I have written previously about the curriculum we use for educating our children at home, known as the Robinson Curriculum.
In response, I had a lot of people writing me wondering how I implemented the curriculum. It is so different from other methods that it is sometimes hard to “get.” I know it took me awhile. I think about six months before I actually “got” it.
Recently, I wrote a step by step implementation plan for a good friend of mine who is trying the curriculum this year. I thought I might post it on my blog in the even that anyone is interested.
Before beginning, MAC users will need to know that in order to use the Robinson Curriculum CDs, they will need to install a program that can run Windows programs on MACs. If you don’t understand it, Robinson Curriculum has excellent and personalized tech support.
So, without further ado:
Both parents need to read “The Course of Study”. This is very important. We had to read it about two or three times before we really started to “get it.” If you need to take notes, take notes.
Write down personalized goals or a plan on how you’re going to get there. The Course of Study is briefly outlined on the website and found in full on the Robinson Curriculum CDs.
Go media free/sugar free as much as is humanly possible.
Set up a place for study.
If it’s the kitchen table, that’s fine. Just make sure that books and things are nearby, and all the school supplies (which isn’t much!). They just need to be easily accessible so that when it’s time for school, it’s really time for school, not looking around for lost pencils, rulers, and books.
Go to this website and have the kids do the placement tests for Saxon Math.
After that, you’ll be able to order the books and answer keys you need from ebay, Amazon or half.com used for an excellent price. You need to stick with 1st or 2nd editions.
For children who are not strong readers yet (usually under eight): All they really need right now is to memorize addition and subtraction facts up to twelve, and then start on memorizing multiplication up to 12. I used flashcards, and also found these very helpful for a fun way to break up the repetition of flash cards:
Just start with Visual Math worksheets, and then move to the other sets. The addition to multiplication sheets were especially helpful.
If you decide to begin homeschooling before your Saxon mathbooks arrive (or even if they DO arrive), it may be helpful to spend a week or two with all the children reviewing and/or memorizing multiplication up to 12. You can use flashcards (you can find these anywhere like Target or WalMart…), or change it up a bit and print out worksheets:
Also, completing a Multiplication Table or filling in the blanks is something you could let them do:
This is great because when they begin Saxon, they really need to have these in their heads!
Buy some supplies you will need. I suggest the following:
- Composition Books IN BULK! I make the kids do all their writing and math in these so they can’t lose it.
- Pencil Sharpeners: In order to get these with free shipping, you have to buy it with other things (like the composition books above), but they are the best pencil sharpeners we’ve used. (My kids break the electric ones in about 10 minutes)
- Compass (The kind for drawing circles)
Print out enough math worksheets to keep those children who are not yet in Saxon occupied for two weeks.
Put these in a folder or something so you don’t have to worry about printing something off every day. If you are having the older children catch up on multiplication, make sure you print all their stuff too.
Get ready for vocabulary by taking a trip to Deseret Industries, thrift stores, or used book stores, to pick up dictionaries (Webster’s, as old as you can find—I would get two or three), a thesaurus (I would get two or three of these as well—hardcover old ones are best), and other reference books (a set of old encyclopedias, etcetera).
Get ready for vocabulary by purchasing these blue folders:
You will be making vocabulary packets for each word list. Each packet will contain the following:
- A label on the front of the packet saying which book it is from.
- A copy of the vocabulary word list for the book.
- Two copies of the “Matching Game” to be used as a study sheet and one as a test for the vocabulary unit.
- Several double sided blank copies of Vocabulary Word Maps. The younger children can use this Vocabulary Word Map instead, if you don’t want them to do origin of the word.
(These vocabulary lists are on the CDs or they can be purchased in book format at the Robinson Books website.)
These word lists are, in my opinion, essential to the curriculum! However, I do not have the children do word lists that correspond with the books, because they read the books much faster than they complete the word lists. I just let them pick out whatever they want.
Make at least four or five packets so you don’t have to be busy with that in the first several weeks of starting the curriculum. After that, just keep making new ones every week until you have quite a few.
Print out the following booklists for your records:
This is the list of all the RC books. Using this, you can cross off the ones you’ve bought, you have, or that you’ve downloaded.
This list is helpful if you want to know what subjects the books would fall under in a public school type situation.
This will help you to keep track of which vocabulary packets the girls have mastered. Make a copy for each child. (It is important to note that although it says Grade “1”, it is not an indication of first grade—it’s more like Reading Level 1, which just means, this is where you start.
If you have children who need to learn to read, I recommend using “Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons.”
You can find many of the printed RC books used online at Amazon.com or eBay, or half.com . Always try to find an older edition (usually pre-1950 is best). This is because the newer editions have dumbed down the vocabulary and abridged them.
If you will be using an e-Reader, most of the books are available for free download. However, please keep in mind that many e-Readers don’t have very good parental controls regarding internet access (although they are getting better–Kindle, for example, allows a password to get on the internet and access archived books).
I still like the idea of e-Ink better than a backlit screen, but that is a personal preference, as I believe it mimics an actual page better than backlit, and is less straining on the eyes for long periods of time. My favorite e-Reader is the Kindle Paperwhite, with the caveat that parental controls blocking the internet are in place for everyone’s safety.
You can download many of the books free of charge via Amazon.com’s Whispernet, but for those that cannot be found there, you will find most of them at Project Gutenberg. They have a page containing detailed instructions on how to get those books onto your Kindle.
Picture books like the McGuffey Readers or books with lots of photos (Soldier in the Civil War) are still better found in hard copy or printed out from the Robinson Curriculum disks.
To find the books available online, visit Rosegate Harbour’s Online Books Page.
If you would like to purchase inexpensive classics, Dover Publishing offers the Evergreen Classics Set for a very good price, as well as the Thornton Burgess Animal Books Set (which can be used in place of the Arthur Scott Bailey books). If you google “dover coupon codes” you can often find a code that you can apply for a great discount, as well.
Reread the Course of Study and begin your adventure.
If you get discouraged, re-read the course of study again. Remember, you are giving your children the gift of being able to think for themselves. What an amazing thing you are doing!
Also, if you need additional support, the official Robinson Curriculum Facebook Page has a lot of great people who are willing to help.
A note about self-correcting the Saxon:
For the first week or two, you may want to do it with them, in order to encourage them if they get something incorrect.
Remind them that the only difference between a smart person and a dumb one is that the dumb person never admits they are wrong, even if they are. The smart person finds out where they are wrong, and fixes it. That’s what can help them progress.
Remember that you are doing something amazing!!!