Why We Chose Robinson Curriculum

Why we chose robinson curriculum

(source)

UPDATE** Since writing this article, we’ve tweaked how we use Robinson Curriculum. Read this article first, but don’t forget to read Robinson Curriculum: Updates & New Plans too!

 

Do you remember when I shared that Travis and I had some really good talks while on our second honeymoon? Not only did we talk about changing the way we were raising the kids, we also talked about how our homeschooling life had to make some major renovations.

We read about The Robinson Curriculum online and immediately fell in love with the concept of “less is more”. The idea that we should focus on the three R’s and the rest will follow, really resonated with me. I sometimes felt that we were trying to make the kids so ‘well-rounded’ that we were covering too many subjects. They weren’t getting a really good grasp on any of them. They were getting overwhelmed with the work load and I was getting overwhelmed with the time it took to finish a school day.

We decided to try Robinson Curriculum for the last quarter of the school year and ‘see how it went’.

We’ve never looked back.

What is The Robinson Curriculum (RC)?

The Robinson Curriculum (RC) began when a father of six suddenly lost his wife to an illness that took her life within 24 hours. The children were now without a mother or a teacher. Mr. Robinson wasn’t willing to send them off to public school, yet there was no way he could continue to work and spend the same amount of time teaching the children as his wife had. Instead, he and the children pushed all of the varied school subjects aside except for the 3 R’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic. He focused on the essentials and RC was born.

The curriculum comes on a set of 22 CD’s. It covers K-12 and can be reused for ALL of your children. (Big homeschooling families – let’s give a cheer!) Cost is about $200.

What’s included in the curriculum?

RC is a 22 CD volume set compromised of over 250 books for the reading part of the 3 R’s.  Click here to see the full list.

Math is bought separately. Both Robinson and Travis (my math whiz husband) highly recommend Saxon for their clear instructions and repetition. In fact, Travis refuses to use anything else. I’m not saying he could never be persuaded that there’s another good math curriculum out there, but he grew up using Saxon and is convinced it’s worth its weight in gold. You can find used Saxon books via eBay and used homeschool book sales for a fraction of the cost of new.

What all this about ‘self-teaching’?

Self-teaching is the core of Robinson Curriculum. To self-teach, the children simply read their lesson plan themselves (provided they can read well) and complete their lesson – with very rare assistance from mom or dad.

I personally loved the idea of ‘self-teaching’. When we found the Robinson Curriculum we had three full-time students and another starting in the fall. I was spending a lot of time preparing/correcting lessons and it seemed all I did was move from one student to another, one question after another. I became frustrated when they’d came to me and say, “I don’t understand this” only to find out they hadn’t taken the time to read the lesson well. In essence I was teaching nearly all their subjects to each of them individually.

Having the kids ‘self-teach’, I believe, is one of the best ways to prepare them for adulthood – after all, they’ll continue to learn and study topics of interest all their lives. If I hold their hand, they’ll never learn:

  • independent study habits
  • responsibility
  • accountability
  • to think things out on their own
  • justified self confidence

It took a bit of adjustment for the kids to learn I wasn’t going to answer their questions anymore. My reply became, “go back and read the lesson plan again. This time read it slowly and try to focus on what they’re explaining.”

After answering this way several times, they finally gave up asking. It forced them to stop using me as a crutch and take the responsibility to read their lesson plan carefully or they’d be sitting at the table all day.

In truth, this was the one area I was hesitant to implement. Our second oldest, who was 11 at the time, was notorious for ‘not understanding’ a lesson, day-dreaming, and needing me to read the lesson plan out loud to him. He was also getting steady C’s. Amazingly, after several days of my refusing to help, he buckled down and pulled A’s and a few B’s for the rest of the year.

For the younger students, self-teaching is possible too. As long as your child can read, he can learn to read slowly and think through the directions. Our eight-year-old quickly learned that it might not make sense the first time, the second time, or even the fifth time – but if he continued to read slowly and think about what the directions were saying, the light bulb would click.

I want to quick note that this doesn’t mean you can never help your kids. But the less you do for them, the more they learn to do for themselves. They have much more satisfaction when they’re the one who figures it out.

How Does RC Teach the 3 R’s?

Reading:
There are two main lists of books – those the students are required to read as well as a supplemental list with quality books. There is no “Grade 1, Grade 2” levels for the books. The student starts at the beginning of the required list and moves through it as their able. The books advance in reading level as they move down the list.

All the books on the CD’s are printable to put into binders. However, because most of them are older and do not have copyright anymore, about 80% of them are free to download onto Kindles or other e-readers. We bought a Kindle exclusively for this. The books we can’t download for free we print off. For a complete book list, click here.

Writing:
The younger students start with writing letters, then copying sentences or verses, eventually (about 10 yrs old) writing a half page essay on any topic they like, and then gradually a full page or more as they get into the higher grades.

RC feels that between reading, writing, and the grammar and spelling books available on the CD’s, grammar and sentence structure are covered. Being the notorious grammatical-error-spotter I am :), I still like to supplement with the English curriculum we’d used before (Rod & Staff).

Essays are the only subject you’ll need to correct.

Math:
As I mentioned before, RC recommends Saxon, which you will have to buy separately. Robinson doesn’t recommend buying the first three grades of Saxon and in hindsight (and in planning for future students) I would agree. Get the flash cards out and learn +, -, x, and / forward, backward, and upside down until they are about 5 or 6, and then get them started on Saxon 54.

The students correct their own math lessons. This teaches them responsibility and accountability. I randomly correct their lessons (after they’ve corrected it) just to make sure they’re being honest and to keep them on their toes. 🙂

Wait! That’s it!? What about all the other subjects?

RC (and I) encourage having books about history and science readily available for your kids to read whenever they want. We’ve found gems at local thrift stores, garage sales, and used book sales at the libraries. The best way to learn any subject is to read, read, read.

RC doesn’t have a Christian/Bible Time section per se, but there is nothing anti-Christian in the curriculum in any way. The booklist has old enough books that the characters still portray godly character and valuable lessons learned. We have our own family Bible study about once a week and we alternate between reading out loud in Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, several verses or a chapter from the Bible with a family discussion (the book of James is excellent for this), books about missionaries, and memorizing the books of the Bible and/or verses. This isn’t based on any curriculum, just our personal ideas.

What does a typical day look like?

Your children start the day with math – as this takes the most concentration. Each student does a set amount. For the younger ones it could mean going through the stack of flash cards a certain number of times. For middle-schoolers it could mean doing a half a lesson a day, depending on their ability. Older students can do one or more lessons.

When they’re finished, they correct their lesson and rework any problem(s) they had wrong.

After math is finished, the student moves on to essay writing. Again, they write for a set amount, no matter how long it takes. Usually students under 10 years old do copy work from the Bible, a science or history book, etc. and the older students write a half a page and then as they get older, a full page essay on any subject they wish.

The first day we started RC, our oldest son He wrote an essay entitled “Notable Men of World War II”. Our second son, wrote “How to Make a Weapon From a Stick”. 🙂 The point is to let them write about what interests them. You might learn a lot more about your kids than you know!

After the essay writing comes reading.

