Review: My Father’s World Curriculum

Several times in the last week, I’ve had friends ask my thoughts on My Father’s World curriculum. Whenever I get the same question a few times within a few days, I take that as an indication that a blog post is in order, since there may be blog readers interested in knowing the same thing.

Before I share my thoughts on My Father’s World (abbreviated MFW), I need to premise with a few points:

  • I have only good things to say. It may not sound like a balanced review when there are no negatives, but I honestly can’t think of anything that I’d change.
  • I am in no way affiliated with MFW, and I won’t get a commission of any sort for recommending it to you. I share this glowing review simply because the program has been such a blessing to our family, and I hope that it may be to yours as well.
  • My experience with this curriculum is only with the multi-age family cycle, for grades 2-8. I’ve never used the Kindergarten, 1st grade, or Adventures program. My understanding is that those years are significantly different than the family cycle, so my review does not apply to those years.
  • Our only reason for not using the K, 1st, or Adventures, is that by the time we discovered MFW, we had several school-aged children, and I did not feel that I could keep up with several core programs. I would not hesitate to use it if I only had one or two school-aged children in those grades, but with several older children, I just don’t think I could do it.

That said, let me tell you why I LOVE this program.

  1. A Christ-centered curriculum is important to us. In MFW, the Bible is central, and very strong in bible study and scripture memorization. For example, this year (Exploration to 1850, our 4th year of MFW) we are memorizing the entire book of James. In addition to just memorizing, we are also growing the children to truly understand what it means, precept by precept, verse by verse, in context.
  2. It incorporates multi-level teaching. While each child must have their own separate Math and Language Arts program designed for their individual level, other subjects such as Bible, History, Geography, Science, Music, and Art are multi-level, so I can use it with all my children from 2nd-8th grade. This not only makes life easy on me as Teacher-Mom, but it also fosters great family relationships as everyone learns and studies together. Although children of different ages will have varying assignments and I have different levels of expectations from them, we still are studying together as a family, and read from most of the same core resources together. This cycle is not intended for children younger than 2nd grade, but even they get to be a part of this family time. The younger children have “blanket time” or “table time”  in the same room with us while we have family school, and they listen and absorb a great deal.
  3. It’s easy on Mom. Just “open the teacher’s guide and go.” Before using MFW, I pieced together my own curriculum. It was a lot of work, and honestly, while I feel I gave my children a solid (and similar) education this way, I feel that MFW has done a better job of it than I did. MFW frees me up from a lot of planning, and allows me to focus on spending time educating my children. The resources are great, and the teacher’s manual contains a daily grid that I easily follow, telling me what pages from what books to read, what to assign to younger, older and advanced students, timeline images, recipes to prepare as a fun supplement, experiments, activities and even a list of necessary (and usually convenient) supplies.
  4. My children benefit from a solid education and a wonderful love of learning. School is exciting to them, and while they love certain subjects more than others, they’ve never been “bored” by education. As a side note, I’m seeing the gaps in my own education as I find my children so much more knowledgable than I was at their age (and older!) I often marvel at how much I’ve learned in the years of teaching them. I’m embarrassed to admit that up until a few years ago, I thought the French and Indian War was a war between the French and the Indians. Just this week, I learned that the 1812 Overture was not written to commemorate the War of 1812 as we know it, but another war in 1812 between Napoleon’s French Army and the Russians. I never knew that Marie Antoinette was Austrian. And don’t get me started on my ignorance in knowledge about Mary Queen of Scots, Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth and her sister, Bloody Mary. Oh, the list of “things I never knew” could go on and on!
  5. History is taught chronologically. I feel this is a great way to tie history together in way that makes sense to children. We have a timeline on our school room wall that we’ve been adding to for the past three years. The way MFW does this is visionary. The five-year cycle begins with a one-year, in-depth study of geography, followed by a four-year chronological study of history. The first year of immersion in geography gives the children a solid foundation about the people, culture, location, economy, and terrain of those areas of the world that they are studying during their chronological study of history. Having that foundation really makes history come alive!
  6. The cost is reasonable. The program comes with the essential books to keep costs down, but in the back of the teachers’ manual is a tremendous list of supplemental books, separated week by week, that you can request from the library.  These supplemental books are used for a daily time called “Book Basket.” The children choose Book Basket books to read for about 1/2 hour a day, sometimes longer. This time is intended to immerse them in the content that we are studying. They may choose to read a book from cover to cover, but this isn’t necessary. If they choose, they can simply browse a number of books each day, not completing a single one. The books are so good though, that my children usually read most of the books in entirety before we return them to the library. I usually check out 20-30 books at a time, and while I admit that we’ve had our share of overdue fines and occasional lost books, those fees are a fraction of what it would cost to purchase all those hundreds of books annually.
  7. We like the authors. We’ve met the Hazell family in person at a few homeschooling conventions, and they are a wonderful family. First of all, their world view is completely in line with ours, and whenever possible, they try to use books written from that perspective. They will occasionally use resources that have references to things we (and the Hazells) don’t believe, such as evolution, when no comparable alternative can be found, but they handle it well. For example, if there is a reference in a reading to “billions of years ago” they will make a notation in the grid warning you, and give you suggestions on how to handle it. For young children they might suggest omitting the sentence, or they might give you a brief explanation that you can give to your children. I appreciate the fact that MFW does not try to hide the fact that conflicting worldviews exist, but instead, aims to equip them to stand firm in knowing why we believe what we believe. Secondly, this family is  the real deal. They not only emphasize missions in their curriculum but they live out the life themselves, working to support their heart for Bible translation. I think they give most, if not all, of the profits from their curriculum sales toward a ministry called God’s Word for the Nations, which does Bible translations for people groups who do not currently have the Bible in their language. I am happy to support a business that self-sacrificially practices what they teach.

