Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Father's World Kindergarten: My Thoughts

Several of you have asked about how we chose MFW, how we liked it this year and what we are doing next year - here are my thoughts on this!

How did you decide to use MFW, and did you rule out other curricula first?
Ok, I met with a mom from my church who homeschools her children. I asked for her opinion on what to use and she is the one who suggested MFW to me. Turns out, lots of moms in our church are using it as well. I actually thought about Sonlight, but the cost was a big deterrent to me on that. I also thought about Five in a Row - but it was not a "complete" enough curriculum for me and my style.

How is the prep and does the material keep your girls engaged? The prep is really quite minimal! Most of the prep will come with any "extra" activities you add in. I have found the creative extras to be somewhat lacking in this program - however, that is one thing I love - so lots of times we will add extra things in. There is a Message Board set up on their website and I have found a wealth of good suggestions, book ideas, snack ideas, etc... on that. As far as keeping them engaged, I think that would depend on the child. Here is my experience: my Emily is five (November) so she is not "technically" in Kindergarten yet. However, the way this curriculum is set up - it almost starts out too easy for Kindergarten in my opinion. We are getting into some sounding out of words and things now that are more challenging - but it starts very slow. I've heard some say too slow and for other children, just right. I will say that my girls seem to be enjoying learning! Also, we only spend about 20-30 minutes a day on our schooling. I like it that way for this age and with a little guy to occupy as well!

Pros (in my opinion):
* Biblical tie-ins: I like how she has the lessons divided into 26 topics that correlate with the alphabet. But, she has a sentence to go with each card that the child learns. For example: leaf - "I will live and grow in Jesus" I love how this ties things from creation with the Creator and begins to cultivate that awareness in my children. There are also Scriptures to read as part of the schooling lessons.

* Complete Curriculum: I like how this comes with everything! We've had a ball with the classical music CD and activities suggested to do with the lessons! The math rods and workbook, ant hill - I just like how everything is right there! Yes, I omit and add activities for what I think is best for our home, but I like having it all available.

* Phonics based reading: I like how they learn songs about the letter sounds and then learn to put the sounds together. It seems to me that learning to sound things out is a great skill to have for life in being able to figure out words we don't recognize!

* Paced: as much as I thought it was slow moving at the beginning, I think there is an up side to that. My Emily does not feel rushed or pressured to master something, but she feels like she is succeeding because it is a small step at a time. She started out knowing all of her letters and all of her sounds, so she was way ahead of the curriculum right off the bat. But, being able to write words and sound out words now is exciting!

* Cost: for other things I've looked into and what this includes, I have thought it was very reasonable.

* Slow moving: the first two weeks I seriously wondered if I'd chosen the right thing! Overall though, I would say we've had a great year working through this and the pace has fit our home.

* Lacking in creative elements: if you've been reading my blog for a while - you likely know that I love the extra fluff! The fun stuff - the things that make learning fun and make a fun childhood for our children. I like hands on activities that tie in our theme. Again, the message boards have been a great resource for this.

* Awkward layout of book: I will admit to you that I found the teachers book very awkward at first. Now that I've gotten used to it - I don't think anything of it. But in the beginning - it was strange to me.

* The word for the letter "x" is "fox" and this has been somewhat confusing for my girls - they continue to try and say "f-f-fox" instead of "x-x-fox" understandable, but I've tried steering them to say the latter since that is what she suggests in the teacher's guide.

I have looked at the 1st grade program in person and that is what we've decided to go with for next year. In spite of the few downsides I mentioned above - this program really suited our family well and fit our styles and home life. Personally, I don't want to mess with that! Emily is learning to read and I'm very pleased with her progress this year and certainly cannot complain about that either. So, we're sticking with it and moving ahead.

If you have used My Father's World (especially Kindergarten) please share your thoughts for others in the comments!


Bonnie said...

Please, Please share them!

