Review of Shurley English Homeschool Level 1 & 2

Introductory Note:  I purchased all of these on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

Review of Level 1:

I bought the Teacher’s Manual and the Student Workbook as a package.  The Teacher’s Manual has most of the teaching.  The Student Workbook has all the activities.

I bought this for my first-grader and almost returned it before we even started and I’ll tell you why:

The first five chapters are devoted to classifying.  I thought it lame.  A typical first-grader should know how to sort.  So I called and was ready to return it but in the end decided to try it.

So I skipped the first 5 chapters and started on Chapter 6.  From there on out, it’s been great and what I’ve expected.  It comes with a CD of jingles that the kids love and recite the rules of grammar to.  Sometimes I thought it progressed slowly so I would do 2 lessons in 1 day, especially in the beginning.

When they introduce writing, I think Shurley goes too fast.  It expects a paragraph a day.  For me, this was too much so we only did a paragraph a week.  We have a separate writing program though that we do that has writing every day.  See review HERE.

But I also had my first-grader do Level 2 alongside my second-grader so they could be on the same grammar level next year so she had already done much of the writing.

Also, because we skipped the first 5 chapters, we will be done incredibly early (not something I like) so I feel this was a waste.  But I will have her do Level 2 along with her sister but this is my case.  If you just bought Level 1, you will be without grammar for a bit at the end.

Review of Level 2:

I bought the Teacher’s Manual and the Student Workbook as a package.  The Teacher’s Manual has most of the teaching.  The Student Workbook has all the activities.

What I expected for a Second-grader.  The writing portion is a bit redundant but we are also doing IEW so I think I am skewed because of that.

It comes with a jingle CD as well.  Every chapter has a vocabulary section where the kids look up words which I love so they get to know a dictionary.  Level 2 is exactly like Level 1 just a bit more advanced (not much though) and introduced sooner.  Same format.  Same material.

There is also no place to write out the sentences or contractions in the books so be prepared to  use your own paper.  We used the whiteboard for this which worked well.  But at least for the contraction section, it would have been a time saver to have it written out for the students.

I wish they would have spent the extra money as well to put a reference section in the back of the Teacher’s Manual with definitions printed out.  Instead, I fold the pages down so I can find where in the book they talk about a subject pronoun for example so we can refer back to it.  I wouldn’t waste my time even looking in the Student Book.  It’s confusing enough as it is.

What I absolutely cannot STAND about these books:

I’m assuming in an effort to save paper and keep costs down the company has arranged the Student Book in very confusing sections.  You have to constantly flip to different parts of the activity book to do activities and sometimes multiple sections within the same lesson.

For me, I’d rather pay the extra $2 or whatever to have it all laid out in an easy-to-follow format that was easy on the eyes with the chapter sections all together instead of split up.  These books have no pictures or color.  Anywhere.  Great for teachers.  Not so great for the kiddos!

Conclusions:  My old charter school does Shurley English so I thought it would be easy on my oldest since she already knew the format.  I am glad we did Shurley English this year but I am not for sure we will use Shurley English next year.  I am looking into Thompson Grammar to be honest right now and will make my final decision in the spring.  My kids have mastered the material and I’d like to try something new.  Plus, I just don’t know if I can do another whole year of the Student Book.  And I would like some color.

I think there is a balance between saving costs and making the material enjoyable for the kids in a fun, easy-to-follow format.  I think Shurley Grammar has not found that combination.

Homeschooling Curriculum 2011-2012

I have been promising to update you all on my curriculum choices and I finally got it all ordered.  I had to wait until after we moved so I wouldn’t miss anything.

Disclaimer:  I haven’t tried any of this.  It’s merely a product of my months of research.  Later in the school year, I will post individual reviews after we have tried it for a few months.

Math:  Singapore Math Level 1A & B and Level 2A & B  Plus, I bought the Home Instructor’s Teaching Manual and the first set of tests.  I’m unsure if I will use the tests but wanted to have them on-hand in case I do.

Grammar:  Shurley Grammar Homeschool Level 1 & 2

Writing:  Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Teacher/Student Combo Pack Level A

Writing with Ease: Strong Fundamentals by Susan Wise Bauer

Handwriting:  Getty-Dubai Italic Handwriting Book B, C, & D

Spelling:  The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Writing Teacher’s Edition Level II

This is put out by the Riggs Institute (a little company out of South Dakota) and I love them!  I love everything about their program.  I did Level I with my oldest and my youngest will be doing Level I this year but everything they do is superb in my opinion.  I credit them with my kids’ ability to spell and read so well.

History:  Story of the World Volume 1:  Ancient Times and the accompanying Activity Workbook by Susan Wise Bauer.  I skipped the Test book and will in the future as I feel my kids should be tested on more important subjects such as math and grammar. Plus, I intend to have my kids do memory work from History, which will be test enough.

Science:  Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) K-2

Of all my orders, this is the one I’m taking the biggest chance on. I’m not sure how it will work but we’re going to give it a try.

We are also doing a Nature and Weather Journal this year.

Foreign Language:  Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) Homeschool Edition

Song School Latin

Song School Greek

Bible/Religious Studies:  Foundations 1:  Preparation for Christ by Anne Elliott

Art:  Artistic Pursuits

Music:  The Gift of Music by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson

Guitar Lessons

Memory Work:  Select Poems and Historical References

Supplemental Material:

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

I love this book.  This is the book I first bought when I was considering homeschooling.  This book does a great job of laying the case of Classical Education.  What I don’t like about it is now that my kids are in 1st and 2nd grade, I think Susan underestimates the capabilities and abilities of students.  I read about what kids their age used to have to do in the mid-1800’s and this is peanuts in comparison.

I just finished perusing Susan’s Writing with Ease: Strong Fundaments, which I bought as I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do for writing.  I like the idea of narration, copy work, and dictation but I think it’s unnecessary to do that alone.  I think you need to do this in addition to something else (hence why I bought IEW).  Further, I think she spends way too many weeks on doing it.  All my opinion, of course.

Map Trek: The Complete Collection by Terri Johnson

What Your Third Grader Needs to Know by E D Hirsch, Jr.

This is the Core Knowledge Sequence, which I’m a fan of.  It’s a good reference book for where your child should be. It has great history sections (although not in Chronological Order.  It’s all covered.  It just jumps around–something I’m not a fan of).  I also have the Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grade Editions of these which I used a lot in my previous homeschool year.

Student Atlas:  I ordered a student Atlas but it was cancelled by Amazon (couldn’t get it).  I have a globe and I think I will be doing enough as it.  I think the historical maps but the study of a continent a month will be sufficient for now.

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock

Keeping a Nature Journal by  Clare Walker Leslie

The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World

Final Advice About Choosing Curriculum:  It’s funny because I went into this having an idea of what I wanted to use and then once I started delving into it, I changed virtually all of my orders/decisions.

It’s hard ordering curriculum sight unseen but “you do your best and forget the rest” as Tony Horton says.

Due to the increase in competition in homeschool curriculum, I would say there are a lot of good choices out there.  I would first choose your overall philosophy (classical, biblically-based, unschooling, unit studies, etc) and then go from there.  I think you will find there are amazing choices out there and choosing which one is the hardest part!

Good luck and happy schooling!