Saturday, December 12, 2015

Weekly Resource: Wayfarers

I am a huge fan of almost anything that Kathy Jo Devore develops.  I have used her English curriculum for three years now and still love it.  She has started introducing some basic composition skills in book 3 and uses a progym approach to teach writing - I am excited!

Last year, she put out a full curriculum using a 4 year history cycle called Wayfarers.  It is WONDERFUL!  It has a two page spread for each day and includes science, history, math, art, Bible, language arts, geography and the rest laid out over the course of a week.  Her free online samples are extensive (80+ pages) and include the introduction which provides some of her philosophy, why she made particular choices, common tweaks and then shows EVERYTHING outlined to read at each level for that year!  She also includes a few sample days so that you can see the format.  You can choose whether you want the print or digital version - depending on how you work best.

There are a few unique parts of her curriculum:

1.  Geography- She has reading choices scheduled that center around geographical locations.  So, while history follows the thread of Western development, her robust geography track includes reading, map work and activities to help educate children about "the rest of the story".  I was introduced to authors I had never heard of and we have enjoyed the books on the list that we have read so far.

2.  Supporting notes - She has interesting notes, thoughts and background information for key parts of the curriculum each week.  These notes help you go a bit beyond what you would get out of just reading the story.

3.  Preschoolers - Each week she outlines an activity or two that you can do with the preschooler set to help keep them busy and working on age appropriate skills.  She also includes the books outlined in her free Pathways program (reading suggestions for PreK/K kids).

4.  Easy to read - Each two page layout includes what kids are studying at every grade level (she divides them into three - roughly elementary, middle and high - but aligns them with grammar, dialectic and rhetoric).  It really is open and go (if you have the living books to go with it) and not too busy.  If you are looking for comprehension questions, themes and a "teacher's manual" this is not it. She provides great books with integrated themes and encourages narration and commonplacing.

5.  Read aloud series - Each history cycle also includes a few read aloud stories that are just good books.  These "free reads" are series I want to read anyway - Madeleine L'Engle, Narnia, Lloyd Alexander, etc.  It is scheduled a few times a week so that you make it through the books.  If I was more organized, this is the perfect thing for dad to read to the kids. 

6. Science for non- science kids - Her high school science suggestions encourage you to have a working knowledge of science but are not lab heavy with outrageous college level expectations.  I think this is in keeping with her CM philosophy and few places have resources for this type of approach.  Of course, if you have a science nut then you can use something else.  I appreciate knowing what options will provide a good science foundation.  Also, she includes resources that come from a young earth, intelligent design and evolutionary perspective in the upper grades.  That way you can determine what best fits your family and know worthy resources that differ from your own take.

7. Options - She uses a "spine" for history and science (with a schedule) and then has a TON of optional reads (also scheduled in case you want one but really read/ use them as they work for you).  This is a great approach because if you do the spine your bases are covered, but if you have a super reader or extra interest or time you know what books to get from the library.  She also has a few different options for the spines - her own, of course - and then some other programs that are similar.  

If you want a good sense of her philosophy and approach you should read "A Walk in the Park".

I did buy all three volumes of Wayfarers: Ancient this past year (the program is broken up into 3 - 12 week terms).  I started off trying to use it but I am a part of two different co-ops that have different "core curricula".  I know - foolish!  So, I have not been able to follow Wayfarers and everything else and stay sane.  I have used some of the reading selections and they are great! I also struggle following someone else's schedule - because I am actually trying to follow 3 different program schedules. How do I get myself in these messes!?

There are two key things that she does not include - but are easily overcome.

1. Foreign language study.  I think that you can choose the language and program you like and add it into the mix.  I think there are too many options and circumstances for her to include it - so better to just allow the family to decide.   I think they have studied Latin in her home but knows that isn't for everyone.

2.  Content memorization.  This is the classical side of me coming out. She includes poetry, maxims and Bible verses in her Language Arts program that can easily be used for memory work.  However, I have found that I like to have some content related memory work to make the main points "easily accessible" to my kids.  Obviously, if she's done everything else I could easily add memory work. Instead of spending time messing with her schedule maybe I should concentrate my efforts on adding this personal preference.  

Although I couldn't make it work this year because of my craziness - I potentially have another 18 years of homeschooling ahead.  If you are looking for something that uses living books, is fairly open and shut, covers everything from art to zoology and uses a four year history plan - THIS IS IT!

Just a note -  Many of her items are sold on and if you sign up for their "newsletter" they send out their sales.  Often they have sales from 25% to 30% off for print materials.

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