Your goal is to have about 5-6 hours of school per day for older students and less for the younger students, depending on age. Reading fills up what’s left of their day after math and essay writing are complete. They should read through the required book list as they can, and then spend the rest of the time reading good books.

This is where the other subjects come in. Let them read about lizards, the Oregon Trail, the solar system, and look at maps (geography). Let them page through Encyclopedia’s – something is bound to catch their attention. Do they like dinosaurs? Make sure you stock up at the library and get a couple books about dinos. Do they want to learn to knit? Find a couple how-to books and let them teach themselves how to make a scarf. The subjects and possibilities are endless!

What does a typical school year look like?

RC recommends school 6 days a week all year long (about 10 mths total).

The CD’s come with The Course of Study which explains things in more detail – it’s 150 pgs long and we really enjoyed reading through it.

We did, however, alter his plan a bit, as you are certainly free to do. We stayed to the normal 5 days of school a week and added math only on Saturdays. During the summer months we do 1 math lesson a day and 1 hour of required reading. This is the first year we’ve done school through the summer. Although there was a bit of groaning when we began, it’s going surprisingly well. It’s actually giving them something to do during the hot July weather when they don’t want to be outside and I won’t let them watch T.V. or play electronic games. I’m such a meanie.

Can you start RC with kindergarteners and young students?

Absolutely.

Honestly, for each of my first three students I didn’t even start them in ‘school’ until they turned five, and even then we had very short days. For kindergarten, we sang the ABC’s and learned to recognize colors, numbers, and letters. THAT’S IT. We didn’t do anything else except get books from the library now and again.

Eventually we started having them write letters and numbers on lined grade-school paper and then as they learned to read they wrote their names, words, etc. I used Phonics Pathways to teach them all to read – I love it. I don’t know if it’s that book or simply that my kids like to read but they’re voracious readers!

RC does include phonics flashcards on the CD’s.

 

Whew. That’s a lot of information! Hopefully I’ve answered some of your questions, but if not, please feel free to leave a comment down below (you’ll be helping others who might have the same questions) and I’ll be sure to reply.

 

UPDATE** Since writing this article, we’ve tweaked how we use Robinson Curriculum. Read Robinson Curriculum: Updates & New Plans to see what parts of Robinson we’ve kept and what we’ve changed.

Why we chose Robinson Curriculum

 

Shared with: Flour Me With Love, The Modest Mom Blog, Time-Warp Wife, Far Above Rubies, Growing Home, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Our Simple Country Life, Creative Christian Mama, Comfy in the Kitchen, Christian Mommy Blogger,

Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Hi, I'm Paula - wife and homeschooling mom of six. Several family health issues involving candida, food allergies, and Lyme Disease have created a passion to better understand our God-created bodies. Today I help women with food cravings, candida, and weight gain learn how heal their gut and lose fat - in a way that's DOABLE. You can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube.
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

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About The Author

Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Hi, I'm Paula - wife and homeschooling mom of six. Several family health issues involving candida, food allergies, and Lyme Disease have created a passion to better understand our God-created bodies. Today I help women with food cravings, candida, and weight gain learn how heal their gut and lose fat - in a way that's DOABLE. You can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube.

73 Comments

  • Debbie

    Reply Reply July 8, 2012

    That sounds like a wonderful way to go. Too bad my kids are grown. We used various sources over the years and I always loved literature based studies. I love the idea of self teaching. The child that is well read, reads well!

  • Gina Glenn

    Reply Reply July 8, 2012

    I do not use the CD’s but I do use a lot of the concepts outlined in the Robinson Curriculum … especially the self-teaching of a great number of our subjects! I use Principle Approach overall but have always had a heart for RC! Great post!

  • Michelle

    Reply Reply July 10, 2012

    We just started back on the RC curriculum after having it for a couple of years. There is too much to write about in regards to why I didn’t really like it and put it aside, so maybe I will write a post about that when I get my blog back up!

    I have returned to a modified version and am still tweaking a bit. One thing that bothered me about the RC curriculum is the fact that there is no chronological history approach and the books themselves weren’t really resonating with my children.

    But I like the concept and I have returned to it for various reasons, with some things that are modified:)

    So glad to have found your blog through Twitter!

  • Amanda Z

    Reply Reply July 24, 2012

    What great info! We don’t have children at home yet, and I dont’ know if homeschooling will be an option for us – but I love finding these detailed sites with information. It never hurts to be prepared.

    I’ve been a big fan of the things I’ve read about Charlotte Mason, but this curriculum sounds wonderful. I love the reading list – how fabulous!

    Thanks!

  • Cara Hembd

    Reply Reply July 25, 2012

    We started the Robinson curriculum a few weeks ago and I am very pleased with it. Due to our religious preferences, there are some of the books that we don’t find appropriate, but that is the beauty of the concept, we can just choose other well written books. We did have some transition problems. My children relied on me a lot for questions, help, etc. So when I stopped the hand holding on their lessons, there was some rebelling and some sitting for hours doing nothing because they “couldn’t figure it out”. That only lasted about a week and now they are pretty busy and I even saw my daughter go to one of our cookbooks to find a word she needed to spell. Very resourceful!! The only thing I really worry about is reading comprehension. I know my children 12 and 10 are sitting their reading, however I am not confident they are retaining what they are reading. Anyway great overview post and I too love this curriculum concept.

    • Paula

      Reply Reply July 25, 2012

      Hi Cara,

      The idea of letting go of the hand-holding is hard for us moms too, isn’t it! 🙂 It is a joy though to see them start to work through problems themselves and become a little less ‘needy’. It’s the truest and healthiest form of ‘self-esteem’ if you will.

      As far as reading comprehension, I worried about that too. While their essay writing time is usually on a topic of their choosing – I did decide that they have to write a ‘book report’ on whichever book from the list they finished. This gives my mind some ease as I can see what they’ve retained and what they didn’t. 🙂

  • Sherry

    Reply Reply July 26, 2012

    I like what you have written about letting your children be more responsible for their own education. It is great that they have been able to take charge!

    If you like RC, you might also like the Eclectic Education Series, which is being sold in much the same form as RC (by the son of the gentleman who sells RC), and is very complimentary, and includes Ray’s Arithmetic and all of the other books sold concurrently with the McGuffey readers. We use all of these in our homeschool work, although we do not follow the RC ideas specifically, we put many of them into practice, and use notebooking as a great way for them to reform and personalize new ideas, history, etc.

  • deborah

    Reply Reply July 27, 2012

    I really like the idea of this type of curriculum. Haven’t made the jump – but I like the idea. :o) Thanks for sharing.

  • Kathy

    Reply Reply July 30, 2012

    Wow! This is very interesting. I’ve never heard of this curriculum but am definitely going to check it out. Thanks for the write up. I’d love to have you link this up to Titus 2 Tuesday on Cornerstone Confessions. I hope to see you there.