They say that there is no “perfect” curriculum, but this one is pretty close to perfect for my family! The only thing it lacks is someone to come to my house to wash windows and fold laundry. If they could find a way to throw those extra features in, I think it would truly be perfect. ;-)



Comments

Review: My Father’s World Curriculum — 25 Comments

  1. Hi Michelle! Great post! I know that I already will be using this curriculum just from conversations that we have already had regarding it and your high recommendation of it, but I just have one other question. Do you purchase the basic or deluxe package?

  2. What a timely post. I have had several families asking me about the curriculum as well, and now I can just point them to your blog! I had read your blog over a year ago but then *lost it* in cyberspace. But I found it again recently and it has been such a source of support to me. I have 5 children (my oldest is 9 and my youngest is 8 months) and I don’t have a lot of real world encouragement or support, so reading your blog lifts my spirits when I am feeling overwhelmed. Thank you!

  3. I am going to use MFW this year for my highschool student and i might use it for my ohter ones just not sure yet. I am very excited. I might be contacting you if I get stuck.

  4. It’s funny, I’ve been writing about My Father’s World on my website, too. I haven’t used the curriculum, since we are now at the very end of homeschooling after 24 years. I have heard nothing, but rave reviews from people that are using it. It reminds me of the reception of Sonlight when it first came on the scene over a decade ago. I am so thankful for the developer of homeschool curriculum like this one. They are doing a great service to God and families.

    Michelle, I believe you are going to have a lot of visitors coming to your site to read your review on My Father’s World. It is an excellent review that really helps the reader understand the way the curriculum works.

    Julie Simmons, Best Homeschool Buys

  5. Thanks for this post! Most people just say how much they love the curriculum but you really tell us why. This confirms my choice to use their curriculum. I also love their mission, which is to help with Bible translation.

  6. Thanks for posting. I did use MFW Kindergarten & MFW ECC this year (2010-2011) & LOVED them. The program provides a great foundation and still left room for tweaking if that is your thing. Sometimes I don’t have time to do that or don’t have enough knowledge – but others have been fun for me to tweak – for instance – I have a stepmom from China so we had fun embellishing with some beautiful costumes, pictures & postcards with our names and their chinese meanings. However, it is very complete & needs nothing added to still be a fun, challenging curriculum (except as you mentioned, language arts & math). I am a first time homeschooler this year & found myself looking at everything. I continued looking this year – late into evenings & have even visited friends & pored through their teacher’s guides. I have found nothing that would work better for us & will stick with this in 2011-2012! I am curious to know what you did use for phonics, Emily, for your younger ones. My daughter is a fairly strong reader after MFW K – but still needs 1st grade phonics. As much as I want to purchase it – my schedule is really tight & she enjoys working with her big brother’s in the 5 yr cycle. I am active in several volunteer projects every week and babysit some children before and after school – so it would be LOVELY to teach from one curriculum this year if possible – for my budget & my time! Loved your site – thanks for posting!

