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Old 04-13-2012, 07:54 PM   #1
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Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

We are thinking about buying an all inclusive curriculum package next year, it will be our first curric. purchase. I would like to know if you've used these and if you like/dislike, how you feel about them, what is covered/included and any other tips and tricks you want to give. We will be purchasing for a 1st grader if that makes a difference. Thanks

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Old 04-13-2012, 08:30 PM   #2
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Re: Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

Have no clue about Sonlight. hehe.

We use A beka 2nd grade for Language arts, Health/Safety, Science, and Historry/SS.

So far I have used L.A. and History/SS. (Health/safety and Science, I will use later on)

A beka L.A. is excellent....! I just can't ask for more. They did put a lot of thought into makig this curriculum. Great instruction, great and detailed work sheets, (I love their writing pad), easy to follow and detailed lesson plans. I love how it is Christian based too. Workbooks and tests have cute appearances and they are all in color. Their curriculums are synchronized. (i.e. Their Math. curriculum is in synch. with handwriting practice, etc)

It comes with pre-arranged game suggestions to play during the study time and lesson plans have suggestions about when to play which one. Lesson plans also have reminers about how to teach. (i.e. watch for studets who is _____. Focus on fluent reading.)

Their writing asignement even have something "fun" to break up the heavy work load (i.e.
1. do page 10
2. write the spelling wrods
3. smile at your mother
4. do page 5 on this book.

and so on.

I love A beka for what they offer.

Many pepole do say that A beka is a very busy-work. Lots of workload for student(s). Language Art alone has phonics, reading, spelling, poetry, writing, and seatwork time (I think of all those as L.A. personally.). Then there are homeworks.
I feel that A beka is very scientific from the details on phonics teaching methods to the fact they have pre-arranged games and schedules about when to play them.

I can see why some families say they hated it becuase they couldn't follow it. If you are set on doing every single items listed, it can be stressful.

But, if you look at A beka as your "helper" and a "guide" for you to use.... a "tool" for you to use during teaching, I think I really can't ask for anything better.

what I like doing is planning my own lesson plan (I follow their suggestions a lot, but omit a lot of work or change the spelling words.... or add something else, depending on my student's need, play different games than their suggestions, or play games on a different day/time.... etc), then use A beka as a tool. I do not do everything they say. If you know your student's needs and know what he/she should learn on each day, then I think it's easy to make a flexible lesson plan.
Or, sometimes you get a student who really loves the busy seatwork. Then A beka will work great for you.




I have not used My Father's World, but I hear that many ppl love it!
My good friend uses it and I took a look at the curriculum a little bit... one of the curriculums I looked at was 1st grader's.

I don't even know what all are included in 1st grader's curriculum, but what i look at was a teacher's manual. It had a daily lessons on what to do each day.
some of them was "nature day. Go outside and enjoy God's Nature."... that's all it said for that day. I thought that was just wonderful... It's so simple, but so different from A Beka I am using, Just busy, busy busy all the time. I make a point to just slow down a lot. As long as my student(s) is getting the consept and comprehending, then I think it does not matter how it is done. I prefer to make it as much fun as I can. I was just reminded how laid back some curriculums can be. And especially for younger students, it's great to just slow down and take time to enjoy, or learn from play, or do a spontaneous mini-lessons. Not that a beka does not have that kind of aspect. It does not suggested games to play... I guess the difference is, A beka says do this game as a warm up, then do 2 more thing during the warm up, then 5 different things during the lesson time, then do 4 things for review... and then it's time to move onto reading. Read these three pages for AM reading, read these pages for PM reading, then assign these three pages for homework.... now spelling. Play this game. Now poetry........ and so on. If i try to squeeze them all in, it can be stressful. I just have to be laid back and also, flexible.

Somedays, it's wonderful to skip the A beka L.A all together... then just play with board game for phonics, make a cross word puzzle for spelling, and write a Bible verse for writing time, and have my son read whatever he wants to read for readin time.




