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Why choose a complete history program over a spine?


Guest aquiverfull
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Guest aquiverfull

I've decided that I don't want to do a full year of geography as planned. My dd is in 5th grade and we started this year with MFW ECC very loosely. However, we would both really like to move on to some history. I figure we'll get geography in anyway as we are studying history.

 

I just don't know if I want a complete history/literature program like HOD, WP, SL, TOG, etc. or just do some of my own by pulling in a spine or two and filling in with historical fiction, some lapbooks, etc. I've tried SL, and WP in the past, and as I said we've been loosely doing MFW ECC. I really tweaked those programs in the past, so much that the Teacher's guides haven't been worth the money for me. So I'm really hesitant to try another program, but some of them look so good. I'm a junkie, I admit it. :tongue_smilie:

 

So please tell me why you chose one option over the other.

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I need to use a spine and add in my own selections because DS has rather complex learning issues and no complete program works quite right.

 

But I would say that a complete, structured history program would be great for someone who doesn't have time to plan, isn't comfortable about choosing books, doesn't have a good library handy, has multiple children, or for whatever reason isn't able to do her own planning.

Michelle T

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So please tell me why you chose one option over the other.

 

I choose SL b/c it is easier for me to buy it "all" in one box, with a schedule and notes, than it would be to start from scratch. Yes, I do add other things and leave some out, but my modifications are minor. Every time I add something and spend an entire evening scheduling/planning one new resource, I reaffirm why I love having the bulk of the planning/prep already done for me. Also, my library is incovenient and not comprehensive, so I prefer to generally purchase books rather than scour the library for them, so I like purchasing the entire "Core" at once.

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My best personal answer is sheer exhaustion. Now if I could only find that perfect program I could live with without tweaking ...

 

I think it is a toss up, for the most part. A complete program can save you much needed time and energy, since you don't have to worry about the planning or scouring for resources. A spine is a lot more flexible and leaves room for you to put the emphasis where you want to put it, choose exactly the resources that are meaningful to you, and be completely flexible in your timeline and how you allocate that.

 

My guess is that if you aren't meshing with MFW, you may find you aren't really a complete history program kind of homeschooler. There is a freedom in knowing that, as long as you don't get sucked into the next big thing when it comes up.

 

Best wishes!

Edited by Asenik
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I really tweaked those programs in the past, so much that the Teacher's guides haven't been worth the money for me.

 

So please tell me why you chose one option over the other.

 

I choose to use a spine and fill in with library books, bought books, maps, primary sources, a tailored writing plan, a tailored discussion plan, etc.. It's more freeing to me. I like how the WTM describes how to do this. I can tailor it to my kids. A complete program would be constraining to me, and like you said, I'd tweak so much that it wouldn't be worth it.

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I like to own the books. We can use them at our leisure. DD likes to pull them out and read them again, or she reads them much later, after we have had them for some time. When I use the library we often return books before we have read them. It is nice to buy a program and have all of the books there instead of running to the library and making decisions.

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I create my own with a spine for several reasons. Probably the biggest one is that I'm a planning junkie. Give me something, and I can create a plan for it. Implementation not guaranteed. ;)

 

It also allows more freedom in selecting books. I generally choose after looking at the selections from several programs, plus investigating options on my own. I can make sure the supplementary books are a good mix of works that are more challenging for dd and those that are easier to read. I appreciate the flexibility. An example - dd's assigned literature for this coming week is Peter Pan. She came out of her room tonight telling me how she loved the book. Past tense. She picked it up this morning, and in between piano practice, helping decorate the house, and being at her sister's birthday party, she managed to read the entire thing. Her history reading load was relatively light this week; we'll probably look and see if we want to pull something forward a week, to balance it out. If I hadn't put it together myself, I'd feel less confident in doing that.

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I choose to use a spine and fill in with library books, bought books, maps, primary sources, a tailored writing plan, a tailored discussion plan, etc.. It's more freeing to me. I like how the WTM describes how to do this. I can tailor it to my kids. A complete program would be constraining to me, and like you said, I'd tweak so much that it wouldn't be worth it.

