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Æthelthryth the Texan

Besides here, good place for course reviews?

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Beside WTM forum, is there another website or go to you have for reviews of homeschool material/programs in general?

Cathy Duffy doesn't have recent updates of some of the things I'm interested in even though there are new editions and added options-- I feel like she's getting laggy on reviews. Homeschoolreviews are gone and the SL forums are done. In the upper grades it gets a bit harder to find comprehensive, unbiased reviews sometimes for less popular programs. I'm doing my homework on somethings, but if no one here has used it I'm out of luck, so I was wondering if anyone could recommend anywhere else with reliable reviews? (Not Facebook). 

I've done google searches but I keep ending up with blogs that start with "I received this free in return for an impartial review of ABC Program" and I just don't buy 99% of them. After the fact reviews of a complete program are always better, imo, especially when you're looking at spending hundreds of dollars on a high school level course potentially. 

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Nope. Everything is sponsored and few people want to talk about homeschool curriculum anymore even here on this forum which is the best place TO talk about curriculum. Tonnes of bloggers and youtubers are doing their thing, but it's dispiriting because you'll find glowing reviews for something they love to the moon and back, but two months later they've dropped it and they never say why. I mean, that happens to everyone, but it used to be the case that on the forum we'd talk through the process, let people here know why something doesn't work for us anymore. ETC. 

Old threads are still the best source of info. YT reviews are still nice because you can actually see the thing (I usually watch with no sound). After that, tracking down the corners of the internet where people talk about one specific thing is the only way. And as you move up through the grades there are fewer and fewer people even available to talk about homeschooling, much less to talk about the finer details of particular books. sad face

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I'm not sure reviews are always very helpful, anyway. People who don't have experience with long-term outcomes or with a wide range of abilities may think they know how to judge the quality or ease of use of the curriculum, but they don't really know how to recognize real strengths and weaknesses.

it also takes having rhino hide to take the beating you get when you state negatives about curriculum darlings.  

I never read Duffy's reviews, but did she post about weaknesses in a curriculum or did everything get some sort of positive comment?

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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56 minutes ago, OKBud said:

Nope. Everything is sponsored and few people want to talk about homeschool curriculum anymore even here on this forum which is the best place TO talk about curriculum. Tonnes of bloggers and youtubers are doing their thing, but it's dispiriting because you'll find glowing reviews for something they love to the moon and back, but two months later they've dropped it and they never say why. I mean, that happens to everyone, but it used to be the case that on the forum we'd talk through the process, let people here know why something doesn't work for us anymore. ETC. 

Old threads are still the best source of info. YT reviews are still nice because you can actually see the thing (I usually watch with no sound). After that, tracking down the corners of the internet where people talk about one specific thing is the only way. And as you move up through the grades there are fewer and fewer people even available to talk about homeschooling, much less to talk about the finer details of particular books. sad face

The old threads are great when I can find them. But as time increases the editions are changing so much- like full rewrites- that they aren’t applicable sometimes. 

I’ll check YT. I had given up on them for reviews because I feel like most are “we just got this and we are soooooo excited!” And then like you say- you try to find later progress and they dropped it and are using something different. I know that’s real life but it doesn’t help me, LOL. 

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1 minute ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I'm not sure reviews are always very helpful, anyway. People who don't have experience with long-term outcomes or with a wide range of abilities may think they know how to judge the quality or ease of use of the curriculum.

it also takes having rhino hide to take the beating you get when you state negatives about curriculum darlings.  

I never read Duffy's reviews, but did she post about weaknesses in a curriculum or did everything get some sort of positive comment?

In her book I felt like she was pretty fair for what she wrote up, but she was only writing about her top picks. It was the way she categorized things that made it an easy go to reference. I appreciated that part of her books. She doesn’t give comprehensive reviews on things she isn’t rating as a top pick though, so if she didn’t pick it, you’re out of luck. But it was a good reference when it was more updated. 

For instance with the chemistry I’ve been researching as one example, she definitely pulls out the math elements and compares “this program is good for non-STEM kids, this program  is not good if your child is going into STEM, it will not adequately prepare them,” sort of thing. But now some of those reviews are 5+ years old and aren’t helpful because the texts have been totally updated. She quit publishing the hard copy book and only has the website now and I don’t feel like it’s kept updated. I wish she’d keep printing the book. It was handy at one point. I loaned out my latest copy of WTM so I need to get it back and see what is in there too. 

I would be braver if this stuff didn’t cost so much! 

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I think I have an easier time not obsessing about reviews when it's something I'm not nervous about teaching. Then I'm more confident in my gut. Like Biology-  I knew what we could cut and what shouldn't be cut, what mattered in the grand scheme, etc. With the Chemistry example for instance, I don't have a clue. I just see a very, very fat textbook. I know the PS never make it through a whole book, but I don't know what I'd cut or change, so it makes the program matter more, if that makes sense. I don't feel in this case like I can as easily flex to the child as I can with most other things. That's probably why I put it off until now. 🙂Anyway, that's why I'm on a review quest. 