    Kathy

  • Susan

    Reply Reply August 7, 2012

    Thanks for this post! We’ve been homeschooling for several years now but feel that something has to seriously change! There’s just too much pressure, too many workbooks, too many subjects to try to cover. So was very glad to come across this post about the robinson curriculum. As I was researching this curriculum I also came across the A2 curriculum.Was wondering if you ever hard of it or ever compared it with robinson? I’m planning on using one of these, just trying to decide which would be best. Also was wondering how the robinson curriculum covers spelling? Do the children learn the spelling and grammer rules (like when to use ch /tch, ge/dge, ck/ke & vowel sets ou,oi, ie, etc.)? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Susan,

      Yes, we looked at the A2 curriculum too. In fact, we chose Robinson and my brother-in-law and his wife chose A2. You might have seen this site already, but in case you haven’t, it compares the two in a side-by-side chart.

      One of the reasons we didn’t choose A2 was because they seemed to include a lot more philosophy books and we weren’t comfortable with some of the authors they included on their book list. We also decided to continue lightly using our English books from Rod & Staff since we already had the entire set. Any grammar we felt might not be covered by Robinson, we knew would be covered by Rod & Staff.

      And yes, it does teach the beginning rules or grammar and spelling with phonics flashcards. Personally I haven’t used that part of the curriculum yet as I’ve fallen in love with Phonics Pathways (just their main book – I don’t use all the other stuff you can get with it) and have used that for our oldest three with good results. We still have that book so I just continue to use it. 🙂

      • chinatown

        Reply Reply April 11, 2016

        I purchased the A2 curriculum from ebay for $50. I liked the how it was set up by grade. It is pretty organized and I chose that one because of it’s price. It’s easy to navigate, all on 1 disc.I recently purchased RC because of the vocabulary words list and extra book volumes to prepare for the SATS.

  • Terri

    Reply Reply September 28, 2012

    Is there an actual curriculum guide, or just the book list? Would this curriculum work to have a sibling read to and help a special needs child? If essays aren’t done until ten, do they do any writing before? Thanks!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply September 29, 2012

      Hi Terri,

      The disks come with an Course Study which explains in more detail what a typical day looks like and answers some common questions. But yes, it’s pretty much the books, the flashcards for phonics and math, and the study guide.

      The math and essay writing would be individual work, but a sibling could certainly read the book list out loud.

      I will say to keep in mind that the books are older and the style of writing used is not what you’d find in today’s ‘popular’ children’s books. Here’s an example from The Life of Washington, book four on the list: “It was a bold scheme, full of risk to all who took part in it, yet there was naught to be done but to push on, and hope for the best.”

      And yes, while they don’t write essays until ten, they do work on printing/writing and copying paragraphs from other books. Our eight year old copies from the Bible, books about insects, sharks, and Easy Reader books of our own.

  • Terri

    Reply Reply September 29, 2012

    Thanks – it’s worth looking into I think. We read many older books together anyway. I suppose the problem I may see with them reading on their own is that I wouldn’t be there to explain words like ‘naught’, etc. I do love the idea of them thinking for themselves, though!

    • Paula @ Whole Intentions

      Reply Reply September 30, 2012

      Terri,

      One of our favorite family stories is of Wyatt who at the age of seven was a struggling reader and declared, ‘cowboys don’t need ta read!’ Now he can read several books in one day and his nose is constantly in a book.

      We’ve never taught the boys the meaning of words like “naught” or “wherefore”, and it’s interesting how many times he and his older brother will start chatting in old English for fun and how many words like that they use and understand.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that one of the best ways to learn the meaning of words is by reading them. Or you can use my favorite answer (though I rarely have to use it anymore), “look it up”.

      Just food for thought. 🙂

      • Diane

        Reply Reply April 2, 2015

        Yes! “Look it up!” For comprehension I started giving my 8 yo a pencil and a paper during his reading time so that while he’s reading, and stumbles across a word he either can’t pronounce orndoesnt know the meaning of, he can write it down. After he finishes his reading time he will go and look up the words in the dictionary. This covers spelling, comprehension, and vocabulary as well.

  • Terri

    Reply Reply October 1, 2012

    If they do their math on their own, how do you keep them from cheating? What is the motivation for them to learn the material? Are you in the room with them as they do their math and do they immediately correct it? This is all such a foreign concept to me. I accidentally ran across this curriculum last week, and had never heard of it before!

    • I know exactly where you’re coming from! LOL It’s so opposite of the ‘classroom’ setting so many of us have grown up with, isn’t it. 🙂

      When the boys have school they sit at the kitchen table with only their text books and notebooks. Our dining area is pretty open so they know at any time I can be walking by, helping littler ones in the same room, watching them work over their shoulder, or just being a ‘presence’ as I can see them from nearly every room on the main floor.

      They each complete their lesson and when they’re finished they’re allowed to get the answer books and correct their problems. I have them mark the problems they did wrong and correct the entire lesson straight through.

      Then, they put away the answer book and correct the problems they had wrong. When they are done reworking the problems they can look in the answer book again to see if they reworked it correctly. They continue to rework the problem until they understand how/why they got it wrong. Yes, they’ve now seen the answer, but they have to rework the problem in the notebook so I can see that they are doing it and not just writing down the correct answer.

      I have the privilege as their teacher 🙂 to randomly correct any of their lessons I want, whenever I want. If they are not marking problems wrong that should be marked wrong, or they are writing so sloppy I can’t read it, then they hear about it. We have very long talks about dishonesty, cheating, and such – it’s simply not allowed. It hasn’t been much of an issue for us, because they know there would be consequences.

      For instance, Wyatt, now 12, repeatedly tells his younger brothers the story of how at age eight he was a habitual liar. Travis and I suspected it, but we could never catch him ‘red-handed’ and we didn’t want to accuse him falsely. We talked to him several times about honestly, but (as we later discovered) he continued to lie.

      Finally we caught him in a lie and his punishment was to write Psalms 120:2, “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.” two hundred times. He had to write it a set amount of times each day (even weekends) until he was finished. Unfortunately for him he was caught lying again before those 200 verses were complete so he was given the task of writing them 200 more times for a grand total of 400.

      To this day he can say that verse and passage at the drop of a hat and he readily reminds his younger brothers not to lie. 🙂 The punishment for dishonestly is severe whether it’s grounding, writing verses, or whatever. The idea is to make them realize how significant lying/cheating is.

  • Diane

    Reply Reply January 18, 2013

    Hi Paula,
    I’ve looked at RC curriculum off and on over the last 2 years trying to decide if it would be a fit for us or not. Just wondering how it is going for your family after a few more months. Anything you’re doing different now or wish you could change about it?

    • Paula

      Reply Reply January 19, 2013

      Hi Diane,

      I still really like RC – my oldest two boys (14 and 12 now) have really enjoyed it. The 14 year old has always excelled in school and the adjustment was not hard for him at all.

      My 12 yr. old, who I was initially concerned would not do well, continues to do very well – an A student where he once was a B and C (and sometimes D). Both the older boys love the fact that they can write about any topic for their essay. Some days I do ask my ‘researcher’ to write a story and my ‘story writer’ to research, just to broaden their writing skills a little LOL, but they’re both doing very well.

      I like the fact that my planning and correcting time has decreased dramatically. 🙂

      The area I have made a few adjustments is with my 8 yr old. He reads well, but his comprehension of directions still lacks. RC’s idea is that the student does EVERYTHING themselves as soon as they start reading, but it hasn’t worked well for him. I knew there would be a period of struggling as he adjusted, but after a semester of trying, it’s still not improving much.

