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Choosing between MFW, SL, & HOD...HELP!


jessie410
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Hi everyone! This is my first time posting although I have been lurking here for a while. Like many I have seen, I am completely at a loss at which curriculum to choose. And like even more I have seen, I am stuck between My Father's World, Sonlight, and Heart of Dakota. I have been reading every thread I can find comparing the three but I still have my own questions.

 

Here is what I want in a curriculum:

-Solid bible, but with wiggle room for me to clarify/elaborate as needed

-Well organized teacher's guide

-Well organized curriculum as a whole (I don't want any weird jumping between subjects or skipping certain pieces of history...I like things to go in order nicely!)

-Easy to combine ages

-Thorough while still giving me the choice to lighten or increase material

-Good balance of hands on activities and book learning

 

I think my education beliefs are varied but definitely lean Charlotte Mason-y. I still want something very thorough so that if/when my kids need to be challenged academically, it is right there available, but also with the freedom to drop the books and go outside. Does that make sense? I realize that all 3 curriculums pretty much line up with my desires, but I'm hoping someone who has had similar desires and has used them can tell me which worked best for them and why. I would love to what you loved/didn't love from each curriculum.

 

Anothering thing I am curious about is the differences between books. I have seen that SL uses more secular books and believes in exposing children to other religions/issues early on. I'm OK with that and have looked through guide samples and appreciate how they point out secular themes in the books and kind of give you a platform to explain those issues. Apparently MFW and HOD have more Christian-y books. Which curriculum has the best books in that regard? Some really good books, especially science/creation ones, that have Biblical content, may persuade me!

 

I'm also wondering about price. I have seen so many people say that HOD is cheapest, but I recently added everything up for one of the guides and it came to like $750ish. For the same age range, MWF came out to around $450. Did I add it up wrong, or is HOD actually more expensive?

 

I know I have a million more questions, but I have already written a novel here so I'll stop now. Thanks in advance for any help :)

 

One more question....my children are 16 months apart. How would yall combine them? I will be starting preschool soon so we are starting from scratch.

Edited by jessie410
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I have never used SL or HOD, but I thought it might be helpful to you to hear of our experiences with MFW. All 3 programs are very solid. I would suggest that you try to look at the programs in person, if you can. I always find that so helpful!

 

We have used MFW K, 1st, Adventures and Exploring Countries and Cultures. We are currently doing Creation to the Greeks. We have really enjoyed MFW, and it definitely fits the goals you listed. I especially appreciate the organized weekly grid in the TM (starting with the Adventures year). The grid makes the activities easy to tweak to one's needs. MFW provides an excellent assortment of simple hands on activities -- this is one thing that made me choose MFW initially. I did not want to have to come up with those on my own! The Bible lessons are solid, thought provoking and non-denominational. MFW does a good job of scheduling efficient lessons so that my children have plenty of free time to pursue their interests or explore outside.

 

One thing to consider -- MFW uses both Christian and secular books and schedules the readings so that the topics are studied in a logical order. The mix of books strikes a good balance so that you are reading multiple perspectives. This has led to some good discussions in our family.

 

I am a huge fan of MFW's history scope and sequence. The kindergarten year is delightful -- thematic units based on letters of the alphabet. Within each unit, the child reads related literature, does science and math activities, and best of all has Biblically based worldview discussions with the parent. During 1st grade, MFW helps children learn to summarize using simplified stories in their own Bible reader. Because the history/Bible lessons/language arts is largely combined, the lessons are very efficient. Adventures -- the program recommended when one's oldest child is 2nd or 3rd grade -- is a fun year of American history and includes a study of the states. So the K through 2nd/3rd grade programs take the family through an abbreviated first history cycle. As with all MFW programs, these years contain rich Bible lessons, providing an excellent foundation for the next history cycle.

 

Exploring Countries and Cultures is next, with a wonderful introduction to geography, habitats and cultures around the world. This is when MFW introduces world religions; they spend a great deal of time on what people around the world believe. My children completed this year in 1st and 3rd grades, as my youngest "tagged along" with the oldest in the program.