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10 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I think I have an easier time not obsessing about reviews when it's something I'm not nervous about teaching. Then I'm more confident in my gut. Like Biology-  I knew what we could cut and what shouldn't be cut, what mattered in the grand scheme, etc. With the Chemistry example for instance, I don't have a clue. I just see a very, very fat textbook. I know the PS never make it through a whole book, but I don't know what I'd cut or change, so it makes the program matter more, if that makes sense. I don't feel in this case like I can as easily flex to the child as I can with most other things. That's probably why I put it off until now. 🙂Anyway, that's why I'm on a review quest. 

Then, the obvious question is how do you verify the reviewer has the knowledge base to make that judgment? 

I listen to all sorts of homeschoolers puffy-heart curriculum I wouldn't touch with a 10-ft pole. But, surely, if 100s of homeschoolers are on its bandwagon, it must be high quality.🤥 

I guess that is why I tend not to look at reviews for real answers but more for bringing something into sight for me to review and make a judgment call over.

For example, yrs upon yrs ago when my oldest was in 6th grade MUS was being used by everyone I was around. I looked through it and thought it would be good for a transition from Horizons to high school alg, but there was no way I could see it being stand alone for high school alg or geo. Everyone around me was affronted by my not using it and moving on to their alg 2 like they were.  It really caused a huge ruffling of feathers and hurt even though it was nothing more than a non-emotional, purely content-based decision. 

(Long-term outcomes----of my ds's friends who applied to college as engineering majors, he was the only one of finished as an engineer.)

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14 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

With the Chemistry example for instance, I don't have a clue. I just see a very, very fat textbook. I know the PS never make it through a whole book, but I don't know what I'd cut or change, so it makes the program matter more, if that makes sense. 

 

Since my kids use “popular” public school textbooks, it was easy to find syllabus from teachers all over the state on the Internet. I try not to cut, instead we cover the chapters not tested after the exam (SAT/AP).

I think the best way might still be to post in the high school board. For example the Miller Levine Biology textbook works well for DS13 but DS14 doesn’t like that and goes for the Campbell AP Biology textbook even though we did an informal study for biology in middle school.

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11 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

 

Since my kids use “popular” public school textbooks, it was easy to find syllabus from teachers all over the state on the Internet. I try not to cut, instead we cover the chapters not tested after the exam (SAT/AP).

I think the best way might still be to post in the high school board. For example the Miller Levine Biology textbook works well for DS13 but DS14 doesn’t like that and goes for the Campbell AP Biology textbook even though we did an informal study for biology in middle school.

I have posted there- I'm just not getting much feedback. 

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Good, thorough reviews are useful simply because they help you think through how it might look for you and your kids in the season of life you're living through. Reviews on the FORUM are particularly helpful--or that is to say, used to be before everyone got too cool to chat about curriculum-- because you could read through past threads and get even more of a feel of where people were coming from. For example, we have the poster here who went into detail about what she didn't like about a specific language arts program (TGATB)....but then she also says, in effect, all that is true, but also here is how it's actually working in practice with my daughter! That sort of thing is elucidating, not only when you're looking at TGATB, but it gives you things to think about irt other programs as well.

I have found, for example, that hardcore Waldorf people just don't get the people that like to read about and compare curricula. They say, in effect, "that's not for me. I have this vision for my kids and curriculum is irrelevant." Well, OK, Waldorfians. Go with God and best of luck. But that's not particularly helpful even when you're look at curricula that more or less matches their own waldorfy vision. 

All that to say, I feel like we saw a golden age of forum-based homeschool and curriculum chat, and it's over now. And I miss it. 

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51 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I think I have an easier time not obsessing about reviews when it's something I'm not nervous about teaching. Then I'm more confident in my gut. Like Biology-  I knew what we could cut and what shouldn't be cut, what mattered in the grand scheme, etc. With the Chemistry example for instance, I don't have a clue. I just see a very, very fat textbook. I know the PS never make it through a whole book, but I don't know what I'd cut or change, so it makes the program matter more, if that makes sense. I don't feel in this case like I can as easily flex to the child as I can with most other things. That's probably why I put it off until now. 🙂Anyway, that's why I'm on a review quest. 

 

Well yeah, no one goes looking to learn what they already know!

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20 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Then, the obvious question is how do you verify the reviewer has the knowledge base to make that judgment? 

I listen to all sorts of homeschoolers puffy-heart curriculum I wouldn't touch with a 10-ft pole. But, surely, if 100s of homeschoolers are on its bandwagon, it must be high quality.🤥 

I guess that is why I tend not to look at reviews for real answers but more for bringing something into sight for me to review and make a judgment call over.

