Monday, March 3, 2014

Why I chose My Father's World Curriculum


Congrats, you have made it through the soul searching process of deciding to home school ! Now WHAT to teach? I took years off my life searching and fretting over  curriculum. Overwhelmed by all the options I was sure I would ruin my kids education (and life) if I picked the wrong one.  It came down to Sonlight and My Father's World.  Well, that isn't true.  I. Wanted. Sonlight.  I had a friend who used it and I was convinced it was for me (notice I said me, not my kids).

 I have a another friend who had home-schooled her four kids for 6 years who led me towards My Father's World.  I had seen My Father's World (MFW) online, but dismissed it thinking it was too  traditional for me (again, note I said me, not my kids). Thankfully she was patient with my search for other curriculum, and kindly showed  me the Kindergarten teacher's manual while I whined how overwhelmed I was. After looking at the Kindergarten Teacher's manual, I was HOOKED.  We are now on our fourth year of using My Father's World, and I can't see ever switching. Here is why I love MFW, and why I chose it over Sonlight.

You may also be interested in my post on how we survived (and thrived) our First Year of Homeschool.

EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY
For more on different Education Philosophies, see this post, Five Homeschooling Styles.

My Father's World has been perfect for us as it intertwines Unit Studies, Traditional, and Charlotte Mason Approach  throughout all grades. I have felt the freedom to leave out or or emphasize the approach that works best for each child without having to buy a separate curriculum.

For Example, One boy will zoom through his student sheet (Traditional approach) in about 5 minutes, while the other spends 15 painstakingly finishes his beloved sheets. Both of my kids will sit and read the book basket for HOURS (Charlotte Mason), and read through our read-alouds before I get the chance to read to them! That said, if your kids are not big readers, MFW differs from Ambleside Online/Pure Charlotte Mason because the book-basket is not an essential part of the day; sometimes we get all the books assigned for that week, and sometimes we get none. We also love connecting our Friday night dinner and family movie night by making fried rice and watching Mulan during a study on China (Unit Studies).

MONEY  
As I said before, I originally wanted Sonlight.  It is truly a great curriculum, I can not emphasize this enough.  But the cost was prohibitive for us.  In the beginning, when I was determined to use Sonlight, I was tried piece together their core program used and even  bought some Sonlight Language Arts materials on Ebay. Once I started adding up buying the books separately, even second hand,  we were taking a larger chunk out of our budget than we could afford. I tried the library, but many books were not available and they did not give you alternatives in the curriculum.

MFW gives you several book options for each subject in their "Book Basket" lists so there is not need to buy the books when I can borrow them for free, and you  can read any or all that are available at your library. And if my library doesn't' carry that specific book, the curriculum flexible enough I can sub another about the same subject.

We in use the Basic package. The deluxe is wonderful, but we fill our time very easily with the basic.

MISSION

Not only are My Father's World's packages much more affordable than Sonlight while still providing everything you would need, but they utilize profits for translating the Bible into different languages. To see their work around the world go to MFW site-http://www.mfwbooks.com/setcnt/missions.


LEARNING AS A FAMILY
Next to cost, this is the main selling point to me. After 1st grade (or 2nd depending on ages of kids), you start a family cycle.  We do Bible, History, Georgprahy, and Science together as a family, then split for more individualized age-appropriate learning in Math and Language Arts.  I honestly can not imagine having to teach 2 different history lessons to two different kids...let alone 3+ kids that many families have.

Many grades are even set up for "tag-alongs", a.k.a toddler siblings who love to listen to all the great books.  When your older kids separate to do Math and Language Arts, your toddlers can take a nap or do their own preschool materials

Using one of the many Butterfly (Letter B) book suggestions to draw butterflies.
MFW  Kindergarten.

PRETTY PRETTY BOOKS!
Originally I was leaning towards Sonlight because of all the pretty books (children's books are my Achilles heel).  Sonlight main selling point is it so literature based and each package includes all the books your children will read need for the year. While this is awesome, it is also very expensive.  It also doesn't give you flexibility int he books you read.

 All the essential books you need are included in your package, but MFW also gives you huge supplemental book  list  that you can get at your local library, the list is called your "Book Basket" and is amazing!

 I can pick and choose books from the long list of options in the "Book Basket" depending on what is available at my library or what I think will interest my kids. With the ability to reserve library books online and pick up at the branch closest to me, choosing MFW over Sonlight saved us hundreds of dollars. We all look forward to our bi-weekly Monday afternoon trip to the library, and the boys picked their own books as I pick up the books we will need for the next two weeks.

The family cycle is full of living books as you study history of our nation and the world, which is the incorporation of my beloved Charlotte Mason philosophy. You learn about history and social studies, while getting filling your reading requirements for the day.

