Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review: Madsen Method

I posted a couple days ago about the Madsen Method, at least enough to describe what it is and my initial reactions.  I've been procrastinating about trying to write up how it worked for us.  If you didn't read my original post, I'd encourage you to go check it out before you read this one.

First, this was a product that we had to "opt in" to review.  That involved some wonderful conversations with Joe Madsen.  He patiently explained the overall philosophy of the program and talked about ways I could implement the program with my gang.  I cannot say enough positive things about the customer service.  Anyway, after a lot of back and forth, I committed to working with The Madsen Method with my children and writing about our experiences.

I was pretty overwhelmed with the package when it arrived.  There is a LOT of material.  And it arrived when we were on our break between school years.  I spent more time on the phone with Joe Madsen trying to figure out how this whole thing worked.  And we geared up to start in January.

The first section is teaching the basic methodology.  A big part of that is learning how to go into the "Learning Position" and they need to be able to say it so that they can do it.  So our first hang-up with the Madsen Method was that we couldn't find anywhere to work where my kids could get into the learning position.  Basically, we have the living room couches, where we do 95% of our schoolwork, and we have the dining room table.

So we spent some time trying to figure out a way to make "the learning position" work, and finally revised the script and moved on.  Of course, that was the point that everyone started taking turns being sick.  For six weeks.

In retrospect, I should have just worked with whoever was functioning, and let others catch up.  At least when it wasn't Richard (the 5 -- now 6 -- year old) who was sick.

We finished up Section 1 though, and there were some really great things about that.  But I really struggled with the sheer quantity of words used in the teacher materials.  And my kids started complaining.  Especially the older two (11 and nearly 13).

And honestly, reading the report cards at the end of the section, and that I was supposed to not only fill out a report card about how I did in exactly following everything in the manual to the letter but also I was to mail it in... well, ummm, I don't know how to phrase this.  But one reason I homeschool is because I don't exactly like exactly following what other people think I should do.  The report card was really the point where I started to get frustrated.  I really want the freedom to tweak, condense, or even skip... and I don't feel like I can do that with Madsen.  And did I mention that my older kids were really starting to complain?

So we moved on to Section 2.  This is where you do actually start taking a pencil to paper and you learn to make lines and circles or parts of circles.  This temporarily stopped the complaints.  And I was really liking some of what I was starting to see with my kids.  Just getting the point that every letter needs to touch the base line and the middle dotted line, and that they do NOT touch the top line and the lower dotted line... well, that made an immediate difference in my kids' handwriting.

Moving at the pace of my now 6 year old was agonizingly slow for my older group.  So they once again started to rebel.  Somewhere around the 17th kind of short line they were back to wanting to completely give it up.

We kept going, and I do see the benefits.  But it just moves too slow for my older kids, and their attitude is horrible now.  Around the start of the 3rd section (where you learn to draw numbers), I called my mother.  I needed someone to listen to what we were doing and tell me to buck up and finish what I committed to.  But as I was explaining to her that the kids groan when I pull this out, and I end up yelling at them every single session because I am just so beyond frustrated with their lousy attitude -- well, it occurred to me that we are not accomplishing anything at this point.  And I put it away.

I feel guilty.  Because as I look at the last section of this first level, I really can see why it is that we are going through all this laying the foundation work, and I love what is happening there.  But I cannot get my kids through the foundation part.  At least not the big ones.

So after saying all of that... I am seriously considering working with Thomas starting in August and working through this with him, one on one.  I think without the griping of his big brothers, he would benefit greatly from the methods used in this program.

I think in January, when Richard and Trina are nearly 7 and nearly 5, we will pull it out and start them together.  Because I think this program has some amazing potential when used from a younger age.

But as for me and my house, I simply cannot get my normally compliant older children to click with Madsen.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about the Madsen Method at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive Part One of the Madsen Method for free from the publisher.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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