointed. We pray for our country and for abortion to be abolished. Hope this comment goes through I don't think the last one did.

Taryn said...

We have to leave for our Conservative Baptist church but I just wanted to mention that the DVD-The Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers is sold at understandthetimes.org and cuttingedge.org for about $20. PTL.

Taryn said...

Humbly- we have read many diaries,autobiographies(Abeka-Booker T. Washington's is interesting), memoirs, biographies,etc. through the years. I am not a fan(so I don't recommend it) of the Jesuits but one of our sons bought George Washington's Rules for Civility... based on rules from the French Jesuits in the 1500s. My favorite missionary memoir(WWII) is Darlene Deibler Rose's(American)-Evidence Not Seen(keepersofthefaith.com-about $8). Our fourth son's favorite biography is about Jedidiah Smith(Christian Liberty Press-about $8). I like keepersofthefaith.com's articles/book reviews and their William Wilberforce biography(about $6).