For example, yrs upon yrs ago when my oldest was in 6th grade MUS was being used by everyone I was around. I looked through it and thought it would be good for a transition from Horizons to high school alg, but there was no way I could see it being stand alone for high school alg or geo. Everyone around me was affronted by my not using it and moving on to their alg 2 like they were.  It really caused a huge ruffling of feathers and hurt even though it was nothing more than a non-emotional, purely content-based decision. 

(Long-term outcomes----of my ds's friends who applied to college as engineering majors, he was the only one of finished as an engineer.)

I'm not looking for someone to answer it for me- I'm just trying to get more of an idea of style and difficulty so I can make a list of options. I don't like "this is the best" reviews. I like more of, "we found the scope and sequence to not make logical sense because" or "this came across as disjointed and here's why" sort of things, so I am clued in on what I want to evaluate. I feel like I've definitely gone with some programs that aren't popular here. They might have been at one point, but it seems in most cases people have moved on, or at least aren't as vocal about it. 

 I've read as much as I can of samples online, but I feel like they just don't offer a ton of samples in most cases. It's really hard for me to make a $300-800 investment off of a two page sample. I find the most extensive samples on Christianbook.com, but even that is limited in selection  I don't have an easy physical place to go preview. We don't have any local stores that carry texts like I'm looking at, so I'm hoping to have a list narrowed down for convention and hope they have samples out- assuming the publishers are there. 

When I can see reviews from people I *know* here, hearing what they say I feel like gives me a better bead on if something would fit for my student. Over time you sort of figure out who you synch with on style, or whose kids sound a lot like yours as far as struggles and successes, etc. or whose are running laps around your kid on certain subjects, assuming they're being honest. So I definitely do perk up when certain posters mention certain things, but I do so knowing not all that works for them works for me.  I mean, for instance, if you called something extremely rigorous on s STEM front, it would be crossed off my list in an instant for dd, just because I feel like you have much higher standards than I do on STEM subjects. 

Honestly, I feel like its harder for high school to find options/suggestions for my type of student- especially on these boards. Or maybe it's just who tend to be heavier posters that give me that impression and there are just droves of regular people lurking........ Anyway, I do feel a bit like my goals, expectations, and outlook are a lot different than most people's on the HS Board, so I don't hang out there a ton. It stresses me out sometimes. Our family at this point doesn't have the same concerns about scholarships and grants or selective schools or back up schools or most of the college absorption that I know many do. Sometimes I feel like I'm just in my little bubble between people who are either need to get a kid into a selective 4 year and/or with scholarships versus people who have no intent of the child heading to college at all and are looking more towards the trades. 

 

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8 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Or maybe it's just who tend to be heavier posters that give me that impression and there are just droves of regular people lurking........ Anyway, I do feel a bit like my goals, expectations, and outlook are a lot different than most people's on the HS Board, so I don't hang out there a ton. It stresses me out sometimes.

 

+1 and yes there are definitely tonnes of people lurking all the time!

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27 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I'm not looking for someone to answer it for me- I'm just trying to get more of an idea of style and difficulty so I can make a list of options. I don't like "this is the best" reviews. I like more of, "we found the scope and sequence to not make logical sense because" or "this came across as disjointed and here's why" sort of things, so I am clued in on what I want to evaluate. I feel like I've definitely gone with some programs that aren't popular here. They might have been at one point, but it seems in most cases people have moved on, or at least aren't as vocal about it. 

 I've read as much as I can of samples online, but I feel like they just don't offer a ton of samples in most cases. It's really hard for me to make a $300-800 investment off of a two page sample. I find the most extensive samples on Christianbook.com, but even that is limited in selection  I don't have an easy physical place to go preview. We don't have any local stores that carry texts like I'm looking at, so I'm hoping to have a list narrowed down for convention and hope they have samples out- assuming the publishers are there. 

When I can see reviews from people I *know* here, hearing what they say I feel like gives me a better bead on if something would fit for my student. Over time you sort of figure out who you synch with on style, or whose kids sound a lot like yours as far as struggles and successes, etc. or whose are running laps around your kid on certain subjects, assuming they're being honest. So I definitely do perk up when certain posters mention certain things, but I do so knowing not all that works for them works for me.  I mean, for instance, if you called something extremely rigorous on s STEM front, it would be crossed off my list in an instant for dd, just because I feel like you have much higher standards than I do on STEM subjects. 