  7. Hi Michelle, I’m wondering how “messy” this curriculum is? I don’t like disorganization or clutter and have always felt that unit studies were more for the crafty moms :) I like the house clean once school is finished and always file our school work, art projects, etc in their special place for safe keeping. I also like a structured teacher’s plan that is designed for someone without an educational background (the how-to-teach tips are very important). I finally went with ABeka for all three kids last year, and I felt it was our smoothest year to date. I didn’t have to make up the lessons myself or piece things together ahead of time. However, I did miss the classical approach of previous years. I feel like I spend my summer holiday still in school due to all the researching! Help!

    • Hi Tanya, it sounds like we have a lot in common! I, too, like to have everything in it’s place, not a fan of time-consuming “busy” craft projects that get thrown away, and I put great value on having the structure already laid out for me. I’ve found My Father’s World to suit us perfectly on all three of those. After school, we don’t usually have much mess to clean up; mostly a matter of having the kids put their books and papers away, putting the box of pencils back on the shelf, etc. There are some hands-on projects, but I don’t find them to be messy, and I engage the kids in helping clean up after we finish. As an “organizer” you will probably enjoy the notebooking. The teacher’s manual tells you exactly how to set up your notebooks and what to put on the divider labels, etc. I keep my kids responsible for filing their own papers away in their notebooks. This next tip is not in the MFW guide, but just something we do… our children would find it very tedious to file daily, so I give each child a filing drawer, the plastic ones you can find at Walmart/etc. They put their papers in the drawer daily, and every Friday, I have them take the papers out and file in their notebooks.

      If you liked Abeka, it was a smooth fit for your family and it worked with your children’s learning styles, please don’t let my review dissuade you. Every family is different in what works best for them, and Abeka is a solid curriculum with a good track record. If you feel that the Lord is leading you to something else though, I would reassure you that My Father’s World works very nicely even for organizing junkies like us! :-)

  8. Hello! Michelle,
    I read (and loved) your review when you first posted it. Now, I’ve read it again after ‘researching’ various curriculums for next year. I have five children (2 – 11 years) and will have my sixth in about 2 1/2 months. In the past we’ve put together our own curriculum. Yet, this year, I thought it would be wiser to have something more ‘planned out’ for me. :) I’m really leaning towards getting MFW family cycle. I was wondering if you thought it mattered if we started it at year 3 or 4 instead of the beginning. We’ve already been doing history chronologically and have covered the earlier years very recently — yet not much of the later years. The younger ones always start ‘wherever’ everyone else is and then later the years are repeated anyway. Yet, if I start from year 1, my oldest will never get to the later years. What are your thoughts on that?
    Also, I was curious what you’ve been using for math.
    Thanks so much!
    Bridget

    • Hi Bridget, Congratulations on #6! As to MFW, I think you’d be fine picking up wherever you’ve left off in your history studies. The only thing I’d suggest is that you try to get in the year of geography, Exploring Countries and Cultures. ECC was our first year using MFW, and it provided such a wonderful foundation for all of our history studies. Even if you don’t personally get to finish out the MFW family cycle through Modern History with your oldest, they will get to study those same time periods in high school, but that year of ECC is so wonderful and memorable, I would strongly suggest you don’t miss it.

      For Math, we use Math U See starting in about third grade. We go straight to Math U See Beta, skipping Primer and Alpha. We’ve just recently decided to switch to Teaching Textbooks beginning in Pre-Algebra. We haven’t experienced Teaching Textbooks yet, but it looks great. For K-2, we focus on “real-life” math concepts and memorizing math facts. I’ve used a number of tools and books that have helped us with those years, but no formal math curriculum. Let me know if you’d like more details on things we’ve used for math in the early years.

      God Bless,
      Michelle

  9. Thank you so much for your answer. It’s good to know about the importance of the ‘Exploring Countries and Cultures’ year as I wasn’t sure whether it would be worth the time for my older ones. I think we’ll do that this year. I’m really excited about having most everything planned out for me this time around.
    I’ve always heard great things about Math U see, yet never have tried it myself. We’ve also never used a formal math program for the early years. We have used Saxon and recently Switched on Schoolhouse. It’s ‘funny’ that you mention Teaching Textbooks as that’s what I’ve been wanting to start this coming year as well. My oldest really wants to continue using the computer vs. book/paper and I like that they have a ‘tutor’ for every problem.
    Thanks again.

    • Oops! I also meant to say Congratulations on having your new baby boy. I’m also having a boy (it will be five boys and one girl). :) I’m sure you’ll be pretty busy for awhile getting things ‘in order’ and won’t read this for some time … but still, hope all is well with your family.

