When I was researching homeschool curricula, I made charts to compare my top three or four choices for history, math, writing, spelling, and grammar. The last few weeks I have been sharing my comparison of history curricula, starting with the Tapestry of Grace curriculum and then BiblioPlan last week. My top three choices for history for our family were Tapestry of Grace (TOG), My Father’s World (MFW), and BiblioPlan (BP). All three companies follow the classical or Charlotte Mason models of education. I also made a list of short descriptions of lots of other choices for history curriculum.
I have practically memorized every page of My Father’s World’s website but have not used it. The only portion of My Father’s World that I have experience with is the “Book Basket” sections of five of their teacher’s manuals.
My Father’s World recognizes the Bible, God’s truth, to be the foundation of wisdom and education.
• Utilizes hands-on unit studies with daily lesson plans that are easy to teach.
• Enables families and schools to teach children of multiple ages and grades together.
• Combines the best of Charlotte Mason’s ideas and classical education with a Biblical worldview, an international focus, and our own observations of how children learn.
• Uses a comprehensive, sequenced learning program beginning with preschool learning toys to develop readiness skills. Our complete unit-based curriculum includes a phonics- based learning-to-read program focusing on God’s amazing creation (kindergarten), the world of the Bible (first grade), and U.S. history (second or third grade). Then a year of geography sets the foundation for chronological world and U.S. history (through eighth grade). Our high school curriculum provides a Biblical framework for English, history, and other subjects.
• Provides easy-to-teach, integrated curriculum that is enjoyable, academically strong, and focused on character development.
• Is committed to the Lord of All, who tenderly searches for people from every tribe and language. A portion of our profits helps support mission work overseas, especially Bible translation projects. Our heart’s desire is that someday soon all people would be able to read of God’s love in their own language.
Bible is integrated into the study of history, science, and literature in each year of our program, helping children learn a Biblical worldview from kindergarten all the way through high school. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is studied in three cycles, each at a more detailed level.
You can read further reading at MFW’s site on the authors (missionaries, educators, Bible translators); also read on “How Is Bible Integrated into Our Curriculum?”
Includes: complete curriculum for grades K-2. (reading, math, science, Bible, creative thinking, character development, children’s lit, and art and music in 2nd.) Grades 3-8 include Bible, literature, history/geography, science, music appreciation, art (not just art history and appreciation, but also actual art instruction), and character development plus recommendations for grade level math and language arts. Grades 9-12 include Bible, history, English, literature, government, economics, speech, and biblical worldview; you may also purchase their sets for math (Saxon/Jacobs Geometry with MFW lesson plans and DIVE CDs) and science (Apologia), electives, and Rosetta Stone for foreign language.
Five-year breakdown of their history cycle:
- Year 1—Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC) (geography)
- Year 2–Creation to the Greeks (CTG)
- Year 3—Rome to the Reformation (RTR)
- Year 4—Exploration to 1850
- Year 5—1850-Modern Times
- Combines best of classical with the best of Charlotte Mason methods. (nature walks/character development/living books)
- Includes more subjects for the price! Science, art and music appreciation (not just history), a bit more literature (potential).
- Grades K-8 (esp. 2-8) are all learning together. Makes for great discussions and memorable learning. High school students learn by themselves, but sometimes the years of the history cycle will still line up.
- Big emphasis on missions/global picture: one whole year to teach geography and cultures; the authors were former missionaries; and MFW financially supports Bible translation.
- The requirements are reasonable, progressing gently, not too time-consuming. Hands-on activities include a lot of cooking, not too many useless throw-away projects.
- Low costs; even lower than Rainbow Resources prices for books sold thru MFW.
- Ties literature in with the history you’re learning. Love connecting these two.
- Book basket! Neat idea. Great annotated book list. Flexibility in the books you choose. Helps keep costs down. (You can read up on it on their website. It’s a little confusing at first.)
- Teacher’s Manual (TM) is organized well with a daily schedule and extra comments, as well as tips on how to notebook, etc.
- Buy it once, use it again and again.
- Doesn’t include the high school on the same historical year plan as the youngers. This could be a weakness or strength, depending on how you see it.
- Doesn’t have a 4-year cycle—awkward 5-year.
- Doesn’t seem to include much reading comprehension/literature worksheets. This is good if you want your kids to READ, not spend hours on workbooks like a traditional school-at-home experience; but you might want more. They do use Progeny Press lit guides (highly recommended!) on the junior high levels though.
- Some don’t like the science or Bible choices (or art/music), so that makes it not worth it to them to buy the TM ($99.50 new) just for history/literature.
- Some say it’s too easy/too little, or moves too slowly. I personally don’t understand this. MFW uses textbooks that are extremely popular amongst homeschooling families (history—Story of the World, Genevieve Foster, Streams of Civilization; science—Usborne, Apologia, Janice Van Cleave, Answers in Genesis), so I’m not sure how much more people would want to add in for non-core subjects. The critique may be accurate for kindergarten/first grade however.