      We are now trying a more ‘mom-helpful’ approach (but not too much). 🙂 Instead of having him read the math lesson himself and simply start the lesson, I make him explain it to me first. If he can’t explain it well, I have him reread it. We do this several times. There are times I need to explain what they’re trying to say, but I always have him do it several times himself and REALLY try, not just say, “I don’t get it, mom.” If I don’t think he’s putting enough effort into it, he’ll be sent back to read it.

      Because of the essay time, his writing and copy work have greatly improved. He’s anxious to begin writing his own topics, but I’m holding him back a bit until he understands sentence structure and such better. There’s a reason RC suggests waiting until they’re 10 to write on their own topics. 😉 Of course, that doesn’t stop him from writing his stories in his free time – just not for school.

      Also, as I mentioned in my post, we do use Rod & Staff for English. My personal preference here – I’m not convinced a student can learn all the grammar rules they need simply by copy work and reading.

      Again, my 8 year old struggles with comprehension so I do the same with English as I do with math – he has to read it and explain it to me before I let him do the lesson. My 12 yr old, who really struggled in English and who I was ‘helping’ the most last year, is now getting straight A’s. He NEVER asks for help anymore. That’s a huge change for him – and me!

      Our five year old is doing the basic 3 r’s. I have not ‘pushed’ him to do K science, social studies, or all the other subjects that can distract from the 3 R’s and so far I’m very pleased with his progress.

      We also just enrolled the boys in a few online classes at Currclick.com. Not because I’m not happy with RC, but because they have a large variety of classes (they’re excited about the upcoming one on the history and use of straight blades [weaponry!]) and I thought it would be a good idea for more ‘live’ interaction with other homeschoolers and a teacher in a safe setting – it’s all monitored through their site – and by me. 🙂

      That’s a long explanation to say, I still really like RC’s approach. We make a few adjustments, but the basics of the program still gets 4 1/2 stars.

  • Aaron

    Reply Reply February 24, 2013

    I actually found this curriculum on Pinterest this weekend. Looked at it ONLY because of the name (my last name! LOL) Thought it was funny. This was our FIRST year homeschooling… 12,10,7 year old boys. (7th, 5th, 2nd).

    We are using Christian Light Publications. There were many things that we really liked about it after a lot of research a year or so ago. The demands of homeschooling (on us AND them) have made us second guess ourselves much the past few months… our older 2 boys are extremely independent in their learning style, our youngest, not so much.

    Until now, I thought it was negligent and lazy for a parent to promote “self-teaching” in homeschool! (though it WAS a fantasy of ours! LOL).

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE your informative post and review! Including the supplemental ideas that you have implemented.

    RC introduces SO MUCH of what I envisioned doing as a homeschool family. The only thing that I was worried about is the phonics… Our youngest is just starting to read well, but it’s still a struggle. (we found out just recently that he needed glasses – his teachers at school thought he was just easily distracted)

    But you answered that for us! This is taking up QUITE A BIT just to say THANK YOU! You have REALLY helped us as we are thinking of ordering RC this week just to get prepped for June when they finish CLP.
    (I am a fan of the year round schooling if it is done in this style!)

    • Paula

      Reply Reply February 26, 2013

      Hi Aeron,

      Yes, RC suggests year-round schooling. I’m glad to have helped your decision making! I’d love to hear how you like it if you decide to go with it.

  • Tina

    Reply Reply March 26, 2013

    Paula, Are you using the McGuffy readers and how are they implemented? WE are going to make the leap this to RC. My kids are 18,1614, 11, 9. We are going to use for the younger three. My concernis my 14 yearold will miss out on grammar. And he is not a strong writer. Where does the McGuffy fit in the time schedule of writing , reading and math? Is it part of the writing time?
    Thank you for your time, and words of encouragement.
    Tina

    • Paula

      Reply Reply March 27, 2013

      Hi Tina,

      One way in which I do deviate from RC’s plan is that I don’t use the McGuffy Readers, I use Rod & Staff English. I’m kinda an English fanatic in that I can’t wrap my head around the thought of not teaching grammar. 🙂 We’ve been using Rod & Staff for several years and have really come to like them so we just stuck with ’em.

      Our daily schedule looks like this:
      Saxon Math
      Essay
      English (with Rod & Staff)
      Reading

      Hope this helps your homeschool leap!

      • Amy H.

        Reply Reply September 27, 2013

        Thank you so much for your in depth review of this curriculum. I wanted to ask you about the English curriculum that you recommend. Is it self-taught or do you have to teach it to the student?

        • Paula Miller

          Reply Reply September 28, 2013

          Hi Amy,

          The English curriculum from Rod & Staff isn’t necessarily self-taught, but that’s how we use it for the older ones (nine and up). It’s set up just like a ‘regular school’ textbook and has a lesson plan and sample problems before the lesson starts. It also comes with worksheets and test forms. We use it as a self-taught program because we have each of the kids read the lesson plan, study the samples, and then just start the lesson on their own. If they have questions we have them go back and read it several times, making sure they are really studying it.

          Many times if one of them are still having trouble I’ll tell them to read the directions very slowly and out loud to me and explain what they want him to do. It seems reading it out loud and trying to explain it makes them ‘get it’. Robinson calls this Oral Learning. He even recommends them reading it and explaining it to an empty room, as if they were trying to teach it. For some reason it really does seem to help!

          I do read the lesson and directions with those who aren’t good readers yet to make sure they understand it, but by the time they can read well, they’re usually trying it on their own.

  • Alison

    Reply Reply April 17, 2013

    Hi,
    I am looking into this and am very intrigued. I have 8, 6, and almost 4 yr old boys. I have been using Saxon for 3 years. The oldest is half-way through Saxon 3, the 6 yr old is almost done with Saxon 1, and haven’t started with #3. From reading around, I am sure I’ll probably want to stick with The Phonics Road for grammar, which I LOVE, and maybe IEW for more writing instruction, but my main reason for looking into this is Saxon. I love Saxon and don’t want to give it up, but all this together has become too much for me and is a serious source of contention on all fronts every day. I am very much tempted to just ditch it and focus on the math facts and send both my older 2 to Saxon 4/5 in August but I have been down the road of pushing too hard and starting at too high a level (I started my oldest at Saxon 2—BIG MISTAKE!!) We had to go back and start at Saxon 1 and that is why we are a semester behind. Lots of unnecessary tears:( I am amazed that 6 yr olds can go strait to Saxon 5/4……is this true?!? Can you really just jump to Saxon 5/4 after you learn all the math facts?!?!? I don’t want to do that and then realize it’s a mistake, or push my middle child too hard, and then be “behind” again, but it’s either that or hire someone to come in and do their math with them. Is there anyone who can share how this works? Personal stories? How do the Saxon teacher cds and dive cds factor in to this? The concepts are not too much for a 6/7 year old? Thanks!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply April 22, 2013

      Hi Alison,

      I can appreciate your frustration. Your comment that “but all this together has become too much for me and is a serious source of contention on all fronts every day” is the exact reason we switched to RC. I won’t say it’s all a bed of roses, but I’ve come to see that getting math facts down until they can say them “up, down, inside out, outside in, backwards, forwards, and when they’re sleeping” was/is the biggest obstacle. Like you, we started our oldest at a higher level than we should have as well, but as he was our oldest, and he had a love for math at an early age, our road trips consisted of him begging us to ask him math facts. Every drive to and from church, to grandpa’s and grandma’s house, and grocery stores was spent going over math facts. We’d have races and contests to see who could answer them the quickest. Now as a 14 yr old, he has worked his way through the Saxon levels until he is a good level ahead and is known in our family as ‘the human calculator’.