Honestly, I feel like its harder for high school to find options/suggestions for my type of student- especially on these boards. Or maybe it's just who tend to be heavier posters that give me that impression and there are just droves of regular people lurking........ Anyway, I do feel a bit like my goals, expectations, and outlook are a lot different than most people's on the HS Board, so I don't hang out there a ton. It stresses me out sometimes. Our family at this point doesn't have the same concerns about scholarships and grants or selective schools or back up schools or most of the college absorption that I know many do. Sometimes I feel like I'm just in my little bubble between people who are either need to get a kid into a selective 4 year and/or with scholarships versus people who have no intent of the child heading to college at all and are looking more towards the trades. 

 

If you ask questions, most posters on the high school forum will answer honestly. Where you see things go south is where people post about someone wanting to be something like a STEM major and posters asserting that programs that are known to be weaker are equal to.  In terms of the chemistry posts you have made on the high school forum, it could be that the lack of responses are bc there are better onceptual options than the programs you have narrowed it down to and posters aren't sure you want to hear about them or they don't know about those specific editions. (I know about old Apologia chem but nothing about newer editions or Wile's new book.

i am confused, though, about the the price range you have listed. Are you talking about review of online classes or curriculum. I can't fathom spending that much on chemistry curriculum. Online course? Yes. But materials? No (except for maybe lab supplies.....but that can be an entirely different conversation, too.)

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I wonder if it goes in waves a bit. Some of the people I remember posting a lot about high school have graduated their youngest and moved on. 

I try to reward frank reviews or curricula comparisons because I, too, find value in them. Sometimes what makes it not work for someone else sounds exactly like what will make it successful for us. Sadly, my only reward mechanism is the "like" button.

I don't hang out on a particular board so much as I hang on the "new content" button. 😊

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20 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

If you ask questions, most posters on the high school forum will answer honestly. Where you see things go south is where people post about someone wanting to be something like a STEM major and posters asserting that programs that are known to be weaker are equal to.  In terms of the chemistry posts you have made on the high school forum, it could be that the lack of responses are bc there are better onceptual options than the programs you have narrowed it down to and posters aren't sure you want to hear about them or they don't know about those specific editions. (I know about old Apologia chem but nothing about newer editions or Wile's new book.

i am confused, though, about the the price range you have listed. Are you talking about review of online classes or curriculum. I can't fathom spending that much on chemistry curriculum. Online course? Yes. But materials? No (except for maybe lab supplies.....but that can be an entirely different conversation, too.)

 I was talking about the price range in general of what I'm looking at now across a couple of specific subjects. I'm definitely looking at online classes for some subjects. But for Chemistry- the books with DVD or online videos (which for us are a necessity) range from $230-290, then by the time I add in lab supplies, I'm well into the $300's in most cases. I've noticed many of the ones that "use household items" aren't usually a lot of things I have in my house for whatever reason, so I have to account for the lab supplies even for those. 

The cheaper subjects, I'm all set on and no, they don't come near $300 for just a text. But online classes are usually $650-800 lately and that's not including the textbook. And I want to know what textbook they're using to get a better idea about the class too. We got burned this year with two bad fitting classes so I'm being more cautious. It was my second close to 1k mistake in two years. First was CC for two kids to try and meet other homeschools, and second was this past fall. 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan

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Wow, glad I popped in here!  I was going to post this on the K-8 board last night:

I would love to see the pros and cons listed for various curricula.  Is there a system like this on these boards?  For instance, I would love to see a Spelling thread that people listed pros and cons for the things they have used.  I also would love to see this on a Grammar thread, and Writing...  Is there anything like this?

Or is there a master spreadsheet somewhere that lists features of the different programs?

I constantly struggle with finding the right curriculum.  I know it won't be perfect, but I think I should be able to get closer than I am in some of these.  I also live remotely so don't have access to any big homeschool conventions to see many things firsthand, and shipping is expensive.  I do download samples and read reviews, but many of them don't explicitly list pros and cons or features.  I do sometimes read blog reviews but hate reading blogs.  My best source is generally youtube but it's time consuming to watch the reviews. 

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9 minutes ago, parent said:

Wow, glad I popped in here!  I was going to post this on the K-8 board last night:

I would love to see the pros and cons listed for various curricula.  Is there a system like this on these boards?  For instance, I would love to see a Spelling thread that people listed pros and cons for the things they have used.  I also would love to see this on a Grammar thread, and Writing...  Is there anything like this?

Or is there a master spreadsheet somewhere that lists features of the different programs?

I constantly struggle with finding the right curriculum.  I know it won't be perfect, but I think I should be able to get closer than I am in some of these.  I also live remotely so don't have access to any big homeschool conventions to see many things firsthand, and shipping is expensive.  I do download samples and read reviews, but many of them don't explicitly list pros and cons or features.  I do sometimes read blog reviews but hate reading blogs.  My best source is generally youtube but it's time consuming to watch the reviews. 

It is probably easier to ask specifically what you want and have people offer suggestions and then ask about the pros and cons of the specific suggestions. There are so many products on the market that it can be overwhelming for new or newer homeschoolers. Narrowing down specific likes and dislikes can go a long way to filter out noise.

