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What are your thoughts on the elementary curriculum from Masterbooks? 
 

I have looked at it a few times. Parts of it seem great. Other parts seem weak and jumpy without nearly enough repetition of concepts in math and language arts. 
 

They have such a massive following and their company swears their curriculum is enough, and sometimes I am confused by it. Their courses haven’t been around more than a few years at the elementary level so there are obviously no kids who have used it all the way through school. To me that is not nearly enough data to know if it is “enough”. I guess my reservation is that it’s SO short and so different from pretty much every other thing I see onthe market.

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I used math in middle elementary, and I didn't think it was enough. Also, the younger elementary idea of stories teaching the concepts kind of fell apart about grade 3 (I used grades 3 & 4). THere were still stories, but only a few of them mentioned the concept being taught or done in the workpage. That left just the pages of problems, and a few hands on activities, which was not enough. Though my son loved it because he got off easy, so we only continued until we had a natural stopping point (I think it was Christmas "vacation") and then changed to something else. 

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I have only used the math and found it too...light I guess but also kind of slow and not enough explanations in level 5 and up. I have looked at other things and I think its hit or miss on whether its too light or not.

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We tried the math for 2nd & 3rd grade and stopped using it both years and reverted back to our "old faithful." I felt like it was busywork yet not nearly enough at the same time. My son, who struggles with language arts, enjoyed LLFALE because it was "easy", yet he retained little to nothing and learned more in a week of EIW than he did in more than half a book of LLFALE. IMO, much, if not most, of the LFALE just felt like twaddle and unnecessary. (Though, for what it's worth, our family is all about short, direct, intentional lessons that teach us what we need to know so we can chase rabbit trails and dive deep into what sparks our interest based on what we're learning.)

We also tried Rebecca Spooner's Bible curriculum Master Books publishes, and we ended up shelving it the first week. It's artsy and beautifully done - but we believe differently than her. We aren't young earth creationists. It just didn't jive with our family.

That's our experience.

I don't want to deter anyone from using what could potentially be good curricula for their child. Their "For a Living Education" series is lovely and much more lighthearted than most other curricula I've come across. Many children benefit from a gentler approach, especially when it comes to math. But, for our family, it's a no go. 

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math is...hard to describe. 

I am really finding the language arts to fit our purposes though. That said, we don't do the reading comprehension part/bible section, and we sometimes skip pages, etc. But for my dyslexic, reluctant writer the way she has them use what they learn by writing a sentence for each concept has helped both her grammar knowledge AND her writing confidence. She's really really blossomed with it. It is the first grammar I've used that has seemed to stick for one of my kids, but it is very different. 

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We have their LA for 4 and 2.  It’s ok. I feel like it jumps around too much for grade 2 but grade 4 is better for reviews of concepts taught in other programs . We won’t being doing LA with Masterbooks next year and we will likely stop before the program is done.  Their math is too much the same way.  We are a MUS family that is exploring other programs - Horizons math. We do love their social studies/history and will be continuing on with that subject only 

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I'm of the less is more opinion for elementary school, so sure, they're enough. Every program out there will work for someone. Not everyone needs (or even remotely desires) the kill n drill approach of CLE or Abeka. So... take that for what you will I guess. 

That said, likes Hands on Momma, I refuse to support that company. 

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I should have clarified I don't know that I think kids need a language arts program before 3rd grade. Before that some copywork, etc is fine with more emphasis on reading than anything. So I've only used 4th grade, and we like it for our needs. But...DD is dyslexic, and one could say that a program that fits her perfectly would be very easy for a kid without dyslexia. Still, it's short, sweet, and gets the job done. (the stories are dumb though - we skip them). 

The math...doesn't teach much. I'd only use it if I felt confident teaching the concept myself, without much instruction. Which I do, at this point. 

The company's policy on young earth stuff drives me bonkers, but I'm not sure what recent stuff anyone is referring to? I'm all ears, as I would like to know what I'm supporting if and when we decide to get it again next year. 

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11 hours ago, hands-on-mama said:

Their programs have their purpose. I will no longer support or recommend them though due to some disturbing policies they have going on right now.

 

 

I’m curious about what this is. Can you elaborate?

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8 minutes ago, Allie said:

 

I’m curious about what this is. Can you elaborate?


I would rather not get into it too much. Basically, they have blocked admins of several unofficial resale and discussion groups that have their name in the title or description (despite it being clear that the groups are unofficial). They did this with no warning or request for us to change the group names. I spent a lot of money on their products. The least they could have done was message us and let us know it was an issue. Instead, they are standing on one post made in 2019 saying they repeatedly asked people to not use their name. One time is not repeatedly-especially since they have hundreds of posts in their facebook group each day. 

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9 hours ago, Allie said:

 

I’m curious about what this is. Can you elaborate?

