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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Robinson Curriculum

Today, nothing got done with farm plans due to my feeling under the weather and MrLivingOurWay having to pick up the slack with the FindingOurWays.  Luckily, that's easy to do now.

We started using the methods of the Robinson Curriculum in the middle of November.  Honestly, I chose this method for several reasons:

  1. This curriculum was written by a family who had a work at home dad (the mother passed away when some children were already school aged).  We are a work at home family and keeping up with school and work and housekeeping can be tough work especially with a baby.  So if this curriclum met the needs of a one parent family in which the parent worked at home, I felt sure this was worth trying.
  2. The academic requirements of this curriclum meet both my needs for structure and MrLivingOurWay's need for his children to have high academic achievement.  MrLivingOurWay and I both have a background in teaching but that is about where our academic similarities end.  Learning didn't come easy for me and at times I struggled to keep up working quite a bit harder than many of my classmates. I believe that my struggles have made me a better teacher both for my children now and the children of others whom I've taught. I have always thrived on a schedule and so do the FindingOurWays.  MrLivingOurWay was considered gifted in school and was always working above grade level with great ease. He is also a very spontaneous kind of person.  When we started schooling our own children, MrLivingOurWay always wanted them to be ahead of their grade level while I was just going with their individual pace.  About once a month, MrLivingOurWay would complain about his kids not being advanced enough and demand that he take over school.   I'd go about other work on this day and hear the FindingOurWays revolting.  The next day we'd just continue as if the day before hadn't happened.  Now, my 6 year old does her math facts happily saying "If I learn these then Mama is going to skip me into fourth grade.".  This statement is true only because the Robinson curriclum recommends starting in Saxon 5/4 which from my research is the 4th  grade math book.  Our 9 year old happily reads her way through the recommended books lists and knows how many lessons she is expected to complete in math each day.
  3. The entire curriclum (minus math books) was $200 for a complete education for the entire family. At that price, I figuredit was worth a try.  I actually tried out the method before spending the money though.  If you do enough research online, you can try before you buy to see if this method will work for your family. Here is a book list for the curriclum.
  4. I don't like to teach science or history even though they are probably necessary. The Robinson Curriclum exposes students to this through literature until they are in high school and have learned Calculus.
We have made the following modifications for our family:

  1. While, the Robinson Curriculum recommends using Saxon Math, we elected to keep going with Horizons math for this year with our nine year old since she has been doing well in it. At the moment, we plan to allow her to choose whether she continues with Horizons for the remaining two years of Horizons math or goes ahead and makes the switch to Saxon once she is done with her current set of Horizons books. 
  2. Robinson suggests not using electronics such as TV's or Computers.  We bought dd a (refurbished) Nook with no back light  and encourage her to use it.  We download all of her books for free online from Project Gutenberg and I've typed the vocabulary into Study Stack for her to review on flashcards and games.  I discourage TV and do try to limit it to 1 hour per day.
  3. We added site words to the recommended phonics.  We also use the computer for free site word flash cards (we prefer the Fry Word List).
  4. Robinson bans sugar. While I don't encourage overindulgence in it, we do occasionally have sugar.
  5. I allow my 9 year old to work in her room because then she doesn't have to listen to the lessons that my 6 year old does verbally.
There is also a mandatory writing component which our family needs to start enforcing. I will say that from the few the few times I've asked my 9 year old to write, her writing has dramatically improved.

Because the kids know what they are suppsoed to be doing and that they are moving at their own pace, MrLivingOurWay is now able to simply say "Go do your school work." 

Then he checks up one them to make sure they are actually doing it.  Our 6 year old gets out her McGuffy Reader (which we are currently reading on a tablet to save paper).  She reads it to one of us (usually me) out loud preceded by the site words on the side of the page.  Then she moves to a math game called Math-It which helps her memorize addition and multiplication facts (not included with with the Robinson curriclum. We purchased it on a high recommendation by friends).  Then she reads from 50 words from one of the Fry Word lists and she is done for the day.

Our 9 year old currently does 2 hours of reading and one hour of math. We do one hour of Math because in Horizons this is two lessons for her.  Even though the Robinson Curriculum says to start with math, I let her choose so long as it all gets done.  This should soon have an hour of writing added to it but we are adding to the school time slowly.

So far, we've been doing this for about 4 1/2 months. I'll have to give an update later about whether it's still working as we are still in the honeymoon phase with this curriculum.


  1. Sounds excellent! I love that you are using McGuffy's. :-)

    Not that you asked, but I felt compelled to comment on the Saxon math. I have used it both as a student and as a teacher. IMO, its hard! I'm unfamiliar with Horizons, but I would think that if you are planning to use Saxon, the earlier you transition to it the better, because the older the child is the more of a leap it will be. Horizons may not be difficult to transition from, but I know A Beka, Key, Math You See, and Bob Jones are all much easier than Saxon, imo...

  2. I wish we could have done what you are doing with my daughter, she has been in public school for 8 years and has learned a lot but so much of the time is devoted to SOL and government propaganda that it really makes me wonder. The answer to everything seems to be centralized control and decision making in stead of teaching kids how to make it in this part of the country where we never really recovered from the last 2 recessions. I ben in skool 12 year, I dezerv a diplomer.

    1. Yes, it's kind of funny. When I pulled my oldest out of public school after Kindergarten it was because she really wasn't learning anything and I knew that before she'd started school she and I had made a lot of progress. Now, I see such a difference between and public schooled kids her age. She is more independent, her vocabulary is better,etc. It's only in the last few years that I've really realized what a benefit homeschooling is and that I as a parent am in more control than other parents because my child isn't in school. I will say that if you start before high school, I've heard it's not too late. Others drop out of high school to get a GED.

  3. Well, sounds like you've found something that works for you. Seemed like things forever changed when we homeschooled, but still, what you're seeing in your oldest is what homeschooling is all about.

    1. Yes, things are forever changing with us too but this is the most success I've had in getting them to do their work and not have to hound them so much and I can't believe the progress my youngest daughter is making with this!

  4. I was wondering if you are still utilizing the Robinson Curriculum at this time?