 

 

This is what we do. Once you get used to the pattern it all falls into a comfortable groove. I rather doubt this way takes much more time than coordinating every book you'd need for someone else's plan would.

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Guest aquiverfull

Thank you all for replying. :)

 

My guess is that if you aren't meshing with MFW, you may find you aren't really a complete history program kind of homeschooler. There is a freedom in knowing that, as long as you don't get sucked into the next big thing when it comes up.

 

Best wishes!

It's just that I only ended up using the geography part of MFW. I really dislike the way the Teacher's guide is all laid out. I'm feeling like I might not be a "complete history program" person. :D

You are so right, it's VERY hard not to get sucked in.:lol:

 

Have you thought about MOH W/LIVING BOOKS FROM THE LIBRARY and notebooking pages ...that's why I will be doing. moh yahoo group has plenty of helpful suggestions and supplemental materials.

 

Plus your 4 yo will be able to learn some history too.

 

Actually, I'm leaning heavily towards using MOH, SOTW, and some living books. But then I think what if there's a better project or cool activity in "such and such" program. Or, what if I leave something out. I really like the samples at HOD and TOG, but then I worry it will just be wasted money again. So I don't know. :confused:

 

I like to own the books. We can use them at our leisure. DD likes to pull them out and read them again, or she reads them much later, after we have had them for some time. When I use the library we often return books before we have read them. It is nice to buy a program and have all of the books there instead of running to the library and making decisions.

 

I agree and that's the one reason why I doubt I'd ever be able to use TOG. I love the samples, it looks like everything I really want in a curriculum but then I can't afford it. My library is not so great, they don't have almost all of the books used in TOG. I've checked several in my area too.

I also really like to have the books here for us to keep. Library trips can be hard sometimes with all the little ones I have.

 

 

Some times I have to stop myself and think..it's "just history". I find myself really getting carried away. I've felt in the past that using those history/lit based programs had us off focus. In those beginning years I saw history taking over our homeschool. Often the important subjects like Math and LAs were taking a back seat. I was always wondering how that was happening and then it simply hit me one day. We were using programs that were very heavily focused on history, and so our thinking became that as well.

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Okay, here is my plan for you: buy the Sonlight readers and then sell them to me when you are done. Case closed. :lol:

 

I love, love, love, Sonlight readers and will continue with them even as we cycle through different history programs because they are so easy to implement and I know DD is getting literature and history even if I am slacking off. ;)

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Guest aquiverfull

Sounds like a good plan Carmen. :lol:

Actually, every year when I'm planning for our upcoming homeschool year, my SL catalog is right there beside me. I always buy some of the SL readers and read-alouds. Even when we did WP, we added in many of the SL literature books. :D

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I need to use a spine and add in my own selections because DS has rather complex learning issues and no complete program works quite right.

 

:iagree: My DD's abilities are all over the map and I would need to adapt any complete program so much that it wouldn't be worth the money.

 

Additionally, most of the complete programs are written from an Evangelical Protestant POV and we're Catholic. I know Catholics who do adapt SL, TOG, etc. but that's just one more thing I'd have to worry about.

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Have you read this thread? http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138146&highlight=spine

 

Like you I am drawn to beautiful packages. I have most of the brochures on my shelf. But, by the time I've eliminated all the things I didn't think we would like/use/etc. and substituted a spine I thought we would like better, it's like trying to hold a fist full of sand.... it all eventually runs between my fingers and I'm left with nothing. So, I try to pick a spine that I love so much that I know we will get a lot from it alone. Then I use all those wonderful brochures (and some websites, etc.) to come up with other read alouds and independent reads. I don't worry about matching things up perfectly. For my oldest ds, I divided the book titles I wanted him to read into thirds (Creation and Egypt/Greece/Rome) making a list for each 12 week "term" (estimates, of course!). Then I just ask him to read a certain amount of time each day. Not a perfect science, but it generally works out.

