A very good friend of mine created a post, The Perfect Program, on her blog, and posted to the Homeschool-MovingOn list too. She & I had been talking about some of these issues, and I had just posted on the list about how “perfect” All About Spelling is, so I had to tease her a bit about criticizing me :)
You were directing this at me, weren’t you, Tess?
It is hard, sometimes (uhhh, most of the time?) to not get caught up in how fantastic what you are using is. Especially when you are trying to rationalize the cost of something, I'd have to say. I always figured the MUS, RightStart, VideoText and Teaching Textbooks users (and I fall in two of those categories) really had to get worked up to an almost religious fervor about the merits of their programs in order to justify the expense... I know I have to.
Take Right Start. I do believe it is about the best math program out there. I have to, or I couldn't rationalize spending the money.
Do I believe it is the perfect program? Nope. For one thing, the perfect program would cost a lot less :) But a bit more seriously, I know Right Start Geometry was a total failure for my oldest (that being the *only* level I've purchased new, LOL, so it has to be the one that didn't work). I don't know if it is the program, or my kid... so I am keeping it around for my younger guys. I don't know if the rest of Right Start would have been a good fit for him or not. Parts of it would have. He thrived with Singapore as his main program though.
Do I think Singapore is perfect? Well, obviously not, or I wouldn't be shelling out money on something else for my next guys.
All About Spelling, well, I do believe it is close to perfect :) But there would be some caveats there. For kids who really don't need a spelling program, I think it is way overkill. Especially when you add up the cost of all the levels. For all but the kids who just "get" spelling, I think roughly 90% of the programs out there are a total waste of money though. Yes, that is a strong statement. And maybe it is colored by the fact that I've never had an average speller (though I am one). I do believe that most of the spelling programs out there, though, are designed for either a) excellent spellers, or b) the convenience of the teachers.
But yes, I do need to tone down my rhetoric sometimes :)
I get the same way when I hear people talk about BJU history, or Abeka history, or whatever textbook history. I want to shake them and scream, "but textbooks are so horrible! Get real books!!!!" I know, on some level, that some families are better off with textbooks. But I am also learning that even if you do find the "perfect" program for your family, it isn't always going to be feasible to use it. That's where I am in math right now, for all of my crew.
Connor has thrived with VideoText. We don't have the money to get Module D, so Connor made the decision to do something else for awhile instead of starting Module C. I know he did it so that I wouldn't be stressing out about how to get D.
William & Thomas have thrived with Right Start. However, with the extra time I'm putting into reading and spelling issues, something had to give. That much one-on-one for math was the most logical place. Both of them pick up math concepts pretty well, so something less teacher intensive for a year, anyway, gives me the ability to focus on where they *really* need the personal interaction. So, I'm spending about 20 minutes a week with each of them to present a math lesson, and otherwise, they are learning from the computer with little animated teaching sessions.
So, to my earlier comments about All About Spelling, I would have to say that I still think it is the best thing out there for kids who struggle with spelling. And reading, for that matter. And I think that is true for average spellers too (I know *my* spelling has improved!) but especially then, I can see good reasons for doing something less teacher-intensive. AAS *is* teacher intensive. Virtually the entire lesson is mom-time.