Curriculum Review: Mother of Divine Grace

I can’t believe that Andrew has just finished up fifth grade! This year we chose to use the Mother of Divine Grace program for the first time. Previously, we used the Catholic Heritage Curricula which I loved, but Andrew wasn’t a huge fan because the program is a little too workbook heavy for hist taste. Then I switched to putting my own curriculum together which worked well.

Curriculum Review MODg

However, as we were approaching fifth grade, I wanted to find a more structured, academic program. Up to this point, I knew I was doing well on my own but I wanted to make sure that I was on the right track and giving him a good education. I knew several families who were happily and successfully using the Mother of Divine Grace (MODG) Program so after some research my husband and I decided it was worth the try.

What I like

Oh, gosh, where do I start?! There are a lot of things to love about this program! First of all, Mother of Divine Grace is a fully accredited distance learning school based out of California that uses the classical curriculum approach. It is a gentle program, especially for the younger grades, with not a lot of workbooks or writing. However, it is still a rigorous, broad spectrum program that is on par with any top-notch traditional school. With this program, the student gets a well-rounded educational that is fun and challenging at the same time.

I also love the flexibility of the program. There are several levels: you can just buy the curriculum as is and use it on your your own. Or, you can take advantage of the teacher services and learning support services. Of course, you can also substitute any of the course materials for something else if it works better for your family. For example, we use the Right Start Math Program instead of the Saxon program recommended by MODG because Andrew likes it and has been doing well with it.

Another thing I love about this program is the opportunity to work with a consultant. This alone is worth the cost of the tuition! The parents have to chance to speak with their consultant several times a year and they help put together a customized curriculum, offer support, and answer an questions the parents may have. I just love our consultant. She is patient, throughout knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the program and has been such a great help.

Additionally, as the higher the grade level the more online options there are. There are A LOT of online classes available to students, especially in high school. Most of the online courses start in fifth grade but as the student progresses there are online classes for math, science, language arts, several foreign languages and enrichment courses. For sixth grade, I have Andrew signed up for the Latin, History/Literature book club, and Art Appreciation.

What I don’t like

Not a dislike, just a heads up, really. The program is a little pricey compared to some other programs and has several fees included. However, the people at MODG are super willing to be flexible with the payments. There is a discount for paying in full, there is a set payment plan, or if you discuss it with them, you can come up with a customized payment plan.

And to be honest, the program is well-worth the price. I personally believe that I need to invest in my son’s education and MODG is a wonderful place to do it. 🙂

I definitely give MODG five (5) stars and seriously doubt that I will ever switch to another program!

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Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carinival (July 20, 2014)

Sunday Snippets

Time for another weekly roundup over at RAnn’s place. Why not join us with your own posts?

This week I posted my weekly goals, a short meditation on the Sacrament of Baptism and shared our curriculum plans for the coming school year.

Question of the Week

Were there any religious sisters in your parish when you were growing up?  Are there any now?  Which community (ies)?

I was born in NYC and our parish, Good Shepherd, was run by the Paulist Fathers. We moved around a bit, and I don’t remember if (or what) religious communities were on our parishes. Eventually, we moved to the Hazlet and Keansburg, NJ area, which used to house a lot of Sisters of Mercy. Nowadays, there are only two or three sisters left there. After marrying Michael, we belonged to different parishes, some which did and some which did not have religious communities attached to them. In our most recent parish of Eatontown, NJ, the Filippini Sisters are there, and they are wonderful! In the parish we belong to now does not have a community of sisters.

Our Curriculum Plans for the 2014-2015 School Year

In our family, we usually homeschool year round, although we take the month of August off and bigger chunks of time off during the rest of the year. Therefore, I usually take time in August to plan for the new year starting in September. This year, I decided to do my planning early so that I can really enjoy our time off in August, especially since my school year at Georgian Court University begins August 25.

Andrew enters fourth grade this year, and honestly, most of the resources we used last year we are using again, making this year’s planning pretty easy. 🙂

Math (Done Daily)

We are sticking with the RightStart Mathematics program. There are several reasons I like this program. First, it is an affordable and comprehensive program. Second, it is a hands-on curriculum with lots of manipulatives and games. Third, Andrew likes the program and that works for me!

Language Arts

We loosely follow the Charlotte Mason, and try to use “living books” and resources when possible.

Reading/Reading Comprehension – We get a variety of books from the library (our favorite place!) for Andrew to practice his reading. (Done Daily)

Handwriting – In the past I used kidzone.ws to teach him cursive. Then I moved on to handwritingworksheets to create custom sheets for practice. Now that Andrew is getting better with cursive, my plan this year is to give him various writing prompts and have him write a paragraph or two or three…to help develop his creative thinking and writing skills. (Three times a week)

Grammar – We use the kissgrammar.com program. The lessons are short, with interesting stories to use for practice. (Daily)

Spelling – For third grade I used the k12reader spelling list and it worked well so we are using their 4th grade spelling list for this year. This is their list. (daily)

Science (daily)

Last year we focused on the planets and the solar system, and then we moved on to Earth science, including living and nonliving things, using a combination of InstructorWeb.com and other resources gleaned from the library and online. This year Andrew is going to learn about the scientific method and then move on to chemistry (starting with the above website) which he has been asking to learn about for a while. He really wants to do some chemistry experiments!

History (3 days a week)

We  have been working through American History, and just recently finished learning about the Guilded Age. This year we are going to finish American History to the present and then move on to World History, starting with Canada, Central America and South America.

