So, I’ve been pondering the possibility of changing curriculum for third grade, from Sonlight to My Father’s World (MFW). I think my decision is pretty much made, and in making it, I’ve discovered specific reasons I’m leaning toward MFW.
- MFW is Charlotte Mason meets unit studies meets classical education. Now, the Charlotte Mason philosophy itself is not that important to me, but the unit studies and classical style are. I’ve discovered through the special units I’ve put together on my own, that the unit studies are our favorite part of the school year. The children and I both enjoy that approach so much, and it didn’t occur to me until recently that I could look for something that would let us have that kind of experience all year-long. I’m also happy that it will be closer to traditional classical education (although still not all the way there), because that was one of the reasons we wanted to start homeschooling in the first place.
- MFW has a lot of hands-on activities. This is kind of related to the post above, because one of the things that makes the unit studies I’ve put together so great is that I’ve found lots of hands-on activities and craft projects to go with whatever we’re studying. I will confess, however, that it’s a struggle for me to put that together on my own, so I don’t think I could add hands-on to a different curriculum successfully long-term. MFW has taken care of all that for me, and I’m really excited about being able to add that to our regular school routine.
- I love that MFW implements a book basket. We certainly have no shortage of books to read around here, between the books I would have bought anyway, and our curriculum, but with MFW, there’s a list for each level of the curriculum of books that go along with what is being learned. Now, these aren’t mandatory reading, but suggestions for independent reading time. This will give us a lot more ideas of books we can get from the library, give the children some choices in which ones they choose to read, and free up my time a little more (and save my voice some!).
- I’m also impressed with MFW language arts. Now, it’s not their own program–they’ve simply compiled resources that they recommend. But they’re resources I probably wouldn’t have looked at on my own, which is a shame, because having looked at them, I think they’re just what I’m looking for. This is the one area where I feel we’re struggling–not the spelling or vocabulary so much, but grammar itself, and I think the spine used by MFW will really be helpful to Turkey and Bunny in building their skills in that area.
- MFW is also designed for ease of use with multiple grade levels. This has been on my mind lately, as Ladybug will be joining us in the schoolroom either this fall or next. I’ve been worrying over how I could teach two grade levels, and frankly, couldn’t really see how it would work. But MFW is designed to be used by a span of grade levels (eventually), which will really work for our family. The previously mentioned book basket will also help with that, as I will have time to focus on Ladybug while the other two work on some extra independent reading.
- I also feel like MFW is more individualized. Again, this really goes back to the book basket. From what I understand, the teacher’s manual has a list of somewhere around 300 books for every year. Of course we won’t read them all, but I like that I’ll be in control of what to choose, and that from what I choose, Turkey and Bunny will have some choice of which of those books they each want to read. I know, I could do something similar with our current curriculum, but I’m something of a box-checker, so if I don’t do everything the way it’s laid I out, I start to feel guilty.
- I also like the MFW Bible curriculum better. There are still things I’ll have to tweak to fit our Lutheran perspective, but not nearly as much–I was planning on just coming up with *all* our Bible lessons from here on out. It’s nice to have one less thing on my plate, though.
- I’m also very impressed with the electives MFW offers. Next year, we’ll have a whole art curriculum. Not just art appreciation (which they also cover), but actual practice at drawing and painting. Like the rest of the curriculum, the electives just seem so much more hands-on (for example, in a lower grade, a color book of the different musical instruments to accompany learning what they each sound like), and I think that the children, as well as myself, will benefit from that approach.
- The timing for a change is good for us right now, too. If we like MFW, we’ll be on the perfect schedule to go through their whole cycle by eighth grade (and we’ll go through the standard four-year history cycle completely). If it doesn’t work for us, we can go back to Sonlight with little problem–we’ll probably have to skip Core 5 in the future, but we’ll still finish the history cycle there, too. Either way, this is a great time for us to take a chance on something new, before we’re really immersed in the upper elementary level and the four-year history cycle.
That all being said, of course there are some things I’m going to have to change a bit to make MFW work for our family. I’ve come to realize, however that that’s going to be true of any curriculum I use. And now that I’ve been homeschooling a while (has it really been three years?!?), I’m much more confident in my ability to tweak as necessary, and to make the decision to change what we’re doing to fit our needs better!