 

For myself, it's that they are supposedly such a Christian company, and yet resort to very shady practices. On their website, they only approve the positive comments only. All negative ones are not approved for publish. On their FB group, which is run by paid staff, they delete all negative comments. They are intentionally, knowingly building a false positive image. They do not allow ANY negative comments about their program. And we're not even talking trashing, but even benign comments acknowledging that such and such just didn't work for your child. To me, that's as good as lie, and not a good look for a company built on Christian values. Also, one of their authors, has an overall whitecentric attitude, and I personally saw her be very rude to a person of a different race, when that person very politely raised a legitimate concern about how something was approached/worded in their history books (I'm white, and I picked up on the same issue myself). I was shocked she would say it. I left the group and sold my products immediately after that - sorry, I'm not going to support anyone that talks to people that way. And, once again, especially when they do so under the guise of being a Christian company.

Edited by mshanson3121
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2 hours ago, mshanson3121 said:

 

For myself, it's that they are supposedly such a Christian company, and yet resort to very shady practices. On their website, they only approve the positive comments only. All negative ones are not approved for publish. On their FB group, which is run by paid staff, they delete all negative comments. They are intentionally, knowingly building a false positive image. They do not allow ANY negative comments about their program. And we're not even talking trashing, but even benign comments acknowledging that such and such just didn't work for your child. To me, that's as good as lie, and not a good look for a company built on Christian values. Also, one of their authors, has an overall whitecentric attitude, and I personally saw her be very rude to a person of a different race, when that person very politely raised a legitimate concern about how something was approached/worded in their history books (I'm white, and I picked up on the same issue myself). I was shocked she would say it. I left the group and sold my products immediately after that - sorry, I'm not going to support anyone that talks to people that way. And, once again, especially when they do so under the guise of being a Christian company.


I have definitely been concerned about this. I actually went on their website to post a review and knowing they go in and hand approve them just makes you feel like you can’t say anything negative. I’ve read from several people their negative reviews were denied. 
 

They are the only HS company I’ve seen that is dead set on creating a false positive image. It really rubs me the wrong way, and so does the way they talk about some other HS companies as if their approach is just wrong. Sometimes kids excel in a rigorous program. Mine does. But they act like you’re horrible for using one. 
 

I also have concerns about the fact that an entire family (basically) works there in writing, marketing, etc. Randy gets super defensive anytime someone mentions a negative about his wife’s curriculum or his daughter’s curriculum. 
 

The comment above about them blocking admins from the BST group is mind blowing. They even sort of took over the unofficial MOMB group where honest discussion was allowed. 

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41 minutes ago, Allie said:


I have definitely been concerned about this. I actually went on their website to post a review and knowing they go in and hand approve them just makes you feel like you can’t say anything negative. I’ve read from several people their negative reviews were denied. 
 

They are the only HS company I’ve seen that is dead set on creating a false positive image. It really rubs me the wrong way, and so does the way they talk about some other HS companies as if their approach is just wrong. Sometimes kids excel in a rigorous program. Mine does. But they act like you’re horrible for using one. 
 

I also have concerns about the fact that an entire family (basically) works there in writing, marketing, etc. Randy gets super defensive anytime someone mentions a negative about his wife’s curriculum or his daughter’s curriculum. 
 

The comment above about them blocking admins from the BST group is mind blowing. They even sort of took over the unofficial MOMB group where honest discussion was allowed. 

 

Yup. They're trying to control everything to paint a false image. Based on their attitudes and business practices, their stuff could be the greatest in the world (it's not) and I still wouldn't recommend it. 

Edited by mshanson3121
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On 4/22/2020 at 9:03 AM, hands-on-mama said:

Their programs have their purpose. I will no longer support or recommend them though due to some disturbing policies they have going on right now.

 

 For me it is their claim that many religions are "CULTS" They advertise it quite plainly and I'm talking several, Catholic, Jehovah Witness, and Mormon to name a few. I read their "free" sample that has the chapter talking about this and it really bothered me because much of it was false or twisted (I am not Jehovah witness for example but have friends that are and what they said really was slanted). They are blatantly against any view they disagree with and are rude when discussing it. I was also in some of those facebook groups and was very disappointed in how much they delete. I mean the reason something doesn't work for someone might be the reason it would work for me, kwim?

That said I would possibly use something if I really felt it was good but so far nothing has yet been that good.

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17 hours ago, seemesew said:

 For me it is their claim that many religions are "CULTS" They advertise it quite plainly and I'm talking several, Catholic, Jehovah Witness, and Mormon to name a few. I read their "free" sample that has the chapter talking about this and it really bothered me because much of it was false or twisted (I am not Jehovah witness for example but have friends that are and what they said really was slanted). They are blatantly against any view they disagree with and are rude when discussing it. I was also in some of those facebook groups and was very disappointed in how much they delete. I mean the reason something doesn't work for someone might be the reason it would work for me, kwim?

That said I would possibly use something if I really felt it was good but so far nothing has yet been that good.

 

Yup.  Agree. As someone married to a Catholic, I can tell you they take a very noticeable slant against Catholics in their groups, and in their materials.

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17 hours ago, Paradox5 said:

They all say MasterBooks on the backs.

