Rod and Staff

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Angelica Fazio

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, December 16, 2014
  • Grades Used: 1st-4th
  • Dates used: 1984-2014
I am a Christian grandma as well as credentialed home school teacher/facilitator. In the 1980's I created a Christian school (grades K-11) in which I used the Rod and Staff readers to teach Bible in grades K-4. I am still using Rod and Staff today with my home-schooled grandbabies. There is NOTHING like these readers!!! There are the most biblical, solid Bible readers I have ever seen. They are simple, yet incredibly aligned to Scripture! (Every other Bible book I've seen takes far too many liberties in relating to the children. I've never found another children's Bible that is so well aligned with Scripture!)

Even if your child reads well, I would highly recommend this series to give your child a biblical foundation. In fact, my now-adult son (who is a dean at a seminary) has a ministry in Uganda---where he is working on establishing a Bible school to train Ugandan pastors---many of whom are illiterate. His plan is to teach those pastors to read and use the Rod and Staff readers as their original Bible curriculum to give them a good, solid grounding in the Bible as they are learning how to read.

I seldom write reviews on anything. I'm far too busy. However, I want every Christian parent to know that if they are serious about getting a solid biblical foundation in their young child, there is no better way to do it than the Rod and Staff Readers and their accompanying workbooks.


  • Reviewed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012
  • Grades Used: K-2nd
  • Dates used: 2010-2012
Rod and Staff Reading, Phonics and Grammar - These programs are SOLID also and complete. The phonics and reading courses complement each other nicely. The phonics works and will get your child reading fast. I admit...I even learned a few things...guess I'd forgotten what a diphthong was! The reading is completely Bible based which we loved. For 2nd grade reading however we did half of the lesson orally to eliminate so much bookwork. These programs start at the beginning so I started my K student at grade 1. We took 2-3 days to complete a lesson and this has worked well for us. The Grammar lessons are short and have plenty of review built it.

Rod and Staff Science 2 - Nice lessons but not very "meaty." We covered the book in the first 2 months of school. I supplemented with books on the topic and the children enjoyed it.

Rod and Staff Math grades 1 & 2 - if you have a student struggling with math fact families this program will work great. Otherwise the repetition becomes drudgery for bright students.I would hear, "Mom, I get it already! Do I really have to do 50 more problems?) Up to grade 2 the math programs cover all subtraction/addition fact families, place value to thousands, fractions: 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, quarts/pints/dozen, and word problems. There is no measurement, no logic, no beginning multiplication or division, no skip counting, etc... It was just *ok* for us. After grade 2 we ditched it and went with TT which was a bust and then settled into CLE. We LOVE CLE. I also like the consumable workbooks:)


  • Reviewed on Thursday, June 17, 2010
  • Grades Used: 1st - 2nd
  • Dates used: 2008-2010
Rod and Staff and the Struggling Young Learner

I started out with Rod and Staff and plan to use some of it (not the complete curriculum) for our 3rd-grade year.

If you're considering Rod and Staff you probably know that they are Mennonite and an unabashedly Christian. The artwork is traditional rather than modern in style- looking like something out of the 50s or 60s. Girls wear dresses; adult women wear prayer caps. Women are portrayed as homemakers. If you have a problem with this, then R & S probably isn't for you.

Also, our background: Our daughter is very articulate and bright, but has some struggles in certain areas due to vision issues and other problems. It takes her longer to do work than it might other children. Reading tires her because of an eye tracking problem (which we are also working with), and she has a great deal of difficulty memorizing math facts. She also writes slowly, transposing word order. R & S is a very written/visual curriculum, so we only do selected exercises.

This year (2nd) we used:

Readers: I like the Bible readers. My daughter is a competent reader and she does well with these, although she tires after reading 2-3 pages. She's learned a LOT, and amazes her Sunday School teacher with her knowledge. We also use the Pathways (Amish) readers, McGuffey's 2nd Reader, some antique readers, and other grade-level reading books.