We are starting Kindergarten this fall, and baby #4 will be joining us around 2 weeks into the school year, so I am trying to figure out what our best curriculum choices are.(I have come to see just through some pre-k type things, that I am NOT a make it up as we go type person. I need structure!)
Having seen that a number of bloggers use this one, I am very interested.

Michelle said...

Thank you for posting this... my kids will be 2nd and 4th grades next year, and I"ve been considering MFW for them. We've never used it before... there is a used curriculum fair coming up, and I'm hoping that there will be some MFW curriculum to look at, even if not for the right grades, so I can determine if it's a good fit for our family. :)

Anonymous said...

We too are starting kindergarten this fall. I looked over MFW and decided against it. I love what Sonlight has to offer, but for now we are actually compiling our own curriculum. We will be using Horizons math, Handwriting without Tears, Explode the Code series just to name a few.
It is so exciting and also hard work, but so very worth it!
I love reading your thoughts!! Thanks for sharing!!

Ami said...

I just went to the HUGE Midwest Homeschool Conference last week and I flipped through the MFW first grade curriculum. Because learning to read is tied into the curriculum, I feel like it wouldn't work for us. The first grade reading was behind what my (very old 6yo) kindergartner is doing now. I've looked at Sonlight, too, and I've finally realized that a complete package curriculum is not going to work for us. One great aspect of homeschooling is being able to teach each child on the level he's at in each subject. It's hard to put kids in a grade level when they're age is so different - one kindergartner turning 5 in Nov., and one turning 6 in Sept. That's a huge spectrum! I feel like I would have to monkey around with any boxed curriculum so much that it wouldn't be worth buying. I will say that with my eclectic appraoch I love Phonics Pathways for learning reading and Saxon math (but skip the kindergarten curriculum). In the next few days I plan on blogging about the huge conference I went to and all that I learned. Did anyone else get to go?

~katie~ said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Monica ~ I always enjoy reading other opinions on the overwhelming amount of curriculum offered out there. I don't use MFW, but I know a few moms in our homeschool group that do...and love it!

(If you are ever looking for reviews on MFW or practically any curriculum out there, I have found this website VERY helpful before purchasing anything:

There are loads of opinions on all the different curricula ~ and it's all neat and categorized. I've found this very useful.)

Blessings to you today!

Andrea said...

Thanks so much for this post. We are starting my 5 yr old this fall, and I still don't have it narrowed down. I'm reading all the recommendations that I can get. I've heard a few good things about MFW, and now I'm throwing it into the mix. :)

Isabel said...

We've used MFW K and Adventures this year and have loved it. I agree with your description of the Kinder program.....I too wondered at first, but my daughter loves it! We have learned so much and it's been such a special year with some of the activities and the reading we've done. Each week as I planned I would go to the message board and compile a list of books to order from the library. There are also many blogs I would visit that shared their MFW ideas. Doing this program plus Adventures (plus my 3yr old twins) was manageable. Sometimes I added too much and needed to go back to their recommendations. I think I'm starting to ramble so I better stop here but I just wanted to share what a blessing MFW has been to our family. My twins have absorbed so much and been very involved in the Kinder as well. We're going on to MFW 1st and Exploring Countries and Cultures next year. I hope this helps someone :)

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I, too, have compiled my own K curriculum. We've used primarily Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, RightStart math, and some Five in a Row titles, in addition to tons of read-alouds, etc. Of course, my dd is a true kindergartener, with a birthday in May.

Thanks for sharing your appraisal of MFW. I had thought about getting it to use with my 2nd dd who won't be 5 'til November.

Garilyn S said...

I have used MFW this year after using "my own" for the first several years. My kids are 5th, 2nd and appr. K (tech. K, but somewhere between K and 1st). I used the 1st in the cycle rotation for them, Exploring Countries and Cultures. We have LOVED it. My kids are getting excited for next year and we aren't even done this year. I like the things we've previously done for K and 1st, including Miquon Math, the Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, and First Langauge Lessons.