 

Next, Creation to the Greeks is an in-depth study of ancient history. We are now learning about the Egyptians and their beliefs regarding life and death. We are learning the details of mummification. My children are ready for all of that now that they are 2nd and 4th graders and have the foundation from the earlier years. I am really enjoying how Creation to the Greeks interweaves Biblical and secular history. So for example, you study Egypt's culture and history, and then you learn the story of Joseph and how he ended up in Egypt. It's all related, and CtG is organized to show that.

 

We are looking forward to future years of MFW, but this gives you a taste of our experience so far.

 

You mention cost -- I do think that MFW is an excellent value. In addition to the "basics," we also use MFW's scheduled art and music appreciation lessons. I love having that organized for me. I also appreciate the extensive book basket list at the back of the manual. These are relevant books we can get at our library for the children to peruse. Using the book basket concept is not necessary for the program, but it does add depth.

 

Regarding combining your children . . . I combine my children for MFW activities and for some other subjects, and they are 22 months apart. It has worked really well for us and decreases the stress level for Mom! Each situation is different, so you will just have to see what works best for your family.

 

Might I encourage you, as you are doing all of this research, to realize that there is no hurry for this curriculum decision, and nothing is permanent? If you try any of these programs, you will learn about your children through it, and it will help you make future decisions. All three are good programs, and I stressed out about which one to choose when we were first homeschooling. It's exciting and fun to do all of that research, I know! But many people actually don't even use a full program for preschool. You are probably already doing wonderful activities with your children. And many people switch gears and try something new after the first year or two.

 

I have found that when I am torn regarding a curriculum decision, if I do all the research, pray about it and sleep on it a few nights, I will find a sense of peace regarding which choice is best for our family. My DH is very supportive, too, and I really value his opinion.

 

Many blessings to you as you embark on this wonderful journey.

 

Lynne

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My children are 14 months apart and my full intention had been to combine them completely to make my life easier. But I soon realized that there learing styles and abilities we so very far apart that it would be impossible. I trie to form them into what I wanted in a homeschool and it was a complete and total FAIL. The biggest issue for me in using Sonlight was that one child needs to be doing something while being read to and the other needs to be in my lap and the main focus on my attentions. This meant I was reading books at least 2x!!!! Also, one is an avid self taught sight reader and I needed to introduce phonics into the mix and the other is solid in the phonics approach and needs to move more quickly. And on and on. I found myself feeling like I was quadupling my work everyday. So we ended up going eclectic and piecing it together. It works for us and both kids are thriving.

 

That said, the scheduling in SL was way too all over the place for me. It jumped around and the kids had a hard time following. It was almost like there were too many good books. A friend of mine used HOD LHFHG and I looked at it thinking I would buy it from her when she was done and it was way too easy for my kids. My kids are not super ahead or everything. HOD was just more gentle than what we needed and by the time I would jave adjusted LA and Math and on and on, I might as well have been ecletic.

 

My advice is too make sure you CAN combine your kids and don't invest too much until you know for sure.

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Wow...that was a great review of MFW. For OP, I don't think that SL would really work for you if you want hands on activities included. You can see their sample IG's online, but it basically tells you what to read when (and you are reading several books at once) and then there are vocab words and discussion questions in the older grades. That said, I do love their books! I am using a lot of them this year with my 5 and 4 year olds (P3/4 and P4/5 books), but I don't think it would fit all of your criteria.

 

For what it is worth, it is not really necessary to buy a whole curriculum for K. We are taking a trip around the world this year to get an overview of the world. We are spending 1-2 months per continent and learning about the kids of the area, culture, animals, reading stories from the areas, listening to music, doing crafts, etc. It is very lowkey. I use these books and supplement from the library:

 

National Geographic Kid's World Atlas (along with a globe and some large laminated maps from Geomatters)

Around the World Art and Activities

Encyclopedia of Animals

Children Around the World

Around the World in 80 Tales

Wee Sing Around the World

Stories from Around the World

 

 

When we start a new continent, I just look through the books and see what is available. I print out a map and a flag of each country we cover (I usually pick a few countries from each continent) for the kids to color. I will also print out free coloring pages of the animals or other things from the area (such as the Chichen Itza pyramid when we were doing Mexico). I usually have a coloring page every day because my kids listen better when their hands are busy and we also make it into a book when we are finished. It is very lowkey, but very fun for the kids. I can't believe how much they are retaining. They impressed everyone at Christmas when they could point to the globe and tell people which country it was and some stuff about that country. We also have a fun ender for each continent. We did a fiesta for North America (we did latin America last). We are going to do a Carnivale for South America. We make food from the region and decorate with the crafts we did. It is really a lot of fun! Just an idea! :D

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Based on the list of what you want in a curriculum, I'm not sure you'd be happy with SL.

