Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 8:25 am
pjssully wrote:HI-- i've been back and forth with this board for a couple months now. every time i look, i am always inspired to go back to MFW. Right now i am using sonlight 3 with my 9 and 7 year old. i tried MFW for a few weeks and just felt like it wasn't enough.
My question is to those who have used MFW for a long time--does it seem like enough academically--i worry about the science not being enough.
I think i will miss the history piece if i do mFW ECC, since there is no history. should i try to add to MFW ECC? Or should i just trust MFW that it is truly enough ?
Rather than link back to previous posts, I thought I’d like to share why I still use MFW and stopped looking at other catalogs.
I can understand the nervous feelings of wanting to know if a program is right. Been there. I’ve stayed with MFW. There are so many programs out there. And if you have ever been to a home school convention, it is overwhelming to try to decide. I was in that boat in 2003. Never heard of MFW until that year’s convention. It had everything I wanted. Hands on learning. Unit Studies. Chronological history. Encourages a gentle approach to learning in the early years (ala Charlotte Mason). And at its core --- it is a Christian program designed to help me raise my family to see God’s hand in history and act according to that knowledge. It was designed to be done in a way that left me time in the afternoon to do other things without feeling so burned out that I didn’t want to do them. It is academic and simple. I like that combo too.
The first couple of weeks in any MFW program are typically lighter than other weeks in the program. This is by design to allow you to ease into the school year. Once you add in the full program (by about week 4 or 5) you can begin to see it is a complete program – assuming that you are doing all of the program. If all you are doing is Geography, then you have chosen to miss the rest of the program. ECC covers about 7-10 subjects using materials that are academic, effective and not time consuming. Those subjects include: Bible, character, geography, science, art, music appreciation, (math and language arts), optional foreign language, reading. Reading is covered in at least 3 areas: read alouds, reading time and book basket.
What other subjects are you hoping to add? Some people want other things--- you can add those things on Fridays or in the afternoons. Get done with school first and then add those other individual interests.
You do study some history in ECC --- but it is not a full history program. While studying about people groups you are learning about their history as well. When we read missionary biographies --- we are learning history. It is a more general approach at this level instead of a focused chronological approach that is found in years 2-5.
I'm in my 4th year of using MFW. I clearly like MFW. I like having smart kids. My oldest is my child with no special needs labels. So – she gets to be my smart kid. We love science. My husband is currently a research scientist at a Big Ten University. He holds a PHD in Chemistry. We like science. We’re nerds. Here is why we like the approach that MFW uses in science. It is age appropriate. It encourages a love for learning more about God’s creation. It encourages thinking skills early in science over a ton of facts shoved in their brains to be spit out on a test. It doesn’t complicate the learning with too much science jargon. It encourages the use of everyday things to teach science.
Now, with all that said, in ECC the science looks light because it is so intertwined with the unit study. You will not spend a huge amount of time doing a separated out science program with MFW in the early ages of elementary school. It is age appropriate for your 9 and 7 y.o. The science, as written in ECC, is great for exposing children to the living world around them. It would be ideal to visit every place in the world and have a field trip to go with the science --- but that’s not a real situation or possibility for most of us. So we do that through books and some fun for the kids activities.
Now, we tried to add a full science program to ECC when our oldest did ECC as an 8 year old. You’d think that PhD scientist and his wife could pull that off. But guess what? It backfired. We wanted a program that had more experiments, more jargon and was a science program. Phooey on us. We wised up and went a different route. Instead of doing another program we added to the science that year by playing with baking soda and vinegar. We checked out more library books. Some were about animals; some were about plants; some were about physics and chemistry. We used the light and independent Fridays to add in fun stuff that fit our child’s interest. We took a field trip to a hands on science museum. We finally realized, even if we didn’t have the words for it, that at this age, it is really about exposing them to the world around them and enjoying it. The super formal lessons can wait a few more years. And that is from the science nerd perspective. Let them enjoy science --- don’t knock the joy of it out of your children.
Is MFW enough? If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t be on this board all the time trying to help others who want to know. Clearly I think so. But why? Each year gets a little harder. There is time to add more work in. There is time to not get bogged down in language arts and math and science and history and still have time for life. It is a thorough program. I’ve learned over the years of home schooling that you don’t need to cover every single subject very heavily every single year or even every single day. It covers about 10 subjects in the program. I think that is enough for this age!
I’ve used this analogy on this board before, but I’ll say it again. A school year and a full term pregnancy are both 9 months long (give or take a day or too). On any particular day of the pregnancy, that baby may not seem to change or grow much. But at the end of the term --- a lot of growth has happened. It is the same way with a MFW program. On any particular day of any week, it may look small and unimportant – but there is growth, learning and part of a bigger process.
I hope this rather long story gives you a bit of the picture of why I still love using MFW. I was drawn to it at the convention and it fits our family.
May the Lord lead your decision.