- Reviewed on Monday, January 27, 2014
- Grades Used: K, 7th
- Dates used: 2013-2014
This is a mixed review. My children and I like a lot of things about Calvert and they have a few disappointments, but they are minor. Overall I think it is a great program and so helpful when you are burnt out on lesson planning. It is quite strong and solid, but I think it could be stronger and step it up a notch. We skipped some things that we just didn't feel like doing and didn't think it they were missing much by doing so. It is basically school at home, which can be great for some people, and this year that is what we wanted. I like the enrichments offered for Grade 7, but my son didn't want to do them much because he was burned out on the busier work. I would say sometimes just do the enrichment instead.
First I will discuss the math section of the curriculum. The math is great for both of them. My youngest son likes the math so much that he only took about 3 months to complete the program. It was a little easy for him, but that is his favorite subject. My eldest son liked the math, but it was too much busy work for him. He had trouble writing the answers from the textbook to a notebook, he made a lot of mistakes when he did that, so he ended up doing the lessons in the lesson manual and textbook and then doing the practice workbook for his assignments. It was very difficult to get him to read the lesson manual, he just wanted to take the books and skip the lesson manuals. The videos were helpful additions, I think he would have liked more of them.
The language arts. My youngest son enjoys the learning to read section. It was also a bit too easy at first as he already knew his letters and the sounds they made, so he worked quickly through that. Once they moved into sight words, he found the practice book a bit difficult and tedious. But he enjoyed the phonic readers with the addition of the sight words and the flash cards. That is all we use and he has learned quite easily, so we skipped the practice book by the time we got to the second book. The reading books moved excruciatingly slowly for him, and frankly I found the books more on a three-four year-old level. I expected more from the read-aloud books. They were also too politically correct for us, they just tried too hard. I would like there to be more classic books read at a higher level at this age. My son didn't enjoy them.
My eldest son found the language arts too easy as well, but that is his favorite subject and he excels at it. He already knew most of the grammar, I had him use the sentence diagraming to place him. He only needed about 3 weeks of grammar lessons total. The writing lessons were great, but they dragged on a bit slowly for him. So we had to split up the lesson manuals and move around them not in order for all of the subjects, but this was remedied with sticky notes to mark our place. We should have placed him in the grade 8 program. He also found the reading selection to easy and was not interested or engaged.
History and Science was minimal in the kindergarten program. We ended up supplementing these subjects as they were pretty dumbed down. He didn’t want to participate in too much of the movement or art projects either. We found the jump rope fun though.
History for the 7th grade was dull as far as the textbook went and favored telling the story of Islam over Christianity or Judaism. I found this strange as we have our roots in Judeo-Christian culture. We have always heard never to use textbooks and now I see why. It is as if they are washed of any magic that a story has, and that is what we want in history, to tell a story of man. We ended up going back to our history story books. The Geology book was very politically correct propaganda as well. The art history however was excellent. This is the best part of the course. My son loved it to pieces and uses the knowledge he gained to point out architecture all the time in moves we watch and the world around him. Not a lot of recent science to back it up. The Science books were lacking in any real scientific inquiry, dumbed down as well. But they were good informational books. He hated them. We went back to the Apologia Discovering Creation with Physical Science for more science. It is funny that the Christian homeschooling books have more science in them than the secular ones. I find it ironic as everyone makes a big deal that Christians shun science, but yet they are training their children to have excellent scientific training, while the secular books are lacking in any real scientific thinking, but are rather dry fact books.
Both of my sons enjoyed the computer lessons and the computer extras such as Discovery Streaming and BrainPop. Since we finished the curriculum so quickly that I wouldn’t buy it again due to the cost being too high for what you are getting. I think it would be great if this was the curriculum you were going to go with for the majority of homeschooling. Since we did other things, a lot of the lessons were already covered elsewhere. I have heard that this curriculum is a grade ahead, and that might be true if you are coming out of public school or starting with Calvert, but I find that it is a grade behind from homeschooling the whole time. I sound a bit harsh, but I do think this is a great program. I like how they mix some lessons together such as computer data processing with the History lessons. I think we would use the Calvert Math and the art history books on their own however. I also have to say their customer service is excellent, above any other company. I hope that was helpful.