 

 

I have not used HOD, but I have used MFW in the past and SL for a long time.

 

I did want to mention that they now have cds with links to related craft ideas, websites, and other helps that you can buy to add some hands-on. And it's easy enough to buy related History Pockets or activity books like More than Moccasins and tie that in.

 

But they schedule a bit of reading out of several different books every day and that drives some people nuts. (I don't know if you'd feel like you were jumping between subjects.)

 

I can't comment on SL's Bible program, as I've never really used it. Or do you mean Bible interwoven into the core curriculum? SL is fairly easy to secularize and I don't think Bible is really woven into the core curriculum. A pro for me, but it sounds like a con for you.

 

I think the teacher's guide is well organized. But I change mine to suit my needs. I take out 9 weeks at a time and put it in a smaller binder. I put everything I need for the week behind the week's tab. So the study guide for readers, history, and read aloud are all behind the week's tab. Instead of me keeping it the way SL sets it up, with read aloud pages behind the read aloud tab, history behind the history tab, etc. That involves too much flipping around.

 

SL can be hard to combine, it depends. Right now, my 11 and 9 year olds are doing core 4/E together without a problem, and they've always done cores together.

 

My 7 yr old is really bright and advanced and listens in when he wants to but I don't require it. Last year he read most of the core 3 readers and listened to most of the read alouds with a problem, but core 4 took a big leap in the length of the readers and read alouds. I was going to do a different core for him but find that I really can't keep up with the reading aloud that two cores require.

 

Next year, I plan to read SOTW to the then 8, 10, and 12 year olds but the 10 and 12 year olds will do logic stage WTM and also outline from an encyclopedia. 8 year old will do stuff from the SOTW AG and read books from a reading list I create for him. 10 and 12 year olds will do most of the readers and read alouds from SL core 6. So there are ways to work it out, but it's not always easy to do multiple cores at once and I tweak and add things.

 

SL is definitely thorough and I find it easy to lighten or add to as needed by either dropping a read aloud or reader when needed, or adding in additional material. Some people just feel overwhelmed by all SL suggests and feel a slave to the schedule, so it all depends on your personality.

 

I far, far prefer SL's book choices to MFW's or HOD's, but that's entirely personal preference. Take a look at the book selections and see if any appeal to you more than others.

 

My two doing Core 4 together now are 19 months apart. They have always done content subjects together. But my dd can handle going at a faster pace than her brother and wouldn't mind her own core. I have 5 kids though and can't do separate history and science for each person and she is able to read more and faster with her free reading instead.

 

If they're just in preschool I wouldn't worry at all at this point. There's always some trial and error starting out and you have plenty of time to try things and figure out what their learning style is and what you prefer. Just enjoy reading and playing and dabbling in whatever looks interesting.

 

I have a toddler now who I think I'll probably just be casual with for a long time. Phonics and math and then just exploring and reading together from the FIAR list and SL preschool list. I do have the MFW preschool set and like the little pamphlet that came with it for ideas for playing with the Laurie toys. We'll do things like that until he's 6 or 7. I look back on all the years I obsessed over SL or MFW or WP or this or that and I just wasted a lot of money because it didn't really matter until they were older anyway. And really, I've learned it's more about me, the teacher, and how I teach them and interact with them, and less about the curriculum. Any of the choices you listed are good choices, spend some time finding out what suits your style and their style but know that you have time and have fun and enjoy in the meantime.

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And really, I've learned it's more about me, the teacher, and how I teach them and interact with them, and less about the curriculum. Any of the choices you listed are good choices, spend some time finding out what suits your style and their style but know that you have time and have fun and enjoy in the meantime.

 

:iagree: Those are wise words!

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Thank you so much everyone!

 

Lynne, thank you for sharing about MFW. That is the one I have been leaning towards more than the other two, so your experiences definitely help to reinforce that.

