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Nan in Mass

Just curious - Are homeschool curriculums dumbing down like ps ones?...

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Or is that so generalized that it is impossible to answer? Maybe the full spectrum was available 10 or 15 years ago, and the full spectrum is available now?

 

There are so many homeschool curriculums choices now. I was wondering if, in general, they are more or less rigorous than the original ones? (Not thinking original original here. Just thinking about the choices when I started homeschooling 12 years ago.)

 

I can see how it might go either way. There was a strong rebel-against-the-establishment feeling among some of the older homeschoolers. That might lead to less academicly rigorous curriculums, especially among those who felt strongly that academic skills were over-rated. Or maybe those who don't want to do things in such an academic way don't buy curriculums anyway so there is no way of knowing. On the other hand, academic expectations in general might have been higher, leading to more academically rigorous curriculums even though they were more loosely structured in a non-classroom-like way. Now far more people are homeschooling, which might alter the spectrum. And there are many people who are homeschooling for reasons other than a profound distrust of the methods schools use (or used to use) to teach academic skills. And there is the whole classical movement.

 

Or maybe it is stupid question and we should all be working on our must-get-done-for-summer-to-happen plans and not be procrastinating on the computer LOL.

 

-Nan

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I only have one year under my belt (so take this with a grain of salt) but I love researching curricula even though I don't plan on using most of it.

 

I have a homeschooled friend who was homeschooling this year for health reasons and will be going back for 12th grade. She used all public school texts. I don't know that my texts were more advanced, but they definitely laid things out easier for someone going it alone. Hers were organized for classroom teaching so she didn't seem to get as much out of it.

 

I am homeschooling for academic reasons, but more for fill-in-the-gap than get ahead because I have a lot of gaps from my previous 10 years of public school that I would like to address before college. Grammar instruction was almost non-existent. Writing instruction, as well. I never fully grasped Algebra and I regret that immensely because many of my mistakes are basic Algebra. Study skills are another thing that were poorly taught. My Biology teacher from 10th would give us tips (don't wait until last minute, study notes from same day as soon as you get home so it's still fresh, etc.) but we were never shown how and I think there is a huge difference when one actually knows how to study.

 

Another thing I've noticed, obviously there is more consistency within a homeschool than a public school. I know my goals and what I would like to accomplish by the time I graduate. When a student moves up in Public School the 9th grade English teacher won't meet with the 10th grade English teacher and inform them of such-and-such student's strengths and weaknesses and how to build them up or work with them. Obviously, that isn't realistic in a public school setting unless it is small or special needs or more focused on certain students.

 

I also have trouble deciding whether something is more "advanced" or just fast-paced. I was in Honor's Algebra II in 10th and while it was considered "advanced" the kids in regular Algebra II learned the same amount as us, just at a slower-pace and were more able to grasp the concepts. We might have learned a bit more, but nothing that set us up for future math classes.

 

I'm sure the Public School English and History courses could (and would) be considered more advanced than my own because they aren't really my focus. I don't write an essay every week or do a well-detailed play for History every quarter, but I am still learning what needs to be learned. I read, I watch movies on the subjects, and my main focus this year was grammar and PSAT writing.

 

So, it probably looks different to everyone. Sorry that was so long-winded :tongue_smilie:

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Well, at the risk of offending a lot of people, I think the answer is yes. I think that the homeschooling market is being flooded with "easy to teach," "easy to understand," "co-op friendly," "teacher-free computer" products. The products are not the same as what I saw when I first started homeschooling (which, granted, were limited. ;) ) The attempt to sever the homeschooling teacher completely befuddles me.

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Or is that so generalized that it is impossible to answer? Maybe the full spectrum was available 10 or 15 years ago, and the full spectrum is available now?

 

I don't think they are dumbing down but I think the dumbed down ps curriculae are more readily available and it looks to me like people are more willing to bring school home instead of homeschool. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Homeschool is becoming more widespread and diversified and I still think even if you just brought your kids textbooks home, he would still get a better education because of the individualized attention. I also think there are more rigorous ps supplies that are available to homeschoolers now that I never could have purchased 20 years ago. I use a public school spelling program, for example, that I really like and I feel like it is backed up by good research.

 

There are so many homeschool curriculums choices now. I was wondering if, in general, they are more or less rigorous than the original ones? (Not thinking original original here. Just thinking about the choices when I started homeschooling 12 years ago.)

 

When we started this whole business it was Mary Pride and her homeschooling books, Timberdoodle, Sonlight, the Elijah Co. (when they sold curriculum), Konos, Greenleaf Press, Sing Spell Read Write, Miquon, Saxon, some Waldorf stuff I can't recall the name of, and not a whole lot else readily available. Oddly enough, I think Amazon and the internet have changed homeschooling as much as anything because everything is so easily available. Rainbow Resource was just a tiny list of supplies when we started and curriculum fairs were a big deal because it was the only way to see and find out about much of the stuff available. I kind of wish I had kept my old Mary Pride homeschooling series and could take a trip down memory lane.

 

I can see how it might go either way. There was a strong rebel-against-the-establishment feeling among some of the older homeschoolers. That might lead to less academicly rigorous curriculums, especially among those who felt strongly that academic skills were over-rated.

 

I don't ever remember having that feeling. Most of my experience was with people who were homeschooling because they wanted a more academically rigorous education that just wasn't available in ps. Classical curriculum has been available for quite some time. We started out with the Trivium and the Bluedorns and I was very excited when the first WTM came out because it expanded so much on that idea. And remember, the author was homeschooled for academic reasons (not to speak for her) - her mom thought she could give her kids a better education at home. I was highly influenced by the Swanns who pushed hard to accelerate their kids and that whole idea of acceleration and being able to graduate college was, it seems to me, much more popular then than now. Not that we ever did that but we did adopt the idea of always doing school, year 'round.

 

Or maybe those who don't want to do things in such an academic way don't buy curriculums anyway so there is no way of knowing. On the other hand, academic expectations in general might have been higher, leading to more academically rigorous curriculums even though they were more loosely structured in a non-classroom-like way.

