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Families Again
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Dollar Homeschool - Back to the Basics!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

Don't you just love it when you hear statements from you elders like..."Well, we didn't have plumbing in our house until I was twelve years old." or "We had to walk 3 miles to school uphill both ways."?

I lived with my grandfather, and although such statements were probably not far off the mark, I would always hate when he went into one of his lectures. Looking back, though, it is kind of funny to remember them, and now, I think about what advantages children of today have that I didn't have. Just the other day I was discussing with my boys about how desktop computers weren't even invented until after I graduated from high school! I had to type on an old electric typewriter (OH! Horror the thought! Smile).

There is something to say about the way our ancestors did things though. Especially in education. I know that with all of the advances in techonology, that kids today have to know many more and different things than even I had to learn, but sometimes we lose sight of the basics of learning. We think we have to teach kids so many things and curriculum companies think that they have to add so many bells and whistles to their curriculum that you sometimes want to just yell "STOP!" What happened to the old days? You and I had a pretty good education without all of the trappings. Where can I find curriculum that will take me back to the core things that I want to teach my kids? That's where Dollar Homeschool comes in.

Dollar Homeschool is a company that has taken some of the old tried and true standards that our fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers learned from and put them all in one place where you can find them. I was blessed to be sent Dollar Homeschool's entire Eclectic Education Series (EES) which has a whopping...are you ready for this?...79 (seventy nine) books on CDs that you can buy! These books are divided into five categories:

Rays Math Series -  Includes 13 books covering everything from Ray's Primary Math to Ray's Differential and Integral Calculus.

History - Including Thalheimer's Histories - five history books that span Ancient History up through United States History and cover it from a Christian perspective. Also includes three Cromwell books, a five book Progressive Course in Reading, a Cyclopedia, Andrews Constitution, American Poems, Rhetorical Reading and a book titled Good Morals and Gentle Manners.

Science -  Includes everything from Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Botany, Nature Study and much, much, more.

Readers - Nineteen - 19! Yes I said "Nineteen" McGuffey Readers, Eclectic Readers and Primers.

Grammar - 13 Volumes of Long's, Pinneo's and Harvey's Grammar Books.

Teachers Books - Manual of Methods, Question Book, and Successful Teaching in Rural Schools (a selection of letters that serve as a record of achievements of teachers using the Eclectic Education Series).

It was rather obvious that no one on the Crew was going to be able to review every single bit of it, so we were told just to take the things which fit in with what our family was learning and review them. I chose to try out the appropriate levels of McGuffey Readers for both Joshua and John Allen and also chose to review Thalheimer's General History and with Joshua Thalheimer's U.S. History. Let's take them one at a time.

McGuffey Readers:

I had always heard great things about McGuffey Readers, but had never tried them with my kids. When I heard that they were part of the Eclectic Education Series, I jumped at the chance to review them. I really like them. Their levels are similar to the levels that you would find in most reading series, but probably a little more advanced. The first volume does cover the basic alphabet, but then moves quickly to three letter word sentences such as "The dog ran".

I chose the second reader for Joshua. One of the things that I like best about the McGuffey series is that they are moral and teach good values. For example, one Joshua's stories was about two boys that had gone to a birthday party. Their parents had told them to be home at a certain time, and, of course, with all of the fun, the time went quickly and it was soon time for them to leave. When they announced that they had to go home, the other boys urged them to stay. They had been given later times to be home, or no time at all. Even the lady of the house begged them to stay. The boys thought about it for a minute, but quickly stated that no, they had to leave. The story was entitled "The Little Heroes". How refreshing to find a story where the characters do the right thing instead of a tale of how someone is trying to hide the truth or make excuses. All of the stories are like that. Each story begins with a dozen or so words that are introduced in that days reading. Let me give you a few of the words that were in the story mentioned above which was the third story in the book - parents, moment, brought, heroes. So, you see how advanced these books are. This is the second reader, and, although not far off the mark. Most kids at the beginning of second grade might have difficulty with these words. You will have to read over some of the stories to be able to choose where you think your child would be at.

For John Allen I chose the 4th reader. He could have probably handled the 5th reader with ease. I have told you before, that he is an avid reader, and he is in 7th grade. However, the 5th reader introduces a oral reading, and I was just not ready to tackle that with him at this time. He does well with stuff like that, but it goes pretty deep in the 5th reader and I wanted John Allen to have a good foundation with the McGuffey series. You can also tell how different McGuffey levels are than today's when you see that the 4th level includes stories by Oliver Windle Holmes, H.W. Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Most 4th grade readers don't include such distinguished authors. That's another reason why I wanted John Allen to read this level first. Again, these stories are just as moral and trustworthy as the earlier levels. I love that.

Don't get me wrong when I talk about the McGuffey readers being more advanced. They aren't so difficult that a regular family can't use them. You just have to realize that the levels are different than your typical levels. You can't expect your third grader to be able to immediately go into McGuffey's 3rd reader. He may do fine, but don't be disappointed if he doesn't. Just adjust down to a different level. Whatever you do, please consider this series for your children.

Thalhemer's History:

This is another of the Eclectic Education Series that I really liked. They stay true to history and aren't afraid to mention God and give God the glory for events. They aren't overbearing in this area, but they don't shy away from it either.

Let me warn you, however, that these are like history textbooks. There is no curriculum with them, no suggested projects and colorful pictures. All of Eclectic Education Series that you get on CD from Dollar Homeschool has been scanned from original copies. So, you get the original black and white drawings and maps that were in the originals. For the McGuffey books, I actually liked pictures. It gave my boys a look at what life was like when the stories were written. With the history books, I chose to supplement with Joshua at least. 

Joshua is going through the U.S. History text. Now just as the readers were advanced, so are the Thalheimer books. I'm not sure in what year student's in the 1800's began studying from the Thalheimer books, but this one was a little over Joshua's level. The material is excellent, but I had to paraphrase much of it. I also would look things up on the internet. For example, one of the first sections talked about the Indian Mounds in Ohio. So, after reading that section, we googled Ohio Indian Mounds and looked at pictures of them on the computer. Later, we did this with the giant Redwood trees of California. This really helped with Joshua's understanding. I used the great information in the books as a starter and went from there.

With John Allen, I allowed him to read about world history on his own and then later asked him to retell what he had read in his own words. You could use this as a complete curriculum, supplementing with computer activities and projects, but, since we are finishing up U.S. history as well, I didn't want to over do it at this time.

All in all, I really like the Eclectic Education Series. It is more advanced than most of the watered down curriculum of today, it doesn't try to rewrite history and other material to be more politically correct, and it promotes good, wholesome values. Other crew members worked with other materials depending on the needs of their families, so I would encourage you to click here to go to the TOS Homeschool Crew review blog to find links to other reviews.

You can purchase the Eclectic Education Series in parts if you would like. The McGuffey Readers, History, Science and Grammar CD's are $39.00 each, and the Math CD is just $59.00. Or, if you would like, you can buy the entire curriculum for just $159.00, which is $56 less than the total of all of the CD's bought separately. I know that that seems like a bit much, but when you consider the cost of textbooks, and consider that these books would last for many, if not all, of your homeschool years, then $159.00 is not a bad price at all. I would even encourage non-homeschool families to at least purchase the McGuffey readers as a supplement to their child's education. Please, as usual, don't take my word for it, but check out the Dollar Homeschool website by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Happy Homeschooling.    

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent a free download of Dollar Homeschool's Eclectic Education Series to try out and review on my blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:26 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 18 February 2010 1:18 PM CST
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