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I choose to use a spine and fill in with library books, bought books, maps, primary sources, a tailored writing plan, a tailored discussion plan, etc.. It's more freeing to me. I like how the WTM describes how to do this. I can tailor it to my kids. A complete program would be constraining to me, and like you said, I'd tweak so much that it wouldn't be worth it.

 

I do something similar. I use a process instead of a program.

 

Day 1 - Read spine (usually one chapter), choose 8 vocabulary words from chapter and look up and define - get correct pronunciation, outline or take notes from chapter.

 

Day 2 - Write a 2 - 4 paragraph summary of chapter using vocabulary words appropriately.

 

Day 3 - Read geography* assignment and write short summary of it.

 

Day 4 - Do drawing part of geography assignment.

 

*Our geography program this year is Mapping the World with Art by McHenry. It doesn't really line up with our history rotation of Ancients, but, rather, is a history of geography.

 

I assign literature related to our history rotation, and subjects for composition assignments are related to our history period (a biography of Alexander the Great for Ancients, for example).

 

I choose and buy most of the literature selections at the beginning of the year and use some lit guides to enhance the reading. I make up the composition assignments as we proceed through the year. It's really not the much work for me. I review ds's written work - making sure he's doing a complete job. I also need to come up with the writing assignments and then provide feedback and grade. I read some of the lit selections and discuss the books via the lit guides with him. All this encompasses history, geography, literature, and composition.

 

I've tried programs in the past, and, like others, found them irritating and constraining.

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Guest aquiverfull

Thanks for the link AnotherLynn, I had not seen that thread. It looks like some good spines are listed there.

 

Stacy, your process does look great. However, I'm afraid my dd would balk at having to do so much writing. She hates writing. It's not that she can't, just that she hates to do it. She usually gives me so much trouble when I make her write something. It's like pulling teeth..lol. I do believe she should be writing, and one of my goals this year is to increase and improve her writing.

 

I'd love to hear from more of you on why you chose a complete history program over a spine. :)

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Thanks for the link AnotherLynn, I had not seen that thread. It looks like some good spines are listed there.

 

Stacy, your process does look great. However, I'm afraid my dd would balk at having to do so much writing. She hates writing. It's not that she can't, just that she hates to do it. She usually gives me so much trouble when I make her write something. :)

 

The process above is for my 7th grader; his spine is A Little History of the World (LHofTW). The writing requirement reflects his age and grade. My 5th grader uses a similar process using SOTW I as his spine:

 

Day 1: Independently read part of chapter, answer review questions and do either 1) write a short (one paragraph) summary of the section, or 2) do corresponding map work.

 

Day 2: Same as above for the second part of the chapter. SOTW I is usually broken into two distinct reading sections per chapter.

 

Day 3: Listen to brother reading his summary of the history portion of MWA (Mapping the World with Art).

 

Day 4: Do drawing portion of MWA

 

Again, his literature selections line-up with our history rotation, but only a few of his writing assignments are related to history.

 

We have the audio verions of both SOTW and LHofTW and we listen to them in the car when we're out and about.

 

Both of my ds really like history, particularly my eldest.

 

HTH, Stacy

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Stacy, your process does look great. However, I'm afraid my dd would balk at having to do so much writing.

 

So then you adjust *your* process. Make it your own, but make it regular. Figure out what activities (writing? reading? mapping? looking at globe/wall map/atlas together?) you want to include each week, then make it into a routine.

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Guest aquiverfull

Oh I must have missed that part Stacy, thanks for clearing that up for me. That plan sounds like something my dd could handle. I really appreciate you posting that for me.

 

Colleen, you are so right. I should know that already since I generally tweak most things...lol.

I appreciate the reminder. :)

 

I'm still unsure what I want to do though. I really need to pray about the "grass is greener" syndrome I seem to have. I guess I just need to pick something and quit looking at everything else. ;)

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