I received curriculum to review and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.
I jumped at the chance to review Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum‘s Character & Skills for Home & Careers because I want my teen sons to have training in basic automotive and home maintenance. My father was gifted in this area, but my father-in-law was not. And my husband? Let’s just say that when I asked him to do the projects with the boys for the course, he emailed me back, “Are you joking?”
What is Character & Skills for Home & Careers?
This 75-lesson course is a high school, homeschool, elective course that is especially suitable for boys. That’s perfect, because I have a slew of ’em! (Check ’em out on my About page). But if you have a handy girl or a daughter who would like to be, there’s no reason she couldn’t complete the course, too. Your teen will learn automotive, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, time management, and finance skills. What’s not to love about that?
The material is covered in digital format or in five softcover texts and five softcover workbooks. We used the printed materials. If you liked, you could easily three-punch the softcover texts and store them in a binder. We found the material seemed less overwhelming when broken out into five separate units. What’s very unusual about this curriculum is that you can buy the units separately. Maybe your son knows carpentry, but not plumbing or electrical. You could purchase only these units. If you’re like me, though, you’re going to want the whole course.
What I Love About PAC’s Character & Skills for Home & Careers Homeschool Material
- It’s easy reading. My sons have strong reading skills, but this curriculum is designed for all reading levels. The text-to-speech version makes it perfect for students with dyslexia or other reading challenges.
- It’s in story form. Half the battle in education is convincing young people of the value of the skill. Story is used to provide that context and is more memorable than a standard text.
- It teaches character. It would be enough for this curriculum to impart information about practical skills, but it goes further in providing examples of men with values. How refreshing!
- It provides practical application that is doable. I love curriculum that tells me exactly what to do when it comes to application and PAC does just that. If you need to utilize people with strengths in these areas to go over the projects, they’ll appreciate having this structure as well.
- It would make for a great co-op course. In fact, I was so excited about this aspect of it that my friends and I are going to use it with our boys next year. We will ask the people we know with skills in the various areas to do the projects. (My husband will be so disappointed that we won’t ask him. 🙂 )
To Make Best Use of PAC’s Character & Skills for Home & Careers High School Course
- Motivate your teen. I spent time explaining why I think this is essential training. Otherwise, this is a course that can get put on the back burner. You can tell your teens that they will be able to save a lot of money by being able to do their own simple repairs. You can also motivate them with responsibility. My 15-year-old will be getting his driver’s permit soon, so I motivated him to study the automotive material.
- Plan for projects. If you are going to bring in other teachers for the practical applications, you will want to arrange dates with them ahead of time. If dad is going to be in charge, it may be even more important to get projects scheduled so they are completed. When you have dates planned, make sure your son knows when he has to have his written work finished.
- Give your son responsibility. Once he has completed a unit, allow him to put his new knowledge to good use whenever possible. If nothing comes up, help him get involved in a project in his area of interest. If he’s really interested, arrange an apprenticeship. He may even have discovered a potential career.
Want to Learn More?
Check out a sample of the text and a sample of the work text.
Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum plans to incorporate QR codes into the curriculum in the near future which will enable students to access more material via their smart phones. That’s just cool!
When you’re ready to buy, the teacher’s kit is $18.95. Individual units are just over $15.00 each. Or purchase everything for $95.95–a great price for a course that’s so well put together AND could end up saving you and your son a lot of money long-term. But Paradigm offers these discounts:
40% off for
● homeschool groups (minimum purchase $1000)
● single parents
20% off for
● ministry families
● military families
● farmers and ranchers
● first responders
● foster parents
Call Paradigm at 325-649-0976 for a discount code to use during the checkout process if you fit into one of these categories.
Be sure to follow Paradigm on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. They have other courses you should check out!
Disclosure: I received complimentary access to Middlebury Spanish for review and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.
I don’t just want an elementary Spanish curriculum; I need one!
We had the wonderful opportunity to build friendships with a family from Spain. I wrote about the incredible lessons our Spanish exchange student taught me. Since then, we have vacationed with our Spanish friends and had them visit this summer.
My daughter, Elaina, loves the two girls around her age, Carlota and Blanca, but there’s just one problem. Their English far surpasses my daughter’s Spanish.
Foreign Language Curriculum Needs
The answer was obviously to have Elaina study Spanish. But I had another problem. I needed a curriculum that was:
- self-directed (I can’t fit in any more one-on-one teaching time with my five children)
- easy (I also don’t have time to help my daughter if it gets difficult, because I’m trying to learn Spanish myself)
- fun (I knew my daughter would stay motivated to learn if the lessons were presented in a variety of formats and aided conversation)
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try Middlebury’s Elementary Spanish curriculum with my daughter. I was interested to see if it would be a good fit for the rest of my children as well. The video made me think it would be.