 

The more I read the more I am picturing a bunch of hippies pulling their kids out of the establishment school and thumbing their nose at the man and living in communes :glare: :lol: My circle of friends and homeschool experience were never like that. It was always about MORE rigorous academics. One of the "first families" of homeschooling, the Colfax's, whole premise was Homeschooling for Excellence and their son attending Harvard brought homeschool into the public eye.

 

Now far more people are homeschooling, which might alter the spectrum. And there are many people who are homeschooling for reasons other than a profound distrust of the methods schools use (or used to use) to teach academic skills.

 

True and I think this has diversified the movement but not dumbed it down. Just more mainstream I think, with mainstream supplies and ideas.

And there is the whole classical movement.

 

The classical movement is not new, at all.

 

Or maybe it is stupid question and we should all be working on our must-get-done-for-summer-to-happen plans and not be procrastinating on the computer LOL.

 

-Nan

 

No, my premise is that procrastinating on the computer is never a bad idea :lol:

 

For me, the answer to is homeschool being dumbed down is no. After nearly 20 years I am still researching curriculum, finding new things that are better and more rigorous but, I do think it is becoming more mainstream and with that comes a lot of hop on the band wagon fluff.

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Well, at the risk of offending a lot of people, I think the answer is yes. I think that the homeschooling market is being flooded with "easy to teach," "easy to understand," "co-op friendly," "teacher-free computer" products. The products are not the same as what I saw when I first started homeschooling (which, granted, were limited. ;) ) The attempt to sever the homeschooling teacher completely befuddles me.

 

 

:iagree:

 

The trend seems to be in creating materials that are easy and fun. That can be good sometimes, but realistically, muscle building does require hard work, whether it's for the brain or body.

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My circle of friends and homeschool experience were never like that. It was always about MORE rigorous academics. .

 

 

Have you lived in the same area the entire time you have been homeschooling? I ask b/c when I started homeschooling, your description is similar to our experience. But, it definitely is not the case now. However, we move a lot and IRL I am always exposed to "newer" homeschooling families and rarely find homeschoolers that have been at it for yrs. With the exception of 2 "old-timers" here, the homeschoolers I have met tend to be co-op, computer-interfaced, not really directly teaching much approach homeschoolers. That is not what it was like when I first started homeschooling. It was all about moms teaching their kids.

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:iagree:

 

The trend seems to be in creating materials that are easy and fun. That can be good sometimes, but realistically, muscle building does require hard work, whether it's for the brain or body.

 

:iagree: As the market becomes bigger and the products become more plentiful, I think we are seeing a segment of the curriculum market working to make products that are so easy to teach or learn on ones own that they are gutting the topic. I think this is more common in the upper level programs, though (high school especially). But it makes sense that this would happen because there are families I know who will give high school credit for things that don't even come close to the average high school curriculum.

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I wonder if part of the issue here is less about "dumbing down" and more about the quest for "measurable results" that seems to be the focus of public education which may then trickle down into homeschooling curricula. It seems that so many people focus on short term testing numbers so that the greater picture of developing deeper, critical thought is lost.

 

Consider music: many have argued that musical studies benefit students in the long term. Yet music is not one of those things that can be measured quantitatively via fill in the bubble exams. How long will any arts programs last under austerity cuts faced by public school systems when these programs cannot be justified via "measurable results"? Are homeschoolers also falling into this trap?

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Well when I was hsed all there was was Bob Jones, Abeka, and Saxon ( I exaggerate, but not really). I am soooooo glad that now that I am hsing my dc there are so many options! I say the more the merrier! Yes, there is more to weed out. But I would rather have that problem than such limited choices.

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:iagree: As the market becomes bigger and the products become more plentiful, I think we are seeing a segment of the curriculum market working to make products that are so easy to teach or learn on ones own that they are gutting the topic. I think this is more common in the upper level programs, though (high school especially). But it makes sense that this would happen because there are families I know who will give high school credit for things that don't even come close to the average high school curriculum.

 

:iagree:, especially with the bolded.

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Well when I was hsed all there was was Bob Jones, Abeka, and Saxon ( I exaggerate, but not really). I am soooooo glad that now that I am hsing my dc there are so many options! I say the more the merrier! Yes, there is more to weed out. But I would rather have that problem than such limited choices.

:iagree:

 

When we started this whole business it was Mary Pride and her homeschooling books, Timberdoodle, Sonlight, the Elijah Co. (when they sold curriculum), Konos, Greenleaf Press, Sing Spell Read Write, Miquon, Saxon, some Waldorf stuff I can't recall the name of, and not a whole lot else readily available. Oddly enough, I think Amazon and the internet have changed homeschooling as much as anything because everything is so easily available.
For me, the answer to is homeschool being dumbed down is no. After nearly 20 years I am still researching curriculum, finding new things that are better and more rigorous but, I do think it is becoming more mainstream and with that comes a lot of hop on the band wagon fluff.

The Amazon thing is an interesting thought.

 

I started homeschooling (a high schooler) in 2002. Those were the big names that you mention. I still have one of my Mary Pride books and look back fondly to the days when folks pulled high school together with some of her ideas. At the time, I met homeschoolers who used straight textbooks, those who just read books on the couch as a family without a schedule, and those who followed their interests more than a scope & sequence. Now as adults, I'd say that all of them have produced successful college kids in at least some of their children. Probably a greater percentage than the public schools around here. Students who can *think* through SAT questions, who can listen, and who know how to work hard have what they need.

 

I find homeschoolers, especially high schoolers, getting "more traditional." And I use the term "traditional" loosely -- my 1970s high school years included classes on death, imaginary architecture, and ping pong. It was a time of "anything goes." So "traditional" might not always be what people think it is. CS Lewis had scholarly tutors, to be sure, but Thomas Edison just had a messy lab. But homeschoolers seem to be returning to the textbook.

 

I wonder if the price of college is a driving force in high schoolers getting more textbook-oriented, since the whole competitive transcript thing seems to be for the purposes of getting scholarships, earning credits for free in high school, and avoiding paying for no-credit "make-up" classes. Historically, those were not the defining issues in deciding whether to attend college and how to prepare. I personally didn't rush to college until I was almost 20 and didn't get any scholarships, so those weren't on my radar at all. But, college didn't cost nearly so much.