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INTEGRATED CURRICULUM
My Father's World is closely related to Unit Studies because many subjects relate back to one another, especially in kindergarten and family cycle.

Kangaroo Pouches
While studying "K" in kindergarten, we integrated science & art by making Kangaroo pouches, Bible with biblical truth that "God keeps us safe", and literature with story books in the book basket about Kangaroos.

In second grade, while studying that Names of Jesus, we studied how yeast works  as we studied Jesus was The Bread of Life. In third grade family cycle (Exploring Countries and Cultures), you cook global foods as you study missionaries that live in the countries you are learning about in geography.


FLEXIBILITY IN SUPPLEMENTS 
Now that I have discussed the integrated curriculum in younger grades, I want to say how much I like how Math and Language Arts are NOT bundled in older grades. Like I said above in money, we buy the basic package.  I do not use the math recommended, or the art. It gives me the freedom to find the right math for my kids.  My twins may not be on different "grade levels", but they have different learning strengths.

 MFW recommends Singapore math, but since it is not included in the basic or deluxe package,I can easily purchase another distributor without loosing money.  We use Math-U-See because I prefer the Mastery Approach as opposed to the Spiral Approach in Singapore or Saxon. The hands on learning and DVD of MUS are great for my visual and kinesthetic learners.

TEACHER'S MANUAL IS NOT GOD
I must say that NO CURRICULUM IS PERFECT, including My Father's World.   MFW is flexible because I can easily drop something from the manual, while still covering all learning bases for that day.  In kindergarten we used white boards at the beginning of the year instead of the worksheets given. Sometimes we don't do the scheduled nature walk because we are already visiting my in-laws farm that weekend.  Many times we don't memorize the Bible Verses given because the boys are working on AWANA verses instead. We may not copy the English copy-work because my boys have already copied the Geography definition and Hero Tales character trait that day.

You can visit my My Father's World page to see all the ways we have adapted My Father's world to work for our family, including supplements and work-boxes.

No matter what curriculum you chose, remember your teacher's manual does not know you kids like you do.:) You may also be interested in my post on how we survived (and thrived) our First Year of Homeschool.








7 comments:

  1. Thank you for this! I have a kindie and 2nd grader. We are using the 2nd grade Sonlight while hodgepoding the kindie curriculum, and I am considering purchasing something a little more structured for the kindie, but it's hard to fork down the money for Sonight for kindie. Maybe I'll give MFW a try for kindie and see how it goes!

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  2. Have you used the ECC yet? If so are you wanting to sell it? I'm looking for it used. :D you can email me, if so, smurfypink@gmail.com

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  3. Interesting to read your comparison. Sonlight and MFW are the ones that first caught my eye when attending my first homeschool book fair when my oldest was 2. I really liked all the educational toys that MFW recommended for preschool, but it was to much "stuff" as we were getting ready to move overseas. I liked the idea of Sonlight, but thought it was to expensive. Then I watched 2 friends use Sonlight overseas, and appreciated that it was "everything included." I wonder how the cost compares when you don't have access to a library.

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    1. We did not use MFW Preschool, we tend towards school of life and lots of books during those times. The cost for someone who does not have access to a library is a good point. . In My Father's World , everything IS INCLUDED, the book basket is supplemental . All essential books are included in your MFW package, and they are absolutely wonderful and can easily fill your day. We have had weeks where we picked up no books from Book Basket List, and some weeks we got them all. That said, the Book Basket adds a lot to the curriclum and is highly recommended.

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  4. Great post!! Those are the reasons I have used it and loved it for 6 years now!

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  5. As one who has used MFW and Sonlight (and Tapestry of Grace), I agree with all your points. The expense is high, and I found our life with two in middle school and a PreK and toddler doesn't work well for endless read-alouds. Unless passing the book off to one of the kids to continue while mama runs to see who keeps flushing the toilet counts...

    I will say that we haven't ever gotten hooked on the book basket. I'm not sure if my kids aren't as curious as others (they *are* -- about what will flush down a toilet! ahem), or perhaps the books are more geared toward elementary students. I don't feel like we've missed a lot by not doing it, though the few weeks we tried *I* sure loved looking at the books! So point being: the book basket, like you said above, isn't essential, and *any* books on the week's topic from the library could be subbed for the MFW recommendations.

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    1. Thanks for your insight, it is good to hear from someone who has done both! We have heard also that your library as a lot to do with how much you use the books basket. I think I use the book basket as a jumping off point for searching our well-stocked library. Our online library catalog will suggest books that are similar to one I looked up, so we reserve those too.

      I have to say that this year's book basket (Creation to The Greeks) has not been as exciting as in year's past. There has been multiple weeks (months) where I haven't gotten any books from the list. Last year's plethora of cultural and cook books from each country we studied (Exploring Countries and Cultures) spoiled us.

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