The curriculum met our criteria and then some! Elaina was able to do Spanish on her own and found it easy!
I loved hearing truly conversational Spanish lessons being taught, rather than isolated words. The bonus for me was that I could see how Elaina was progressing through the lessons with the clear parent/teacher dashboard.
The final criterion for success for me was that the curriculum be affordable. Middlebury is offering homeschoolers a 10% discount on their initial order with code: HomeschoolFirst10.
Even better, Middlebury is giving away 10 one-semester courses (the level of your choice, AP excluded, value $119). Be sure to enter to win below and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Middlebury will be featured in a Twitter party on Oct. 9, 2014 and an iHomeschool Hangout on teaching foreign language in homeschools on October 16th at 9 Eastern where I will be one of the panelists. Hope you can join us!
Most of us have a love-hate relationship with curriculum as homeschoolers. We love shopping for new books and materials and enjoy the excitement that generates, but we hate having to make final decisions for fear something won’t work.
This week we will take some steps to ensure the best curriculum decisions possible.
#1 Evaluate Current Curriculum
First, make a list of everything you’re using this year, leaving ample space under each resource.
Second, write what you like and don’t like about each.
Third, get your children’s feedback. Sunrise to Sunset Homeschool has created a great free questionnaire to give our kids for use in evaluating curriculum.
Fourth, Home-school.com recommends making a list of characteristics of your ideal curriculum for each student / subject.
Finally, The Curriculum Choice shares some great resources for deciding whether it’s time to change curriculum under “Changing Curriculum.”
#2 List Next Year’s Needs
You may have some new curriculum needs for next year. You may simply need the next grade level of a curriculum you like. Or you may need a completely different curriculum if you have a child entering middle or high school. The same is true if you are planning to study a new period of history or a different field of science. If you are going to tackle new unit studies or new electives, you will also add these needs to your list.
Meet Penny shares a free list for curriculum needs by student that may be helpful.
#3 Research New Curriculum
After you’ve made sure you don’t already own the materials you need (wondering why I’m making this point?), it’s time to study your options. If you have an older student, ask for their help. They may enjoy doing the research or choosing from options you’ve pre-selected.
The Curriculum Choice’s Ultimate Guide to Choosing Homeschool Curriculum will be helpful during this step. My approach to researching curriculum includes:
- Reading reviews online. I check Homeschool Reviews, Cathy Duffy Reviews, Rainbow Resource reviews, Amazon reviews, and individual blog reviews.
- Talking to fellow homeschoolers. I honestly do this all year long. I ask friends what they’re using that they love and ask to take a peek. If you don’t have local people to ask, inquire via a homeschool Facebook page like mine. You’ll get lots of feedback!
- Getting a hands-on look at a conference. I really appreciate online samples of materials, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. There’s nothing like paging through books to help make a decision.
#4 Create a Shopping List and Buy if You’re Ready
You may need to do this as part of step #3 if you’re going to a convention. If you are planning on attending a curriculum fair, try Donna Young’s shopping list for this purpose. The Unlikely Homeschool provides a simple shopping list that works well for online purchases. You could also create a Curriculum Shopping List board on Pinterest like Tiffany Scott did.
Remember that you can save a lot of money by buying used. I share the best places to buy and sell used curriculum in this post. Curriculum vendors often provide savings codes in late spring through summer, so make sure you’re on their mailing lists.
Have you started your shopping yet? I have!
Be sure to follow the Organized Homeschool Pinterest board for more curriculum reviews and resources.
Here is this month’s free printable organized homeschool calendar for April 2014 and a list of previous weeks’ challenges.
Organized Homeschool Challenge
Week 1: Daily Devotions Challenge
Week 2: Daily Routine Challenge
Week 3: To-Do List Challenge
Week 4: Memory Keeping Challenge
Week 5: The Decluttering Challenge
Week 6: The Organized Computer Challenge
Week 7: The Marriage of Your Dreams Challenge
Week 8: The Confident Parent Challenge
Week 9: The Extended Family Challenge
Week 10: The Bring on the Spring Challenge
Week 11: The Spring Cleaning Challenge
Week 12: The Organized Easter Challenge
Week 13: The Serve the Church Challenge
Week 14: The Chore Challenge
Week 15: The Organize Your Finances Challenge