I've been thinking alot about curriculum lately - thinking about my choices for next year. I like MFW but I find it lacking in some areas. In my research I find that people say this about every curriculum. I know curriculum is a tool that you have to tweak to meet your needs and MFW is no different.
MFW's packages are geared toward 2-8th graders. They have extension packages for the middle school grades. They ideally want you to start with the ECC package and work you way through a 5 year history cycle with their other packages. Well I do nothing according to the way its suppose to be done so last year I started with MFW Explorers to 1850 as it took off where we left off in the Middle Ages using SOTW two years ago. To keep my 6th & 8th grader together I decided to take this year to do a geography study with ECC before my 8th grader begins high school using MFW AHL for 9th grade then MFW WHL for 10th grade.
Here is what I've learned using ECC with older students:
1. I don't use many of the student sheets. My kids don't want to color so these are out.
2. I use blank maps from Ultimate Guide to Geography. I already owned this so I just printed out two of each map I needed for the girls.
3. The mapwork pages from World Geography are more than enough for my olders. We don't even get to all the pages so I usually pick the physical geography pages, the country summary sheet, and the rivers/mountains sheet for them to complete.
4. If classic literature is important to you, you have to schedule it in.
5. I use the Progeny Press guides loosely - picking and choosing a writing topic for essays but skipping the comprehension questions.
6. Reading the MFW forum or other online forums are priceless! This book came highly recommended on the forum. I would have missed out if I hadn't found it on the forums. It should be a part of the book basket with an asterisk beside it.
7. We don't play the geography game as written. I just put the numbered color coded maps up on the wall and have my kids race each other in guessing which countries are which. I also grade this work as a quiz when we officially "leave" that country.
8. Stamping the passports are not for my olders. I do it anyway and they say "mom this is so elementary." But they laugh so that's good.
9. We don't use Global Art or Wee Sing.
My 8th grader is using the Apologia science recommended by MFW but my 6th grader uses the texts for MFW science which includes AIG Properties of Ecosystems and Living World. It isn't enough. We primarily read the assigned texts and discuss the concepts. On occasion I have her write a paragraph about the concept we read or have her do an illustration (i.e. Acid Rain, the Water Cycle) and once we cut and pasted pictures to represent each layer of the forest. There is little hands-on and what is included (i.e. growing a potato, observing a section of the lawn, creating an ecosystem for an earthworm) just isn't very exciting. I've supplemented with outside courses at Engineering For Kids, and Science Saturdays at the the local community college. This student loves Science so I depend on these outside courses to nurture her love of science. Perhaps science at coop is in order for next year.
We love, love, the Bible portion.
The strong bible focus is especially important in the high school years. However, the last two years of the high school curriculum seems to be heavy on Apologetics across all the subjects of Bible, Composition and Literature.
Extras. This is the part that makes any curriculum come alive. The Wild family videos which I reviewed here was a winner and flowed so nicely with ECC. It should be a part of the curriculum package or at the very least in the suggested movies list. We watched Anne of Green Gables when we studied Canada and the animated movie, Rio while studying Brazil. My kids will never forget the phenomenon of Carneval and its origins in Brazil. I really should take advantage of preparing meals from each country we "visit" but I don't seem to get around to that. Does Taco Bell count when vising Mexico?
I included a literary analysis program for my 8th grader so I have to balance the reading assigned in that program with what MFW ECC has scheduled. She can choose to read the MFW selections as extra reading but it isn't required. MFW recommends Writing Strands for writing but the literary program I use has writing included with it.
My goal with the program is to learn where places are in the world especially those places that are often referred to in the news and have significant relevance in world history and to constantly be aware of God's heart in evangelizing people around the world. I think this program helps me to accomplish these goals nicely.
A lot of folks waffle between MFW, History Odyssey, SonLight, Tapestry of Grace, Beautiful Feet, Heart of Dakota, and many others. I know I do a lot of research looking into how people use various programs. Perhaps my review of MFW ECC will help another homeschooler trying to decide which curriculum to use.