Homeschool Curriculum Reviews- Let Me Help You Choose!
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If you have ever gone to a homeschool convention, browsed through catalogs, or done a search on the internet for curriculum, then you know there are a lot of choices out there! It can be very overwhelming when you are just starting out and sometimes even when you have been doing it for a while. That is why I decided to write some homeschool curriculum reviews to help you get some first-hand knowledge about the experiences I have had with different curricula and what I think about them.
Homeschool Curriculum Reviews Are Helpful
When I am searching for the next year’s materials, which I love to do, by the way, I do a lot of research and read many reviews. I want to know what people think about a product and how it worked in their homeschool. I know that every child is different, but I can still get a general feel for it and whether I think it may be a good fit for our family or not. I am going to be choosing some of our favorites to write about, and would like this page to be an ongoing resource I continue to add to as we use them. I hope it helps you decide if any of these products will work in your homeschool.
As you are reading about these, some may not seem like they would work for your family; however, keep in mind that we go through seasons when homeschooling. Some years you may have less time than others to plan, prepare, and teach. So a hands-on curriculum may not seem appealing right now but it could down the road. Learning about different materials is never a waste of time. You just never know when your homeschool needs will change and one of these may be a better option.
ACE (Accelerated Christian Education)
ACE by Ace Ministries* may seem very simple at first glance, but it has a lot to offer in its basic approach. I have found several benefits to it that have really been useful in our homeschool.
Benefits of ACE Curriculum
Great for Teaching Independent Learning
When I think about an excellent curriculum for training a child to be an independent learner, I think ACE (Accelerated Christian Education). It does a fantastic job of using independent learning strategies that help a child take control of his own schedule each week. Depending on the age of your student, once the groundwork has been established, it is possible for him to do all his work by himself each day with you only needed for guidance.
Once your child is in charge of his own learning, he has a skill that is going to transfer into adulthood. It’s a wonderful feeling to watch your child working through his studies each day knowing he is gaining life skills that are going to help him be successful.
Teaches Goal Setting
ACE consists of individual PACEs (Packet of Accelerated Christain Education) the child works through. The idea is similar to a whole textbook being broken down into its individual units. Each PACE represents one of those units. Every subject has its own set of 12 PACEs, which they recommend being completed in a year. It works out to three per nine weeks. Of course every child is different and this is not set in stone. You can adjust this based on your student’s needs and abilities.
Here is a video showing what they look like and how the work is laid out.
Before each PACE is started, the page numbers are counted up and divided by the numbers of days needed to finish them. This lets the student know how many pages to do each day and helps with time management. These page numbers are marked on a weekly chart and checked off when completed each day. This chart is a great way to set short-term goals for each week.
In addition, the student can set a long-term goal for the year for the three PACEs per nine weeks and twelve per year needing to be completed. There is a separate chart to visualize this. Stickers are placed on it each time a workbook is finished to show progress and help the student have a sense of achievement.
Something to note is that students who are completing their work faster may move through the books quicker and move ahead. As I stated before, the goal of 12 books per year is a recommendation because some may be able to do more and others less. These charts will help the student see how they are doing and adjust in order to meet those goals.
Strengthens Weak Areas and Fills in the Gaps
The beauty of this program is your child can be working at different levels for each subject. He may excel in math but perhaps requires a slower pace in reading. Through a free online diagnostic test, you will be able to tell precisely which PACE your child should start in for each subject. You can also determine if there are learning gaps that need to be closed and use specific PACEs to accomplish this. This makes it easy to go back and reinforce weak or missing skills to get caught up and move on with a stronger foundation.
ACE’s 5 Laws of Learning Explained
Teaches Character and Bible
One of the things I love about this curriculum is the character training and Bible that is incorporated. Each PACE starts with a verse that will be memorized by the end of the book as well as some sort of character trait that is introduced and reinforced throughout. The artwork used for the illustrations are cartoons that teach these in a fun way.
Perfect for Carschooling
Each PACE has everything the student needs inside. There are no other books required. There are occasionally hands-on activities or experiments to do, but we have found these to be mainly in science. Each workbook is thin and lightweight, and because each subject is self-contained in its own worktext, it’s so easy to take school work in the car or to appointments. You just grab your workbooks and a pencil and go!