 

Besides the high school textbook trend, the biggest general changes to *me* over the last 9 years of homeschooling are (1) many of the original curriculum writers quit or never finished because the online used market, and the advent of home copiers, put them out of business, so the *nature* of homeschool curriculum writing had to become more commercial if it was going to survive (bolstered by the realization of traditional publishers that there was a new market out there in homeschoolers), and (2) a new generation of parents expects a lot -- cup holders in their cars and hand-holding in their curriculum. When I started, I never heard of folks complaining that they "didn't like" a tiny part of something, because so few things were there for homeschoolers that we took what we could and made it work for us. If we wanted to use a textbook, we grabbed a textbook and tried to figure it out. If we found a great resource, it was a gem, blemishes & all. Sorry if this is my grandmother speech about the olden days :)

 

Julie

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:iagree:, especially with the bolded.

 

I agree with both you and Cynthia. When I started homeschooling, I deliberately sought out teaching materials that were written to the homeschool market because I perceived them to be better, and a lot of them were.

 

Now, after being at this for 10 years, I've learned that often the older ps textbooks are better, especially for the high school level subjects. I've found math, literature, and science texts used in ps from the 1980s - about 2000 that are some of my favorite teaching materials.

 

It also seems to me that in an effort to market their materials, some curriculum companies will advertise that a certain program is worthy of a high school credit, and when I look what is covered, I can't believe it. I guess with no oversight on their content, they can claim whatever they want.

 

Brenda

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When I started, I never heard of folks complaining that they "didn't like" a tiny part of something, because so few things were there for homeschoolers that we took what we could and made it work for us.

 

Yes! And I never heard parents say that a curriculum made their child cry or that their child didn't "like" it. There were so few options that one just made it work. I am grateful, though, for the variety that is now available especially those that are geared towards certain learning styles or learning disabilities.

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Have you lived in the same area the entire time you have been homeschooling? I ask b/c when I started homeschooling, your description is similar to our experience. But, it definitely is not the case now. However, we move a lot and IRL I am always exposed to "newer" homeschooling families and rarely find homeschoolers that have been at it for yrs. With the exception of 2 "old-timers" here, the homeschoolers I have met tend to be co-op, computer-interfaced, not really directly teaching much approach homeschoolers. That is not what it was like when I first started homeschooling. It was all about moms teaching their kids.

 

 

You're right - it was very mom centered when I started. And I still do it that way. I have lived in the same place the whole time but we don't spend much time with other homeschoolers these days. We no longer even have a homeschool conference where I can rub shoulders. No one from my area is on these boards as far as I can tell. So the only real exposure I have to new homeschoolers is on this forum and, yes, I do see a lot of what you described. But I have never really been a purist (lol, define that...:)) so I don't necessarily think not doing it personally would be dumbing it down. Not saying that is what you were inferring, by the way, just connecting that idea to the op.

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I wonder if part of the issue here is less about "dumbing down" and more about the quest for "measurable results" that seems to be the focus of public education which may then trickle down into homeschooling curricula. It seems that so many people focus on short term testing numbers so that the greater picture of developing deeper, critical thought is lost.

 

Consider music: many have argued that musical studies benefit students in the long term. Yet music is not one of those things that can be measured quantitatively via fill in the bubble exams. How long will any arts programs last under austerity cuts faced by public school systems when these programs cannot be justified via "measurable results"? Are homeschoolers also falling into this trap?

:iagree:

 

and Julie - "Sorry if this is my grandmother speech about the olden days"

 

That cracks me up because that is how I felt when I was writing my original response.

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I'm no expert, these are the observations I've made in our journey (now starting our 8th year).

 

I notice more niche products, designed to fit into one portion of the academic puzzle. While that may be all good and well, if a parent doesn't understand the whole of teaching a subject long term, the result can look fragmented. Does that even make sense?

 

My experience is pretty linear, with one child, and we've moved from a standard box curriculum to classical over the years. I'd imagine many of the homeschooling products were written to fill a specific need, maybe one the parent themselves had. Then it's marketed to fit a certain area. Then has it sells people see it as a viable option to cover the entire subject area, not just to fill the niche it was created for.

 

So instead of having a life long use of a program, say like Rod & Staff, you use one product for one year, one for another. If you don't know what you're doing (looking in the mirror a little here) you'll end up with a bunch of pieces of education and not a full puzzle.

 

I'm a supporter of putting together your own thing, but I think you need a framework (or the experience) to understand how it all fits together. So while a curriculum may not be dumbed down, it may have been designed to only fit a portion of the overall knowledge of that subject. We, as the parents/teachers, just need to realize where it goes.

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Well, at the risk of offending a lot of people, I think the answer is yes. I think that the homeschooling market is being flooded with "easy to teach," "easy to understand," "co-op friendly," "teacher-free computer" products. The products are not the same as what I saw when I first started homeschooling (which, granted, were limited. ;) ) The attempt to sever the homeschooling teacher completely befuddles me.

 

:iagree:

 

I actually think that one big difference is that you see a divergence in homeschool materials that you don't see in PS materials. PS materials are all on about the same path, save for a few innovative schools doing their own thing. Homeschool materials seem to have one stream drifting toward the more rigorous side (or at least holding the fort) and one stream drifting the other way.

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I agree with both you and Cynthia. When I started homeschooling, I deliberately sought out teaching materials that were written to the homeschool market because I perceived them to be better, and a lot of them were.

 

Now, after being at this for 10 years, I've learned that often the older ps textbooks are better, especially for the high school level subjects. I've found math, literature, and science texts used in ps from the 1980s - about 2000 that are some of my favorite teaching materials.

 

It also seems to me that in an effort to market their materials, some curriculum companies will advertise that a certain program is worthy of a high school credit, and when I look what is covered, I can't believe it. I guess with no oversight on their content, they can claim whatever they want.

 

Brenda

 

:iagree: (especially with the bolded)

 

I think a lot of it is about marketing. It's about making a parent feel like they completed a certain amount of work, because the company said it was. So they buy the product.