I did the curriculum as is for the most part. I've liked how the lesson book is laid out. I like that the student pages are all copied for me (I've made a few copies just for my K guy). I've also learned that I do well with structure and not just making it up as I go. My boys know so much about geography (so much more than I knew at that age!). My 6 yo can hold his own on the geo. game! I've noticed too, that when missionaries come to our church, that my kids are more aware of what they are saying and where the countries are located.

I will definately be continuing with MFW for the next few years. I haven't decided what to do for my oldest as I've heard the high school curr. is VERY intense, and I'm not sure that is for him. I guess we'll see how he does and go from there. I'd love to hear what others say about the high school year.

Chrissie Love said...

Another lover of MFW here =) We used the K year for my first son a few years back, and, like you, I thought it moved too slowly, so I decided to do my own thing for 1st grade. That didn't quite go as planned! We switched back to MFW 1st this year, combing my young 2nd grader and my 1st grader (and my pre-k son), and we've all loved it so much! I'm really excited to start Adv. next year.
I did learn, after our K year, that it moves so slowly because it's really a Charlotte Mason curriculum, and the point is to move slowly and not overwhelm them at such a young age. Looking back, I realize how much fun we had and how much my children loved it. I only worried because it wasn't as "schoolish" as I thought homeschool had to be.

Nicole said...

We love MFW K! It's really a great program. I will say though that I don't agree with starting it with a 4 year old. Regardless of how 'easy' it is, it is not recommended. If you were to call the MFW office (which I did) they would recommend waiting until 5. In first grade the writing really picks up and many who did MFW K find that they have to slow way down to allow the child to mature and progress some. Not the case with every child for sure, but with many.

Kindergarten is supposed to be a fun and easy learning year. I find that MFW is exactly that. It has a good balance and is very easy to adjust to your child's needs.

melissa said...

Thank you for posting this. I have looked at this for my kids but never took the plunge. Maybe for my littlest guy when he is old enough.

Amy Wagner said...

I looked into MFW for my youngest & I too thought it started out too slow. We are using WinterPromise ( most of our curriculum- Animals & Their Worlds (for my son) and Queen Homeschool's Language Lessons books ( plus Horizons Math and Reason for Handwriting. I love Queen Homeschool's LL books- they include copy work, poetry, picture study, 180 short lessons... very Charlotte Mason.

Echoes From the Hill said...

My daughter used A Beka home schooling programs for her boys for kindergarten through second grade, and loved it. The boys are both in public school now, and have been straight A students.

Kimberly said...

I also went to the Midwest Homeschool Conference. It was great! I'm still processing all the great information I collected from the speakers. I also purchased all of my curriculum there.

I'm using MFW Adventures next year. I have a soon to be six year old who is reading and writing extremely well. She loves reading Little House on the Praire so I thought the MFW Adventures covering American History would be a good fit for her. I love how it integrates Bible throughout the curriculum and it is a nice core program. I'm substituting AiG's God's Design for Life in for the science in MFW. I really like how this science program is written at 3 learning levels so we can use it again and again and work through it at our own pace.

Someone mentioned Phonics Pathways . . . I love it. We've been using it for 2 years now and it has been a great fit for my oldest. I look forward to starting it with my 4 year old next year.

Thanks for starting a curriculum discussion. I love hearing what others are doing.

Katy said...

I use MFW Kgarten for my son...and I, too, thought it was awfully slow going as well. He could move at a much faster pace...but I figured it was OK since it was getting him used to *schooling*. I added other things to the curric. as well.

The teachers manual TOTALLY threw me for a loop as well!!!! I was so confused with it..and sometimes still wonderful if I got as much out of it as I should have!?

I am lucky in the way that for the letter X...we also had Xavier's name. ;) So it wasn't too hard for us to use! :) But I agree..."fox" made it a lil difficult.

I like the MFW curriculum...and since I already have the teacher's manual for 1st grade (which is a good chunk of the cost) I will use MFW for X's 1st grade year as well....although when Madelyn moved to 2nd grade...I switched her to Abeka...which is a lot of writing...but, I like it! So I may switch X at that point too...we'll have to see. :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it! It was so funny to me to read some of your words because many of them reflected my thoughts as well!!! :)

rachel@thecupcakesprinklesinlife said...

