Monday, January 28, 2013

Review of MFW Kindergarten

We have been an avid My Father's World Curriculum fan here. Used MFW Kindergarten for the 2nd time now. DS also completed MFW 1st grade and now going through Adventures.

This will be a good time to talk a little about what we liked/not liked about MFW. A review of the Kindergarten materials follows.

Content:

MFW Kindergarten is a year-long learning adventure for young children. This complete kindergarten curriculum contains all necessary subjects and is ideal for homeschool or classroom. The first two weeks focus on the creation story from Genesis, followed by 26 hands-on, easy to teach thematic units that focus on the wonders in God's creation. The sun, moon, rocks, vegetables, elephants, butterflies, and dinosaurs are just a few of the exciting topics you will explore. ~ MFW
Read complete introduction to the materials here

BIBLE
MFW integrates bible beautifully into much of the materials. I really enjoy that. With every unit, there is a short phrase to be taught. For eg, P-Penguin says "I will show love to everyone, especially my family" since the Emperor Penguin is an epitome of parenthood.

I get this wonderful copywork printable here. DD either traces it or writes on own.

READING
There is the alphabet song (watch it here) DD sang it when she was 2 years old.
 
and the vowel song
 
Bingo game
 
Blend ladder for phonics
 
Blend bladder writing
 
Word lists.
 
Cut and paste pages. When DD gets to a point of writing, she wants to write more than cut.
 
Near 2/3 of the program, she is able to read very short stories like these from the MFW.
 
And finally working toward reading actual books.
ARITHMETIC
My Father's World used to put arithmetic as learn-as-you-live (which is great). In the new edition there are nice easy but fun math pages too.
 
 
The Cuisenarie rods and book helps in math and logic.
SCIENCE
Of course, in every unit, science and social studies are taught, since this is an unit study. We explore some of the scientific materials through books or videos.

Review
We chose and love MFW K for these reasons:

1. Gentle, non-pressuring method of learning
Both my husband and I are products of the highly-competitive, test-oriented form of education. It is our intentional aim to steer away from that. MFW on first sight is slow and simple. Much too "easy" for us overachievers. We chose that PRECISELY for that. This curriculum will force US as parents to slow down and work through the process of learning instead of focusing on the product of information. I know there are many other curriculum that are more rigorous and we can measure their learning easier; however, as we began homeschooling as something entirely new, we think it is good for us to look at how our children learn than what.

The gentle Charlotte Mason style of learning is great. It reminded us to incorporate learning into our daily lives too. More information and learning about the CM style can be found here (they have great free books too).

It does not mean there is no result though. After a while in learning, things come together and we realize the children learn too! Often times in reading, daily interactions and the gentle materials.

It feels that you do not need to know the alphabet at all when beginning K. My children all know some when they started and it helps, so we focus on honing it in and also practicing manuscripts.

2. Emphasis in literature
I really like the fact that MFW emphasizes a lot on the literary. The book basket suggestions are wonderful and we are grateful for the library resources so we didn't spend much money on it.

3. Fun, engaging unit study
I LOVE unit study. I like the creativity of it. And I think it works very well for young learners. There are lots of activities that can be incorporated into the unit. MFW does a decent job not over-straining the parents on preparing the activities for the unit. Most of the materials can be easily obtained.

Since it's a unit study, kids of many ages can do this together. My 2nd grader likes a lot of the K materials and sometimes join in for the fun activities. The preschooler is a constant companion.

4. Systematic phonetic teaching
I think the phonetic teaching of MFW is quite excellent. The step by step (if you're patient enough to not jump them) acquisition of language is fun to watch. Then again, because of the emphasis on literature, with all the books we are reading, often the student picks up reading/language faster than the curriculum teaches.

5. Price
I put this last, but it was one of the first deciding factor when we got the curriculum. There are some curriculum that are many times more expensive than MFW. I think the price for the MFW materials is very reasonable. You can get the K package at $124 (as at Jan 2013) for the basic package (enough for me I think). Or you can always get them used at about less than $100.

Critic
I would say one criticism is the math. I believe it could be at a tad higher level. I supplement with Singapore Earlybird Math (which I am not super fond of) and many other printables online. I am fine with that.

I also supplement the materials with activities/crafts/printables I found online simply because I get bored. Look at our work from here

The materials can be done easily within 30 mins, but if you add on the supplements it can stretch to 45 to an hour. Well, it also depends on how many kids you have at the table. This year we have 3 at the table, and between the 2nd-grader, k'ner and preschooler school can be done within 2 hours, including the activities everyone does together and waiting for each other.

This does not describe the K materials, but I thought it worthy to add that another big reason we chose MFW is the multi-age usability when it comes to 3rd grade on. We haven't the hands-on idea how that look like yet but it sounds very exciting.

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