 

Also, a lot of people seem to buy things based on how easy they are for their dc to complete, so it seems you can just omit the hard material, the kids will love it and have an easy time of it, and the word will spread that you have a great curriculum.

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:iagree:

 

and Julie - "Sorry if this is my grandmother speech about the olden days"

 

That cracks me up because that is how I felt when I was writing my original response.

 

<rocking chair smilie>

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I wonder if part of the issue here is less about "dumbing down" and more about the quest for "measurable results" that seems to be the focus of public education which may then trickle down into homeschooling curricula. It seems that so many people focus on short term testing numbers so that the greater picture of developing deeper, critical thought is lost.

 

 

I think this is true to a certain extent. With the cost of a college education skyrocketing, many homeschoolers are going for the scholarships. And these scholarships are based on a more public school/textbook approach to education. The numbers matter and translate into $$$.

 

And what plays into this is that most moms (parents) are not equipped to know *how* to evaluate a curriculum. So we take other homeschoolers' advice usually because it worked for them rather than evaluating the content/depth/rigor of the program. I know many homeschoolers in my area who will not even consider a secular text or anything used in the public realm. Or we go the other way and simply choose texts that are commonly used in the honors track of the public schools.

 

IMO, one of the biggest hurdles for a homeschool parent is that we are unequipped to pick the best material for our particular student and our particular way of teaching (or not teaching as the case may be ;)) I am just now feeling confident in my ability to pick a program, and I can say that I spend a huge amount of time researching individual programs. But I've also been scratched by a lot of thorns before finding the rose.

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Hi Nan!

 

I just went to a fair yesterday. My brain is about to explode!! Here are my observations. I will try to unpack this in order, but just imagine we are just talking, then it won't be so bad. I was looking for government and economics, plus academic electives. There is a booth with (I don't know what they had....) but the man's wife is a retired English teacher. Dd and I talked to her about English for an hour, it was wonderful. Dd said if she had an English teacher like that, she would have loved English her whole life. :) Last year, she planted a seed within me to branch out in our English. Thus my threads about how I didn't like how A Beka was analyzing Scarlet Letter. I told her how people in the hive told me about Scott Foresman, and how it made my dd love literature for the first time (and it made me able to actually teach it without the English degree). Then she proceeded to just talk about different pieces, how she analyzed them, and thankfully, we had covered all of them and dd completely understood and enjoyed what she was saying. (All in the middle of a fair that had the standard offerings for high school literature, smile). All of that to say that I did "canned" curriculum with ds, that is where I was at, that is what I felt I could do. We did cover material, he learned, and he is an English major in college, and is doing fine. Another thing the English teacher told me.... I told her that I knew I would graduate my dd, and after 17 years of homeschooling, I still would never know how hard to teach each subject, nor how much to do. She said all teachers feel that way, and each year, she taught to the level of her class. Some years she had a very bright class (one class in particular had many that went on to Harvard, Oxford, and the like). Other years, she said, oh my, we won't get as much done. It was a light bulb moment for me. Online classes, the teacher is disjointed from the class, the work is just out there, no changes allowed, no gauging by what the audience is. Just plowing through a text, how impersonal, what if you have a student that loves depth (that breadth vs. depth discussion), and you are just flying through pieces. So, learning is individual to the student. One will do well with canned, another will thrive on non-traditional. As I looked at economics texts, I looked at Penny Candy. People here have said it is not high school level. But, it is written by an adult, and definitely with the guide and articles from Economics Free Reader, it is very thought provoking. For some of the pieces, she will have to research to understand what they are talking about. But, panic, there is nothing about the stock market, they don't discuss GNP. So, off to "standard" offerings. Oh, the things that were missing from Penny Candy were there, but it was only a partial page of terms and definitions (like it will be remembered.....). I chose Penny Candy. It will teach dd how to think, rather than spit out terms on a test. So in this case, I feel we will be better served by non "canned" curriculum. But ds did canned, and was educated. There is room to do what you want and know your dc will still be educated. There is more than one way.

 

And, parental involvement, discussing what is being learned, is very important. Even though some of dc curriculum is "canned" we talk about it. That is where the learning takes place.

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Well, at the risk of offending a lot of people, I think the answer is yes. I think that the homeschooling market is being flooded with "easy to teach," "easy to understand," "co-op friendly," "teacher-free computer" products. The products are not the same as what I saw when I first started homeschooling (which, granted, were limited. ;) ) The attempt to sever the homeschooling teacher completely befuddles me.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

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That is interesting, especially about the teacher teaching to the class. I guess I knew that, but didn't think to apply it to online classes. I've been vaguely doubtful about online classes for my atypical sons, and perhaps that is the reason?

-Nan

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Well, at the risk of offending a lot of people, I think the answer is yes. I think that the homeschooling market is being flooded with "easy to teach," "easy to understand," "co-op friendly," "teacher-free computer" products. The products are not the same as what I saw when I first started homeschooling (which, granted, were limited. ;) ) The attempt to sever the homeschooling teacher completely befuddles me.

 

 

I am noticing this too. I think the value of mom as homeschool teacher is subtly being eroded as valid and effective with ALL the talk about CC courses, 'real' teachers, the 'need' for 'real' teachers in co-op classes etc. The disdain of simple or simply homeschooling until graduation has definitely picked up its pace in the 10 years I have homeschooled. :001_huh:

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I think this is true to a certain extent. With the cost of a college education skyrocketing, many homeschoolers are going for the scholarships. And these scholarships are based on a more public school/textbook approach to education. The numbers matter and translate into $$$.

 

And what plays into this is that most moms (parents) are not equipped to know *how* to evaluate a curriculum. So we take other homeschoolers' advice usually because it worked for them rather than evaluating the content/depth/rigor of the program. I know many homeschoolers in my area who will not even consider a secular text or anything used in the public realm. Or we go the other way and simply choose texts that are commonly used in the honors track of the public schools.