Geography (2 days a week)

Andrew has been learning the US states and capitals to go along with History; therefore, we will continue that trend and he will learn about Canada, Central America, and South America as we learn about them in History. We use geography games, such as Seterra which Andrew loves to play.

Physical Education (daily)

I try hard to make sure Andrew gets in some form of exercise and play every day. He also does basketball and this year he wants to play soccer. Also, the boys have an hour of physical education every week at the homeschool co-op with one of the dads where they focus on various sports and training.

Religious Education (daily)

I love our church’s religious education program and usually send him to CCD, but this year, my classes are on the same day, so I will homeschool for religious education. However, I will be using the books from the CCD program and working with them so that he gets “credit” for the time we work on it. Also, we read the bible together often, and of course we do our daily prayers. Andrew is working on learning the Hail Holy Queen.

Other

I am not as consistent as I’d like, but I will also try to get time in for music appreciation, art appreciation, life skills and crafts.

Whew! That’s it. If you are looking for ideas for your homeschooling curriculum, I hope these will give you some suggestions and inspiration.

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P.S. Just to let you know, in my Etsy shop I offer some planning worksheets (attendance record, weekly planners, and a literature list) that you may find helpful for planning your new homeschool year. Also, from now through August 31st, you can get 15% discount off anything in the shop when you use the code “BACKTOSCHOOL” (all caps, no quotes) during checkout. 🙂

Revised Curriculum Plans for 2011-2012

We home educate year round and technically our new school year started in June; but, since I’ve seen a lot of bloggers sharing their curriculum plans I thought I’d share mine, too. We are using Catholic Heritage Curricula as our base program but Andrew is whipping through much of the curriculum already so I need to revise the curriculum a little bit. Plus, I am looking to integrate other programs and materials into our current plans.

Reading:

Back when Andrew was in Preschool and Kindergarten, we were using CHC’s “Little Stories for Little Folks. They are cute little paper books that start off easy and gradually introduce more difficult words. Then Andrew started giving me a terrible time when it came time to practice his reading. Thankfully, things are much better now that Andrew picks the books he wants to practice with from the library. I also am still reading to him a LOT, especially chapter books. (Soon I’ll share some of our new favorite books.)

Handwriting:

We are mainly sticking with Catholic Heritage for handwriting. Andrew is currently almost finished with the “Catholic Heritage Handwriting Series Level One“. When he is done we will move to the “What Do You Like to Do…” and then the “What Can You Do…” Easy reader and keepsake journal. These two books combine reading and writing. I’m also having Andrew do little writing projects such as handmade cards and spiritual bouquets for special occasions and practicing his name, etc.

Spelling:

We are using the “My Very First Catholic Speller” for our organized spelling lessons and playing Scrabble® Junior and other made-up games for enrichment and practice.

Math:

We are using the “MCP Mathematics Level A” for lessons; but, for July and August we are taking a break from the book and using flash cards I got at the dollar store to practice his addition and subtraction. We will go back to using the book in September. (My son loves using flash cards!) We also play games and take other opportunities (such as cooking and going to the store) to practice math facts.

Religion:

We started with the “Faith and Life Series” text and workbook but we are just about finished with it. We are also working our way through the “New Catholic Picture Bible” and memorizing scripture verses such as these using the verses from my bible. We will soon begin working our way through the Baltimore Catechism and I’ll be enrolling Andrew into our local parish’s CCD program to prepare for First Holy Communion. I am also using “A Year with God” to celebrate the liturgical seasons.

Science:

We had been using the “Behold and See 1: On the Farm with Josh and Hanna“; however, except for a few fall and winter activities we are finished with the book. I’m not sure yet if I’ll go right to the CHC’s Second Grade Science book or use something else until next year. If you have any suggestions for science, I’d love to hear them!

History and Geography:

I’m not doing formal lessons for these subjects; but I am planning to incorporate some history and geography in the books we read. Also, since my husband is a truck driver, I sometimes put together impromptu lessons about the places Michael drives to.

Character Building and Miscellaneous:

We are using the character building cards that come with the first grade CHC lesson plans to practice manners, kindness, etc. for social studies. I am utilizing the library extensively to expose my son to art, art appreciation, poetry and music, although I’m not doing formal lessons for these subjects. As for physical education, I’m planning on signing my son up for karate (which he’s been wanting to learn) and get him involved with other sports.

What are your plans for your home education this year? And, if you have suggestions for science lessons, do share!

Getting Boys to Read Advice Update

Two months ago I asked for some advice on how to get my son to practice his reading. All the support and suggestions that I got from so many people in the comments, emails and calls were so helpful and overwhelming. I can’t tell  you how much that support meant to me. I was so relieved that I wasn’t alone in my struggles and gleaned so many useful tips. so THANK YOU to everyone for reaching out!

To update: Things have been SO MUCH BETTER!! First of all, I took a few days off of school just to regroup and take a break. A few days later, my son came to me and said, “Mama, can we use a different book for reading instead of the school books?” I said sure, and he picked out the book he wanted to read and the reading practice was like a miracle in action! He read through the book with no problems and when he came to words he didn’t understand, he tried his best to sound it out. WOW! I almost hit the floor! 🙂 From then on, I’ve let him pick the books he wants to read and we use them for reading practice. He still has his moments, mind you, but things are so much better than they were.

As for me, I’ve been able to relax a lot more and enjoy the process of teaching/reading my son. That’s made a big difference in both of us. Before, I was so concerned about making sure he was learning what he “supposed to” and being at the level I thought he should be – especially since he is more advanced in the math. I’m  not so worried about that any more. He will learn what he needs to in due time and that’s enough for me now. 🙂