- Reviewed on Tuesday, May 18, 2010
- Grades Used: 5th-10th
- Dates used: 2006-2010
Let me agree with other reviewers in saying that I love Kolbe Academy. But after years of encouraging others to use Kolbe, I have found that it is not the right fit for everyone. So I agree with everything that has been said in other reviews about the challenging curriculum, right pace for each grade (starting in about 4th grade in my opinion), wonderful support, etc. but...
...If you are exploring Kolbe HIGH SCHOOL curriculum, here is what I have learned that might be worth considering:
First, Kolbe is boy friendly. There is no reason that girls should not read the classics... but strategy and war, honor, bravery, and death are major topics throughout all of Greek and Roman history....the core curriculum of Kolbe. I have heard parents collapse in frustration when trying to encourage their girls to finish the reading assignments. My boys eat it up.
Second, your student must be a reader. The literature, history, and theology are challenging. If you have a struggling reader, plan on working through the assignments with him. Even with that said, we have relied on audiobooks (from Audible.com) for most assignments as a back up when falling behind or not understanding the week's assignment (or for my early morning listen as prep for the upcoming reading). We have also relied on lecture series from The Teaching Company to supplement most of the Greek and Roman reading. Starting in 9th grade, the reading is primary sources and "college" level....Virgil, Eusubius, Plato and Shakespeare, etc.. Your children will be proud whenever they hear these names out in the real world, because they will be intimately familiar with them....that is, IF they keep up on their reading.
Third, there are three essay topics per week (literature, history, and theology). I have tried this a couple of ways since Kolbe does not require that all of these assignments are completed each week. But what I have found is that it is important that the student write all three. The first few weeks are full of complaints, but after that, writing three 2-page essays per week becomes a breeze. We usually just revise one of these from its rough draft form. If you choose not to assign these essays, you must discuss them anyway because the topics will appear on the exams. They are also the place where my boys' understanding has been put to the test...one can not write about what they do not understand.
Fourth, the science is not watered down, basic skills, but challenging, college prep science. If your student has only been doing experiments and observation science, then this will be new and challenging. Your student will be expected to study vocabulary, work math formulas, and write some lab reports (not just fill in worksheets), and they will cover about four lessons per week...versus one lesson in some other curriculum providers. It is rock solid college prep science.
This brings us to another glitch for many families. If you are working with your student daily on reading history, literature, and often discussions in theology....you will be hard pressed to work through the science with him/her as well. We had always done science together until 9th grade...and on their own, Biology and Chemistry are challenging to absorb. Yes, they do the reading, and yes, they understood the overall concept, but in order to get the depth (and pass the exams), you will have to review this with them...by way of questions nicely provided in the textbooks. However, if you do not have a science background yourself, you will be lost when your student tries to discuss the details, unless you jump on the books yourself. Again, we have solved this problem by supplementing with Thinkwell videos....a godsend! Thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening, and can be integrated with the curriculum nicely.
Those are the major stumbling blocks that I have witnessed when other homeschool families have struggled and ultimately left Kolbe.
Now, just one more commentary about what took me a while to figure out. Scheduling.....
There are some assignments that are independent. The Kolbe vocab, rhetoric and math are independent study. We also do Latin.... workbook assignments are independent, but we practice together (oral drill, etc.). I dropped the Composition books since the boys were writing essays anyway, and replaced them with Grammar (Seton is a nice fit). All of these books are by far the easy ones, because they are cut and dry workbook style assignments....which after the previously mentioned work, is highly welcomed by my boys.
So, we usually start our day with these workbook style books, from about 7am-10am. At 10am we take a 30 minute break (exercise, snack, and chore), followed by Science until lunch at noon. This also allows me to work with younger siblings in the morning while the boys work independantly.
Starting at about 1pm.... On Tuesday afternoons, we do Theology. On Wednesday, we do Literature. On Thursday, we do History. When I say "we do" I mean....we read the entire reading selection, answer all questions, correct/discuss the questions, and write the assigned essay. This takes ALL AFTERNOON, and you will not be able to drag your kids all over town in the van like you used to. They need to really be locked down... studying quietly.
I tried having them do a little of each (theology, lit, and history) each day, but that meant reading ALL AFTERNOON for two days, then doing questions ALL AFTERNOON the next day, and then writing essays ALL AFTERNOON on the last day. They prefer focussing on one subject much better, although it makes each afternoon non-negotiable...they MUST do school on each of those days.... no errand running for them.
It is their choice if they want to "do homework" and read the next days assignment on the evening before...a great option, but not one that all my boys prefer. To keep the deadline real, my boys must email their essay to me before the TV or socializing on the computer begins in the evening.
Fridays are morning independent books, revising one essay, and catch up.... plus Friends Day/Music and Art lessons/Field Trip/Errand running, etc.
I hope all this helps someone. I will never leave Kolbe for another curriculum... nothing else can compare in my opinion. But, as I said before, it is not the right fit for every family.
- Reviewed on Friday, February 12, 2010
- Grades Used: 1st, 3rd
- Dates used: 2009-present
We just switched over to Kolbe this year, and I thank God every day for it. We have five children, two enrolled with Kolbe, and it has made my life so much easier this year. With three little ones under 4, being able to open each child's binder in the morning and write down their "list" for the day is so simple.
The curriculum is the right level of challenging for us. We tried Seton, Our Lady of Victory, Mother of Divine Grace, some of Angelicum, and Catholic Heritage...so many because I always felt like we did not have enough to do, so I always had to combine and add things in. Not so this year, which has simplified things for me. With other programs, we would be done with school so quickly the kids would be asking for more to do! Now we get done after lunch, and it seems just right.
The lesson plans are being revised again to include a gradebook right there on your daily assignments (Ist grader's has it, 3'rds does not yet) which makes it even more convenient to keep track of their weekly grades. It makes record-keeping so easy, and even sending things in is a simple endeavor. I also wanted to echo a previous review about the help from the school...even before we enrolled, I called to ask a question and they were so helpful and cheerful...and I had not even given them any money yet! ;) And it has only continued now that we are a "Kolbe Family".
I looked and looked and looked at curriculum for so long before we enrolled this year...and I have to say, being under the umbrella of a great school like Kolbe is such a comfort and a joy....and an excellent education to boot!
God bless you in your homeschooling adventures!