Hi Monica-

I looked into MFW but thought it was lacking in lots of areas. (sorry- I don't want to offend those who love it- it's just too basic for me)

We decided on Sonlight for our girls- mainly for 2 reasons:

1. It's very Charlotte Mason- learning with living books.

This is sooo important to me as our first two years of homeschooling were filled with BJU,Alpha Omega, Christian Liberty Press...workbook, workbook, workbook.

2. I can teach both girls from one core. EASILY!!! I have very little if any prep work, It is a complete education and my girls have learned loads of great stuff- did I mention the reading? They will kick and scream if we don't fit in the reading for the day- and it's not all "kiddie" books either. We learned about the jewish children surviving the holocaust in faraway schools, we learned about missionaries from all around the world, we've spent time reading about integrity and christian values.

I could go on and on... we will ABSOLUTELY buy this again!

Ps. don't be put off by it's price... I am an uber frugal gal and was resistent to it because of the price tag- but it was sooo worth it!

LS said...

Thanks for sharing Monica! I'm planning to use MFW for my 5 year old this fall. However, because we've done homeschooling for preschool and she's already learned to read, I wonder if I should do 1st grade for her instead of the Kindergarten? I've looked at the Kindergarten book and it looks really fun and perfect for my son when he turns 5, but my daughter needs to be challenged and it looks a bit below her current skills. I guess I'll have to either beef up the MFW K curriculum or tone down the MFW 1st grade curriculum.

Angela said...

We LOVE MFW. I have done K, 1st grade, Adventures, Creation to the Greeks and next year will do Rome to Reformation. I used teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons for reading, I love that book and it gets them right to reading. So I did skip the phonics part. What I LOVE the most, is this curriculum gives my children a true heart for service and Christ and a totally biblical worldview. My children are really LEARNING God's word and I wouldn't trade it for all the world. In 1st grade your children will make their own Bibles with illustrations and journaling if they are writing. I think if there was a fire in my home that would be the things my K and 1st grader would take-they LOVE them and they are learning so much more about the Bible then the standard stories in Sunday School and they are REMEMBERING it! My oldest was reading his Bible for Creation to the Greeks the other day and said" Mom, I don't want to stop-this is too good. He was reading the BIBLE-all about Davids adventures running from Saul-learning history through the Bible is SO SO rewarding. If you ever get a chance to hear David Hazell, you can buy his talks on CD, his vision is AWESOME and it is just what I wanted for my family. I have ZERO regrets with this curriculum, it will get more challenging as you go. You will build temples, memorize the ten commandments, the books of the Bible, even the whole book of James later in the cycle if you stay with it. We are doing all these things as a family together. If you ever have any questions I would be more then happy to answer what I know-it has been a gift from GOD to us. I'm so glad your staying with it. You can always supplement with Explode the Code or something else if you feel you need to.


Davonne said...

I've been thinking about using MFW. Your review and the comments have been so helpful. Thank you!!

Anissa said...

I have LOVED MFW-Kindergarten this year. It gives me just enough frame and resource to have a lot of fun exploring my world with the littles!

My kindergartener is reading at a 2nd grade level and so I modified the program having her make word lists and learning to spell instead of sounding out letters. I also used the theme of the week to find reading books at the library for her.

She was far more engaged in the reading books because they connected to the theme of the week and the hands on activities we were doing at home.

MFW is very different than some of the "binder" style or scripted programs. But if you like some room for creativity and feel comfortable with open ended learning, it could be a great match!

And definitely check out the MFW message boards on the website - so many wonderful ideas of theme related activities!

Kathryn said...

We will be using MFW Kindergarten this fall for my son (will be just turned 5 in Aug), and am interested in any reviews, tips, etc. He is almost finished with Learning to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and is sounding out words/reading already.
My homeschooling friend suggested a couple of things--add Explode the Code for extra phonics, and use the phonics in MFW for spelling practice. She also told me one of the forums had taken the teachers manual instructions and put them into an Excel spreadsheet for a weekly calendar that could be downloaded for ease of use.