      However, our second and third sons did not show the desire to do math facts so we never pushed it at all. They both started school with Saxon 2 & 3 math books and gradually we just stopped asking the math facts when traveling. It was a mistake we’re still struggling to correct years later. Both the boys have had many more struggles and tears with math. When we started RC we determined that no matter how old they were, they were still going to go back to the basics and learn math facts solidly. It’s better, but still a struggle some days. Many of their wrong answers are simply from multiplying incorrectly.

      Our fourth boy (5 yrs) is currently ONLY doing math facts.

      We’ve never used the teacher CD’s or the DIVE so I can’t comment on those, but perhaps someone else can share. 🙂

  • Shana

    Reply Reply May 4, 2013

    Hi,
    I have two boys ages 11 and 8 years old. We are currently using Louisiana Connections Academy. However, with the implementation of common core and having to go through all of the state testing we have decided to do traditional homeschooling for next school year. I am very intrigued with the self-teaching approach. My husband says I help my boys way too much. I am constantly bouncing between the 2 boys and school work takes forever to finish because neither one of them are strong readers. With that being said, will this program help them become better readers? Is there anything we should do during the summer to prepare us for next school year with RC?

    Thank you for your help.
    Shana

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply May 7, 2013

      Hi Shana,

      I tried replying to you on my iphone today, but it must not have gone through.

      I strongly believe that RC will make children better readers because they read A LOT. I’ve seen drastic improvements in my boys’ reading levels since doing RC. If I could suggest anything you could do this summer to prepare them for RC, I would recommend encouraging them to read, read, read, and then read some more.

      I don’t mean to lock them away for the summer, 🙂 but maybe pick up a boat load of books from your local library and have them available. On those hot summer days when everyone wants air conditioning, let them come in for a while and keep the T.V. and computer off. Set a pile of books out and let them dig in. If they scoff at the idea of reading, tell them they can either read or spend the day picking lint out of their belly buttons. (haha) Even those who hate to read will find that they’ll reach for a book out of boredom and find themselves transported to another world.

      You and your husband can also read aloud to them, taking turns having them read pages aloud to you as well. Getting them used to the idea of reading this summer will make a transition easier this coming fall. And like the saying goes, practice makes perfect. 🙂

  • LeighAnne

    Reply Reply May 28, 2013

    Is there any other writing instruction other than doing copywork before the age of 10? I know you said that you use Rod and Staff. Does that cover writing style and structure?

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply June 3, 2013

      Hi LeighAnne,

      So sorry it’s taken me a bit to respond! With Robinson there really is no writing instruction. They have no formal course in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Mr. Robinson states his reasons, and they aren’t wrong, it’s just that we felt we wanted a little more emphasis on writing. Yes, Rod & Staff covers writing style and structure. Beginning with ‘what is a sentence’ and carrying on with punctuation, nouns, pronouns, subject, predicate, paragraphs, etc. Our nine year old is in the ‘3rd Grade’ book and he just covered helping verbs.

  • Alisa

    Reply Reply May 30, 2013

    We are considering using RC for our 3 sons this fall, but, and this is a big but, they have only been in public schools and I am worried about the transition. They are 14, 12 and 9 but I am worried that due to public schools being so poor, that they will struggle too much in RC. Suggestions? Also, can the books be downloaded onto Nooks or only Kindles?

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply June 3, 2013

      Hi Alisa,

      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. When we switched the kids to RC they had already been homeschooling, but I was also a bit worried they would struggle. We had them all start at the very beginning of the reading list, even our pre-teens, just so that they could make sure they could read them since many of the books on it are a higher reading level. They breezed through most of them until they got to their current reading level and now read at a steady pace.

      The nice thing about RC is that there aren’t grade levels. The kids won’t know if they’re a year ahead or a year behind. And really, each child learns at a different rate so are the grade levels as we know them even worth keeping? If they start at the bottom of the reading list and move up, they will keep progressing and from my experience, surpass their public-schooled peers.

      About 80% of the books are downloadable onto Kindles, but unfortunately I have no experience with Nook’s to know.

  • Tina

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    Paula,
    So how was the school year with RC? Are you planning to stick with it for next year? What about Science , I live in a very regulated state. Are your children getting 2 math lessons done a day as RC suggests. Did you print out all the books to read? Thank you for your time.
    Tina

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply June 5, 2013

      Hi Tina,

      We’re still finishing up some as we took off a good month for moving/settling. We do plan to stick with it for next year.

      We were doing two math lessons a day and things were going well, then we made the silly decision to not require them to get at least 90% (RC suggests 95% but we started with 90%) on each lesson – we let it slip down to 85% and the grades really started to drop.

      We finally figured out that kids (anyone for that matter) will only work as hard as you require. 🙂 We jumped it back to 90% and after the kids’ initial shock wore off and arguments failed, they began. It took a good week or so to get their grades up, but now it’s a rare day that they aren’t getting between 90%-100% and they are easily getting two lessons in Math done a day.

      I haven’t printed out all the books yet. I download the ones I can on our Kindle and then just print off the other ones as we get to them.

      • Tina

        Reply Reply June 11, 2013

        Paula,
        Are your children completing the 2math lessons within the 2 hour time frame planned. We are not completing one lesson in 2 hours. They are however are doing a good job. Does that allow for correcting the lesson? Higher math does require more time,?? We have recently moved also, far away from friends and family, so your insight has been helpful, and I feel like I made a friend. It has been a bumpy year, and I am trying to keep it simple and focused.
        Thank you.
        Tina

        • Paula

          Reply Reply June 11, 2013

          Hey Tina,
          Getting two math lessons done in two hours? Nope, not happening in our house – at least not for all of them.

          They will get two lessons done a day (unless we have a really busy day besides school), but it doesn’t usually happen in two hours and that’s not including the correcting time either. However, the betters grades they are getting and the more focused they can be, the quicker they’re getting done.

          We don’t push so much in getting it done in a specified amount of time it’s just that they have to get it done by the end of the day.

          In the beginning it took them a lot longer but I would rather see them getting better grades. If I stressed too much about getting it done in a certain amount of time, they tended to hurry through math and get more wrong.

          It’s been a rather interesting year for us too. We’re still trying to finish up what I had hoped to have done before summer started. Moving really throws things for a loop doesn’t it!

  • Laurie

    Reply Reply July 20, 2013

    Hello Paula,

    I have read about RC before, but could never bring myself to take the plunge. Now it is time to buy curriculum again and I have agonized over what to do. Back and forth I have thought I made a choice only to feel uncertain about it. I only have two to homeschool now (age 11 and 7) with my oldest graduating last year, but still I have a newly diagnosed chronic illness and know I need to combine those two children or do something different. I need to not feel like we are constantly behind or not doing enough!