 

SL just seems SO thorough though...I guess that is why it appeals to me so much. I can't seem to do decide if I want EVERYTHING layed out for me like that if if I want a lot of flexibility.

 

I have seen a lot of the complaints about the reading from SL, but after looking through the IG's, I don't think it looked too overwhelming and I don't think that I would have an issue skipping some reading here and there if needed. I can see how it would be an issue with lots of children though.

 

I do realize that my children are young and even if I choose the "perfect curriculum" right now, that will probably change over the years! I am very excited to homeschool though and figure research is the best place to start :) I don't know if any of you can relate, but I'm starting to feel a similar addiction setting in as to what I felt when I first began cloth diapering LOL! I may not be satisfied until I try all of them!! I think its great that SL gives you your money back if you don't like it. I wish they would all do that!

 

Thanks again for the insight. I would love to hear more!!

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We've used Sonlight, MFW, and HOD at various times. Sonlight as much as I wanted it to work just wasn't a good fit for us. I actually sent Core 3 back to Sonlight under their guarantee as it was apparent the first few weeks it just wasn't going to work.

 

I've used MFW K, 1 and Exp to 1850 and really liked all 3. However my dd that did Exp to 1850 last year absolutely hated it. It was like pulling teeth to get it done each day and we wound up only doing about half of it. She's using HOD this year and loves it so we'll likely stick with HOD for her. I actually probably prefer MFW and the layout of their TMs. The one thing I do like better about HOD but I don't think it starts until CTC is their notebooking pages. My dd is going to have a really beautiful history notebook by the end of the year.

 

Cost wise I think they are pretty close. I know with Exp to 1850 last year there were a few extra books I had to buy in addition to the package. I also bought some of the book basket books. This year I think I've spent about the same on HOD. We have the basic package and history readers. I do not use HOD Science or any of the grammar, lit, and writing though. I also haven't bought any of the extension books.

 

It might be difficult to combine kids in MFW at least with K and 1 just because they are so tied to the phonics instruction. I've used both with twins and it has gone fine. My youngest 2 kids are only 14 months apart and I will not be able to combine them. I think once you hit Adventures you'd be fine combining.

Edited by AmyinMD
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I don't know if any of you can relate, but I'm starting to feel a similar addiction setting in as to what I felt when I first began cloth diapering LOL! I may not be satisfied until I try all of them!! I think its great that SL gives you your money back if you don't like it. I wish they would all do that!

 

 

 

Oh yes!! :lol: I sure can relate. I have cloth diapered 4 kids and I was completely obsessed with my last set of kids. The time I spent looking at and buying cds was crazy! But it was so much fun! I went through the same thing w curriculum for a time, and most here have at some point.

 

I think it's fine as long as it remains fun and you aren't hopping around a lot as they get older. When I started feeling this weight of all the curriculum choices I had, and fear that I'd fail my kids if I chose wrong, that's when I knew I needed to take a step back. I took a long break from looking at curriculum and was able to gain some perspective. It's just a tool in getting us where we want to go, and that's all. I now focus more on our overall goals and break those into steps, and focus on myself as the teacher and what I need to do to inspire and support my kids in their learning journey. Curriculum may come into play as supportive material, but it's not the be-all, end-all in our learning.

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It might be difficult to combine kids in MFW at least with K and 1 just because they are so tied to the phonics instruction. I've used both with twins and it has gone fine. My youngest 2 kids are only 14 months apart and I will not be able to combine them. I think once you hit Adventures you'd be fine combining.

 

That's a great point. When they're young and the focus is so much on skills, I always had to do that separate with each kid. So it might look like this: 15-20 minutes of a phonics primer like OPGTR alone w ea child. Give the other kid a kumon sticker or tracing book they can do alone or pattern blocks or something while you work on phonics w one kid.

 

Then math depends on how you like to do it. You could block out 20-30 min that's mostly for play and exploration and do something like RightStart A or Kitchen Table math all together and just play and stop when time's up or their attention wanders. Or if you do a workbook you may need to do it separately again for 15 min ea.

 

Then combine content: Everyone listens to you read picture books and you all do a related activity. Everyone goes outside for nature study or does a science experiment together.

