Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Explaining the Catholic Robinson Curriculum to Fellow Catholics

Karen, a discussion group member in my yahoo group, has this question for me.

Joy --

It sounds like you are following the Thomas Jefferson Education
model...with two hours of math, writing, and reading. Is that so? I
don't know any more about it than that idea. Can you tell me more
about how it works and what material/curriculum you are using?





Thomas Jefferson Education, Robinson Curriculum and A2 sort of use the same method. You focus on the 3 R's - math, writing, reading. There is no lesson plan and syllabus. You just go through the sequence of books recommended. I follow more the Robinson Curriculum and I joined the Catholic Robinson Curriculum group where we discuss any "questionable books" in the book sequence.

You put 2 hours to math, 2 hours to reading, 1 hour to essay writing.

Children under 10 do copywork for essay. Children under 3rd grade do their phonics and math facts review.

You do not teach. You guide them to self-teach. You can let them narrate to you to give you feedback or you can do activities with them. However, the 5 hours required must focus on the 3'Rs using "self-teaching". You train them to
acquire the habits of self-teaching, Monday to Saturday, year round.

The book recommendations of the above proponents are literature-based, living history, actual historical documents, classics. You can do the program without any cost to you except the printer costs. All the books are available online for free. But, it is recommended you have a hard copy of the book. For me, reading online gives a false illusion to the child - one page at a time. It makes them have phobia with thick books. So, I hunt the books at thrift shops, ebay and amazon or library so they can actually experience a thick book and not be afraid of it.

Their book list is engaging (so far) to my ADHD and RADish kids. There were occasions where they wanted to quit on the first few chapters but I encourage them and tell them that it gets better on the next few chapters. So far, it did. After finishing the book, some like it, some do not like it as much except for some parts. I use that as a teaching moment to tell them that they have to learn to handle books that are not interesting for them but considered of great literary value. All of them are excited about their next books.

RC uses Saxon Math for the mental discipline of doing 30 to 60 exercises a day with 5% error rate. I think of it as putting the "math muscle" in your brains. When they take SAT, they will persevere (or have the mental discipline) because they are used to the long hours of computing and problem solving taking into account "accuracy".

Vocabulary is taken from the recommended literature from Grades 3-12. Same goes with grammar and spelling. There is no formal instruction unless there are obvious difficulties. But, I try not to worry about that until they progress in their reading list.

The Essay part is a minimum of one page a day for one hour. Average is 2-3 pages a day. Topics can be their own choosing or sometimes I give them prompts. I think the goal is to write effortlessly and make it part of their daily routine.

I added one hour to reading Catholic literature/scriptures/saints/catechism. I avoid "short stories" but use the reading lists of all Catholic homeschool curriculum providers.

In the afternoon, the older kids study for AP Tests for an hour.

Sometimes, kids read 2 different books within the 2 hour frame. I now require them to spend 30 minutes on a topic of their choice using Encyclopedia Britannica and Book of Knowledge (1920's).

Science is after calculus. I know this will create dissent. But, I have no problems with it. I do not stop the kids from enjoying nature and reading about it in the encyclopedia. There is just no formal study until after calculus.

The reading list for this method is available online for free except the Catholic literature.


You have to be in the room to make this program work though or it won't work. If our 3 year old is too playful and distracts them, we move away to a different room or I let them go to another part of the house. My daughter who used SETON last year prefer RC method but still reads the required literature for SETON and MODG on top of her RC books.

The rest of the day is devoted to chores and what other areas of interest they want to pursue -->creating chaos :).

God Bless,

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