The next week, I fell in love with the Charlotte Mason approach, with its emphasis on learning through living books (good literature), notebooking, nature studies and learning a foreign language at a young age. But... I got distracted when I heard about Method Number Three. Classical Education. Just the name... it sounds so formidable. With a moniker like that, it's got to be good, right? It emulates the approach used by the Romans, emphasizing chronological history, logic, Latin (that's what they spoke after all), and advancing your kids through stages of learning.
So it was a great joy to find My Father's World curriculum, which combines all of the elements that I loved from each style, yet making it easy to teach with minimal preparation needed on my part. Great! That gives me more time to love on my kids and my husband, serve my church and community. Each year of the curriculum includes Bible, history, science, art and music appreciation.
My Father's World is a unit study approach. This means that what we are studying in Bible will reflect on the history we are learning which will drive the science, art and music we study, and thus multiply learning. Thankfully, with these unit studies, the hands-on projects are easy to do, inexpensive, and really fun! We don't camp on one subject for three months. We keep moving, which ensures we don't have giant holes in our learning.
My Father's World uses a Charlotte Mason approach. Charlotte Mason advocated teaching through excellent literature (and never "twaddle"). My Father's World is rich with good literature. We have loved the read-alouds, as well as the book basket selections used with the curriculum. They bring history alive, increase our retention of what we've been learning, and the kids beg for more! We also enjoy notebooking and nature walks with My Father's World. Each of our kids started learning a foreign language at age seven, also a recommendation of MFW.
My Father's World uses the best (in my opinion) of Classical Education. MFW teaching history chronologically. Frankly, that just makes sense to us. Why wouldn't we study history in order? We believe our children retain more because they are learning His Story in a way that allows them to observe cause and effect. When we studied the time period of the Greeks, we studied Greek roots. The next year, as we shifted to the time of the Romans, we learned Latin roots. It made sense to study Greek and Latin roots, from which so many of our English words are derived, in conjunction with the study of those civilizations. We are saving serious logic study for high school (offered as an elective in the My Father's World's high school program), so we plan to get that too.
There are other key features of My Father's World that were essential to our ultimately choosing the curriculum:
It is Bible-based. Each year of the curriculum has a Bible focus and that focus is the foundation for the year. You don't feel like Bible is a separate subject. You understand that God's word is alive. Choosing to follow or not follow God has resulted in the birth and destruction of nations. Committing ourselves to live Godly lives today affects the history of future generations. All of this is emphasized through My Father's World's approach to family Bible study and scripture memorization.
It is missions-based. The five-year cycle begins with an intensive study of geography and praying for the people groups of the world. Missionary stories abound in this year of the curriculum. This geography-immersion year helped our kids see the world through God's eyes. When we began the chronological history portion of the five-year cycle the next year, it was clear that our kids care about history because they care about the people of the world. In other words, they now share God's heart for the nations.
You can teach your kids together. All kids in grades 2 through 8 can (and should) use the same year of the five-year cycle in My Father's World. That means we all sit down to study Bible, history, science, art and music together. The only subjects I have to teach each child separately are math and language arts. I love this not only because it is easier on me, but because we want our kids to learn together. When we are all studying the same thing, the learning continues through their free time (they have reenacted many historic events in their play) and through our conversations with Daddy during dinner time.
It's easy to teach it. With My Father's World, there is very little preparation required from the teaching parent. I order the library books suggested for the week, make sure I have any supplies needed for the week (which are conveniently listed at the beginning of each week) and my only other responsibility is to prepare my heart with prayer. Frankly, I would much rather have the extra time with my hubby and kids (perhaps doing family ministry) than spending hours each night prepping for the next school day. My teacher's manual has an easy-to-follow grid, telling me which Bible verses we are to study, which pages of the books we should read together, the science experiments and hands-on projects to do, etc. for each day of the week. Easy! And Fridays are always light days which has saved us much stress each week. Sometimes we truly enjoy a light Friday. Other times, Friday is a catch-up day, which is great. We have no need to experience anxiety because we take a mid-week field trip or have an all-day doctor's appointment; there is always the light Friday to fall back on.
We admire the owners and support the mission of the company. The owners are homeschoolers themselves. They are former overseas missionaries who worked in Bible translation. Their goal of "raising up generations of families who see the world through God's eyes," is strongly felt throughout the curriculum. But they have another goal in running My Father's World: continuing to support Bible translation. They have started their own nonprofit organization called God's Word for the Nations. The owners and the employees at My Father's World live humble lives so that the majority of their profits can go to fund Bible translation. So when we buy My Father's World, we are supporting Bible translation all over the world. How cool is that?!
While I mainly described what My Father's World offers in their five-year cycle for grades 2 to 8, we've also been equally pleased with their kindergarten, first grade and Adventures (second or third grade) years. I am very excited about the high school curriculum as well, which continues to use a Bible-based unit study approach, is student-directed, and requires the bulk of parent involvement on Fridays, which are the light days for younger siblings in the five-year cycle.
I would never say My Father's World is the right curriculum for every homeschooling family. For us, it is the right combination of all we wanted, all we valued in the home education experience.
My friend Michelle, on her fantastic blog My Blessed Home, has a wonderful review of My Father's World curriculum. As a mom of eight kids, she has some perspectives on homeschooling particular to large families. You can also find out more from the My Father's World web site, its message board or from the many My Father's World groups on yahoo and Facebook.
this post is linked to Homeschool Highlights in MFW at Discover Their Gifts or 2 ladybugs and a lizard