Reading Workbook: I've never used these, even though I bought them the first 2 years. My daughter works slowly due to some vision & other issues, and to do all the workbook pages and misc. would take HOURS everyday for her.

Phonics: R & S phonics is VERY through (at least it seems to me) and seems to move very fast. It's even hard for me to memorize some of the rules day by day. I think it's a solid program, but it's definitely challenging for my daughter and we only do selected exercises. It requires a good bit of reading and writing ability, as well as the auditory ability to tell which syllable of a word is stressed.

R & S also puts a lot of emphasis on the child being able to WRITE the dictionary pronunciation of the word, which to me is a little overkill as some dictionaries use different symbols for the same sound. We have not done all the work in this area, as I didn't feel that it was that important. If she can use the dictionary to sound out words, that it enough for me. The 2nd grade phonics has taken us a long time, and we'll work on it even through the summer.

*Both the English and Phonics require a certain amount of reading comprehension and memory, which can be a problem for some children. The child has to read and understand the sentence, then read and understand the words from the word-bank, remembering the sentence and words long enough to decide which word fits the sentence best. Our daughter was not developmentally ready for this until about mid 2nd-grade.

Math- I personally like the R & S math books in theory. They are VERY thorough- very drill oriented. I've often said that I could learn nuclear physics if it were drilled into me like R & S drills the addition facts. Unfortunately our daughter doesn't learn by drill. She can do page after page after page and still not know the problem. So we've switched to another type of math (home-made, honestly). If your child is adequate in math and learns by drill, then I think R & S would give a firm foundation.

English- I like the R & S English books and am using them again for 3rd grade. They are pretty cut-and-dried and no nonsense. I DID change the sequence in the 2nd grade English book and start with nouns and verbs, though. We've already started with the 3rd Grade English and my daughter actually loves diagramming the sentences.

My Father's World- The geography book is very dated, and is focused on Canada and a few other areas. Maybe this is different now, but it really needs to be updated. We really didn't use this.

Penmanship- R & S teaches printing, then a slanted printing, then cursive. We skipped the slanted printing and went straight into cursive. Honestly, I ended up buying a program that has the fonts for teaching cursive and making my own copywork.

Spelling- I didn't particularly like the R & S spelling. I think R & S could combine spelling with its phonics program very easily and with a lot of benefit for the student.

(For history and science both years we've used different textbooks other than R & S.)

In 3rd grade, we'll be using the readers for Bible lessons, the English and the phonics. I'm still considering getting the math books just for practice.

Anyway, this has been our experience with R & S. It's a good, godly and no-nonsense curriculum for the early years and certainly very cost-effective. Blessings on you and your child(ren).


  • Reviewed on Monday, December 7, 2009
  • Grades Used: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
  • Dates used: 2008-2010
I ordered Rod & Staff as almost a last resort... I was getting too overwhelmed with all the subjects I was trying to teach, and wanted something clear and practical without all the fluff.
That's what I've enjoyed most about Rod and Staff, it just teaches, and it teaches well. The lessons are laid out very well, and there is little confusion about how to teach (my biggest complaint with Shurley English).

The math program is teaches math very well. It has the perfect mix of rote memory, worksheets and lecture time. It also does a wonderful job of teaching concepts, I really liked the concrete way in which they teach, and my children so far have loved the nature examples they use in the text. I also like the lack of colored graphics (Colored graphics have served as a distraction to my children--Abeka being the worst).

My favorite subject that R&S teaches, however, is English. As a family who are very interested in teaching their children multiple languages throughout their life, Rod & Staff has been very valuable. They are practically the only curriculum that still diagrams sentences, something that is necessary to know in high-school/college if you ever want your child to learn Latin, Greek, Hebrew, etc.

I really can't say enough positive things about this curriculum. Well taught, very thorough, concrete examples, God-centered, and as an added bonus, its also priced well. In my opinion its the best curriculum on the market today.