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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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. ;-)