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Well, I see that, except, there are many programs that are completely unknown to me.  Like I never heard of Apples and Pears (and so many more) until I came to this forum.   I didn't start to plan my homeschooling journey at birth (though I'm glad I fell into it at K) and just have no knowledge of much of what's out there.  I would really like to see a brief list of pros and cons, like this:

R&S Spelling 3

Pros: Independent workbook activities, list based off spelling rules

Cons:  Words are unchallenging

Of course, could be a list of 4-5 pros or cons... I just can't think of more right now.

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45 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

 I was talking about the price range in general of what I'm looking at now across a couple of specific subjects. I'm definitely looking at online classes for some subjects. But for Chemistry- the books with DVD or online videos (which for us are a necessity) range from $230-290, then by the time I add in lab supplies, I'm well into the $300's in most cases. I've noticed many of the ones that "use household items" aren't usually a lot of things I have in my house for whatever reason, so I have to account for the lab supplies even for those. 

The cheaper subjects, I'm all set on and no, they don't come near $300 for just a text. But online classes are usually $650-800 lately and that's not including the textbook. And I want to know what textbook they're using to get a better idea about the class too. We got burned this year with two bad fitting classes so I'm being more cautious. It was my second close to 1k mistake in two years. First was CC for two kids to try and meet other homeschools, and second was this past fall. 

You are spending way more than I would ever spend on a single course without outsourcing. I look for as many free or cheap supplemental resources as possible (or ones I can reuse over and over with multiple kids) to add to our main curriculum.

For example, GPB has free videos for physics and chemistry: http://www.gpb.org/chemistry-matters GC has chemistry lectures. Opencourseware courses have free lectures.

I build our courses from finding resources that I can fit together to make work. Fwiw, GPB has physics teacher materials available for $20. I don't know if they offer the same for chemistry or not.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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31 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

then by the time I add in lab supplies, I'm well into the $300's in most cases. I've noticed many of the ones that "use household items" aren't usually a lot of things I have in my house for whatever reason, so I have to account for the lab supplies even for those. 

 

My kids have used LabPak and QSL (Quality Science Labs) kits for chemistry. Dicentra’s Clover Creek Chemistry course uses QSL microchem kit. 

The household items add about $20 to $30 for us as I don’t keep ammonia, baking soda, rubbing alcoholic, distilled water on hand. They were easy to get from Dollar Store and Walmart.

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3 minutes ago, parent said:

Well, I see that, except, there are many programs that are completely unknown to me.  Like I never heard of Apples and Pears (and so many more) until I came to this forum.   I didn't start to plan my homeschooling journey at birth (though I'm glad I fell into it at K) and just have no knowledge of much of what's out there.  I would really like to see a brief list of pros and cons, like this:

R&S Spelling 3

Pros: Independent workbook activities, list based off spelling rules

Cons:  Words are unchallenging

Of course, could be a list of 4-5 pros or cons... I just can't think of more right now.

I did not mean ask by curriculum name. I meant ask by what aspects you want.  Need a spelling program for a very poor speller who is possibly dyslexic and not good at memorizing spelling long-term and Apples and Pears will most likely be given as an option.

fwiw, you don't need to know everything that's out there. You need to have a sense of how you want to teach and what your student needs. Just those 2 needs with eliminate a huge number of options. 

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16 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I did not mean ask by curriculum name. I meant ask by what aspects you want.  Need a spelling program for a very poor speller who is possibly dyslexic and not good at memorizing spelling long-term and Apples and Pears will most likely be given as an option.

fwiw, you don't need to know everything that's out there. You need to have a sense of how you want to teach and what your student needs. Just those 2 needs with eliminate a huge number of options. 

My criteria is both general and specific.  My daughter is bright and an ok speller, retains correction quickly, but I think she should be a better speller.  She is a kid that could win spelling bees but certainly doesn't have the repertoire.  I don't care if she does win a spelling bee, we haven't tried.  I'm just saying she doesn't have limitations and I feel she's not reaching her potential.  She started in LOE, tried R&S (too easy), trying Spelling Power and for the level she tests in, the words are too easy.  She went through half of level C and is in level D now.  We went through multiple D level lists, about 70 words yesterday and she only got 4 wrong.  I find the mistakes to be minor mistake for basic words (two I remember were behinde and through instead of "throw"), but there is no expansion of her vocabulary.  I would like something semi independent with workbook activities that is challenging.