 

IMO, one of the biggest hurdles for a homeschool parent is that we are unequipped to pick the best material for our particular student and our particular way of teaching (or not teaching as the case may be ;)) I am just now feeling confident in my ability to pick a program, and I can say that I spend a huge amount of time researching individual programs. But I've also been scratched by a lot of thorns before finding the rose.

 

Something that I have to think about is why a particular book or program is being recommended. If the answer is that the student doesn't like the particular subject and/or the parent doesn't feel prepared to teach it, it might not be a match for my kid who really wants to dig deeply into the subject. And of course the reverse is true too. If it's a great program for students who plan years of study in that subject and my kid is just looking to check the box, then it won't be a good match either.

 

I think that the large number of options out there can mean that we think first of switching curriculum, where in the past we might have thought first of how to remediate or add to or drop sections of a curriculum and just make it work.

 

I also find that I have to try to figure out if I'm listening to a "public outcry" or an "outcry in public" when something comes up. Sometimes there is lots of discussion, but it's mostly from people who are just starting with a program or book rather than from those who have completed it and found that it met their goals well.

 

As options proliferate, there will certainly be some that seem to present less (maybe less with more glitz but less overall). But I try to think of that like food offerings at the grocery store or restaurant offerings. It really doesn't matter if there are offerings out there that I think less of. It does matter what I choose. And I think there is still lots out there of quality to pick from.

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I am noticing this too. I think the value of mom as homeschool teacher is subtly being eroded as valid and effective with ALL the talk about CC courses, 'real' teachers, the 'need' for 'real' teachers in co-op classes etc. The disdain of simple or simply homeschooling until graduation has definitely picked up its pace in the 10 years I have homeschooled. :001_huh:

 

Yep...this gets me crazy. I know this is an offensive topic around here...and I am all for educational choices...but call things what they are....

 

I homeschool for academic pursuits and well as relational pursuit. When I started homeschooling...it meant being home, coming along side your children and teaching and discipling them. The "resources" were not as important as the goals.

Just to put this in perspective...when I started homeschooling, no one had a computer in their home and when my first graduated, there were NO online, real time courses. By the time my next dd graduated 3 years later, you could do your entire high school in front of a monitor...in a co-op....by message board...by curricula written directly to the student....no parent involvement. :confused::confused:

 

It is almost like we need to apologize for simply homeschooling without all the bells and whistles, AP classes, CC classes, co- ops, online courses, etc...and the sooner the better....sigh. I do not want to hang my head and explain that we stay home to home school. That I am my kids primary, and only teacher and no, I am not worried about them going to college, because I am preparing them well for that endeavor.

 

And yes, homeschool curricula has been dumbed down. Much of it has been written to make it "easy" to teach and learn from, easy to box check, easy to fulfill a state requirement, easy to say you did it, when in fact you didn't. Some homeschool only curricula is just basically " here is what I did with my kid and he turned out ok, $100.00 bucks please.".

 

What turned me off to Sonlight, was Sarita Holzman's daughter went to Public High School...so here she is writing high school homeschool curriculum, but didn't trust herself enough to use it herself:confused::confused: I will probably get bombed for that one, but that was my feeling about Sonlight high school courses for a really long time.

 

I love that small classical schools will now share their curricula with us mere homeschoolers...and continue to because of the dollars and cents involved...but they (Veritas Press) will tell you flat out that there is no way you can give your own kid a rigorous education unless you send them to a Classical School, but since you don't live near one, or you would( their assumption, not mine). We will let you use ours...and now, let us get fancy and offer online classes (which were sub par in my opinion) and online interactive lessons (haven't tried these.). Face it...we are a great market...we have $$$ and if made to feel particularly inept, we will buy pretty much anything , especially where our little scholars are involved.

 

The onslaught of homeschool curricula is fed by fear...fear that we won't measure up to Public and private schools, fear of failing our kids, fear of not keeping up with the Joneses, and the curricula marketers feed this fear, produce more and more inferior products that we can't possibly produce a well educated child without, or makes homeschooling so easy, anyone can do it and produce excellent results, without breaking a sweat.

 

Then, we have on the other hand.....leave'em alone, let them do what they want, as long as they are home, they are doing more than the public school nonsense. It Johnny doesn't want to do math today, or tomorrow, someday he will. Maybe, but not probably.

 

I am rambling....but to answer the op....yes, I think homeschool curricula is being dumbed down...and it really bugs me.

 

Faithe

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I just want to pop in and say how much I am benefitting from this thread. My twins are starting 10th grade this coming fall. All of our homeschool friends are starting the CC/distance learning/online route. There is tremendous pressure to conform, to outsource the high school years. In the back of my mind, a small voice has been telling me not to... but how can I make sure my kids are college-ready without doing the CC/DL/Online route??? There is real conflict there. And as more and more homeschoolers go this route, I fear that it will become more and more required by college admissions for homeschoolers to show this sort of thing on their transcripts. I want to validate my homeschooling efforts by using CC/DL/Online, but I also still want to be the one homeschooling them, not someone else. It feels like a no-win situation, really.

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Yep...this gets me crazy. I know this is an offensive topic around here...and I am all for educational choices...but call things what they are....

 

I homeschool for academic pursuits and well as relational pursuit. When I started homeschooling...it meant being home, coming along side your children and teaching and discipling them. The "resources" were not as important as the goals.

Just to put this in perspective...when I started homeschooling, no one had a computer in their home and when my first graduated, there were NO online, real time courses. By the time my next dd graduated 3 years later, you could do your entire high school in front of a monitor...in a co-op....by message board...by curricula written directly to the student....no parent involvement. :confused::confused:

 

It is almost like we need to apologize for simply homeschooling without all the bells and whistles, AP classes, CC classes, co- ops, online courses, etc...and the sooner the better....sigh. I do not want to hang my head and explain that we stay home to home school. That I am my kids primary, and only teacher and no, I am not worried about them going to college, because I am preparing them well for that endeavor.

 

And yes, homeschool curricula has been dumbed down. Much of it has been written to make it "easy" to teach and learn from, easy to box check, easy to fulfill a state requirement, easy to say you did it, when in fact you didn't. Some homeschool only curricula is just basically " here is what I did with my kid and he turned out ok, $100.00 bucks please.".

