I haven’t talked about our school books for awhile. We are pretty boring. I don’t change things up very often. I am not of the “different books for different kids” mentality. It is just too much work.
I guess you could say that I am a lazy homeschooler. But let’s face it, I have been doing this for….what it is now?….oh my…14 years now. The novelty of homeschooling has long ago worn off. In fact, if I had the cash, I would throw them in private school. So, now that you know where I am coming from, I thought I would review Biblioplan. My friend showed me this set up awhile ago, but I didn’t really want to spend the money. This year, I spent the money. I think they have change it a bit since she showed me.
First of all, I give you the link to the website. Go check it out. Explore it a little bit, and then come back.
What I bought
I purchased the Blended Modern History for Advanced Students. It comes with a hard copy history book and PDF files for everything else. It doesn’t come with the Timeline figures. I thought about purchasing that, but I am cheap.
What I think
First- Planning. I was looking for a program that didn’t require any planning from me. I just don’t have it in me to plan big projects or to make my own lesson plans anymore. This one filled that requirement. Everything is planned out for me. The lesson plans also incorporate a few other books besides their own for additional sources. I already own Story of the World (a big fail at my house), so I can add that to the reading or use the project ideas from those activity guides if I want. I usually do not want, but the option is there. All I have to do is remember to print out the questions and maps every week. Score!
Second-The Material. Modern History starts in 1850 and covers all of world history to the present. The main book is laid out more as an Usborne book than a text book, but there is more information than an Usborne book. It gives enough information to put the pieces together without boring my kids. This format has been the best for Freckle Face. I think he has learned more history this year than other years. There is also a family discussion guide which breaks down the material from the chapters for me. Moment of truth? I don’t read the chapters. The discussion guide and my own knowledge of history is enough for me to lead the discussion. Another win. The real test of the effectiveness of the material came when we went to Gettysburg. The kids were able to remember all the material they learned and apply it to their visit. I was pleased. I call that a win.
Third-Maps and Worksheets. I know a lot of homeschoolers are anti-worksheets. They view them as busy work. I used to be one such homeschooler, but I am not anymore. Give those kids a worksheet. The worksheets ask good questions. The short answer questions require some longer answers that could count as narration. The question are mostly just regurgitation of the reading, but I don’t care. If my kids don’t have to answer questions, they will tell me they “read” and call it good. Each week also asks a research question. We generally skip those unless I am lacking a writing topic for the week. The maps are great, and always correspond to the week’s lesson. Again, they require no planning from me. I just print it out and make sure they are doing it right. Before this year, I had no idea how little knowledge of geography my Freckle Face possessed. Homeschool mom fail. This has helped a lot.
Fourth-Price. Why do history programs have to be so expensive? It is just history. We all know how I feel about history. Boring. Spending $100+ for history is just not on my to-do list. I did this year because I just didn’t want to plan anything this year. I still think this plan is very expensive. The book is printed colorfully with many pictures, but the binding is weak. Our book is starting to fall apart. If I had to use it for multiple years, I would be disappointed. Since I purchased the pdf files, I still have to print everything out adding to my expense. I realize that I am paying for all the work that has been done for me. I think it is done well. We don’t do everything that is in the lesson plans. I threw out that guilt years ago. We do what I think is necessary.
Overall, I think that this was a good use of my homeschool dollars. History is not a subject that I believe to be foundational. What? What is this heresy I speak of? I know that most classical homeschoolers start with history. A basic knowledge of history is important to me, but it is easy to catch up with history. Catching up in math is much more difficult. A solid foundation is necessary. With history, a general idea of what is going on is important. Our kids need to know about our government, what started the wars, how things turned out, and all that. I am not saying throw out the history. I am saying that we shouldn’t sweat it. If your kids can’t remember the name of the man that ruled Babylon, you aren’t failing. I promise. If they can’t remember which country we fought in the Revolutionary War, you may want to reevaluate what you are doing.
As I write this, Freckle Face is doing his short essay questions for the work this week. He just asked me if I knew of the Christmas Truce. I lied and said no. He went on to explain it to me fascinated that everyone took a break from war for a Christmas. See? Perfect.
Also, I should probably note that no one asked me to write this. I just wrote this review because I needed blog fodder. I have to sit at the table while my son does his school work. Blogging gives me something to do. This and Twitter.