 

All inclusive programs may be hard to combine since they may need a different approach or pace for skill subjects.

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for what it is worth- i have used all three at various times. I have settled on SL after using all three. I used MFW and tried to combine my kids but didn't work-however, my age span is really big and it just was not challenging enough for my oldest and i didn't want to search for other things to include. There were also some family dynamics that have gone into the mix with it. However, i did like that there were some hands on stuff included in the teacher's guide. Some of the activities were good, some of them we just skipped. Using sonlight, i have added my own and it has not been hard AT ALL to find activities and i do like the freedom of adding what i want, when i want. With MFW i sometimes had to search for a new activitiy if i didn't like the one that was listed. I did like to bible component alot though and do miss that part. HOD is pricey, in my opinion, and just didn't seem as flexible as i wanted. I also didn't like the book selections as much as SL. Since your kids are close in age, you could combine them in HOD, though that is not really what the curriculum is intended for.

SL is great for US. Love the books so much!!!!!! Kids love the readers, love the read alouds and the history is good. We use some of the extra "workbooks" in the LA portions as well. I do love the teacher IG layout-works well for my mind. Again, i do add in my own hands on but it is SO easy to find activities. The boards at Sonlight usually have a place where people post about activitis they have done. Lots of kits available.

Anyways, you have lots of time and the first few years you can kinda just do the three "R"'s and read lots of books and have fun. My suggestions is to read alot to your kids, teach them to love learning and have fun.

good luck with your decision.

pj

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I borrowed a friend's SL Core A and was a bit disappointed. As much as I wanted SL, I realized that for me it the TG would cause me headaches; I didn't like that I had to flip from section to section in the TG for the different questions for the read-alouds and such. I much prefer the MFW grid for a quick glance at what needs to be done and discussed. I also didn't want to be searching for activities as much. SL doesn't have any in their TG; it's just mostly discussion questions. I did love the maps that accompany the TG though. What won me over with MFW was the integration of the Bible into the curriculum and that I could more easily combine both kids from 2nd grade. I am already combining my 2 year old and 4 year old using MFW k, but ours is a situation in which DD4 can read already and I actually want to just slow her down a bit, and DS2 knows all his letter sounds and needs more time with mom. I am not actually doing all the phonics stuff with either, just using the themes and Bible to bring them both together for "school". Love it so far.

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I've used all 3. I used SL the most, but had a few issues with it. I felt like all we did was read. I also felt that my oldest, although a very advanced reader was not emotionally mature enough for the topics in some of the books and I was too busy with my two little ones to read and discuss with DD all the time. And DD was not retaining history info well since there were no hands on activities. I don't like their LA at all, it always felt too scattered to me (we tried it 3 times).

 

Then we tried MFW. I got the Adventures package (2nd/3rd grade) and tried to like it. I liked the concept of it, but in reality it was just too light for DD. She was more advanced in several areas and both she and I felt that even though the projects were very fun, there was not enough substance to it for her. Part of this was that I didn't have time to constantly go to the library and get books for the book basket (and this really is an important part of the program). I could have gotten the next level up, I suppose, but I was not 100% on board with some of MFW's ideas by that point (delayed/slowed grammar, for example). It also had very little independent work, which was not ideal for us.

 

Then, after reading a million reviews, I got HOD for her. And both she and I love it. It is exactly what we've been looking for. The level is perfect for her; it uses many Charlotte Mason principles, but is also rigorous and systematic in grammar and writing; there are hands on activities, but it doesn't feel like we're spending most of our time doing crafts instead of learning (I know many kids learn by doing crafts, but DD does not learn best that way). She is retaining information better because she uses different methods to reinforce it (drawing, copy work, narration). Since DD is an advanced reader, I have her read many subjects by herself and don't worry much about her reading something she is not prepared to handle emotionally.

 

I also have 2 littles ones: DD4 (in Feb.) and DS2 and I plan on combining them in one program and using different levels of the 3Rs with them. This is easy to do with HOD since in the guides, the 3Rs are on the right side and everything else is on the left.

 

All 3 are great programs, it's just a matter of what would work well with your family and educational style.