Anyway, for each subject, I have personal criteria that is difficult to list and may be misunderstood by others.  I'd prefer the cut and dry, pros and cons of a curriculum that someone has used.  I can then glean from that list.  Of course, if no one else thinks it's a good idea, then I'm wasting time talking about it:)

Edited by parent

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4 minutes ago, parent said:

My criteria is both general and specific.  My daughter is bright and an ok speller, retains correction quickly, but I think she should be a better speller.  She is a kid that could win spelling bees but certainly doesn't have the repertoire.  I don't care if she does win a spelling bee, we haven't tried.  I'm just saying she doesn't have limitations and I feel she's not reaching her potential.  She started in LOE, tried R&S (too easy), trying Spelling Power and for the level she tests in, the words are too easy.  She went through half of level C and is in level D now.  We went through multiple D level lists, about 70 words yesterday and she only got 4 wrong.  I find the mistakes to be minor mistake for basic words (two I remember were behinde and through instead of "throw"), but there is no expansion of her vocabulary.  I would like something semi independent with workbook activities that is challenging.

Anyway, for each subject, I have personal criteria that is difficult to list and may be misunderstood by others.  I'd prefer the cut and dry, pros and cons of a curriculum that someone has used.  I can then glean from that list.  Of course, if no one else thinks it's a good idea, then I'm wasting time talking about it:)

I personally think what you are looking for is impossible simply bc there are 100s of options for every single subject.

Fwiw, I don't think what you need for your child is impossible to find, though. Homeschoolers figured out how to do it before the internet and the overwhelming curriculum providers who sell to them today. It may require adapting and relying more on yourself as teacher than just a book, though.

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According to my homeschool Facebook pages, Easy Peasy or other online free curricula are the only options. I'm all for free, inexpensive, and easy when it works for my children, but it doesn't seem that many people are willing to spend any time or money to homeschool their kids anymore. Maybe many of the newer homeschoolers don't even know about the many options available? This is the only place where I see discussion of different types of curriculum and how and why it works or doesn't work with different children. 

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Wordly Wise will extend vocab but it's not a spelling program. Of course, so will any number of other vocab-focused programs. And then there's remembering the spelling *while* you're writing. One year my son tested out of Spelling power -- words like rheumatism and chronology -- but misspelled bunny in his writing (buny) because he could spell in isolation but couldn't keep it in his head while writing. That's mostly practice to develop fluency.

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Actually, we used Wordly Wise this year (well not much since Christmas).  I like it but don't know that it's very interesting or beneficial for my daughter.   I remember hearing about vocabulary from classical roots or something similar that I was going to look into for next year.  I may use Abeka spelling if I can't find anything else.  I bought level 4 and the word lists are more challenging and include vocab.  Unfortunately, there aren't many activities. The words also seem a bit random.  We only tried 3 lessons.  It is much more consistently challenging than spelling power.

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If your dd is reading books that challenge her vocabulary, you could start working toward having her create her own vocabulary notebook. You can challenge her to find 5 (or whatever) words a day that she doesn't know the exact we definition of to then look up and write down.

They don't have to even be in her reading but a read aloud. For example, I am reading my 9 yr old The Secret Garden. There are a lot of new words for her. You can take the words that she finds, create a copywork selection, and then she can rewrite it in simpler language using synonyms for her new vocabulary words or vice versa.

Lots of ways to approach this If You can't find a workbook you like.

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2 hours ago, mom2scouts said:

According to my homeschool Facebook pages, Easy Peasy or other online free curricula are the only options. I'm all for free, inexpensive, and easy when it works for my children, but it doesn't seem that many people are willing to spend any time or money to homeschool their kids anymore. Maybe many of the newer homeschoolers don't even know about the many options available? This is the only place where I see discussion of different types of curriculum and how and why it works or doesn't work with different children. 

I think you might be right. I'm not on FB, so I can't compare on that level, but I know that all but one of the remaining IRL homeschoolers I know think CC is the only option. They've never even heard of anything else- it's Classical Conversations or bust. So there are two of us locally in this sea of CC'ers and her kids are a lot younger than my oldest, so although she's great to bounce things off of for littles, I have no one remaining IRL for high school comparisons. They (the CCers) are all very nice, but as soon as you mention options you start getting the CC sales pitch, and just, yeah. No. 

So you guys are my only hope!!! 🙂

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3 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I think you might be right. I'm not on FB, so I can't compare on that level, but I know that all but one of the remaining IRL homeschoolers I know think CC is the only option. They've never even heard of anything else- it's Classical Conversations or bust. So there are two of us locally in this sea of CC'ers and her kids are a lot younger than my oldest, so although she's great to bounce things off of for littles, I have no one remaining IRL for high school comparisons. They (the CCers) are all very nice, but as soon as you mention options you start getting the CC sales pitch, and just, yeah. No. 

So you guys are my only hope!!! 🙂

Total kindred spirit!  I glory in the fact that I've never had FB.  But it does leave me out of the loop with the local homeschool groups on there.

