Friday, November 16, 2007

The Perils of Purchasing Curricula Sight Unseen

DD just finished the first half of First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise this morning. At the rate she's been flying through the material, she'll be done with the second half sometime in January or February. I looked at the samples from the follow-up book but it struck me as having too much repetition from the first book & not enough new material. Also, it's secular and I would really prefer a program that incorporates our Catholic faith.

Ever since I first started looking in to homeschooling materials, I'd heard raves about the 1961 edition of the Voyages in English program originally from Loyola Press and now reprinted by Lepanto. I was unable to find any samples online but I knew it was recommended by Laura Barquist in Designing Your Own Catholic Classical Curriculum; it is used by Kolbe, Our Lady of Victory, Seton, & Our Lady of the Rosary; and also Susan Wise Bauer gave it a favorable review in her Well-Trained Mind newsletter.

I decided to try VIE 3 after DD finishes FLL. The package I ordered arrived the other day, and upon reviewing it, I realized it wouldn't work for DD. Just like the FLL 3 book, it's got too much repetition of concepts we've already covered and not enough new material. English is DD's strongest subject. Not only is she working several grades ahead, but she also learns new concepts faster than average & has less need of "refresher" lessons.

The teacher's manual for VIE 3 claims that each book reviews everything contained in the previous books in the series & adds new material. So I've decided to exchange the third grade book for the fifth grade book in the hopes that it will have enough material that my DD has not seen before. It'll be a challenge, and we'll probably need to work through it slowly. But I'd rather go at a slower pace through tough material than bore her with something that's too easy.

If VIE 5 proves to be simply too much for her, we can always shelve it until she's a bit older & try something else. Seton has a Catholic grammar series and so does Catholic Heritage Curricula. There are also secular options such as Shurley or Easy Grammar.

Sometimes it would be much easier homeschooling a kid whose strengths lay in a non-intellectual domain...


kllyreis said...

Dear Bending the Twigs,
I just wanted to let you know that Loyola Press has an updated 2006 version of their Voyages in English program. You can check it out at this website:

Just thought I would let you know.

KRR from Chicago

Crimson Wife said...

Thanks for the suggestion, but my understanding is that the updated VIE is secular. I'd prefer a Catholic program if I can find one that works for my child :-)

Sassy Lucy said...

I completely understand the perils of buying curriculum sight unseen, it is a struggle and can get expensive...I am happy that our bookstore because they have to order the books I request will let me preview them before I commit to the buying, that is only the Christian Bookstore though.
I try to buy used when I can also, and I cannot tell you the times I have been saddened by what people will sell. Just remember we do it for the love of our children.