I think that sometimes hs publishers get rights or license or whatever to print certain books with some changes. A few years ago I accidentally ordered two copies of an animal book used by MP and the two copies differed significantly in content--one was printed by one of the young earth hs companies, and in all places where the original book talked about evolution, the HS company-printed book talked about God's design. 

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Did anyone see this today on the MOMB Facebook group? In particular, the bolded part really rubbed me the wrong way. To imply that if someone doesn’t like it, they are not using it right, or have a bias or are “wounded”? Uh....

Also, to claim they have “documented proof” it is enough, is incorrect. 
 

1. Every person on the group who has posted scores has used the CAT test which is not very accurate, and they usually interpret the scores incorrectly.

2. The courses haven’t been around long enough for any child to use 100% through elementary and middle school

”This morning, a post went up and the comment was made:

“You should ask this in a different group. This group is only allowed to say positive things about Masterbooks and no one can suggest other curriculum to you. I'm not sure if this comment will get deleted, but I don't mean this in a negative way. You just won’t get someone to come out and say this product doesn't go deep enough for us, you should try ___.”

This is not to target the member who made the comment. I don’t even know who made the comment but I feel it is important to address this perception because it can imply that the content in this group is unreliable and overly biased. This is an official Master Books group, run by Master Books staff; so it is realistic to expect some amount of bias. 😉 However, running a value added group like this is a complicated endeavor. Some decisions in how it is run are based on factors that members may never realize.

1)    We have had individuals associated with other companies join our group and comment on posts with the intent of promoting their products. These posts would start with…”We tried Master Books but found that such & such was a better fit” which then turns the conversation into a referral for the other curriculum.  With 23,000 members, we simply don’t have the time to try to figure out what is legit and what is platform hi-jacking so as a rule, these kinds of posts get deleted.

2)    We realize one size does not fit all. Master Books will not be a fit for everyone. In those cases, we bless them in their journey to find the ideal solution for their family. However, remaining in the group and making broad negative statements about Master Books is not helpful to the conversation.  Typically when we drill down, we often find that the root issue is mis-use of the product, wounded ego, brand or method bias, etc. as well as some members just having a track-record of stirring up strife.

3)    The question, “Is it enough?”  We encourage anyone to do a search in this group and you will find the overwhelming response is, yes. We have done livestreams on it, talked about the science behind it, and even encouraged posting students achievement test scores so there is documented proof. We do acknowledge that there can be certain underliers that may need to be looked at such as proper placement, child’s ability, parent’s ability,      etc. but when the vast majority of the testimonials validate that it is enough and that their students are learning and enjoying school again, it’s difficult to allow 1 negative comment to take away from the 99 positive comments  Especially if we suspect the comment may fall under 1 or 2 above. Sometimes we engage it, sometimes we leave it, and sometimes, we delete it.

4)    As a growing company, we may not have a solution developed yet and we will ask that the question be posted on a more general homeschool group to avoid confusion. Discussions that happen in this group overflow to our help desk and customer service lines. When outside curriculum or links are discussed in this group, thousands are watching…and we will get calls or emails wanting us to provide support for those products or services. Our team is pretty busy just supporting Master Books products.

5)    Master Book does allow constructive feedback in this group. We ask staff and authors in this group to not only provide value to the conversation but to also gain insights in how to improve the curriculum. It isn’t always easy to hear feedback, especially when it’s done in an insensitive way. We do remove      insensitive comments that are not constructive out of respect to those who put their heart and soul into creating the products. However, we do use the feedback from this group to either improve the product or provide better instructions for use as well as developing new product. We know we are not perfect and that there is always room for growth.

6)    We realize life has enough drama in it. Some topics are guaranteed to cause more drama. We choose to not allow more drama than necessary. Over the last few years, we do a lot less drama in this group. 😊

We spend a lot of resources to support this group and provide value to homeschool families. The members of this group are some of our favorite people and we consider it an extreme honor to serve you. We want to see you win and we think most will agree that we have a proven track record of seeing that happen. Anytime anyone has any questions regarding this group, please do not hesitate to contact us at moms@masterbooks.comor via the Help Desk on the Master Books website.

Edited by Allie
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their product worked really really well for one of my kids this year, but yeah, the company drives me NUTS. But...it's worked so well, I bite my tongue and use it. 

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On 4/22/2020 at 7:58 PM, Paradox5 said:

Not elementary but claiming the John Tiner science books are high school level gives me pause.

I never bothered looking at anything else. Too light and fluffy for my family.

Yeah, I picked up a catalog at convention and saw this too, but I noticed it was using like four of them together as a general history of science or a general science class. It definitely wasn't a lab science or a college bound class. But I decided for ax quick get we done science credit for a kid with a different focus, like a kid doing votech training, not college bound, or standard diploma track, not university bound, it really might be ok. I actually did keep the Timer books as read alouds in my stack for review purposes when my odd was in high school. (But of course she did actual high school level lab courses too.)

OP I actually like the looks of the elementary science vs putting together random books like I do for WTM style elem. science. I've looked at videos on YouTube.  But I have enough resources on shelf and available at the library that I can't justify a new purchase. 

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