Karen said...

Since I have a 3rd grader, the lesson size is perfectly designed for our family of 3, 6, and 8. MFW is simple, scholarly and Bible centered. I think you will enjoy using the coming years better because the manuals are less confusing.

It is not a hard curriculum for an average Kindergartner. It is important to think ahead - in other words, schooling it is like a hill in that it is very easy at first, so you think you could just race along, but you need to pace yourself for the hard work that is coming. The middle school and high school years are going to have so much work, don't overload them now. Also, since it is easy, it allows for a chance to work on good school habits and makes a good first impression about learning.

Most of all I love the wheel idea, I wrote a post about it:

Amy said...

If you want some fluff, check out Hubbard's
The 3 year old preschool is excellent, even if you didn't use it you could pull ideas and the level of work would be good for any 3-5 year old. The best part is it is free!

I also suggest these sites for some fun ideas and worksheets:

Sorry I don't know how to put links in comments so that they are hyperlinks!

Theresa said...

We are using MFWK for the second time this year and will move to the 1st grade MFW next year. I agree with most everything you've said as far as the pros/cons go.

My son is 7 (has some developmental delays) and I'm finding that he is bored with it but I really didn't think he was ready last year. He tires of doing the same thing over and over with each lesson.

I should have been better about finding other go-alongs for the lessons but with 3 older children also homeschooling time was my biggest reason for not.

WorthyofLove said...

We use KONOS. It is unit study based. It is FULL of hands on fun activities. It might be something you want to look into for the future. I have 9, 8, 5 yrs old...all boys :)

Love your blog!!


Anonymous said...

I used MFW last year for the first time. I had a 3rd grader and kindergartener. I agree that it was pretty simple for kindergarten but my son loved it. As you get into the older grades, the activities increase. I loved the Adventures in My Father's World part of it because of the activities they do include something to help them remember what the state produces and how things are made. The only other program I've used was Abeka and my dd hated sitting there doing all the seat work, and then the next day she couldn't remember what she'd learn. This year both my kid's would repeat what they've learned and are still telling me things they learned last year that has stuck with them. To me that equals results!! :) I think them learning the history and science together (even though they are three years apart) made it even more fun for them. Hope this helps!

Five half pints and Porridge said...

We used this and loved it! You can use it with different ages very easiley, great place to start also if you are just staring to homeschool, it was encouraging, easy to follow and VERY fun for the children, you didn't need a lot of extras either!
Will's helpmeet

Jenny said...

Read 'For the Children's Sake' by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay if you have doubts about MFW. MFW sends this book out with the Kindergarten curriculum for parents to read. It goes into the Charlotte Mason approach and is thought provoking on many levels. We already did Adventures last year but I wish I had read this prior since that was our first year of homeschool ever and I would have understood more of what MFW is based on. We have loved MFW and plan to stick with it because I believe their approach will create in our children a desire to be lifelong learners.

Monica Wilkinson said...

Hi Jenny,

Thanks so much for your comment, I don't recall receiving that book with my Kindergarten order. I have read books about the Charlotte Mason approach though!

We have continued to use MFW K and 1 for the phonics portion which I love - but after two years in the Classical model, we feel this is the direction our family should go.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Theresa said...

Would you recommend getting the basic or deluxe package for My Father's World? I was also wondering would I need to purchase some of the other books that they recommend for teaching math and some other subjects or is this just enough for kindergarten. Thanks this will be my first year of homeschooling and I have read so many blogs and came across yours and loved it! Thanks for sharing!

Monica Wilkinson said...

Hi Theresa,

Welcome :) Thanks for your comment! I would recommend the deluxe package but I do think that is enough for Kindergarten! If at some point, you feel like it isn't enough just expand on the activities and read out loud lots!!

Blessings on your homeschool endeavor!