For the rest of the subjects on A beka, I do not find the work load too much, It offers great information and suggested activities to go with it. I really like that.
but I could go with different curriculums. A beka history/ss and other subjects for lower elementary grades do not really stick with one toipc for too long, but rather, it is a continuous reading assignments to get your student(s) interested in certain subjects and introduce them to many areas of each subject taught. If you are more into mastery style where the student learns one thing for a while and developes understanding, then I think you might prefer different curicculum, or you might consider supplementing different reading materials, etc to go with it. Although, A beka has a fast pace schedule for these subjects (about 3-5 reading 3 times/day), so if you decide you want to stick with the suggected schedule from A beka, it does not really give you a lot of time to add additional materials... at least for me.
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Last edited by angel nee nee; 04-13-2012 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 04-13-2012, 08:37 PM   #3
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We used abeka 1st grade for dd1last yr. I love how they teach cursive(step by step directions for me) and we really like the math! They do have a lot of busy work(seatwork) that we dont do and a lot of repeating info. That may be good for some but dd1 gets upset and frustrated with it. Their phonics peogram is really good if your kiddo hasnt had phonics or needs a lil help. We are doing 3rd grade language arts and 2nd grade everything else this yr. This will be our last yr using only abeka. The science and history are seriously lacking. I plan on doing hearts of dakota with either abeka or saxon math next yr. Eta-oh and we really enjoy their art books. This is the first yr we used them and its been a lot of fun. The girls love! crafts so they love the cute, age appropriate art projects. Im leaning towards getting them again next yr.
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Old 04-14-2012, 06:21 AM   #4
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Re: Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

Very different methods!

You could easily chose to use an ABeka textbook for grammar and math without long term burnout/quenching a fire for discovery/learning/ideas as your child ages, but if you use the booklists from MFW or Sonlight for literature and history (or any real book method) along with your ABeka grammar and math text you'll be better off IMHO.

With something like MFW or Sonlight the learning comes alive. It's not just an enthusiasm that starts once your child begins school and wanes over the coming years as seems so typical with school children. It's a way to nurture and grow a thirst, an insatiable hunger for knowledge. It's a way to teach how not just pass the next test and reach to next level but how to learn, how to think, how to use what you read to form ideas (rather than regurgitate). You'd find the biggest difference between ABeka the others in the approach to reading/literature and history. So for literature/history, I'd choose MFW or SL and for grammar and math, ABeka.

You could even print off the age appropriate booklists from 1000 Good Books online for literature, check out a copy of The Well Trained Mind and Drawn to the Heart of Reading from the library, and you'll find your history and literature plan inside. Or cheaper than Sonlight or MFW for history, try Living Books Curriculum or Story of the World and activity book (the revised version has fixed a lot of the errors people found in the first edition). The text of SOTW reads like a story, and the activity guide tells you how to teach it. It's an exciting book that I've used with that age before and gracious, did they love it.
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Old 04-14-2012, 06:46 AM   #5
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Re: Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

Have used some Abeka....textbooks....doing school at home. I have used the math to tutor other people's children.

LOVE Sonlight, great real books that parents and kids love. We have done Sonlight for many many years and I can't say anything really negative about it except, don't try to do everything listed as it will take you the entire day.

I never used My Father's World as we started w Sonlight when my daughter was little and never looked elsewhere. She has graduated now and still talks about and reads for pleasure some of the Sonlight books, if that tells you anything
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Old 04-14-2012, 07:07 AM   #6
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Re: Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

Abeka.. We used Abeka for K my DD's first year (its been 6 now) and it was good... Lots of busy work, very much like public school at home. We got bored easy and added Five in a Row to it. We LOVED FIAR. FIAR really showed me who I am as a Hser. It was much more relational for us.

Sonlight... the next year I thought I wanted something more involved and where I didnt have to go to the library with four kids 5 and under so I bought Sonlight. It was a good year as well, but we missed some of the hands on stuff from FIAR. Sonlight was a lot of great books and reading.. but I found myself a box checker and I didnt enjoy it as well. PLUS after all that I still had to teach two levels of Math and LA and the programs they offered were not fitting us well. I switched from thier math suggestions to Math U See and then Primary Language Lessons for LA and a spelling program. We were happier..

MFW... We did one or two years, cant remember, did a lot of switching mid year back then... And then I realized that my younger kids couldnt join the older ones and I'd have two or three, or now I'd have like 4 cores running at once! That didnt suit me at all! And I didnt like spending thousands of dollars each year to buy a new core and storing all the books. So in came MFW. Less books, but GOOD books. Uses the Library so less clutter and a reason to go out more. A few hands on things like FIAR. One "core" for all who are 2nd grade thru 8th grade...and K and 1st take 30 min to an hour a day! I could keep my Math, LA, Spelling that I liked. And I felt thier world view was (is) more like mine (young earth, more notes when somehting is questionable in a book, ect).. More reusable. Love the 5 year cycle for our large family. I could go on and on, but it fits us well. No curriculum is perfect. You just have to find the one you can adapt and that u understand. If you get the curriculum you'll have an easier time adjusting it for each kid and thier needs.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:08 PM   #7
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Re: Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

We used MFW. We've used it for K and now we are about to use it for 1st. I haven't used anything else. So, I can't really compare. But, I will say, I looked extensively at Sonlight and decided to go with MFW instead. Here are the things I like about MFW:

1. Very Biblically based. It is integrated into all subjects rather than just having Bible as a separate subject. 1st is completely focused on the Bible. If you don't want that, you won't like the curriculum.