    This year we have only done the 3 R’s anyway with my illness and I find this approach makes so much sense. My only worries are just their initial struggle. I know you have addressed that and I am mulling it over. I wonder with my 7-year-old how I would approach it. She is still not reading well independently. Do you read aloud to them initially then or how does that work? Do I just finish the phonics program we are using, it is working well? Also she is finishing Saxon 1, do I ditch it and go to the facts then or what? With my oldest do I go back and drill facts until they are solid, because I KNOW they are not?
    Thank you for your time!

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply July 21, 2013

      Hi Laurie,

      I’m sorry your battling a chronic illness – I may not be in the exact same situation as you, but I know how hard daily life can be when you’re ill. *Hugs* and prayers to you!

      As far as your daughter’s reading, yes, I would read with her. We started RC when our third son was just learning to read. We didn’t totally jump into the RC booklist for him, we still read Green Eggs and Ham together and worked on other easy readers first until he had a good grasp of reading. It didn’t take him long to catch on and be able to read from the RC booklist. However, had it been my second son, he would have taken much longer. He struggled with reading even easy books until he was about nine – and then it seemed as if overnight it just all ‘clicked’. He’s a voracious reader now and has no trouble with the RC books. I’d suggest letting her read with you from easy readers and continue to find books either at the library or from your home library until you feel she can begin the RC books.

      Ahh, math facts. The one area I still think we need to work on. 🙂 If I could do anything over – whether with non RC curriculum or with it, I would drill math facts. We used to do flashcards and ‘math contests’ with our oldest son while we drove to and from church (at that time it was a good 45 min. drive). But with the other two boys we didn’t do it, and their math really shows it.

      We did go over math facts for a few weeks and then continued the Saxon books they were currently in, but I wish we would have ditched math and just did facts only for a few months. I think they would have easily caught up and surpassed even where they are now. The thought I keep thinking is, if they don’t know their facts, math will only become harder instead of easier. Starting in August, we’re drilling the two boys daily until the fall school year starts again – and if they don’t have them down pat, we’ll keep going and put off the books until they have them down.

      Hope this helps – or at least gives you some more to chew on. 🙂

  • Lili

    Reply Reply September 11, 2013

    I’m curious about grading. if it is selfled, how do you keep up with their progress, and how is it graded? are there any down sides to it, that you have found?

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply September 12, 2013

      Hi Lili,

      That’s a common question. 🙂

      Grading/Correcting is selfed “per se”. In the Course of Study explanation that comes on the CD’s, Robinson explains that the student corrects his own Math, and he corrects their essays. In our house, our oldest three boys (now 15, 13, 9) correct their own Math, at the kitchen counter – not in their bedrooms where they usually do their schoolwork. I correct their essays, English (not required by RC, but we add it to our curriculum), and correct Math for our 6 yr. old.

      The way we grade Math is similar to any school. We grade by percentage based on a scale.

      Have not found a downside yet – although we have decided that instead of letting the kids write about whatever they wish for their essay, we are choosing ‘Topics of the Month’ to make sure they are covering specific subjects. I’m currently writing a post about that and hope to get it up in the next few weeks. 🙂

  • Hanna

    Reply Reply October 15, 2013

    What helpful information… I really appreciate the thorough explanation! My oldest will be starting kindergarten next year, and I’ve been doing lots of research on homeschool methods. This one sounds right up my alley! I’ve had my own philosophies about how I would homeschool my children for years, and the RC plan is exactly what’s been going through my mind! The only question I have is, is it really all that profitable to buy the curriculum when the books are so readily available otherwise? Thanks so much!

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply October 15, 2013

      We really debated about buying it too, Hanna – for that very reason. But at the time we were totally changing horses from one ‘mind-set’ to another so we just wanted it all in front of us.

      Plus, there are some of the books that weren’t downloadable so we just decided to buy it.

      Would you have to? I don’t think so. It depends on how much structure you want as a teacher – his overview to the whole program was a good read and really cemented the core ideas of the program, but not essential to implement it.

  • Brandi

    Reply Reply December 16, 2013

    Hello,
    I am into my first year of home-school now. 16 weeks in with Tapestry of Grace as a core 1st grade (majorly lacking in my opinion only History, Geography, and some reading on her level, also Bible), Math U See (I love this Math), Elemental Science, Grammar Songs, with lots and lots of Phonics printoffs. What concerns me the most is what I am getting for the price. RC is very interesting, I am attracted to the approach. Yet still on the edge seeing as how my daughter will be going into the 2nd grade.
    One question I do have is, when/how does Science and History come into this? The 3 R’s do make sense to me, but I love Science and History alot. When is Science introduced? Say Biology is and ideal topic for us. How easy is it to take The Robinson schedule and add in other topics. Also it was said History is not in Chronological order, but does it cover the more Well Trained Mind Style of Ancient to Modern Times with his literature selections? Or also I feel the need to teach Spanish, without having a really long day does this seem mesh-able with RC?
    I guess the real debate is when should I transition to the more self taught style. Next year I will have a 7 yr old and a K’er with my baby to handle. Right now I have been really applying the Well Trained Mind Approach. Yet TOG is so overwhelming and I feel like I am wasting money and time with all of their options and then all the books to get….(blabbing a bit)…. Her Reading skills are my main focus. I am just considering so many options right now and the idea of losing Science until later is a bit confusing. How does he add these topics in later on?
    Oh I do thank you ahead of time for any response. This year has been a good one, and I feel I can never go back, EVER. Just have to figure out how to make some changes this next year. So any advice is very much appreciated. The options are more than I know what to do with.
    By the way you are awesome! Every mother who homeschools is an absolutely awesome mom, cause wheeeew this is a real challenge.
    Brandi

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply December 19, 2013

      Hi Brandi,

      RC is a bit of an adjustment from the common thought that our kids need to get in all the subjects like their public-schooled peers do. It was an adjustment for us too! Even though we homeschooled, our school was more like a public school, just at home. I truly thought this was the best approach for many years. And for some it works well. . .just not for us. 🙂 If reading is your main focus for your daughter, I’m guessing you’ll love RC. We use his book list, but we also implement books from the library and books from our home library too.

      In RC, when you start out in the lower elementary grades, your focus is on only learning the basic concepts of math, sounding out words (reading), and learning to write letters and words (writing). History and Science really aren’t emphasized until they’re reading well. Of course you can read out loud to them from library books on certain subjects you want to, but RC’s reason for not bringing in all the other subjects like science, history, geography, etc. is so that they can focus more time and energy on the three R’s. When they have seven subjects to do in a day, they end up only ‘getting by’ in each subject. Once the math, reading, and writing have given them a solid footing, that’s when he recommends bringing in the rest (through reading).

      For instance, now that our 9 year old is reading well, we’re having him (and the 13 and 15 yr old) read books about science and history. They seem to understand it better as their older anyway, so in some ways I feel that instead of bringing in those subjects too early, letting them do just the 3 R’s and then later introduce the other subjects makes it ‘stick’ better. . .