Helpful When Teaching More Than One Child
I have had quite an age range to teach in my house for a few years, and I was not smart when choosing my curriculum when my third child started school. I had bought some materials for each student that I loved but required way too much of my time preparing and teaching, and it became challenging to split myself between the children. I realized real fast that something needed to change and ACE was the answer. Once a student has been trained to use this, he can go off on his own and complete his assignments with little to no assistance from you. Yes, you will need to check in on him to make sure he understands the concepts and is maintaining a certain percentage correct, but that can be done at your convenience throughout the day. Not when another child needs you at the same time.
I found the price of this curriculum to be very reasonable. I was able to purchase the entire year of school, including the chapter books for the literature and creative writing class, for less than it would cost for just a couple of subject with some other companies. The PACEs vary in price depending on the grade level and range from $2.70-$3.50 each. They include all the core subjects:
- Math (K-12)
- English (K-12)
- Literature and Creative Writing (2-8)
- Social Studies (K-12)
- Science (K-12)
- Word Building (which includes spelling and vocabulary) (K-9)
- Bible Reading (1-6)
At the high school level, DVDs can be purchased to help teach specific subjects. This is something parents will appreciate if they don’t feel comfortable teaching certain subjects. I did find these to be pricey compared to their other materials but perhaps worth it once you are in subjects like trigonometry and physics.
There also many electives available. The list includes Bible, business, fine arts, government, health, foreign languages, language arts, and college classes.
This curriculum is definitely meant to be student led and will make a big difference in your day if you find yourself in the same situation I was in or you just want your child to take on more responsibility for his work. We have had a great experience with this curriculum and at this time, my daughter is continuing with it. She loves being able to do her work by herself, and she especially likes not having to wait around for me until I’m finished working with someone else so we can work together. She loves being in control of when she starts and ends her schoolday, and I’m not slowing her down anymore.
Check out my other homeschool curriculum reviews below. If you have used any of these materials, let me know how you liked them in the comments below. Also, do you find reviews helpful and what do you look for specifically when you read them?
You can find ACE at Christian Book Distributors*.
Stay tuned for more reviews soon!
I'd like to share with you five independent learning strategies you can use in your homeschool today. There are a number of reasons why we want our children to be independent learners. The biggest reason is they will become adults that need to function in the real world and the workplace. As an adult, no one is going to be standing around watching them to make sure they are getting their work done.
You picked all your curriculum out for the year and are very excited to start. Shortly into the new school year, you realize something isn't working quite right. Maybe your child is bored or complaining about the work. Perhaps he is struggling with all the writing it requires. Maybe sitting in the chair for long periods of time makes him antsy. Even though you've had him write his spelling words ten times each twice this week, he just can't seem to remember them. He wants to touch everything you put in front of him and do anything except his work.
All of these situations could be that your child just doesn't want to do his work. But what if that wasn't it? What if the curriculum you chose isn't right for him? The different learning styles in children can play a large role in how they respond to the curriculum you choose.
Whether you are new to homeschooling or just getting started, you probably have a teaching method that you lean towards. Most people favor a style that caters to their personality. These different types of homeschooling methods can be categorized into six main groups.
Science is a subject that many children enjoy in school. It's fun to learn about plants, animals, electricity, molecules, and even blow things up. There are a lot of exciting careers in the science field. Many of these are in great demand with a positive outlook for the future and offer a sizable salary. If you have a child who loves science and seems to be leaning in that direction as a possible career, you may want to check out a few of these options. There may be something he hasn't heard of and perhaps this will spark some interest.
Planning is probably one of the most daunting tasks about homeschooling. Staying organized is critical for making sure things get done, keeping a good record, and not forgetting important events. Trying to keep up with your home, family, and school can be exhausting. I don't know about you, but my brain can only remember so many things, and it seems to remember less as each year passes. I constantly have to write things down or I will forget them. Unfortunately, I often lose those little scraps of paper I write on as well. And then came the Homeschool Planet planner!
Getting started with homeschooling is really not as hard as you think. In fact, you have a lot more choices and freedoms in many areas, and there are so many benefits your family will gain from it. I'm going to walk you through the entire process.