 

What turned me off to Sonlight, was Sarita Holzman's daughter went to Public High School...so here she is writing high school homeschool curriculum, but didn't trust herself enough to use it herself:confused::confused: I will probably get bombed for that one, but that was my feeling about Sonlight high school courses for a really long time.

 

I love that small classical schools will now share their curricula with us mere homeschoolers...and continue to because of the dollars and cents involved...but they (Veritas Press) will tell you flat out that there is no way you can give your own kid a rigorous education unless you send them to a Classical School, but since you don't live near one, or you would( their assumption, not mine). We will let you use ours...and now, let us get fancy and offer online classes (which were sub par in my opinion) and online interactive lessons (haven't tried these.). Face it...we are a great market...we have $$$ and if made to feel particularly inept, we will buy pretty much anything , especially where our little scholars are involved.

The onslaught of homeschool curricula is fed by fear...fear that we won't measure up to Public and private schools, fear of failing our kids, fear of not keeping up with the Joneses, and the curricula marketers feed this fear, produce more and more inferior products that we can't possibly produce a well educated child without, or makes homeschooling so easy, anyone can do it and produce excellent results, without breaking a sweat.

 

Then, we have on the other hand.....leave'em alone, let them do what they want, as long as they are home, they are doing more than the public school nonsense. It Johnny doesn't want to do math today, or tomorrow, someday he will. Maybe, but not probably.

 

I am rambling....but to answer the op....yes, I think homeschool curricula is being dumbed down...and it really bugs me.

 

Faithe

:iagree: Wow---but most especially the bolded. The Fear Mongering REALLY irks me the most though!! This fear mongering, preying on parents insecurities, is really evident in Apologia science now. The curriculum was especially written for homeschoolers----but now they offer 'real' classes online with 'real' teachers that are called Honors and are just SO much better for little Johny or Susie :glare: At about 5 times more cost than just the textbook program itself?

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(1) many of the original curriculum writers quit or never finished because the online used market, and the advent of home copiers, put them out of business, so the *nature* of homeschool curriculum writing had to become more commercial if it was going to survive (bolstered by the realization of traditional publishers that there was a new market out there in homeschoolers),

 

I'm curious which original curriculum writers you mean.:bigear:

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I just want to pop in and say how much I am benefitting from this thread. My twins are starting 10th grade this coming fall. All of our homeschool friends are starting the CC/distance learning/online route. There is tremendous pressure to conform, to outsource the high school years. In the back of my mind, a small voice has been telling me not to... but how can I make sure my kids are college-ready without doing the CC/DL/Online route??? There is real conflict there. And as more and more homeschoolers go this route, I fear that it will become more and more required by college admissions for homeschoolers to show this sort of thing on their transcripts. I want to validate my homeschooling efforts by using CC/DL/Online, but I also still want to be the one homeschooling them, not someone else. It feels like a no-win situation, really.

 

 

I agree almost 99% with Faithe (so what else is new, Faithe :lol:) I have no bias against AP classes b/c I think they are valuable as measure for advanced academics. That said, I don't think they are necessary for most students. However, it is really going to depend on the student's goals. I know my ds would not be competitive for his goals w/o a very impressive list of classes. He wants to go to SSP (a competitive camp) and a top tier school.

 

That said......I am completely 100% biased against co-ops. I am opposed to CC classes if the premise is that homeschoolers can't do it (I think it can be done better in quality at home), however I think CC classes have their place for some students.

 

Karen, there are ways to validate w/o going those routes. Unfortunately, most of them are via testing such as SAT2s and APs. For help in teaching, I rely heavily on Teaching Company lectures, opencourseware, some online classes (AP cal BC next yr through PAH for my rising 10th grader and after that I'm not sure what we will do.)

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Wow Faithe, that was an awesome post!

 

On another note, I didn't know that Sonlight had written the high school program and her dd went to public school. That bothers me a bit too. Thanks for sharing it. I haven't looked at the high school cores yet, but we were seriously considering them...now after reading this thread, I'm not so sure and am even more confused about high school than I was before.

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I'm curious which original curriculum writers you mean.:bigear:

 

Oh, that challenges my brain cells to back when my now-24-year-old needed American history. I guess Konos History of the World, Heart of Wisdom, and A World of Adventure come to mind as some curriculums you may still have heard of. There are still a few who may finish the cycle but haven't been able to for a long time (like Mystery of History). But others have just dropped out of the race. In some cases, maybe they were called elsewhere. But I have over the years heard several tell me that the homeschool used market has killed their business past year one (when everyone must purchase new!). Even John Holzman of Sonlight spent one year venting in his newsletters about how hard that is to fight. They are one of those who went to marketing strategies to compete (changing things every year, etc.). Heart of Wisdom author Robin Sampson once told me in an email that she made about $1 profit off an Amazon book sale of $40.

 

Julie

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Thank you, MommyFaithe and 4Wildberries for articulating so well what I have been thinking for a year or two now. I'm often dumbfounded about all the threads about programs for this and curricula for that, and I miss all the threads about books. I have a notebook filled with titles I learned about from these boards over the years, but these days it is rare that to get an active thread about the books our high schoolers are reading. Instead it is thread after thread about program x,y or z.

 

I love creating courses, love being the teacher at home as I know the rest of you do too. I have to say that I couldn't do a better job than the community college with math or science for my youngest -- I'm so thankful for that option!!

 

Is it the availability of all these programs that has caused things to change or is it the popularity of homeschooling that has caused the change? It isn't such a radical thing to do now to homeschool, so perhaps people don't contemplate the "how" of it like you had to 10-15 years ago. You just buy a "paint by numbers" kit and voila, you get a finished masterpiece! The fact that this thread has generated so many replies tells me that it isn't just my senile brain thinking things have changed. I've even written on the K-8 board "back when I started homeschooling we didn't have Story of the World. We used library books to learn ancient history and myths". It sounds like I'm talking about the dark ages and I want to add that we had to hike 5 miles through the snow to get to the library, but I live in San Diego and that certainly wasn't the case...