- Their recommendation for grammar is not as rigorous. (cheap, though!) If you believe grammar should be taught rigorously before junior high (classical vs. Charlotte Mason), may not want to use MFW’s LA recommendation. It’s absolutely not required to use their recommendations, however.
- No evaluations.
- Some don’t like the departure from Story of the World vol 1 for Creation to the Greeks. They say Streams is too hard for 4th grade or below. (Because that year is so connected to the Bible, MFW uses the Bible and Streams of Civilization 1 [Christian Liberty Press] as the core textbooks.)
Here’s how I handle MFW’s weaknesses listed above:
- Part of me loves the idea of having the kids all together studying the same historical year and topics from K through high school; part of me is unconcerned because you want high school kids to work independently anyway, and some of the years line up fairly well anyway in MFW. I may switch in high school to another curriculum, and our family’s needs and desires may be different then. I can’t base my decision on this. I don’t know what I’ll be doing eight years from now!
- At first, I was really bothered about not going through the historical cycle three full times like in TOG or BP. However, if you do use MFW’s 1st grade, they say you go through history 3 times—1st grade is a light overview of world history (mainly through the Bible), 2nd grade is American history, ECC starts when your oldest child hits 3rd grade. Either way, all the children go through the cycle about two and a half times, and that’s fine! I kept trying to adjust the system (like use BP for grades 1-4, then skip ECC and go to MFW for grades 5-8 with Caleb). That seemed crazy though. If I bought BP just for Caleb’s first 4 years, and then switched to MFW for all of the other children, it would seem wasteful. In the end, we liked the idea of ECC, with its global and missions emphases. And I heard so many happy reviews of that year’s program. So we decided to use the program as is. I will do SOTW volume 1 with Caleb for 1st grade and start MFW Adventures in 2nd. I also like him getting some foundational American history since we are over here.
- Not a huge concern to me. My plan is to use ABeka’s reading program through 3rd grade. If I want extra reading comprehension, I can order a couple of Progeny Press guides for 4th-6th grades. Susan Wise Bauer suggests not doing formal literature study until the upper grades as well, but instead to assess comprehension through narration.
- I also debated this. I wasn’t sure on weaving the Bible portion of the curriculum into the history. But MFW’s Bible seems stronger and more integral to their program than all the other choices, and we do so much Bible at home and church. For science, I had thought to use solely Apologia science, but some of the other texts MFW chose are also loved by homeschoolers—VanCleave, Answers in Gen., Usborne, and two written with MFW’s help to make them more Christian—1 received a “top pick” recommendation by Cathy Duffy. So in the end, I’m happy to have some variety there, and taste some of the other companies with MFW to help me schedule and teach it all. Science isn’t a biggie to me on the elementary level. I’m glad it’s included.
- I believe I’ll like their pacing and actually struggle to accomplish it all. History and science shouldn’t take all day.
- You don’t have to use their Language Arts recommendations. I think I will use Rod & Staff for grammar; but since MFW’s grammar and spelling recommendations are cheap, I will look at them.
- You could buy from the textbooks’ companies, like Story of the World, Answers in Genesis, or Streams of Civilization’s tests. That’s what I have done. Also, some homeschoolers firmly believe tests are mainly for classroom situations, not home school where the child is individually taught and evaluated. MFW emphasizes review and assessments through other methods such as narration, especially in elementary.
- I’m also not crazy about this, but this isn’t a deal-breaker to me. Story of the World is so cheap (can get it for $10) that you could get it just in case. Use MFW as is, and if you don’t like Streams, chuck it, and plug in Story of the World instead. I will already have Story of the World volume 1 to use with Caleb in 1st grade. Perhaps I will like Streams better anyway. I appreciate MFW’s thoughtfulness and care to make history as Biblically-centered as possible. Also, I like MFW’s breakdown of the four year history cycle better. More time is spent on ancient/medieval history; whereas TOG spends two years on the last 200 years of history. Depends whether you want to emphasize modern or ancient.
My Father’s World works hard to keep prices low. I sometimes wonder how they stay in business with the prices they put on their books as well as supporting missions. For the 5-year history cycle, they offer deluxe packages that range slightly above $350 and basic packages (which exclude 4-6 books for “read-alouds,” art, music, and a couple of enrichment items) that range around $275. This does not include extra literature that is covered through their “book basket,” a requirement for literature that you will decide how to fulfill for your students; however the prices do include the teacher’s and students’ materials for Bible, science, history, and in the deluxe packages, the read-aloud literature, art, music, and one or two extra enrichment items.
We have chosen My Father’s World for our family, and I’ll cover how we came to that decision at another time. We’re excited to be using a quality, helpful, Christ-honoring program that meets our philosophy of education.