I have a confession.  Last weekend, I bought a Bible/History Core that wasn’t My Father’s World.  To some, that may not be a big confession but what you have to understand is that in my 15+ years of homeschooling, that’s a first.  I have piloted programs for MFW, spoke at conventions for them, answered phones in their office, wrote many of their FAQ’s and managed their Customer Service Reps at 8-10 conventions a year for about 5 years.  I have graduated one who used MFW his entire school career and did so very successfully.  Needless to say, I love MFW’s curricula.  However, as I often say, curriculum is only the tool you use to homeschool and, homeschooling at its best is about choosing what is best for your family and for your kids. For my twin high achievers, who want to get into highly selective programs and schools, there were better options this time.  Much of the decision to change at this point was because I have been adding, changing and supplementing a lot for my twins these last two years. I needed to give them more opportunities to take APs and give them time to study for those APs.  I love the Bible so much in those two first high school MFW years that I was willing to spend the time making the programs fit their needs to make sure they got that amazing Biblical foundation. The other reason I haven’t done a straight MFW high school plan this time around is that these two are my youngest so I have the time and energy to do crazy things like change the history spine, combine three years into 2 and plan to do 5-6 APs. Time is a big factor. There are also new programs that have been developed in the past 4 years that weren’t available for my oldest, that look really great and fit our needs better.

So, what are we doing?

11th Grade

Bible-

What Good is Christianity? (.5) This is a semester long program from Sonlight that talks about the history of Christianity as well as beginning apologetics and will help my kids think critically about the role of Christianity in society. Since my kids are also in Bible Bowl which requires that they learn and memorize 1-2 Bible chapters a week, I could branch out and work more on preparing their Worldview and give them an answer for the questions they might face in a Secular University. I like being able to have these discussions with my kids while they are home and can examine these issues in a safe environment. 

History

American Government and AP Economics (1) – We decided to use Sonlight’s Civics and Econ for two reasons. One, because I combined MFW’s WHL and US History to 1850. Notgrass isn’t our favorite so I just moved them over to BJU when we hit the time frame of Exploration in WHL.  So instead of doing the US History in both Notgrass and BJU, I just moved them over to BJU.  It actually felt more like how MFW did American History in the younger 5 year cycle. At the end of this year, in 10th, they will be right up to the Civil War so next year, we wanted a more standalone Civics. Secondly, I chose Sonlight’s Economics because it includes Thinkwell Economics which has the option to use for the AP Economics test. We like Thinkwell and could have done it as a standalone but still wanted the Christian worldview and the Sonlight package gives us both.

Honor’s English III –

English (1) really is a mishmash this year.  We will use the American Literature from MFW combined with Sonlight’s AP British Lit which we have used for the past year as well, to prep for the AP English Literature test.  We will finish Writing With Skill 3, which is such a great writing program and prepped my oldest for the AP writing portions.  We will use Easy Grammar 11 for grammar review for the ACT/SATs. We also add a vocab book each and every year for extra practice.

Spanish III –

Homeschool Spanish Academy (1).  We absolutely love HSA and the kids love their teacher.  Not only do my kids learn to actually speak Spanish instead of just learning vocabulary, they have to practice speaking Spanish with native Spanish speakers and they also have the added benefit of having to manage an outside class.  They learn bonus skills like following a syllabus, keeping on top of homework, turning it in, and learning from someone else.  This program allowed my oldest to not have to take a foreign language in college and has enabled him to feel confident to travel outside the US knowing  that he has two languages to rely on.

Math

The twins need and like different programs for math.  As we are homeschoolers, I have the freedom to use different programs for each.

Caileigh – Art of Problem Solving/Life of Fred Trig and Pre-Calc(1). Caileigh needs someone to work through math with her so I have done it with her the past couple of years.  I am undecided if I will continue to do work through it with her or if she takes an AOPS online class. We love AOPS classes but they are usually in the evening as just as many high performing traditional students take these classes as homeschoolers do, but that may conflict with her other commitments. It might also depend on how much I am willing to stretch my math skills. I can do it but I don’t like to, it might be a growth opportunity for me. (Yuck!) I do really like the AOPS online books as they are online, have video teaching and are self grading. 

Collin- Thinkwell and Life of Fred Trigonometry and Pre-Calc (1). Collin is a bit ahead of Caileigh in math and likes the freedom of Thinkwell.  He doesn’t want to have to wait for his sister or I, wants everything well planned and laid out which is why Thinkwell is a beautiful program for him.  It is very rigorous, well thought out, independent and is all on the computer.  

Khan Academy – after taking the PSAT, students can link their College Board profile  with Khan and it will design a personalized SAT prep program. The twins do atleast 15-20 min a day on Khan systematically working on their weaker skills. 

Science 

This is again a subject that the twins differ in interest. If Collin never has to dissect a thing again, he will be quite happy and Caileigh loves all things to do with Biology.