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Thanks for all the further insight. Today I have been trying to see how exactly I can combine my kids in the programs and what appeals to me most. I'm having a hard time understanding the combining in SL, but from 2nd grade up MFW looks great for my 2 that are so close together. I was thinking if I can't combine them for K and 1st, I could do Adventures with DS while DD is in 1st and she'll be able to listen in on the history and participate in some of the activities. Then after that they'll both go into ECC at the same time. I have been pretty confused about combining and when I realized I could do that with MFW it pulled it together really nicely!

 

At this point, I'm thinking of crossing HOD off my list. I have been studying the TM's and they are my least favorite set up out of the three. I will definitely keep it on the back burner though.

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I only read your question, and not all of the posts so this answer is to the information that you gave in what you are looking for in a curriculum.

 

My answer would be: MFW

 

The three reasons would be:

You are wanting chronological history

You are wanting hands on and book learning

You are wanting Bible

 

We have done 3 SL Cores (this counts preschool), the first 3 programs of MFW, and tried HOD for 3 weeks. From what you said though I think you would enjoy MFW the most.

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I've used SL and HoD, and have looked at MFW extensively. My favorite has been HoD. The teacher's guide is the most organized and easy to use. Their book choices have been my favorites, and they are the most focused on building skills, not just content.

 

SL is lots of reading. It is very easy to get overwhelmed if you miss a day or two and try to catch up. It feels more disjointed between subjects. It doesn't have any hands-on unless you do their science I believe. Also I found the guide quite cumbersome. And the skill-building is minimal.

 

I came very close to trying MFW, but the guide and books just didn't draw me like HoD. I do like the book basket concept, but that does require reliance on the library, unless you wish to purchase the books on your own. I also felt the LA in HoD were more rigorous and closer to what I liked in the WTM.

 

HOWEVER, MFW is more combineable than HoD. HoD is only meant to combine if your children are close in skill levels. MFW is also more flexible. HoD is beautifully and completely laid out but is also more tightly scheduled. Of course it can be tweaked but does not feel as tweakable as MFW. Both MFW and HoD are very solid in Bible. SL not as much. I believe HoD is cheaper in the early grades and gets more expensive as you reach the middle grades. (Again, you're not using the library.) However, it is nearly all non-consumable, so you can reuse or resell.

 

Based on what you said, I'm guessing MFW to be the best fit. Sometimes you just don't know until you try it though!

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I only read your question, and not all of the posts so this answer is to the information that you gave in what you are looking for in a curriculum.

 

My answer would be: MFW

 

The three reasons would be:

You are wanting chronological history

You are wanting hands on and book learning

You are wanting Bible

 

We have done 3 SL Cores (this counts preschool), the first 3 programs of MFW, and tried HOD for 3 weeks. From what you said though I think you would enjoy MFW the most.

:iagree: We've done the same (3 SL Cores, first 3 MFW programs and a stint with HOD). MFW sums up what you are looking for .... :001_smile:

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Well, SL isn't Charlotte Mason, so if that's the direction you're going, then seems to me SL would be off the list.

 

Personally, HOD doesn't interest me the least little bit. It sounds way too much like Doing School, and I don't want to Do School.

 

MFW looks interesting, but it's a little too planned out for me. I prefer to have many choices, along the lines of KONOS. YMMV.

 

If I wanted to do CM, I'd probably go with Ambleside Online.

 

The rule of thumb when teaching multiple ages is to teach to the oldest child and let the younger ones come along.

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Lynne,

I'm not the OP, but thank you for that wonderful overview of MFW. I've been looking at the curriculum for my children. I especially like the looks of the bible in the program. Am I right that it uses the Bible instead of reading from other books, like devotionals?

 

I am glad that our experiences could answer some questions for you!

 

Yes, you seem to be understanding the Bible portion of the curriculum correctly. MFW schedules readings from the Bible and has not used a devotional in the programs we've completed. MFW does use supporting books in some of its programs; these books provide historical or geographical information that relates to the Biblical passages being studied. It appears that MFW does not use devotionals in any of the programs through 8th grade, but I am not familiar with MFW high school.

 

Here is a summary of what they do for Bible lessons:

 

Kindergarten - Each letter of the alphabet has a short and sweet Biblical principle associated with it. These are big ideas and led to wonderful worldview discussions with our 5 year olds. The family reads corresponding Bible verses for each principle.