2. Once they hit 2nd grade, all children can be easily combined. Even in 1st and K you can combine them some. Obviously, math, lit and phonics and such are separate. This is important to me because we have 5 going on 6 kids. One big reason I decided against Sonlight was because the cores are very "teacher" intensive with read alouds and not nearly as easily combined unless you have children close in age. You can't combine a 2nd with a 6th or 8th. I don't think I can do 3 or more separate cores.

4. It has a lot of lit, but it is also very hands on. I like this approach more and my children enjoy hands on as well.

5. the price is less than Sonlight, especially in K and 1st where it includes everything. Although, I did add Singapore Essentials K Math last year. But, I don't think I'm going to for first.

I'm sure there is more, but I can't think of it right now.

Good luck deciding!

Oh and Abeka, I haven't used it at all for my children, but I did when I was in school. The Abeka text books were my least favorite for any subject. I was always bummed when I saw an Abeka text book for a class. I found them very boring and dry.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:37 PM   #8
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Re: Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeatherlovesCDs View Post
We used MFW. We've used it for K and now we are about to use it for 1st. I haven't used anything else. So, I can't really compare. But, I will say, I looked extensively at Sonlight and decided to go with MFW instead. Here are the things I like about MFW:

1. Very Biblically based. It is integrated into all subjects rather than just having Bible as a separate subject. 1st is completely focused on the Bible. If you don't want that, you won't like the curriculum.

2. Once they hit 2nd grade, all children can be easily combined. Even in 1st and K you can combine them some. Obviously, math, lit and phonics and such are separate. This is important to me because we have 5 going on 6 kids. One big reason I decided against Sonlight was because the cores are very "teacher" intensive with read alouds and not nearly as easily combined unless you have children close in age. You can't combine a 2nd with a 6th or 8th. I don't think I can do 3 or more separate cores.

4. It has a lot of lit, but it is also very hands on. I like this approach more and my children enjoy hands on as well.

5. the price is less than Sonlight, especially in K and 1st where it includes everything. Although, I did add Singapore Essentials K Math last year. But, I don't think I'm going to for first.

I'm sure there is more, but I can't think of it right now.

Good luck deciding!

Oh and Abeka, I haven't used it at all for my children, but I did when I was in school. The Abeka text books were my least favorite for any subject. I was always bummed when I saw an Abeka text book for a class. I found them very boring and dry.
Yep, we used it in my school from 6th grade up and I hated how boring Abeka was... to make it worse, I hated math and then to have boring math and tons of problems to do...I just dreaded it.

We are using MFW for many of the same reasons, Heather!
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:58 PM   #9
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Re: Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

This is great information ladies--thank you all so much! I think I am leaning towards MFW, it seems like it would fit with our needs the best from what I have seen/heard. But could somebody please explain how the older curric works where it is all together? I like the sound of that, but not sure how it would be carried out. Also, I know for K and 1st (those are what I've looked into) that they offer a full curric...but after that what is included in the package? I was thinking I read somewhere that you had to buy math and lit. seperately? Anymore opinions on curric would be welcome as well!
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Old 04-14-2012, 01:23 PM   #10
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Re: Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. MFW

Let's see...combining...basically, they all study the topic, but the older children have more in-depth assignments related to the topic and the younger children have things more tailored to them. It's a 5 year cycle. So, 5 "cores" so to speak. Some of them have supplements for younger or older grades. Obviously, an 8th grader would need to "beef up" the study from what a 2nd grader does and a 2nd grader would need material geared toward younger children. These supplements allow you to do that. So, you all study the same thing, but it is tailored to each student.

Each student will have their own math and lit based on where they are once they hit 2nd grade. Those are separate and you buy them separate either from MFW or from an outside source. I have not seen any programs that include these past 1st and not many in K or 1st either. Though, I'm certain I have not see everything out there.

ETA - Raisingcrops - Abeka math...I disliked that most of all. Unfortunately, that experience left me uninterested in even checking it out for my own children. Great minds think alike when it comes to picking curriculum.
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