So today I would like to review the two all-in-one curriculum that we have tried. I love the idea of all in one curriculum. What’s not to love, really? The planning is all done for you, it’s one-stop shopping, the teacher’s manuals are normally well laid out, and open-and-go… no planning required! They are also often laid out so that you can teach multiple grades together.
We have tried/used three different all in one curriculums. An important lesson I’ve learned is that rarely, will all the items in the curriculum be a perfect fit for your child. Often there ends up being a component that the child just doesn’t like, or that perhaps is too advanced, or too below, for the child’s ability level. You can often substitute material, however, that takes away from the “no planning involved” aspect. So it’s important to look at all the components of a curriculum to make sure they will work for you. Some companies offer more flexibility, such as Heart of Dakota, who offers alternate lesson plans for their math and Language Arts, to allow for variance in ability levels.
Overview: My Father’s World Kindergarten is a 34 week complete curriculum. I personally love this program, even though we weren’t able to use all of it (more on that in a bit). We started our son’s Kindergarten year with this course. It is a gentle, multi-sensory curriculum that teaches Bible, Character Development, Phonics, Math, Science, Art and Music. At this level, it is easily Catholic-friendly, though you’ll need to add catechism. It is a unit study in that each week there is a theme, and all components tie into that theme. The themes are wonderful topics that most children enjoy: sun, moon, various animals, vegetables, water, butterflies and more. I love their approach to teaching phonics and blending using the blend-ladder method. By the end of the year the children are able to read simple stories with sentences such as: Can Ann sit? Sam can hop. The program includes a great selection of children’s literature, which you can purchase from MFW, or easily get from your local library. You will probably already have several titles on hand, as they use popular classic children’s stories. Math is taught using hands on activities and reinforced with worksheets. Typical kindergarten goals are taught, such as counting objects, learning to print numbers, charts and graphs, comparing, classifying, sequencing, and understanding ordinal numbers, fractions (whole/half), clocks, money, and an introduction to addition and subtraction. The program takes 60-90 minutes per day.
My Thoughts: This is a beautiful program. I truly liked everything about it, and we will be using it for my daughter for her kindergarten year, without question. The program is gentle, especially in it’s approach to phonics. Unfortunately, that was the problem for us, and why we didn’t continue with it. My son was already so far ahead of the phonics lessons, that they were useless to us – we would have had to skip the first half of the entire program. He also didn’t like the hands-on math lessons. He does much better with a workbook-drill approach to math. While I loved the other aspects, especially the Bible and Science, I just couldn’t justify spending the money on an expensive program, when we were going to have to use other resources for the two main components. Thankfully, I can tell already that this will be a great match for my daughter, and I look forward to being able to revisit MFW K. If you have a child who enjoys hands-on learning and who is ready to start, or has just started learning letter sounds, then I really don’t think you can go wrong with this program. The price $216 for Deluxe/$129 basic, may be off-putting, but I feel it’s worth it for what you receive. Also, this is an extremely popular curriculum, with a high resale value, which means you can easily find it used by shopping Ebay, Homeschool Classifieds or their Curriculum Exchange group on Facebook. You will also have no problem reselling your curriculum when you are done with it.
Overview: Learning God’s Story is My Father’s World’s grade 1 program. It covers Bible, Math, Reading, Science, Music and Art. It is also thematic in approach, though not quite as much so as Kindergarten. Bible history is the focus in grade 1 (still Catholic friendly). There is much more handwriting/seatwork in grade one, however there are still hands-on learning activities, as well. The course is designed for children who are already reading short vowel words.
My Thoughts: When MFW K didn’t work, we immediately just went to grade 1. Now, I have to say that we used the old edition of MFW 1. Soon after we bought our curriculum, My Father’s World came up with their updated version. Any issues that we had with the course, I think we taken care of with the revisions. Our main problem was that the math was still very much hands on, however in their revisions, they added many new math activities and worksheets. I also wasn’t crazy about the Bible – I found it very light, and nothing more than doing a memory verse each week, as the Bible reader did not start until almost halfway through the program. However, in their revision they expanded their Bible lessons, and also added a devotional book. We enjoyed the phonics, and again, I very much like My Father’s World’s approach to teaching phonics. They give good review, without being redundant and I love their approach to blending. I also really enjoy the resources that My Father’s World uses – they’re high quality. The science was a bit light, but the topics are fun. My son was still struggling with handwriting at the time, and he found the handwriting to be a bit too much – this has not changed. Grade 1 does require a lot of writing, so if you have a child who struggles with writing you will want to take that into consideration. Overall, the year was okay. We didn’t finish the program since we started late, we hadn’t finished by summer break, and I knew that we wanted to use something different for grade 1. But again, I think most of our issues would have been fixed by the revisions.
Overview: Little Hearts for His Glory is a 34-week all-in-one curriculum that is focused on the Bible, and it weaves Bible into the history lessons. The curriculum covers Bible memory work, history, science, art projects, dramatic play, music, thinking games, gross motor skills and rhymes. It also includes lessons plans of varying levels for math, handwriting, phonics, fine motor skills, and also includes scheduled storytime with Thornton Burgess books and hands-on math activities.
My Thoughts: We used this for grade one with my son. This is a very fun, interactive curriculum. Little Hearts for His Glory places a big emphasis on gross-motor skills with relation to learning, which is wonderful for kinesthetic learners. My son absolutely loved the daily Rhymes in Motion, and they doubled as the perfect sensory break for him. He also really enjoyed learning the Bible verses and the memory games that went along with them. The history lessons were short enough to hold a young child’s attention. There are different resources listed for Fine Motor, Phonics and Math, allowing you to meet different ability levels. Heart of Dakota typically recommends Singapore Math, and they give lots of hands on learning ideas to reinforce the lessons, which is nice. I’ll admit, I find the science a bit weak, but I also have a child who’s very strong in science, so for someone else it may be fine. The science lessons tie into the Bible/history lessons. The devotional book is nice, it might be a bit dry for young children, and as a Catholic there was one devotion on angels that was a bit conflicting with our doctrine, but that’s not a big deal, we just skipped that one; the rest were fine. The music cd was nice for reinforcing the memory verses, and my son loved singing along to them, and I’d often catch him singing scripture! I really enjoy Heart of Dakota – they have such a strong focus on literature and reading comprehension which is nice to see, and I love that it gives you comprehension questions to ask, which is nice for those of us who sometimes struggle to come up with stuff like that. I would recommend this to anyone. The age range is 5-7, and I would agree, with probably being best suited for ages 5-6.