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... It sounds like I'm talking about the dark ages and I want to add that we had to hike 5 miles through the snow to get to the library, but I live in San Diego and that certainly wasn't the case...

 

:lol: Up hills both ways too.

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I wonder about all the scripted programs. Is this new, or have there always been so many?

 

ETA: I also wonder about the rise of "unschooling." Since this is obviously a path that eschews curricula, I am not sure to what degree it has impacted curricula vendors.

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Is it the availability of all these programs that has caused things to change or is it the popularity of homeschooling that has caused the change? It isn't such a radical thing to do now to homeschool, so perhaps people don't contemplate the "how" of it like you had to 10-15 years ago. You just buy a "paint by numbers" kit and voila, you get a finished masterpiece! The fact that this thread has generated so many replies tells me that it isn't just my senile brain thinking things have changed.

 

Good question---Which came first-the chicken or the egg??

 

I really do think that not only the popularity of homeschooling, but the plethora of SO, so many different programs, styles and choices coupled with slick marketing has just made the decisions so confusing----that many just throw their hands up in frustration and let that 'real' teacher take charge. I have to say that I really am thankful that there weren't SO many choices and programs back when we started----because plain old Calvert and the old Math U See got us started and hooked on homeschooling.

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. How long will any arts programs last under austerity cuts faced by public school systems when these programs cannot be justified via "measurable results"?

I thought art had been cut long ago. Mr Holland's Opus and all that. There was still art when I was in HS, though.

 

This is a really important point, that sometimes the reason for doing something is not obvious AND only becomes apparent later.

 

Like reading actual books in their entirety.

 

Ten years ago a high school librarian told me, the kids don't check out books to read (in class) anymore. They were just being prepped to read a paragraph and demonstrate comprehension.

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I also feel that homeschooling has changed a lot in my area. When we began homeschooling in 1997, a LLL Leader I knew gave me the name of somebody she knew who homeschooled. I called this stranger, and she gave me some info about a group. The group had activities, free or low-cost, and we developed friendships and a sense of community. We didn't participate for a few years when my twins were born, and since we've rejoined, it's just not the same. It's all about classes, and they all seem expensive. I know one woman who decided she was going to take the year off when she had her 4th baby and enrolled her dc in all kinds of classes. Basically, she was their chauffeur.

 

I have mixed feelings about curriculum. I absolutely love Right Start, and it was what I had been looking for since about 1999 or so. I wish I had had it with my older dc. I think that SWB and her mom have developed some great resources, but I also think that there's a lot to be said for the original edition of WTM when none of those resources were available.

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But others have just dropped out of the race. In some cases, maybe they were called elsewhere. But I have over the years heard several tell me that the homeschool used market has killed their business past year one (when everyone must purchase new!). Even John Holzman of Sonlight spent one year venting in his newsletters about how hard that is to fight. They are one of those who went to marketing strategies to compete (changing things every year, etc.). Heart of Wisdom author Robin Sampson once told me in an email that she made about $1 profit off an Amazon book sale of $40.

Julie

 

Several oldtimers that I know who made enough in the curriculum world to truly contribute to their family's bottom line five or ten years ago are either out of the business or in the process of pulling out. And that experience and wisdom is being lost to the next generation who are buying the latest and greatest. Sometimes new is good, but sometimes not.

 

And I am one that is very thankful for the options. I doubt that we could have continued this far without them. I'd agree though that they are very confusing to those who are new to homeschooling.

 

It is also dangerous to make homeschooling too "easy" on the parent IMHO. Even though we use outside classes, I still read the majority of the novels, proof their writing, and require them to practice their presentations for me. And I've found that to be unusual. Most of the parents drop their kids off and let them do whatever during the week. IMHO you can't expect excellence from an outside class without parental involvement, but there's a lot who don't see the need.

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Yep...this gets me crazy. I know this is an offensive topic around here...and I am all for educational choices...but call things what they are....

 

I homeschool for academic pursuits and well as relational pursuit. When I started homeschooling...it meant being home, coming along side your children and teaching and discipling them. The "resources" were not as important as the goals.

Just to put this in perspective...when I started homeschooling, no one had a computer in their home and when my first graduated, there were NO online, real time courses. By the time my next dd graduated 3 years later, you could do your entire high school in front of a monitor...in a co-op....by message board...by curricula written directly to the student....no parent involvement. :confused::confused:

 

It is almost like we need to apologize for simply homeschooling without all the bells and whistles, AP classes, CC classes, co- ops, online courses, etc...and the sooner the better....sigh. I do not want to hang my head and explain that we stay home to home school. That I am my kids primary, and only teacher and no, I am not worried about them going to college, because I am preparing them well for that endeavor.

 

And yes, homeschool curricula has been dumbed down. Much of it has been written to make it "easy" to teach and learn from, easy to box check, easy to fulfill a state requirement, easy to say you did it, when in fact you didn't. Some homeschool only curricula is just basically " here is what I did with my kid and he turned out ok, $100.00 bucks please.".

 

What turned me off to Sonlight, was Sarita Holzman's daughter went to Public High School...so here she is writing high school homeschool curriculum, but didn't trust herself enough to use it herself:confused::confused: I will probably get bombed for that one, but that was my feeling about Sonlight high school courses for a really long time.

 

I love that small classical schools will now share their curricula with us mere homeschoolers...and continue to because of the dollars and cents involved...but they (Veritas Press) will tell you flat out that there is no way you can give your own kid a rigorous education unless you send them to a Classical School, but since you don't live near one, or you would( their assumption, not mine). We will let you use ours...and now, let us get fancy and offer online classes (which were sub par in my opinion) and online interactive lessons (haven't tried these.). Face it...we are a great market...we have $$$ and if made to feel particularly inept, we will buy pretty much anything , especially where our little scholars are involved.

 

The onslaught of homeschool curricula is fed by fear...fear that we won't measure up to Public and private schools, fear of failing our kids, fear of not keeping up with the Joneses, and the curricula marketers feed this fear, produce more and more inferior products that we can't possibly produce a well educated child without, or makes homeschooling so easy, anyone can do it and produce excellent results, without breaking a sweat.

