Cathy Duffy's Curriculum Review Manual

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IdahoHomeschool

  • Reviewed on Saturday, August 30, 2008
  • Grades Used: -
  • Dates used: -
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HSM2B

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, May 27, 2008
  • Grades Used: All!
  • Dates used: 2008
I love this book! I just checked it out at the library and didn't want to return it! It's good for those like me that need a detailed explanation of curriculum,but not too much at once! This will give you a pretty good idea about all the different curriculum choices that are out there. It also has a section in the front that will help you find out what kind of learner your child is. And then it will tell you what curriculum choices you could use with your type of learner. It also has in that section what type of teacher you are and what curriculum will go with your style of teaching. I thought it was very usefull information! Love it!

Nadia Arensdorf

  • Reviewed on Sunday, March 31, 2002
  • Grades Used: Elementary; Junior/Senior High
  • Dates used: January 2001 - Present
I was introduced to Cathy Duffy's Curriculum Review Manuals from the gal who mentored me into Homeschooling. She said they were the Homeschoolers' Bible, and I couldn't agree more. The purpose of these manuals is to provide reviews of many, many curriculums out there. However, these books are so much more. Cathy starts out by discussing homeschooling in general, with typical subjects like philosophy, scheduling, goals, publishers, etc. early on in the book. In the Junior/Senior High book she also includes very helpful info on college requirements and record keeping. There is so much more as well, and she makes it very enjoyable to read. The introductory chapters are not designed to be full coverage, but she gets your mind working on all these subjects. And, she recommends books that will cover whatever subject in detail.

The curriculum reviews cover most of the rest of the book. Cathy maintains a high level of fairness as she discusses pros and cons about the various subjects and available materials. She frequently mentions times when a particular curriculum works well with certain types of learners and teachers (another subject well covered in the early part of the book). This is very helpful for me. When it says it is hard for a Perfect Paula to teach from, I know it is probably not a curriculum I should be looking at.

I use these books to decipher which curriculum I am interested in pursuing. I am fortunate to live in a huge city, so I have available to me an excellent homeschooling store which contains many of the curriculum she reviews. I simply write out what I'm interested in looking at; check it out online; and also look at the store. I have found I really am able to weed out various stuff that just won't work for us. Also, after a while, as you become familiar with the various curriculums as well as Cathy's reviews, you are better able to tell what she is describing because you just are more educated.

Some people have been overwhelmed by these books because they are about 500 pages long and a large size (8 1/2 X 11). However, Cathy is very organized. If you have a particular subject and/or grade level you are interested in, all you must do is find that subject and that grade level and focus on that section. Just ignore the rest so you don't become overwhelmed.

In this review, I can't help but compare Cathy Duffy's books with Mary Pride, another favorite author of homeschoolers. I have used Mary Pride's books, and they contain information that Cathy Duffy does not have, but it also seems there is not as much included as well. Mary has her whole set of manuals in four volumes, while Cathy Duffy seems to contain the same basic info in only two. I could be wrong about that as I have not read each volume of Mary Pride's, but one of the things I don't like about Mary Pride's is that the reviews are very wordy. There is good information in hers, but she does not write in a style that is as straightforward as Cathy Duffy's. Obviously a personal preference, but instead of buying (or reading) four books, I'd rather buy two (I need both curriculum manuals for all my kids). The other thing I don't like is that the quality of publishing is much higher in Cathy's. White sturdy paper with two columns is more pleasing to me than Mary Pride's beige, thinner paper. What I do when I need a second opinion is check out Mary Pride's from the library. This works very well when I need it.

My one frustration with the books is that there is always new curriculum to review that doesn't make it into print. I wish periodically Cathy would publish an update instead of us having to purchase new books entirely.

If you have read this far, thank you. I hope I have helped you out.