Yikes! I'm doing something I thought I would never do - changing homeschool curriculum in the middle of the year. I started researching for the fall because I wasn't entirely happy with My Father's World this year and wasn't sure Lucy would place very well in their next level. I intended to find something to do for a gap year before moving on with MFW. Once I started seriously comparing and thinking about what was working for us and what wasn't... I decided to switch. Well, sort of, I just placed my orders tonight and am excitedly awaiting their arrival. We plan to start our new books as soon as we have them all. Here are some of my thoughts on the topic:
Just to be clear, I think that My Father's World is a great company and admire their goals and work. We may end up using more of their curriculum in the future. I've thoroughly enjoying being a part of various yahoo groups for MFW users as well as their helpful message board. I do not want to detract from their company or discourage anyone who is using their curriculum. However, I know that I enjoy reading well thought out curriculum reviews and comparisons. The beauty of homeschooling is that we get to tailor the learning experience to fit our children and what works best for our families. Take my thoughts with a grain of salt. ;)
Lucy started school when she was four. She was ready and eager to learn. After much thought and prayer, we started with My Father's World K. She did very well, and continued on to MFW 1st grade this year. There are many things I have enjoyed about MFW and our learning experience so far. Lucy learned to read and has had many fun learning experiences. Just so that this post doesn't become a mile long though, here are some of my reasons for switching:
(Ok, I'll let the cat out of the bag. We're going to be using Heart of Dakota Little Hearts for His Glory. Its quite similar to My Father's World, yet I'm hopeful it will be a better fit for us.)
- Too much work. I felt like MFW was a bit teacher intensive. At this point with three little kids and not a lot of planning time, I struggled to feel prepared. Science and math both required books from the library as a pretty integral part of the learning. Even with having an online library request system, I just couldn't stay on top of this. We did really enjoy the math literature books and I think I will refer to that list even in the future.
- Lack of information. In MFW K, the teacher's manual would say things like "present information on insects" and leave me scrambling and wondering how much to cover. Much of the science information relied on library books and the teacher finding information. In first grade I felt like this happened with the memory verses. The teacher's manual says to discuss the verse and apply it to your lives. I felt like I needed a bit more of an idea on how to do that.
- Bible application. Going along with the above thought, the personal Bible application for my child was lacking. The proverbs studied are great, but we need more help on applying them. There is not any direction given other than to "discuss and apply the verse".
- Bible stories. The Bible stories (history) are read right out of the teacher's manual. I found them to be over Lucy's head and included too much information for her. Again, these were fairly dry with not much explanation.
- Science. Lucy was really overwhelmed with the Usborne books used as science texts. I feel like the pages are cluttered and there is just too much information all at once for a younger child like her to think about and absorb. We struggled to get the experiments done. Without a clear text to tie them to, they didn't really seem to make sense to Lucy.
- Read Alouds. This is not necessarily a big issue for me, but reading out loud is not scheduled in the teacher's manual. You are supposed to use Honey for a Child's Heart to find good read aloud books. I like that Heart of Dakota schedules the read alouds and includes some discussion questions and direction in this area.
- Confusing. As the teacher, I felt a bit confused as far as what I needed to include daily. At times the teacher's manual would say things like "from now on, make a chart every week" or "use these games to review reading", but not remind me to do it. The manual contains fun games and learning ideas, but I felt like I was not remembering them or getting to them because they weren't scheduled.
- Lacking. The teacher's manual just sort of dies off and becomes pretty minimal towards the end of first grade.
Of course as you read through these and consider your own family and teaching style, these might all be reasons for you to choose MFW! Hopefully my thoughts on this are helpful to you either way. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
My plan is to continue phonics and math with MFW 1st grade. Its easy enough since Heart of Dakota lets you make your own choices for these anyway. We'll keep using the blue workbook and Bible reader for phonics as well as keep adding to our Bible timeline. I'm going to continue MFW math for a while and switch to Singapore math once we finish the MFW book which should be about half way through. Starting in the next few weeks will allow us to get a good portion of the way through the program before summer. I imagine we'll take a summer break and pick back up in the fall, maybe moving to the next level in January? We'll have to see how that goes. For now I'm happy about finding a better fit for us and anxious to try it out!
See here for more curriculum reviews. :)