One Year With The Robinson Curriculum: Our Family’s Experience
We purchased the Robinson Curriculum in August 2010 for use with our two Grade 8 children, aged 12 and 13. We LOVED it. In fact, the Robinson Curriculum helped us get through the 2010-11 school year when an unexpectedly bad pregnancy was thrown into the mix. What follows is a brief description of how we used the program.
At first, we used the curriculum pretty much as directed. We focused on math, writing, reading, and vocabulary. The children generally completed all of their work by late morning, and we spent the afternoons exploring other interests. Over the course of the year, however, we had to tweak the program to continue schooling during the pregnancy and to meet the children’s needs.
Here is what we did:
Math: We kept the Robinson suggestion of having each child complete the equivalent of one lesson of Saxon math a day. Since we use Life of Fred, the children completed up to four lessons a day, depending on which text they were using. We ended the year with both children ready for Advanced Algebra, although we did take a short break from math to focus on Logic.
Writing: Initially, we followed the Robinson recommendation of requiring each child to write a one-page composition per day without suggesting any formal structure to the child. However, over the course of the year, we incorporated lessons from Understanding Writing into writing time. This was to give our children more instruction on writing clearly and also to encourage our children to explore different styles of writing. Without laying down some rules, one child would have written a fiction composition each day. This would have been okay except that the same child struggled to put ideas into words when writing non-fiction. As a result, we incorporated some writing instruction to assist the child with mastering forms of non-fiction writing.
Reading: We began at the start of the Robinson reading list and skipped certain selections as we went along to allow the children to progress more rapidly to their reading level. The children enjoyed the books and understood what they were reading. However, they did find the book tests to be quite difficult.
Vocabulary: We initially used the vocabulary lists and drilled vocabulary every day. However, in time it became apparent that the children were not converting the vocabulary into active vocabulary. We attempted to have the children incorporate the vocabulary into their writing assignments; however, when we did that, the assignments became stilted and contrived just for the purpose of incorporating the assigned vocabulary. In the end, we ended up scrapping the extra instruction in vocabulary as per Ruth Beechick’s opinion on teaching vocabulary. We may reincorporate it at some future date if necessary.
Here Is How We Will Use The Robinson Curriculum In The Future:
With Our High School Students:
Math: We will continue to follow the Robinson Curriculum recommendations of one lesson of math per day. We intend to study science after math, starting with university-level physics (that’s college-level to those of you who are American). We will likely do math year-round, but we will not be making a final decision on that until later this year.
Writing: We have incorporated writing into the unit study programs we are using for high school (Far Above Rubies / Blessed Is The Man). We are using these unit studies because we felt we needed to emphasize character and research skills as part of our children’s education.
Reading: We intend to use the Robinson reading selections as part of our high school unit study program. One reason we chose to do this is that we wanted to put our children’s studies in context, ie. study ancient history at the same time they were reading ancient literature. Another reason is that not all of the high school selections came with an accompanying test, and we need some way of assigning grades to the work our children complete. We will use some of the Robinson Curriculum selections as well as suggestions from the Puritans’ Home School Curriculum and our unit studies.
Overall, our days still roughly follow the Robinson approach: start with math, follow with reading and writing. We do add some other courses in, though, which is a Robinson no-no. These are included as part of our unit study. We also study one language course per semester since our children really wanted to do so (with the exception of French, which all students in Ontario take. We felt it was desirable for our children to take one French course since they have some French relatives who do not speak any English and we felt it was good for them to have some idea of their culture and heritage).
With Our Little Ones:
Math: We plan on introducing basic math concepts to our children. Then we will start with the Life of Fred Elementary Series and continue math through Calculus. We will then use the Robinson science courses.
Writing: We plan on introducing basic printing, writing, and copywork. Then, we will use Understanding Writing on a daily basis during writing time. We will also encourage our children to explore other writing projects as their interests and abilities dictate.
Reading: We plan on teaching phonics and basic reading. Then, we plan on starting at the beginning of the book list and following it as far as our little ones get by the end of Grade 8. We will likely re-use our unit studies for high school, but what exactly we do will depend on each child’s needs.
Overall, we are VERY pleased with the Robinson Curriculum. We look forward to seeing how it works with our younger children, who will follow it from the very beginning.