And I'm also out of the CC loop.  Have about 4 music friends doing that.  I looked into it for social aspects but I'm too busy, and I felt it skimmed the surface on some things.   Oh, and I hated the music for their memorization work, and it's overpriced, and one of the people I knew was teaching is not a good teacher.  So many reasons for me to avoid it!

Our community has a small annual homeschool fair:  RS, MUS, SL, Bookshark, LOE, IEW, TG  were there... Maybe 30 vendors, mostly the bigger companies but some smaller single subject companies  WTM has never been there.  I had not heard of WTM or Charlotte Mason until I think 2 years ago from my classical homeschool hero, another music mom.

I also feel that there just aren't as many likeminded people around.  I don't believe in a full day of video classes, for example, and I know several people that do that.

I have learned so much from these forums.  It's why I'm here now, searching...

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Re vocab/spelling. I would probably have her work through the MCT Caesar's English I and II vocab materials and the Scripps spelling bee lists. If you want a systematic workbook program, Megawords is a good one, but most natural spellers don't need spelling programs. Just reading is enough for those kids to develop their vocab and spelling organically.

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Texas Mom, I made a very expensive biology mistake this year, but was able to recover by piecing together the Miller Levine textbook + Great Courses biology lectures + a bunch of 4 week (interest-led) Outschool biology courses. Granted, we haven't done much in the way of labs (because my kid isn't into dissections at the moment), but you could easily do chemistry inexpensively in the same way with a quality (used) textbook + GC or MOOC lectures + QSL microchem kit. 

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6 minutes ago, SeaConquest said:

Texas Mom, I made a very expensive biology mistake this year, but was able to recover by piecing together the Miller Levine textbook + Great Courses biology lectures + a bunch of 4 week (interest-led) Outschool biology courses. Granted, we haven't done much in the way of labs (because my kid isn't into dissections at the moment), but you could easily do chemistry inexpensively in the same way with a quality (used) textbook + GC or MOOC lectures + QSL microchem kit. 

We have a GCP subscription. Thanks for mentioning- I'll check that out too. I know video is really helpful for her on this type of class. 

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2 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

Re vocab/spelling. I would probably have her work through the MCT Caesar's English I and II vocab materials and the Scripps spelling bee lists. If you want a systematic workbook program, Megawords is a good one, but most natural spellers don't need spelling programs. Just reading is enough for those kids to develop their vocab and spelling organically.

Never heard of Caesar's English before.  I will look it up!  We did use Scripps lists last year to pre for a spelling bee at our public homeschool.  Only 1 other person registered and so it was cancelled. 

I don't think I've heard of Megawords before either.  I will look it up.  Thank you!

She is a great reader.  I don't know how to tell if she is a natural speller.  She makes mistakes.

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7 minutes ago, parent said:

Never heard of Caesar's English before.  I will look it up!  We did use Scripps lists last year to pre for a spelling bee at our public homeschool.  Only 1 other person registered and so it was cancelled. 

I.

 

I'm a huge fan of the Caesar's English series.  Lovely, and it makes vocab fun.  Same author, but I didn't care much for Word Within the Word.    

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Which brings me to something I've been thinking about for a while.  When I first joined WTM, Royal Fireworks Press was all the rage.  It seemed to be the topic of every other thread.  Lately, there's nothing.  Until this mention of Caesar's English.  What happened?  

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5 hours ago, daijobu said:

Which brings me to something I've been thinking about for a while.  When I first joined WTM, Royal Fireworks Press was all the rage.  It seemed to be the topic of every other thread.  Lately, there's nothing.  Until this mention of Caesar's English.  What happened?  

I still see some people mentioning it. Maybe the people who loved it for the younger yrs stopped loving it when they hit the upper levels and stopped discussing it? I have never seen anything below Voyage level, but I strongly disagree with the way he teaches essay writing and the incorporation of quotes. I have been pretty vocal about that over the yrs.

I thought of recommending Caesar's English last night, too. It is the one MCT product I really like. It is a great vocab program.

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I know RFP and MCT came up a ton when I was doing searches in the past and looking at old threads. It seems to me as a newer memeber that things were maybe trendier here though and definitely more active in past years. At least from what it seems like on old thread content and volume vs more recent years. 

Personally we went to the RFP booth once to go through some of the books so I could see what the (old thread) hype was about. I struggled to figure it out. MCT was there and had zero interest in explaining how anything worked or answering my questions even though the booth was dead. I felt like since I didn’t come in a convert, I didn’t matter. That pretty much zapped all of my interest in the program. Not to mention that at the level 1 I looked at, it felt like a cheaply done version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear meets Spotty Grammar Instruction put into a garage produced workbook sold for $30 and then another $35 for the teacher manual!! I couldn’t help but thinking “that’s a ridiculous amount of money for that much white space”. Maybe they also have more competiton now? 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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13 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

Re vocab/spelling. I would probably have her work through the MCT Caesar's English I and II vocab materials and the Scripps spelling bee lists. If you want a systematic workbook program, Megawords is a good one, but most natural spellers don't need spelling programs. Just reading is enough for those kids to develop their vocab and spelling organically.

