*Before I begin let me stress that our experiences are not indicative to whether any of this curriculum will work or not work for your family, I'm teaching one kid who has strengths and weaknesses that are probably different than your kid. Also, I ended up writing more about writing than I intended to- blame 5:00 am quietness and a PSL for that tangent.
I can post what works and doesn't work for us since I'm not owned by the corporate man. If someone gave me these books I would feel an obligation to at the very least be polite about my review, but I'm the one throwing money around at this stuff, and I'm posting in the hopes that it may help someone to narrow down their educational philosophies. I'll try and explain the why's and how's to the best of my ability, and it still may not apply to your situation. - rant over*
This week we started listening to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. We're a week late starting that one. I wasn't sure if I was going to use the read-aloud books or not. We had an Audible credit lingering, and I liked the sample, so we'll let Alexa read it to us from the kitchen as time allows. I gave him Mulan to read and figured out mid-week the type was tiny and hard to read, I almost bought it on Kindle and then decided that we will read it aloud this weekend and save buying the book twice. (Of course, it is checked out of all three libraries that I have cards too- because there are phantom homeschoolers all around like foggy ghosts and they all use Sonlight/Bookshark so you'd better own the books if you go the Lit heavy route.)
I pretty much dumped BKSK LA. Sigh. Here's why: too little grammar and full speed writing with no build up at all. It's not bad, just too uneven?
We study Latin, and because of that, we don't even "need" grammar. But BKSK has one day of dictation and grammar and the rest of the week is a random writing assignment. For the right kid that may b perfect. For us, it wasn't. What we need from grammar right now are the mechanics, What are the rules for commas? I have MP and Rod and Staff English 8 on hand, so I pulled them out. Next week we're going to begin the study of punctuation and when we finish that we'll see if we need to continue in that book at all.
For writing, I yanked Classical Composition down, and we used the Narrative book with a whiteboard and were both just thrilled to get back to a program that makes sense to us. Most of our lessons this year need to come from the Chreia Maxim book, but we'll do a couple more weeks reviewing Narrative first, We should also be using a few from Fable- but I can't find it. Insider hint with CC- you need to keep the previous levels because each year starts with a review where you pull lessons from those books- Second hint the teachers at the Highland School do not use all the lessons in each book for that reason. You have to play the long game to get the most out of learning to write with the progymnasmata method.
For the non classically educated amongst us Memoria Press explains it like this:
Memoria Press’ composition program, Classical Composition, is based on the original (Greek) traditional method of teaching writing called the “progymnasmata.” It was the program that produced John Milton and William Shakespeare. This method involved learning fourteen skills, organized from the simplest and most basic to the most complex and sophisticated.
Why do I use that instead of Bookshark or even the Writing programs published by the Well Trained Mind? In the past, I've used all of them with different kids. I also kept Writing with Skill levels one and two in case we want to use them in high school at some point.
I've loved the idea of Progym for years and kept shelving it because I couldn't understand "how" to teach it. I knew I didn't like how modern teaching methods have kids churning out quantity over quality. They have kids creative writing and journaling in kindergarten. That works for some kids and fails miserably for others. What I see now looking back is that using progym will work for all kids- and I hardly ever make blanket statements like that. Here's why.
Natural writers need a framework and so do reluctant writers. If you use the progym method, it should (cause again- I don't know your kid) work for everyone.
Students are studying and analyzing well-written literature at every level of the progym. By reading good writing, they learn what to say, the order to say it and how to say it. It is so much easier to take a piece of good writing and tweak it than it is to create a sentence out of your mind- ask any writer, and they will confirm this. Now imagine being a kid, you don't have as much to pull from, and your sentences never sound like the books you read- frustrating. With progym, you start by tweaking adjectives, and your sentences sound great- building confidence right away.
This method does not include any of the common core standards, nor will it teach your student proper footnote and annotation methods. My kids picked them up at College with no problem at all. I think the number one outcome for homeschooling would be people who can think for themselves and write clearly and logically. You can learn anything that way.
In Math news the boy did like 23 math lessons in the first seven days, so my review idea is working out. I hope to have the whole review process complete by Halloween, and then we'll be in straight 7th-grade math. For those that are wondering his dysgraphia held us up for a while. He had a lot of trouble memorizing math facts although his mental math and number sense is extraordinary, so I backed up to review fractions, decimals and the like before we get into Algebra, I know from experience that you can't move on until that stuff is down pat,
We started Famous Men of Greece on Tuesday afternoon, and I was seriously thinking about going to an LCC schedule where we do one subject per afternoon once a week. Of course, all that is Grandad allowing and that isn't too likely. I also remembered that I like to read The Trojan War before FMOG so Oops. I sat down with a Coke Zero and pondered how to tweak it all again.
I reworked the schedule into this:
Math, Latin, Grammar/Comp/Lit before lunch.
I think we can do all the BKSK EHE stuff in three afternoons and a marathon Science lesson on day 4. He'll read the BKSK readers then too. John's been taking Fridays off, so we're on a 4-day schedule as long as that lasts.
Before I sign off to go put on my landlord hat would you like to hear my rant on BKSK EHE?
Yes, you would.
Back in the day, SL used the World Book Encyclopedia for this level. I'll bet the fact that it came on a disk meant that they were inundated with calls from non-techy moms for years. I'm pretty sure it went on an actual floppy disk at one point, Kids complained that the answers were hard to find, etc. Fast forward through the many years that I didn't pay attention and EHE evolved into using a textbook that the folks at Inquisicorp (owners of SL and BKSK) got someone to write for them. It's a beautiful book, not too big, beautiful colors and maps. On my perusal online and in person all looked good. We are learning things.
But, I read this out loud. Information is repeated word for word in multiple paragraphs in a row. And then one the next page and section. Most days we both end up bursting out with a "we know" exclamation. It's tres annoying, And so I'm hoping to condense their four days into three by merely cutting out info that we know because you already told us that three pages ago. We do like the notebook that goes with it; it's just that the book needs a thorough editing pass over.
Also, I hope that they did edit the facts cause I have no idea about Ancient Chinese history and do not have time to fact check. We're doing a trust fall with this as we aren't testing or memorizing any of it.