- Reviewed on Thursday, January 2, 2014
- Grades Used: Prek, 1st, 2nd
- Dates used: 2010-present
Things to know about Calvert before buying: 1. It is secular--all of it, including the history and science. 2.) Expensive--compared to most other products in the homeschool market. 3.) It is derived from a private school curriculum and so is very "public schoolish" in approach, with textbooks, worksheets, etc.
If any one of these is a sticking point, you would be better served by a different curriculum. If not, please read on.
Prek--was better suited to start with a three year old and stretch out past a year, then to start at 4-5. Had a great mix of gross and fine motor activities, crafts, music, art and reading & math readiness. My son enjoyed it, but it was too easy for him at four.
1st & 2nd grades: Good things: Their reading program is excellent. Both my struggling reader and my early reader developed strong reading skills with it. They loved the Houghton MIfflin textbooks and still remember the stories fondly. I appreciated that they were well-written and had a strong emphasis on diversity. The program has a heavy emphasis on phonics, but sight words are also used.Grammar (nouns, verbs) is introduced in first grade and reviewed regularly. Social Studies was fun and they retained a surprising amount from it. Only one child used Math in Focus but he enjoyed the fun worksheets and the emphasis on problem solving. The supplemental technology, BrainPop Jr. and Discovery Ed. videos were well selected and enjoyed by both boys.
The Teacher's Manual are clear and detailed. They give tons of suggestions for how to teach a particular concept in different ways. The Education Counselors are also wonderful in this respect. One child was struggling with writing and a counselor reviewed approximately 40 lessons with me and gave suggestions about modifying every single writing assignment. It's nice to receive that kind of help.
I thought the curriculum was well-designed and rigorous, with daily variety and a good mix of activities. My sons have learned and retained more with Calvert than with any other program we've tried and have asked repeatedly to return to it when we've tried other materials.
Now the bad things: While the science textbooks are age appropriate and beautifully photographed, they bored us to death. Science should be fun at this age! Fortunately, subbing in other materials is easy enough for six & seven year olds.
There is a lot of writing. It was too much for both boys and I just reduced or skipped some assignments.
I found it very easy to slip into a "must get it all done" mindset with this curriculum and found that I was getting overwhelmed by the large amount of detail in the TMs. This led to burnout on a couple of occasions. I tried to solve these problems by: setting time limits for our work, taking regular mini vacations, and working solely from the checklist at the front of each lesson, rather than reading through all of the suggestions for each day. Things also improved when I was freer with doing worksheets orally or skipping them altogether or when i "chunked" subjects together on certain days of the week.
Another related issue we had was the sheer volume of work Calvert assigned for these grades. I pared down what we were doing every single day or the boys got exhausted.
Calvert is also not a "hands-off" curriculum. It is very teacher-intensive until the upper grades.
As mentioned in a previous review, the price has increased dramatically over the past few years and I am starting to balk at it. One solution is to get Calvert through a charter school. Another choice is to skip the Teacher's Manuals altogether and piece together the curriculum from Amazon and Ebay for a lot less money. (The Teacher's Manuals may not be resold but all other parts of the curriculum are exempt from this stipulation and the textbooks they use are freely available.) Or I can suck it up and pay for it out-of-pocket. I haven't made a decision yet. Incidentally, their return policy is poor. Customers only have thirty days to receive a refund and the materials must be in pristine condition. First time buyers can choose to return the curriculum after completing the first 60 lessons.
Calvert has strong advantages and disadvantages. I recommend reviewing their web site thoroughly and speaking with an Education Consultant several times to make sure it's the right fit for your family.