 

Then, we have on the other hand.....leave'em alone, let them do what they want, as long as they are home, they are doing more than the public school nonsense. It Johnny doesn't want to do math today, or tomorrow, someday he will. Maybe, but not probably.

 

I am rambling....but to answer the op....yes, I think homeschool curricula is being dumbed down...and it really bugs me.

 

Faithe

 

Wow! Yes! My 16 year old is not going to community college next year, and everyone wants to know why. It is as if I am doing something wrong and I have to apologize for it.

 

And yes again! Homeschool cirriculum providers are feeding on our fears, and it is making me crazy! So many of the other moms I am around are just convinced that they can't do it on their own. They are intelligent women. I know they can, but they are being told that they can't.

 

And yes, I am surprised at what passes as high school course work.

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The attempt to sever the homeschooling teacher completely befuddles me.

 

:iagree: I don't know why people feel more confident in the instruction my kids are receiving if I just mention that there are many group, online, and CC options available (mind you, I don't have to tell them that we use a particular option, just that it exists) than they do if I say, "Yep, takes a lot of time and yep, I have to spend a good portion of the day working with them."

 

And, sigh, would someone please tell my dh that the homeschooling teacher needs to be involved?! He increasingly believes, ever since our oldest dd was middle school age, that the extent of my involvement should be handing the kids a list of assignments. Period. No matter how many times I ask him if his high school teachers simply handed him a syllabus and walked out of the room for the rest of the year. No matter how many times I point out how frustrated he gets at work if he is not getting support from his management on some issue. I could go on, but I'll just get annoyed. :angry:

 

Yet, he is the same man who said to me, when I was struggling over high school geometry curriculum choices, "Well, it isn't going to be fun, it will be hard for her (our dd), but just pick something and she'll have to get through it."

 

Anyway, I do think the separation of homeschool teacher from homeschool student is bewildering. I also think it is much more difficult to find the rigorous academic offerings than it was even when I started homeschooling, which was 10 years ago. I know I can get easily distracted by too many cute/fun/colorful choices, and it is hard, sometimes, to stick with my original educational philosophy, which seemed so clear when I started!

 

Shelly

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Oh, that challenges my brain cells to back when my now-24-year-old needed American history. I guess Konos History of the World, Heart of Wisdom, and A World of Adventure come to mind as some curriculums you may still have heard of. There are still a few who may finish the cycle but haven't been able to for a long time (like Mystery of History). But others have just dropped out of the race. In some cases, maybe they were called elsewhere. But I have over the years heard several tell me that the homeschool used market has killed their business past year one (when everyone must purchase new!). Even John Holzman of Sonlight spent one year venting in his newsletters about how hard that is to fight. They are one of those who went to marketing strategies to compete (changing things every year, etc.). Heart of Wisdom author Robin Sampson once told me in an email that she made about $1 profit off an Amazon book sale of $40.

 

Julie

 

Wow. I've been homeschooling for 10 years, and I haven't heard of any of those other than MOH, which we use. I did try Konos unit studies when ds was 4 or 5, but didn't realize that they had a world history. What a shame that those curriculum providers couldn't make the business viable.

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Sometimes I feel so OLD!

 

There are 7 years between my oldest and youngest. Since i no longer go to homeschool conventions and for the most part we are using similar if not identical materials for my youngest, I feel so out of the loop!

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S

It is also dangerous to make homeschooling too "easy" on the parent IMHO. IMHO you can't expect excellence from an outside class without parental involvement, but there's a lot who don't see the need.

 

 

I won't go on a rant :tongue_smilie: but I easily could. This "drop-off" at co-op education mentality drives me bonkers. I'm not quite sure how it is homeschooling???:confused: Sounds like school simply with a different twist. It is not homeschooling. It is co-op schooling. And, no, they really aren't the same thing.

 

Ok....I tried really hard. I promise. At least I kept it short!! :tongue_smilie: :lol:

 

:auto:

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Gwen, me, too. I'm using the same bio book I got from the swop shop for the oldest 7 years later for the youngest. I switched from Saxon to Singapore and I have had to keep finding French materials for the youngest, but other than that, I am pretty much doing the same thing.

 

Jane, I am currently trying to teach mine how to deal with those "measurable results" type classes. "If you see the word blank, it means they want you to blank." Sigh. Mine are used to classes where the results aren't measured. A major reason we started homeschooling was that our nice school system suddenly was changing drastically in order to teach to the test, the MCAS, which suddenly were put in place. Things like chronological history, logic, debate, shop, and home ec (ritzy area so fine arts are still fairly safe) are disappearing.

 

8filltheheart, I found that if your focus is on skills rather than content, you as the parent have to be pretty involved. In order to teach my children how to write, I had to figure out how to do it myself and then show them. Mine have been unable to teach themselves math - their thinking get tangled along the way. And I think mine would languish and get apathetic if learning weren't a fairly social thing. I think mine would do very badly with some sort of self-teaching program, mostly because I doubt they would really do it properly.

 

-Nan

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Wow. I've been homeschooling for 10 years, and I haven't heard of any of those other than MOH, which we use. I did try Konos unit studies when ds was 4 or 5, but didn't realize that they had a world history. What a shame that those curriculum providers couldn't make the business viable.

 

I read an article from last month's Homeschool Enrichment referencing this topic. The article wanted to:

 

  • discourage us from copying for our own purpose and then reselling the original

  • remind the reader the publisher does not make money to keep their doors open when we purchase used

  • to purchase new from the publisher when we are able, even if it is only 1 or 2 books because it helps keep that publisher's doors open

 

I can't afford to buy all new, but I do manage to purchase a few things new here and there because I want the resources available later and more great things from that publisher. Many of us would like to see SWB publish the next round of writing books for the logic stage (grammar is finished). MANY of us would love a set of history books for the logic stage. How is that going to happen if we keep buying used from each other all of the time? Sure, she is a bigger publishing house, but most homeschool curricula aren't.

 

We all want the great ones to stick around and we assume they will... BUT... if we are TOO frugle, we'll shoot ourselves in the foot in the long run.

 

Off my soapbox now...

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