      When we do start bringing in those subjects, we use library books or our own (libraries have book sales once a year and you can find a slew of books about snakes, plants, fish, history, – it’s like a gold mine! LOL)

      If we want the older ones to read about plants, we get a bunch of books about plants. If we want them to learn about the Revolutionary war, we chose books about that topic. Then they have to write about it. One area we vary slightly from RC is that RC says to let them write about what ever subject they want to for essay time. One of the ways I feel a subject is understood best is by reading about it and then writing about it in an essay – I tell them to write it as if I’ve never heard of the subject before. Almost like the have to ‘teach’ me. So when we have them read about plants, that’s also what they write about for their essay.

      It’s very easy to add another subject to the program. For instance, I feel English/grammer is maybe a little more important than what RC emphasizes so we do add that subject for the 9, and 13 yr old (the 15 yr old is taking CLEP tests having had English in the past.) We’ve also added Spanish here and there (not a lot) and we have a typing program called “Typing Instructor” that uses a computer game to teach typing and the kids love it. We don’t do it daily, but we do add it in. Again, this is an area we veer off from the RC because he doesn’t recommend computer use until much later. I’m not quite at that mindset yet. 🙂

      I totally hear you about being overwhelmed though. That is the main reason we switched to RC – because I didn’t know if I could keep going with four in school and a toddler.

      I hope my babbling has helped! 🙂 Let me know if you have any more questions!

  • Carol

    Reply Reply February 2, 2014

    Hello! I wanted to chime in on our successful use of the RObinson Curriculum for any of your readers who find this, Paula!
    I found RC after an exhaustive research when my son was still in kindergarten. He went to a Charter school for K, but I knew that I really wanted to homeschool. Since K was 2 full days and then one half day each week, I knew we could “test the waters” on his off days to see how it was going to go. I joined a homeschool group in our town, met with them on Friday mornings at a local park, and picked their brains (along with all my internet reading and searching) about everything home school. Finally I settled on RC, after loving the concept from the start. Self teaching from classical and older books (read, “not dumbed down”) pre-1960’s appealed to us greatly. To add to the appeal, our kindergartner had a real gift for reading, so doing school with a decidedly literature based approach seemed like the perfect fit for him. At that time I also foresaw the concern about my ability to help him properly with the math as years wore on, so the Saxon math and it’s completely self-taught approach and thorough lectures were the only way I was going to go in regards to math (And the fact that EVERY math problem has a tiny reference number which tells the student which chapter/lecture the problem is from; that completely sealed the math deal for me.)
    For us, we had two older boys at the time (who are now in college,) who were both involved in sports, quizbowl, and the like…. So our youngest son was dragged everywhere (lol,) and there again RC proved to be the perfect curriculum for a mom who’s time was limited and felt doing “classroom school” for homeschool was never going to cut it.
    So that’s what Quinn, our youngest, has been doing ever since we started RC when he was six. He’s now almost 12, he’s in the 6th grade, and we have never veered more than a co-op class or two here and there every year in regards to following the RC curriculum. And those co-op classes are usually something I can’t do at home– drama class, ceramics, tae-Keon do, etc.
    Don’t get me wrong though… It hasn’t always been a breeze … The challenges I have found are keeping him on task, and also organizing my own days so that we don’t slip and get lackadaisical. Getting to the teen years, he sometimes struggles to stay focused and the daydreaming begins! We have found success in using a simple daily list of what needs to be completed, and sticking to it. Pretty great stuff when all goes smoothly 🙂
    Two final comments I might make, for those who have mentioned the worry of the content in the book lists (not being orderly chronologically or subject-wise,) and /or their kids not liking the older books… First, I too worried about whether or not we were covering “enough” in our daily RC. My son had a chance to take our state’s MEAP tests in the first half of 5th grade, and I’m pleased to say he scored very well on all sections… With science being the highest (remember, no formal “science” at this point with RC,) and math close behind. The other thing about the books … I remember telling my son when we first started the books that he was going to just LOVE the books, because they were all very well written from the old days (yes, I was selling it, lol!!) and not only that, they were all chosen by Mr. Robinson’s wife and kids, who were homeschoolers just like him!! I told him older books were very special, they even smell good(!) [We had already gotten a hold of some very old Tom Swift books off of ebay by that point,] and they were also really good because they had withstood the test of time. I warned him that the writing was often old-fashioned and quite proper, but he’d get used to it (this was a kid who had already read by the age of 4-5, among other contemporary books, the first few Harry Potter books that we had around the house from his older sibs.) Fast forward to today and he has a wonderful love and appreciation of old and classic books; he still lists “Jolly Robin” as one of his early favorites ever, (one of the very first on the RC reading list;) and has no problem tackling the antiquated dialog and long sentences/paragraphs in many of the Henty books and others which come later in the list.
    So there it is… For us, RC does work! I continue to tell my homeschool friends about it and encourage them to investigate the program if they are interested. For you already using it I say, Stick to it, trust it, and help your child to trust it as well! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply February 7, 2014

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight and story! Love hearing from other RC users!

  • Samantha Anderson

    Reply Reply March 4, 2014

    We are doing fantastic at Reading and writing but having problems in math. I just cannot seem to get them to remember the facts. My oldest is 7 1/2 and cannot even get half of them. it’s more like maybe a quarter and mostly the addition are the ones she remembers. She has a hard time with memorization, I’ve figured out. In all aspects of her life not just math. She cannot remember people names that she sees regularly. She’s been taking piano for 2 years and can play well, but cannot remember the note names. I feel lost on this subject. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Paula Miller

      Reply Reply March 4, 2014

      Hmm. I wish I knew what to suggest, but my 7 year old is very similar. He can read 7-8 letter words, but if you ask him to tell you the names of the letters, he gets stuck. He also has to figure out math problems, they don’t come by memorization unless it’s 8+1 or something quite easy. He can add larger numbers just fine, but he doesn’t have them memorized. And then throw in the fact that he can skip count fairly well. . .

      I think it’s partly that every child learns at a different pace. An age that we think memorization should come easily may just not be where they’re at right now.

      Are you doing flashcards? Math sheets? I’ve never looked into it, but there might be a program out there to help with memorization.

      Oh, and about names – our son is the same way as your daughter – he doesn’t remember the names of friends we’ve had for years. Sometimes I think that’s just because he’s so happy in his own world of playing and such that he really sees no point in knowing the names of mom and dad’s friends. LOL 🙂 He knows the names of people important to him – some we’ve known just as long as those whose names he doesn’t remember. Maybe I’m too laid back about it, but he’s the fourth of five children and experience tells me that memory retention just comes with time. 🙂

  • Kitara R. Wilson

    Reply Reply March 18, 2014

    Paula,

    Thank you so much for sharing and for taking the time to answer questions! I enjoyed reading this article with much interest as I use A2 (with some Charlotte Mason, Waldorf and Story of the World inspiration thrown in) for my daughter. I am finding as we swing back into things after spring break that I have swayed from the “less is more” concept and am guiding myself back in the 3Rs direction, and in doing so, I’m wondering about the essays your older children write daily.

