Sunday, January 27, 2013

Part 2 - ABeka Book

A Beka  produces amazing homeschool and Christian school materials and has for many, many years. Founded by Arlin & Beka Horton, pioneers in the Christian school movement and developed in the Christian school they founded in 1954, Pensacola Christian Academy. A Beka is used in homeschools and Christian schools worldwide. I suspect many of my readers are familiar with A Beka (ABB) so I won't spend much time on their history, but check out their "distinctives" here Distinctives - a very interesting read, as is their section on "research and development."  R&D

These two sections of their website help explain why their materials are great, but let me share some reasons they are great for homeschoolers.

1-Ease of use: Their curriculum guides lay everything out step by step for teachers: what to put on the board (We use individual whiteboards.), what to review, what to say, how to explain. Teacher keys even tell you how many points to take off for each test question. Because the books are proven at PCA, the teacher's planning work is all done for you, by master teachers who use proven methods.

2- Options for homeschoolers: Buy the books, do the teaching yourself, & keep your own records. Lease DVDs or purchase a Livestream subscription and have master teachers teach your child via the screen. Do this & keep your records or enroll in the accredited A Beka Academy, where your child can even go to a special graduation ceremony in Florida when that time comes, whether you do the teaching or they do. Lots of options!

3 - There are lots of live meetings and materials displays at conventions and around the country where you can see and feel the materials before ordering. There are package discounts and financing options available as well.

4 - ABB curriculum uses a spiral learning style where material is introduced in sections, reviewed, left alone for awhile and then built upon later. ABB also teaches reading via an intensive phonics program which builds a strong foundation for reading. There is a lot of drill and repetition.

5 - ABB materials use the KJV 100%.

While I love ABB materials, I have found that they are not the best fit for our family and will only be using them for Alex's language arts, some LA supplement material for Will, and some K supplement material for Will for next year. Now, remember my WHYs. What's the main one? To provide a customized education for my boys, right? Alex used these materials 100% for 3 years in our church's Christian school and received an EXCELLENT foundation in reading and math! However, due to their strong emphasis on review, I found that some of the materials did not provide much of a challenge for him this year. Because it is important to me to customize his education experience, I want him to be challenged. Therefore, I started researching other curriculum to meet that goal. I feel that I have the knowledge base to be able to make wise decisions about curriculum and really pick it apart to see how it meets my goals and educational philosophy. My youngest son Will is very smart, but very much a hands-on learner. You might remember the hands-on program we used at the beginning of the school year. I feel that ABB plays to other learning styles in a stronger way than to Will's hands-on style. So while I don't feel this is the best fit for our family, I'm not "throwing the baby out with the bath water" either. I haven't found a LA program I like for Alex better than this one, so we're sticking to it. In my research it's THE BEST for HIM; the one I'm using for Will is not as strong as this one, but teaches in a way that HE NEEDS to learn, so I'll take less material for a better grasp.

Changing from this wonderful material was one of the hardest decisions I had to make in our homeschool journey this year, especially since I received 2 degrees from the college that helps publish it. I know it's quality material; it's what I mostly learned in K-12. However, it takes me back to my WHYs and doing what is best for my kids. I hope this blog post helps you in your decision to do what is best for your children.

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