Tuesday, May 13, 2014

All-in-one curricula vs separate subjects

We're using an all-in-one program right now, My Father's World Kindergarten. MFW has all-in-ones for each year after: a 1st grade, a 2nd grade Adventures (American History), and then jumping into the family cycle which covers 2-8th grades. High school has its own separate thing. Phonics are integrated into the K and 1st grade programs.

Another company often mentioned along with MFW is Heart of Dakota, which has guides for each grade. You choose your own phonics, math and handwriting for this program, and everything else is scheduled in.

There are plenty more along those lines.

With a used curriculum sale near me later this week and with me just generally trying to think ahead, I'm wondering if we're going to get off of this "all-in-one" bus pretty soon.

Some downsides to the all-in-one model:

- It can be a challenge to separate out subjects. Or, if you skip one component and add another, then that's an extra expense. For us, I'm skipping the MFWK phonics component. I'm adding another program, and at the moment I'm doing the rest more or less as-written.
- Is it easier, or harder to include other children? Some programs write in options for activities for the younger or older set. But some don't, and they'd need their own thing. Could be a pain.
- It's harder to customize to your family's needs.

Some perks:

- You don't have to make choices for every subject if you don't want. Just use what the company has selected, open and go.
- Sometimes it can save money. Sometimes.
- You might feel like you aren't missing out on certain subjects. Having someone else plan it all out for you can be a confidence boost.
- Topics might be blended and explored across several subjects. Great for unit studies. For instance, studying a particular time period in history you could use your history spine, living books literature study, music from the era, study art/artists from the era, etc.

For me, I want to keep things simple for myself. I don't want to spend all my time planning; I'd rather use that time to teach and learn and spend time with my kids. But I also think I see the value (for us) in separating out subjects so we can go at each child's pace in any given thing.

I'm not ready to make many decisions, since we've only finished unit 6 (with 20 to go) for MFWK. We're enjoying it for sure, and I think for prek or K having an all-in-one program can be fine. But later years? Perhaps not for us.

I don't want to be at one place in the manual for phonics, another for handwriting, another for math, etc. That just takes a simple program and makes it more complicated.

So I can see me wanting to pick and choose resources for individual subjects and going through them at our own pace. Some programs will integrate history and lit together, for instance. It just might stop there, rather than include science and art and music and phonics and ... you get my point.

Ultimately, I think I need to articulate what I actually want to do for Johnny following MFWK and what that might look like, and then find a program or programs that fit. It may get more complicated as my girls get older and I take their needs into consideration. Perhaps we can find some subjects that we really can all do together.

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