Review: ABeka

Most Christian homeschoolers are familiar with the ABeka Curriculum. But for those of you who are not, here is a short review.

ABeka is a text-book style curriculum, and though it has a Christian theme, it is most like what you would find in a traditional public school classroom. I would even venture to say that most school-at-home style homeschoolers prefer to use ABeka. ABeka is commonly referred to as a "boxed" curriculum because if you buy the complete curriculum for your child's grade level, it will come with everything you need to teach for that year - teacher guides, student workbooks and textbooks, lesson plans, tests, and answer keys.

For a new homeschooler, I will often recommend ABeka as a starting block if they can afford it. It is in the medium range for cost and would most likely cost you about $400 per child per year. They also have a more expensive DVD option where your child is taught by a real teacher on a DVD and the child is "part" of the TV classroom. For busy moms, this option is quite appealing.

I love their phonics and early learning workbooks. They are bright and colorful and the accompanying teacher guides give you all the tools necessary to teach your child to read. Two out of my 5 children learned to read using the ABeka phonics program. One drawback, that turned out to be an asset for my daughter, is they begin teaching cursive writing in K4. Which means out of all my children, my oldest daughter now has the best handwriting. However, my youngest son struggled with the cursive and never did like that. Like all programs, you need to look at the individual child to see if it would suit their needs. I'm still not convinced that teaching cursive to a 4 year old is a good plan.

My husband absolutely loves their 10th grade biology book. He taught science for 2 years in a private school and says that he wished his students had enjoyed reading because the explanations presented in the book were better than anything he read elsewhere. We keep a copy of this on our resource shelf for reference.

ABeka presents their material in a cyclical formula which can be great if you are teaching multiple age groups and they happen to fall into the right cyclical pattern. What I mean is, a subject like American history is introduced in one of the elementary grades, is then repeated and expounded on again in middle school and again in high school. So theoretically you could teach your 3rd grader, 6th grader and 9th grader all the same history lesson at the same time, as the same topics would be covered. (grades and topics mentioned are an example and not necessarily's been a while since I used a history book with my kids....)

And the biggest plus for ABeka is it can easily be picked up second hand at used book sales, or online through curriculum swap lists. Our resource center has many samples of the ABeka curriculum, including some teacher guides and test keys that can be borrowed from our lending library. We hope to have a book list of our extensive library online soon.

If you have used ABeka and have some insights to share with my readers feel free to leave a comment or two.