I’ve been asked a few times to talk more about homeschool; specifically the curriculum we chose. We currently have a 5th grader, 4th grader, and 2nd grader. I adhere to a classical education as much as possible. Over the years I’ve switched curriculum and feel like I’ve owned nearly everything out there!
“The Well Trained Mind” by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise Buy here has been the book I follow. Classical Education follows the Trivium. The trivium is education based on developmental levels; grammar stage, logic stage, and rhetoric stage. “The Well Trained Mind” explains this in detail.
My 5th grader is in the logic stage where my 4th and 2nd graders are in grammar stage. The stages aren’t grade nor age levels, but more of a mental development stage.
For this review, I am reviewing math. I chose math to review first as all 3 kids are now in the same program, so it is easier to review! AND I get to review several different levels. The math we use is not a recommended math course as outlined by The Well Trained Mind. However, many classical educators use it and love it.
Christian Light Publishers is a Mennonite company. Their math program is “spiral,” meaning there is constant review as more skills are learned. This is opposed to “mastery” approach where the student learns and practices a skill until mastered and moves onto the next skill. There is some skill building in mastery, but once shapes (for example) are mastered, you might not see more advanced shapes until the following year. In my opinion, this is too long to not be practicing a skill set.
Although Christian Light is a Mennonite company, I do not feel their math is over the top Christian. Some programs are so overtly religious that it seems to take away from the subject matter. This is certainly not the case with CLP (also called CLE for Christian Light Education since they publish more than educational material. I will use CLE from here on out).
As a background of the maths we used (to show that we have used A LOT and I’m not just blind to other maths), my youngest has only used CLE. My middle kiddo has used Horizons, RightStart Math, Teaching Textbooks, Math U See and now CLE. My oldest has used Math in Focus (Singapore), Life of Fred, Right Start Math, Horizons Math, Saxon, Math U See and finally CLE. Given her ripe old age of 11, it’s obvious that I didn’t use each math for an entire year. This is a mix between because it might not have worked well, I was trying new things, and we had to toss all of our curriculum twice due to the mold. I can, if you’d like, review each of these math curriculum as I feel I had a good grasp on each one. At least enough to review each (except Saxon).
Onto the review!!!
CLE grades 1-9 have the Sunrise Edition. Sunrise is CLE’s own writing. Grades 9-12 are LightUnits which were created by Alpha Omega Press. We are currently using grades 3, 4, and 6. Grade 4 has two choices; Sunrise Edition Light Units or Texbook. I chose Textbook for 4th grade, so I’m happy to review that as well in my next review. ONLY 4th grade currently has Texbook. They are planning on coming out with 5th grade Textbook option in late 2017. As I’m writing this review in March, 2017, it is not out yet.
For Sunrise Editions, each math course has a Teacher Guide (or two, depending on grade), 10 Light Units (sort of like mini books-see pictures), answer keys (although all answers are in teacher’s books), and often supplemental materials are offered. For 3rd grade math, I own the Teacher’s Guide, the Light Units, the flashcards (multiplication and division), and the Elementary Math Reference Chart. For 6th grade, I own the Teacher’s Guide, the Light Units, and the Intermediate Math Reference Chart.
The Teacher’s Guide is a must. Besides the answers, it gives very detailed instructions on how to teach subject material. I find that I don’t use this part too often. However, if the subject is a little more difficult for my child to grasp, the Guide gives ample tips to teaching. The Guide also includes alternate tests, practice sheets, and detailed scope and sequence.
Each Light Unit includes 15-17 lessons, 2 quizzes, one test, and speed drills. Depending on your state, you may need to report grades. The way Light Units are laid out makes grading and record keeping easy! On the back of each Light Unit is a “controls” box. In this box, you can write the date the book was started, the date it was completed, how long it took for completion, and the test score. You can chose to include quiz scores as you wish. At the end of the year, you can simply find the average of all test scores from the 10 Light Units to find the student’s final grade.
The LU’s (Light Units) are written so that one lesson is done each day. In this manner, each book takes approximately 3 weeks. However, I don’t use them like this and I will explain in a bit.
After grade 1, the first LU of the grade level (marked as 201, 202, 203, etc for grade 2 for example) is a review of the previous year. This is the perfect opportunity to find any gaps in math or skills that the summer sun had soaked up. Starting in the -02 book, it is all new material and continues to teach new material throughout. Looking at lesson one in 302 (second book of third grade if you haven’t caught to the numbering system yet), notice the top green box.
These are items to be completed prior to teaching new lesson. These will include flashcards, speed drills, and a practice of one thing are another. I did these fairly strictly in 1st grade, a little looser in 2nd grade and I think I will do them randomly in 3rd grade. They are extremely valuable and worth your time–if you have it! I don’t!
The second section teaches the lesson. Looking at the same page, you’ll see it says “Math 2” before the lesson. This is showing that this lesson is a review of something taught in second grade. There is a lesson and then a few problems to practice the new (or reviewed) skill. The next section is “We Remember” and the final section is “Fact Focus.”
This is how I would teach this lesson. I first would teach the new skill (in this case, the review skill) and have my son do the problems to practice this skill. Next, under “We Remember,” I will have have do every other problem or problems that I have circled for him. I very rarely have him do all of the review problems. If we did not do the speed drill, I will have him do the Fact Focus. I usually pick Fact Focus OR Speed Drill. Never both.
Sometimes a LU takes us 7 school days.. WHAT? HOW? You may be asking! This is how. I teach just the new skill section for lessons 1-4 and have my child do the practice on each new skill. Then I assign random questions from “We Remember” in lesson 4 only. The next day, I have student do lesson 5 and quiz 1. Day three we do new lessons and new lesson practice questions from lessons 6-9 and “We Remember” circled questions from lesson 9. The following day is Lesson 10 and quiz 2. The following week, since our weeks are 4 days long, we start Monday off with Lessons 11-14 and Lesson practices problems and select questions from “We Remember.” The following day would be lesson 15. All of it. And Wednesday will be the LU Test.
Please note: I do not recommend you ALWAYS do this. There are times, however, when your child may be bored, able to learn more than one lesson at a time, or simply may want to get ahead. I often don’t do the above either. Instead, I do tend to teach 1-3 lessons a day, but this depends on the child, time constraints, ability, what is being taught, etc. Basically, use your judgement. The quizzes are a good opportunity to see if skills are being retained.
Tip! A very wise fellow homeschool mom let me in on this secret. If you have a child who doesn’t love math, or if they look at the number of questions and fight about the NUMBER of problems they have to do, set a timer. I find that my sons would rather work at something for 20 minutes than do x number of questions. I find this funny because they always get more work than required done in the amount of time I set on the timer. But something in their head says that time is faster than having to tackle a number of questions.
I have attached pictures of the Teacher’s Guide, more LU pictures, flashcards, and reference charts for both grades 3 and 6. For more pictures and to order the books, please visit .Christian Light Publications
Pictures of Light Unit 302
6th grade math:
In my next review, I will go over the Textbook edition of CLE’s 4th grade math.