    Right now my daughter does a daily 15 minute journal entry, which for her has morphed into a series of short stories, which is fine, but I’m curious as to what kind of instruction or guidance is given for the essays? The 15 minute journal entry was initially to be an essay, but, she gravitates towards fiction writing and I encourage her to express her creativity. I’m thinking perhaps 2-3 times/week I’ll incorporate a more formal style for her writing time and would love any tips or suggestions you have on incorporating that. She’s 8, soon-to-be 9 by the way. Thank you again!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply March 19, 2014

      Hi Kitara,

      I have to laugh because my kids usually gravitate towards formal writing rather than fiction. 🙂

      There really is no instruction in RC for what to write specifically. He suggests they simply write whatever they want for that time limit – as long as they’re writing. We started out letting the kids do that, but like your daughter, each one gravitated toward one style and didn’t budge. 🙂

      So we did the same thing you’re thinking of – we specified that on certain days they had to write in a different format. If they always wrote fiction, we’d tell them they had to write formally (more like a report).

      We suggested that they write about a topic they’d read about in one of the history or science books they’d read during reading time. Sometimes, if report-like writing is too intimidating, especially based on their age, we’d just have them pick a topic, say a snake, and copy a paragraph from a book.

      It gave them the idea that this type of writing was telling about something instead of making up a story. Eventually they could do it on their own.

      Does that help?

      (I love your name, by the way! :))

  • Debra

    Reply Reply March 28, 2014

    Which Kindle would you suggest? Do they have ads or internet? Can you turn them off? I’d thinking of getting one for our 8 year old but don’t want any ads popping up.

    thanks!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply April 2, 2014

      We bought the Kindle Paperwhite since the screen reflection is more like a real book and easier on the eyes. That one doesn’t connect to the internet as far as letting you browse on line or check emails – it’s simply for reading. I think occasionally an ad for a book pops up – but I’ve never seen graphic violence/nudity.

  • Heather

    Reply Reply June 16, 2014

    What do you do to round out the curriculum? I’ve been schooling at home through our local k12 charter school, but with Common Core, I’m about ready to make the full switch to homeschooling. I was looking into the state requirements in Colorado, and they require that you teach history, civics, science, and lessons on the constitution. Looking at the reading list, I think you can argue that students are learning history, although not in a structured “history” course, but how do you cover the rest of it? I do like the idea of paring down the day to focus on the three rs.

  • Kate

    Reply Reply September 20, 2014

    I hear you all talk about math facts and drilling….can you tell me what this means exactly?
    What is the difference btw Saxon and say Ray’s or Singapore method?
    Thanks!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply September 20, 2014

      I’ve never used Ray’s or Singapore so I can’t compare them, but what I mean about drilling math facts is what I remember doing in 3rd grade myself.

      Everyday we would work out a sheet of paper with math problems (sometimes addition, subtraction, or multiplication – but the whole sheet was the same kind of problem.)

      Our teacher timed us and who ever got done first got to chose a piece of candy – but that part’s not required. 😉

      We also had flashcards and would go through the pile each day. The teacher held up the card in front of us and we’d tell him the answer. If we got it correct it went in one pile, if we got it wrong, he added it back to the stack he was holding. Sometimes he would have us race with other students, but of course this was in a classroom setting.

      Drilling is basically going over and over the math problems until the student has them down VERY well. Robinson suggests doing this until they’re ready to start Saxon 54 (about 4th grade level), but honestly, our 2nd grader loves the busy work of the Saxon 1, 2, and 3 books. So, we do both. Drilling and the books.

      Of course, he LOVES math, so this much math might not be what your student wants/needs.

      • Kate

        Reply Reply September 26, 2014

        So basically the Robinson schedule is Math (Saxon), writing (copy work at first and then essays), and reading (which includes reading in all subjects as the list shows)???

        Do children pick the books they want to read or is the entire list required?

        Do you read some of the books to them (early years) or are they supposed to read them all on their own?

        How does Robinson teach reading? What curriculum does he use.

        Thanks!

        • Paula

          Reply Reply September 26, 2014

          Yep – that’s pretty much it.

          As to your questions, this is the part that I feel can be left up to the discretion of the parent/teacher.

          Have you read my follow up article, Robinson Curriculum Updates and New Plans? I think most of your questions will be answered there, but I’ll address them briefly here too.

          1. Do children pick the books they want to read or is the entire list required?

          Robinson would say to read the entire list during their K-12 education. I like to have them read books from the list, because they are good, solid books, but I still let them pick and choose from our vast home library.

          2. Do you read some of the books to them (early years) or are they supposed to read them all on their own?

          We do both – depending on their reading level.

          3. How does Robinson teach reading? What curriculum does he use.

          He doesn’t use a curriculum, that’s why we’ve continued with Pathways to Phonics and early reading books on our own – that’s what I was used to before Robinson, so we continued. If I remember right, there is a link on their website to a program they recommend, but we just stuck with what we knew. 🙂

          The jist of it is, after a few years of Robinson, we’ve come to the point that we follow the core of his curriculum – good math, lots of reading and writing – but we’ve tweaked it to our family’s needs.

  • Tina

    Reply Reply January 8, 2015

    What’s the best way to start with older kids on the book list? I have a 12 and 10 year old. My 12 year old is a very strong reader and my 10 year old needs a little more motivation ;). How do I place them on the book list? Thanks!!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply January 8, 2015

      I started everyone at the beginning because Robinson books tend to be ‘harder’ than the average book nowadays. I just let them speed through them until they got to the right point in their reading level.

      • Tina

        Reply Reply January 8, 2015

        What’s the best way you knew where they needed to stop? Was there a certain number of words they missed or something? Thanks so much! One more question – are there tests or quizzes? How do you keep grades? Thanks again! Shalom!

        • Paula

          Reply Reply January 9, 2015

          Hi Tina,

          There really is no test for them in the reading area to know where to place them that I’m aware of. For us, we had them start at the beginning it was easy to see when they were still reading fairly easily, yet coming across words they struggled to pronounce or to know what they meant. They’d start out reading quickly through the first several, but then their reading speed slowed down until they were reading at the rate they usually did. That’w when I figured they were at about the right level.

          Right now my almost 11 year old is reading one of the Rover Boys books and every time he’s done with his ‘reading time’ he exclaims how much he loves it. He’s been reluctant reader needing some motivation so that’s nice to see. 🙂

          There are spelling quizzes that correlate with the books, and some of the books have tests afterward but not all of them. Math is Saxon so there are tests there. . .we still use a curriculum (Rod & Staff) for English and there are tests there.

          I wrote a follow up post a year or so after this one that explains how we’ve tweaked Robinson to fit our needs better that might explain that more for you. I just looked and realized it wasn’t showing up under the homeschool tab. Fixed that! You can find it here: http://wholeintentions.com/2014/07/robinson-curriculum-updates-new-plans/

  • Becca

    Reply Reply March 20, 2015

    Do you do any standardized testing with RC?

  • April

    Reply Reply May 19, 2015

    I have been contemplating RC for months now and I’m just curious, how do your kids learn about modern history?

  • Julie

    Reply Reply August 25, 2015

    Ok! So I’m sold and excited! My only question is what about a diploma and AR testing that states sometimes require? How does that work?
    Thanks!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply August 26, 2015

      We haven’t gotten that far ourselves, but I’d suggest seeing what your state required or contacting the RC company. According to Mr. Robinson’s story (it comes with the curriculum), his children are in the top of their classes in college.

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