 

10 hours ago, daijobu said:

 

I'm a huge fan of the Caesar's English series.  Lovely, and it makes vocab fun.  Same author, but I didn't care much for Word Within the Word.    

 

4 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I still see some people mentioning it. Maybe the people who loved it for the younger yrs stopped loving it when they hit the upper levels and stopped discussing it? I have never seen anything below Voyage level, but I strongly disagree with the way he teaches essay writing and the incorporation of quotes. I have been pretty vocal about that over the yrs.

I thought of recommending Caesar's English last night, too. It is the one MCT product I really like. It is a great vocab program.

 

I just went through the sample pages for Caesar's English.  It looks like a text book with no lessons.  Do you just assign a section of reading to the child?  It says it is for grades 2-3.  Reading does seem beyond those levels though.  She is 9 (young 4th grade now).  She is a good reader, but I've never had her read a text book.  It looks interesting to me so may be interesting to her.  I like how it also includes Latin roots in Spanish.

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Well, now I see another page.  Vocab of Lit in grade 4 and Word within Word for grade 5.  Should I start her at her level?  

I'm looking at their grammar now. 

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Well, found this and don't think I should start her at level 5:

"Level 5 marks a substantial increase in demand in the grammar, vocabulary, and writing portions of the curriculum. This level is a major challenge for the most motivated children to complete in the course of a school year. This is the point at which children are asked to perform at truly adult levels. The poetics strand continues to build upon the previous books, introducing increasingly subtle and complex poetic techniques. 

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How does Caesar's English differ from Vocab from Classical Roots?  The latter looks a little more workbook-ish.  My daughter likes workbook activities.

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I have no idea what you looked inside of.  Caesar's English1&2  are just the vocab books  in 2 levels of his program. The program is designed for gifted children. I used CE2 with my gifted Dd (who is now college sophomore) when she was in 6th grade. She could have done it in 5th, but it would have not been as appreciated in 4th. No way I would have done it with her in 3rd. (And this is my child who graduated from high school with 15 foreign language credits (4 yrs of Russian, 4 yrs of Latin, and 7 yrs of French. She loves all things language oriented) and having done English courses like a sr thesis on Shakespeare.

It approacheds vocabulary in context of reading vs isolated words. 

There is nothing else other than CE2 that I would personally recommend amg his Voyage level books.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart

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I no longer have a copy with me.  But as I recall, the student book and the teacher manual were fairly identical except the teacher manual also has an answer key, and maybe additional exercises?  

It was a bit annoying, because I really don't need a second copy of the textbook.  I really only need an answer key which should be just a few pages.  Other than that, I really did enjoy CE.  It's the kind of book where you snuggle up on the sofa and read together.  

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15 minutes ago, daijobu said:

I no longer have a copy with me.  But as I recall, the student book and the teacher manual were fairly identical except the teacher manual also has an answer key, and maybe additional exercises?  

It was a bit annoying, because I really don't need a second copy of the textbook.  I really only need an answer key which should be just a few pagesOther than that, I really did enjoy CE.  It's the kind of book where you snuggle up on the sofa and read together.  

Yes to the bolded.  If you want "hand the kid a workbook that they complete independently, grade, move on to next assignment," then MCT materials are not ones that would appeal to you.

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On 2/5/2019 at 9:10 AM, OKBud said:

Good, thorough reviews are useful simply because they help you think through how it might look for you and your kids in the season of life you're living through. Reviews on the FORUM are particularly helpful--or that is to say, used to be before everyone got too cool to chat about curriculum-- because you could read through past threads and get even more of a feel of where people were coming from. 

 

I think  I must not have gotten the memo on this or am still just too uncool, cuz I could talk about curriculum all day

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On 2/6/2019 at 10:31 AM, parent said:

Well, now I see another page.  Vocab of Lit in grade 4 and Word within Word for grade 5.  Should I start her at her level?  

I'm looking at their grammar now. 

 

Levels don't equal grades for MCT LA. I'm pretty sure level 1 is for gifted 3rd graders. So CE I and II are more for 4th-7th grade or so. 

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4 hours ago, silver said:

 

Levels don't equal grades for MCT LA. I'm pretty sure level 1 is for gifted 3rd graders. So CE I and II are more for 4th-7th grade or so. 

Yes, check the FAQ section. MCT recommends that a gifted 6th grader starts in Level 3. We've loved reading and discussing the Town and Voyage levels together and my 12 year old begs to do four level analysis!  Unfortunately, like many others we just can't get excited about Word Within the Word.

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