Sunday, April 25, 2010

Homeschooling thru Summer and Curriculum

While so many other homeschooling families are starting to slow down for the summer, I torture our kids with year 'round schooling.  We scale back some - only 3 days per week for a few hours - but I have found that by forging ahead, with just a few week long breaks, we maintain a better momentum and don't have any back sliding.  It's what works for us and being able to do what works for us is why we do this!

Alpha Omega Publications came out with a new online curriculum.  It's called Monarch.
Monarch is similar to the Switched on Schoolhouse programs but it's all on-line so it can be used from any computer including a Mac.  This really appealed to me for a few reasons.  First, I use a Mac.  It makes me crazy when companies create software that isn't compatible for both PC and Mac.  Second, I am annoyed with having to haul in each kid's laptop to check work and schedule the next week's lessons.  Third, my daughter's laptop "blew up" and we lost several weeks worth of school work because we had failed to do a back up recently. (Luckily I had all her grades in MY grade book but they won't show up on the software created report card now).

So I had good reasons for being quite interested in Monarch.  We use an online Math curriculum and I LOVE it.  I had chatted a few times with Emily Dorr - the best AOP Customer Service Rep bar none - about the Monarch and that I wanted to place an order during the big April sale.  I scoured the catalog and website picking out both what we needed NOW and what I wanted to have ready for the next step up.  I was planning on all Monarch based curricula.  And then I found out two major things about it that stopped me in my tracks.

One, it can't be used for more than one child.  Two, your purchase only allows you to use it for 18 months.  Ewww.

I only have two kids and in spite of the fact they are only 4 months apart in chronological age, they are very different learners and in the core subjects, one is at least a full year behind the other.  It saves me a lot of time and energy (as most homeschooling moms) to have the second kid use the same curriculum as the first kid.  Not to mention money.  I can have one kid fly through World History in 6 months while the other might take 2 years so restricting me to 18 months isn't so good...and it totally prevents you from buying ahead when it's on sale.

After some quick talking with Emily, I decided I still wanted to try Monarch and ordered 7th grade social studies for my son and Secondary Spanish for my daughter.  Daughter is already done with 7th grade SS and son isn't ready for the Social Studies she's doing now.  Daughter is very interested in learning more Spanish and son is very unlikely to ever want to learn a second language.  Both curricula won't need to be passed down and both SHOULD be able to get through them in the 18 months, especially if we school in both subjects through the summer.  For the other subjects...I think I'll have to stick with SOS even though I'm frustrated they won't run on my Mac or the Macbooks I hope to get the kids next year.

I really wish AOP had offered a subscription based enrollment for the new Monarch.  Aleks, the math we use, lets me enroll both kids for a base price per month (or pre-pay annually) with a discount for the 2nd child but both can be in different levels and we can move them around as needed.  Since Monarch's core subjects all cost the same, wouldn't it be cool if you could register for 1, 2, 3 classes and then have your choice of which ones to use?  Same for the electives!  Sign up for 1 and then maybe work on some health for a few months then switch over to consumer math for a few more all the while the grades are kept track of on line....and can be done on a Mac!!

Ah, in my perfect world.....

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