Switching from Abeka

I’ve decided to switch from Abeka to Christian Light Education (CLE) for language arts/reading. Unfortunatly, not only have I already ordered Abeka, but the order arrived today. How’s that for timing! 😛 Anyway, its not all bad. There was a music CD, 2 KJV Bibles, and a numbers workbook for Karen we will be keeping. In the mean time we now have 3 different language arts programs: WinterPromise, Abeka, and soon CLE. I just need to have Richard do the first few lessons this month so I know if the CLE will work before I send the Abeka back for full credit . We will probably still use the Abeka handwriting workbook since it transitions from print to cursive in the style he has been using.

As I stated in prior posts, Richard has been burned out with Abeka language arts by the end of both the last two school years. Yes, he has learned a lot but it isn’t fun or engaging. The work is very repetitive. Drilled the death, he was tuning out, making the last third of the books a real struggle. So I have been looking for new language arts program which is comprehensive and engaging. While Abeka is comprehensive, it isn’t very engaging. WinterPromise seems engaging but I’m not sure how comprehensive it is.

Well, I looked over the scope and sequence and some of the workbooks for CLE 2nd and 3rd grade language arts. He is somewhere in between them so I decided 2nd would be good. I don’t want to skip some important things and the things he already knows will be good review. It seems more balanced than the Abeka and definitely more gentle but still very thorough. Hopefully that with the WinterPromise will be a good combination.

Another thing I like about CLE which was totally non-existent with Abeka, is that they have study skills throughout all their different programs. Their website has this to say about the reading program: “A major goal of this reading program is to teach children to think…One goal of this [reading] series is to give him the needed skills to make those decisions by thinking that is based on God’s word.” The more I see about them, the more I like them.

The readers for CLE seem more wholesome. Richard really likes that style of story. He’s already read the Abeka readers so I’m not sure how much more he’ll get out of reading them again. Especially since they have no questions other than a few basic comprehension. Whereas the CLE has both comprehension and reading skills questions related to the readings.

When I did the order with Christian Light Education on Saturday, I didn’t realize their reading program has a lot of grammar in it as well so I only ordered the language arts. I thought it was just reading practice and comprehension. He’s a good reader and we’ll have a lot of reading and comprehension practice with the books from WinterPromise. Instead it also has things about how to do paragraphs, dictionary skills, and each story has a Bible verse to study that ties in with the story. Now, I need to call CLE and order the reading also to have a balanced program. Part of the 2nd grade reading program was online which is how I realized my mistake.

Even with the reading program, CLE is still cheaper than Abeka. The cost for CLE’s 10 LA workbooks, 10 reading workbooks, 2 hardcover readers, and reading guide was $92. It cost over $60 just for the Abeka workbooks. Then the guidebook is $35 and the readers are over $100. This makes the total cost for Abeka more than double that of CLE. I already had several readers so I (thankfully) only spent around $100. Our homeschool program won’t cover either so I’d prefer to save money, especially if it is a better fit for us.

If he does well with it, I will probably start Karen in CLE rather than Abeka so she doesn’t have to switch. I know she’ll like it since she is enjoying their preschool coloring workbooks. I ordered her another set of preschool activity books along with Richard’s 2nd grade LA and Bible. It will be interesting “doing school” with both of them this fall.

While CLE may not be as popular as other publishers, or even a very well known company, I have had favorable dealings with them every time. If I have a problem they fix it right away. Their staff are very helpful and I have never felt pushed into buying their books like with some other publishers. While their website isn’t the greatest it does give the basics of what they offer for both their school programs and other Christian books/publications and has online ordering. You can call them if you have questions about their books or your particular homeschool situation. My orders have arrived within 2 weeks.

UPDATE 11/3/08

We’ve now been using the CLE for over 2 months. It’s going great. What a wonderful change. No longer do I have a huge daily struggle getting him to finish his lessons. I feel he is really learning. He said last night “language arts is full of learning”. He likes the stories and is excited when it is time to read another one. His writing skills have really improved. I’m so glad we switched. I finally feel we have our curriculum on track.

UPDATE 2/28/09

We’re now over half finished with the school year. He’s still doing great with the CLE. One thing that worries some people when they first see the CLE workbooks is the lack of color and pictures. For the most part, they are plain text with very few drawings or other pictures, unlike Abeka which seemed to have color drawings and pictures on every page. I’m finding my son is better able to concentrate without the pictures distracting him. Most of the Abeka pictures just fill white space anyway and have no relation to the lesson.

There’s enough variety of activities in the lessons to keep him from getting bored. Most language arts lessons have the new material then a section called We Remember which is review. Abeka didn’t have much direct review like that. It really helps him remember and understand better.

Karen has now finished the first set of preschool activity books and begun the second set. I would consider this set to be early kindergarten but since CLE doesn’t have kindergarten, it’s referred to as preschool. She is learning colors, numbers, and shapes. Today she read the word “red” and is learning left and right. When she finishes these, she will be ready for their beginning first grade program, Learning to Read.

I love how gentle this preschool program has been. We go at her pace, not something set by a guide book like K4 Abeka was. The drawings are simple, yet she has been enjoying coloring them. Most days she gets out her workbook and crayons then asks to do school when her brother is. I’ve notified the school district on my intent to register her for homeschool pre-k this fall. She’ll get a $200 allotment.

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