- Reviewed on Thursday, December 5, 2013
- Grades Used: 1st 2nd 3rd 6th
- Dates used: 2013
This is our first year of homeschooling. We had taken our tow older kids out of the public school three years age, and sent them to a Christian School, witch they loved. We love the Curriculum it had but it got to be to much to pay for. We had our younger two in the public school witch we hated. My Husband got a new job and got put on 2nd shift and he though it would be better for the kids and us to home school. We liked the Abeka curriculum but it is to pricey for us. We heard of an online school called Ohdela and the had a program the you can teach you kids with the curriculum calvet for free. We have found out just two weeks into it, it is not for our family. The teaching is false and we tell our kids the right, for one they teach millons of years, and the world is no more than 6000 years. Our 6th grader hates it our 3rd grader says it is dumb. This is our first year and last year with this junk. (If your a Christian Please do not get this).
- Reviewed on Thursday, July 25, 2013
- Grades Used: Pre-K, K, 4, 6
- Dates used: 2006 off and on to the present
I have tried many homeschool methods including mostly textbooks, mostly Charlotte Mason, and some relaxed homeschooling. I keep returning to Calvert again and again.
There's a sense in which I wish another method would have worked for us. I would rather be more relaxed, or have more of our curriculum clearly reflect Christian values. And doesn't everyone want to tailor every subject to the individual needs of the child?
However, I always found that I was stressed out about what we were missing. It was hard to be consistent, and it was very difficult to build variety into our days. We could never just get a good flow going.
With Calvert, my children have consistently, AND variety. They have the consistency of knowing how the program works, knowing that we will cover every book this year, and knowing how to open the manual and get started, with or without me. But, they also have variety. The Calvert program covers art, Art History, computer skills, typing, a little bit of public speaking and giving presentations, hands on projects, and of course the usual things like Science or History.
There are a few areas in which we have to supplement. For example my daughter is a poor speller and she is using Sequential Spelling instead of the Calvert Spelling (which we love and it does work, it's just not what she really needs at this time.)
But, overall, we do not feel the need to tweak and supplement too much. Calvert gives them an amazing well rounded education and keeps me in the loop with my 6th grader, by having excellent discussion questions in many subjects so that we can open the manual and have interesting, intelligent discussions about many subjects.
We have actually learned to like the fact that Calvert is not from a "Christian" perspective because to be honest, we often disagreed with some of the bias in traditional Christian textbooks, like Abeka, CLP, or BJU. With Calvert, they are having their eyes opened to some issues that we can discuss, and because I am so involved, we are discussing it from a Biblical perspective.
The Writing instruction is absolutely awesome, by the way. Both of my kids are excellent writers and the writing is devloped in a very systematic, gentle way. But, Calvert also covers some fun things such as special kids of poems and reports to keep things interesting. They not only write all kinds of compositions, essays, narratives, but they also write fun book reports, cinquains, diamontes, haiku, and much more. My children enjoy writing.
The Art History is so enriching. I love how we study Sculpture all year long and have beautiful pictures of the most amazing sculpture ever made. We really learn the story behind the pieces, and we get to use our vocabulary to discuss the sculpture as well. We loved learning about La Pieta, David, Egyptian Bas Relief sculpture and much more.
My daughter goes around pointing out Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian columns in a visit to San Francisco because of her 4th grade art course. We are reading excerpts from the Iliad, the Odyssey and many other ancient tales in Mighty Men. What fun!
The Calvert education counselors are excellent. Even with the change to Calvert Education Services, I still feel like I am getting one on one attention from someone who really loves to teach and loves children. They are always kind and encouraging, and they will get right on the phone directly with older kids, if you want, to explain a math problem, grammar concept, or give organizational advice.
Calvert really gives you the tools to feel EXTREMELY confident about every aspect of home education. All you have to add is real life and physical activity to provide a well rounded educational experience. You are giving your kids a private school education with Calvert at a fraction of the cost. Compare the 1200.00 of Calvert to the 10,000.00 (minimum) of a private school and you will see that the numbers are clearly in your favor.
PS See my separate review of Calvert Math. We use the 4th grade but not the 6th at this time.