 

1st Grade - Students practice reading and narrating using MFW's Bible Reader, a sweet book written on a child's level. (My children were very advanced readers but still found this resource intriguing, and learning to summarize was a challenge!) Students write their narrations and illustrate a Bible Notebook. I treasure having these notebooks; they bring back such wonderful memories for all of us! Students do copywork from Proverbs. MFW has scheduled the Bible verses so that some of them are directly applicable to the Bible stories being studied, making our discussions very rich.

 

Adventures - Students study the names of Jesus throughout the year, referencing Bible verses and coloring illustrations to make a Jesus poster. We love MFW's unit study approach -- for example, MFW schedules "Jesus is the Living Water" to coincide with science experiments about water and "Jesus is the Bread of Life" to coincide with a bread baking activity.

 

Exploring Countries & Cultures - Families read through the book of Matthew together. Memory verses and copywork are pulled from this book. We also read Hero Tales, a wonderful book about courageous Christian men and women. Students copy character traits from this book and narrate the stories. Window on the World was another wonderful book. It isn't a devotional; rather, it teaches about various religions around the world and includes detailed information about various countries. Our children loved both of these books!

 

Creation to the Greeks - We are currently doing this program, and the Bible is one of the history spines. We are reading through much of the Old Testament this year, and we are really enjoying it! Honestly, the OT has never been my favorite portion of the Bible, but I am finding it so much more interesting now that I see how the OT's stories fit in with the scheme of history. MFW schedules readings from Journey through the Bible as well as Usborne's Ancient World. These books provide historical, geographical and cultural information. We have also enjoyed learning about and celebrating Jewish feasts rooted in the OT using a book called Celebrating Biblical Feasts.

 

So MFW does use additional books during Bible lesson time, but they aren't "devotional" books. I have found MFW's Bible lessons to be nondenominational. MFW expects the parent to lead and teach those lessons, and that is very important for our family.

 

Lynne

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The biblical stuff is one of the major reasons I am leaning towards MFW. At first I was under the impression that SL is very Christian/biblical, but over the past few days I have been really looking over the teacher's guides to see how everything is presented and have seen some things that turn me off of SL.

 

For example, I looked closely at how anchient history is presented in Creation to the Greeks vs. the world history cores from SL. Correct me if I'm wrong, but to me it looks like SL uses basic secular history with bible on the side. I LOVE the way CtG presents history totally biblically! While I have no issues discussing other belief systems (such as evolution) with my children, I don't want it as the CORE of their education. I'm looking at Core B and it looks like the main history book is the Usborne book, which presents history from a evolutionary standpoint. I don't like having an evolution disclaimer in the TG for the program's main book for my second/third grader!

 

For me, I want bible truth as the foundation of their education, and I'm seeing clearly now that MFW is going to give me that much better than SL. I would rather not have to discredit the main books we read/tweak core materials to make them fit our beliefs, KWIM?

 

As far as the Charlotte Mason approach, like I said, I feel that I have a mix of educational beliefs but definitely lean her way. I still want structure though. I think that MFW will provide a great structure for me while still leaving wiggle room to learn outside of the classroom setting by pursuing individual interests, going on field trips, etc.

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One other thing that I thought I should add . . . some people have mentioned that they don't agree with MFW's philosophy of teaching language arts. Just so you know, it is very simple to add in your own language arts resources so that you are doing what you think is best for your family. I personally think that MFW includes enough language arts activities in the earlier years, but we use extra language arts materials now that my oldest is in 4th grade. I selected a writing program that is different from the one that MFW recommends, and we also chose a math program other than the one sold by MFW. The outside math and language arts resources are not scheduled specifically in the TM at that level, anyway, so it's not an issue.

 

Lynne

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I am glad that our experiences could answer some questions for you!

 

Yes, you seem to be understanding the Bible portion of the curriculum correctly. MFW schedules readings from the Bible and has not used a devotional in the programs we've completed. MFW does use supporting books in some of its programs; these books provide historical or geographical information that relates to the Biblical passages being studied. It appears that MFW does not use devotionals in any of the programs through 8th grade, but I am not familiar with MFW high school.