  10. So glad I found your blog!! I just started using MFW this year and your thoughts and reviews of this curriculum match up to what I have been telling my friends about it. We are using the multi-age cycle as well and I did not buy the kinder or pre-k for the same reason and its working well for us!

  11. Hi Michelle. I am trying to discern what the best long term (unless the Lord changes direction in the future) curriculum for our young growing family. I have a 4 year old, 2 year old and 6 month old. My question/concern is that if I start MFW with my 4 year old and by the time she’s in 4th grade and my son joins in for 2nd grade on the cycle then he will miss the Adventures in US History and the ECC year. Those seem like important foundations before moving on to the next years. Have you encountered this with the ages of your children? Any ideas? I would have already purchased both those years of curriculum so I guess I could do them with my son but that wouldn’t be in alignment with the cycle. I’m a little stumped : ) I’m sure there’s a simpler solution but seeing as how it’s 11 pm and I’m sleep deprived it seems like a huge brain buster : ) Thanks again for all your help always and your wonderful ministry on this blog. You have been a “virtual” mentor to me as a young mom trying to raise my children in a Christian home and coming from a non-Christian home myself. So thank you thank you!

    • Hi Andrea! I never used Adventures (or K or 1st), but my understanding is that Adventures has much of the same content as Exploration to 1850, except 1850 has extra material that makes it suitable for older kids. 1850 sells a supplement for younger children which contains many of the same books as Adventures, so they really seem similar. The books will be scheduled all in the 1850 teachers guide. So, your younger children will not miss out on that content.

      With ECC, your second child would eventually go through ECC (if you are still using MFW by that time) when they are a little older, probably 6th grade. It would be a five year cycle that would be repeated, with young kids joining in every few years, and older ones jumping off as they reach the high school years.

      I also have to add that you may very well change your mind before then, and that’s okay! After six years using MFW, we felt compelled to change it up this year and are currently using History Revealed. We may eventually go back to MFW, but for now this is where we are. So don’t worry too much about the years to come, but try to just focus on this one for now. :-)

      God bless!

  12. I’d like to know how often you read out loud to your children…as a group and how often do they read alone…considering the different age groups. For example, I that for 3-8th they read Christian Heroes: Then and Now…they are 6 read alouds. It says family read alouds. Does that mean that you read this to all of them regardless of age? Mine are 6,8 and 13. (I can’t let my 13 year old read to them.) Do you have the oldest read it to himself and the younger listen to you only? Is it okay to read it to all of them? I struggle with how much I should help.

    • Hi Jenny, when we used MFW, I did read those books aloud to the whole family. Actually, even the high schooler would often join us for those family readalouds! Even though the older ones were capable of reading them alone, reading together was (and is) just a very special family activity. The Christian Heroes books are wonderful and I’m so glad we got to experience them all together as a family! ;-)

  13. I use MFW & I have a son who is going into second grade & one who is going into first grade. MFW suggest that I buy Adventures in U.S. History for my second grader & then next year have both boys do Exploring Countries and Cultures next year. I don’t understand the point of buying Adventures in U.S. History & only having my oldest use it. I was thinking of skipping Adventures in U.S. History & have my second grader start with Exploring Countries and Cultures. Then next year both of my boys can do Creation to the Greeks Deluxe Package. I would appreciate your wisdom. Thanks, Rachel

    • Hi Rachel! I did not use Adventures (nor K or 1st), since I started with MFW when my oldest was in 4th grade, so I can’t speak with experience here. But, I think the reason they recommend Adventures this year is that it is really designed for that age group. The other years are geared towards a little older, but still work well with 2nd graders who are tagging along with older siblings. Somehow the dynamics of older and younger kids together, the group discussions, etc…. It just works! :) Your plan would probably work well too, but your oldest might find it more enjoyable to use Adventures next year.

      Another thought, although I know this isn’t what MFW recommends. I wonder if, since your children are close in age, you might be able to include your younger child in Adventures next year as well? I probably would have tried that if I had used MFW when my oldest ones were that age. Then just use separate reading and math, etc. I like to do as much as possible together as a family, and I probably would have had a hard time using two core programs at the same time.

      Also with our experience, Creation to Greeks was our least favorite year. In that respect your family may find it to be an all around more enjoyable experience to hold off a year on that, and get used to the family cycle dynamics with ECC.

      Hopefully someone with experience using Adventures will weigh in. :)

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