Caileigh – AP Biology with Thinkwell and Advanced Biology from Apologia (1).  Since Caileigh wants to take the AP Biology test, we needed to add Thinkwell to fill in some of the materials (like Evolution) that Apologia lacks.  I don’t want her to take just Thinkwell because I still want her grounded in a Biblical Worldview.  

Collin -AP Chemistry with Thinkwell and Advanced Chemistry from Apologia (1). Collin is doing both for the same reason as Caileigh – Biblical Worldview but Thinkwell provides more helps as well as consistent review for the AP test.

AP Computer Science (1)

I am still looking into our options for this class, actually, I am waiting for Connor (my Computer Genius) to look into the options.  I think every kid needs a background in programming and as they both want to go into Engineering, it’s a smart idea to have a foundation in it.  It will also help with Robotics.

Why AP’s?

I get asked fairly often why we do AP’s rather than Dual Enrollment or Cleps? Dual Enrollment means that I am no longer in charge of picking their curriculum or their teacher as I do with online courses which makes me uncomfortable .  I want a firm Biblical Worldview for my kids and Dual Enrollment classes are generally secular.  I am still working on their Biblical foundation during these ever important formation years.  If I choose something like a Thinkwell which is secular, I balance it with a resource with a Biblical foundation.  Not to mention, I am still actively involved and can have discussions about Worldview with my kids when it is needed. There can also be a downside to Dual Enrollment when enrolling your kids into College.  If they have more than about 20 credits (this number varies by school), then they are no longer eligible for the ever important freshman scholarships. Let’s say that my son had 20 DE credits going into school and that made him a Sophmore.  Okay, we saved, with room and board, about $26,000. My son received freshman scholarships totaling over $54,000.  That’s enough to pay for the majority of his tuition.  That means that instead of saving money, we would have lost money. He had 12-15 AP Credits but they didn’t count towards his freshmen status.  So why did we choose AP’s rather than Cleps? For the rather simple reason that the Selective Schools, Programs and Scholarships that my oldest applied to didn’t accept the Cleps that he did have.  Fortunately, we had done both AP’s and a few Cleps so it wasn’t a total loss.  After talking to a lot of College registrars for Selective Schools and Programs, we came to the realization that Cleps weren’t worth our time and money.  The twins are looking at the same level of Schools and programs so we chose AP’s as the best option to help prepare them for College.

5 comments on “Picking the Best Curricula for Your Student – our 11th grade plans”

  1. I just recently found your blog while researching options for high school curriculum. I am also a long time MFW users (all through elementary), but I am struggling with the 9th grade curriculum decision. I’m going back and forth between MFW and HOD. The latter only draws me due to its use of more whole literature books. Do you feel MFW shows the depth of their high school programs on their website? I feel like I can’t get a good feel from the samples (literature for example). Also have you ever looked at HOD? Any thoughts? (content/time etc.)

    Your articles have been a blessing during this time of transition for our family. Thank you! I will continue to pray for the Lord’s guidance for our family.

    Blessings!

    • I really like MFW’s Bible/LIT/History integration in the first two years. I have looked at HOD but I didn’t like their Lit choices as I thought they didn’t contain enough classical literature. There were a lot of books but not the classics I was looking for. Secondly, my kids are all going into STEM fields so I needed a Bible/His/English that were strong but didn’t take too much time and so felt that HOD had more busy work. I like the scope and sequence of HOD and think it’s a strong contender. I also just don’t prefer the layout of the TM. None of those things are deal breakers, imho but overall just had me stick to more MFW. Sonlight’s AP and Advanced courses were what finally drew me away from MFW in high school. I think any of those choices are good choices, it just depends on your child’s goals and likes.

      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on these programs. I agree about the busy work in HOD. My daughter is very strong in Math and Science, as well, and I need to be careful about overloading her schedule. She loves to read, so perhaps HOD could be a nice reading list. Lots to think about!:) Thank you, again, for taking time to share with your readers about your homeschool journey. It helps us newbies!

  2. Hi Dawn, I found your blog from the MWF Facebook page. Reading your post was very helpful in our curriculum research for the high school years. I am wondering how you were able to combine MFW’s WHL and US History to 1850. What does that look like (schedule/ daily load)? If I understand it correctly, they’re 2 full year MFW history programs that you combined into one year. Does that mean your students completed 2 mfw history lessons daily? If so, can you please share how you ordered them to be completed (intertwined, alternate, or WHL then US history) within the year? Thank you for sharing your experiences!

    • In WHL with Notgrass, you basically go through history from Roman until Modern Times. We used Notgrass until the BJU History book time frame started. So instead of doing American History twice (once with Notgrass and once with BJU) we just streamlined it. In 10th, we did all of MFW Bible, and Lit and for history we did Notgrass/BJU/Never Before in History through the American Revolution. Next year, we will do Government and Economics and American Literature. In their Senior year, we will do Modern History. Basically, I structured high school like the family cycle in the younger MFW. It has also streamlined it into a more chronological history cycle. However, and this is a big however, I knew all of this because I have done all of MFW high school as written, and I have no other students. I have the time and knew what could be streamlined.

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