 

Here is a summary of what they do for Bible lessons:

 

Kindergarten - Each letter of the alphabet has a short and sweet Biblical principle associated with it. These are big ideas and led to wonderful worldview discussions with our 5 year olds. The family reads corresponding Bible verses for each principle.

 

1st Grade - Students practice reading and narrating using MFW's Bible Reader, a sweet book written on a child's level. (My children were very advanced readers but still found this resource intriguing, and learning to summarize was a challenge!) Students write their narrations and illustrate a Bible Notebook. I treasure having these notebooks; they bring back such wonderful memories for all of us! Students do copywork from Proverbs. MFW has scheduled the Bible verses so that some of them are directly applicable to the Bible stories being studied, making our discussions very rich.

 

Adventures - Students study the names of Jesus throughout the year, referencing Bible verses and coloring illustrations to make a Jesus poster. We love MFW's unit study approach -- for example, MFW schedules "Jesus is the Living Water" to coincide with science experiments about water and "Jesus is the Bread of Life" to coincide with a bread baking activity.

 

Exploring Countries & Cultures - Families read through the book of Matthew together. Memory verses and copywork are pulled from this book. We also read Hero Tales, a wonderful book about courageous Christian men and women. Students copy character traits from this book and narrate the stories. Window on the World was another wonderful book. It isn't a devotional; rather, it teaches about various religions around the world and includes detailed information about various countries. Our children loved both of these books!

 

Creation to the Greeks - We are currently doing this program, and the Bible is one of the history spines. We are reading through much of the Old Testament this year, and we are really enjoying it! Honestly, the OT has never been my favorite portion of the Bible, but I am finding it so much more interesting now that I see how the OT's stories fit in with the scheme of history. MFW schedules readings from Journey through the Bible as well as Usborne's Ancient World. These books provide historical, geographical and cultural information. We have also enjoyed learning about and celebrating Jewish feasts rooted in the OT using a book called Celebrating Biblical Feasts.

 

So MFW does use additional books during Bible lesson time, but they aren't "devotional" books. I have found MFW's Bible lessons to be nondenominational. MFW expects the parent to lead and teach those lessons, and that is very important for our family.

 

Lynne

 

Thank you, Lynne! That was a wonderful response. I will definitely keep this program in mind. It seems to be what I'm looking for in a Bible curriculum. I want to be in the Bible and using the Bible, not a devotional. Those aren't my thing.

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Well, SL isn't Charlotte Mason, so if that's the direction you're going, then seems to me SL would be off the list.

 

Personally, HOD doesn't interest me the least little bit. It sounds way too much like Doing School, and I don't want to Do School.

 

MFW looks interesting, but it's a little too planned out for me. I prefer to have many choices, along the lines of KONOS. YMMV.

 

If I wanted to do CM, I'd probably go with Ambleside Online.

 

The rule of thumb when teaching multiple ages is to teach to the oldest child and let the younger ones come along.

 

What is YMMV?

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I had the toughest time choosing between those exact 3; those are 3 very good curriculum choices I am certain. However, I chose MFW and still wavered my first year using MFW K & ECC, but I stuck with it and LOVE it. We are using MFW 1st & CTG this year. I am trying a "a reason for spelling" instead of their recommends, but I am keeping Spelling Power for when my ds finishes 6th because I pulled him out of ps and the 'workbook' seems engrained in him. It was my little 'give-in' away from the Charlotte Mason / classical things I was trying to bring him too - but other than that - I love MFW. It meets the criteria you set - always wiggle room - I have made things more or less challenging often to suit my children. To me - it's far more affordable. Sonlight I quickly was able to decide was not for us - but HOD tempted me for a long time - and I still think it looks like a great curriculum. However - the week at a glance layout of MFW guide, the flexibility, the price, and the biblical focus (which of course HOD has as well), plus the amazing support from their forum and their staff, have really made me glad I went with MFW. (Now - not knocking the other two at all - I haven't used them - and I'm sure there are wonderful things about them. However - I reviewed SL guides and ruled it out along with a few other things - and HOD - as much as I loved their guide - I still think MFW's works better for us. Also - the solid feel I get from the curriculum writers, the mission focus, the length of time they've spent homeschooling and writing curriculum were other factors in my choice.)

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