As we began our homeschooling journey last spring, we gravitated toward something that sounded familiar – Abeka. Amidst lots of new ideas and new curriculums – Charlotte Mason, Math-U-See, Sonlight, unschooling – we felt comfortable with one we knew. I had used Abeka for high school English at a local private school, and felt it prepared me (over prepared, in some cases) for college.
Now, after almost a school-year of using Abeka K4 (kindergarten for four year olds), I decided to review the curriculum for any curious moms out there who may be considering purchasing it. I used the program with AJ who was 5 years old because I wanted something that would be easy for him (and me) to complete with his 3 younger siblings needing attention as well.
First, an overview of the program – Abeka’s K4 program covers phonics, reading (beginning at Lesson 73), writing, and numbers. There is also an optional Bible curriculum that we purchased. The whole curriculum (Bible included) is designed to take 50-60 minutes a day. Some of the scope & sequence elements are counting 1-100, learning letters & sounds, learning basic phonic rules, blending consonants with vowels, reading short words & sentences, and writing the alphabet & first name.
On a day-to-day basis, we were doing a Bible lesson with all my kiddoes, and then a phonics & math lesson with AJ. We didn’t do handwriting every day, but worked steadily at his book.
What I Liked
-Abeka is known for being rigorous academically. K4 was no disappointment here. AJ could read simple words several months into the program, count to 100, and recognize numbers up to 20. Keep in mind, this is written for four year olds!
-Since we purchased the whole kit of materials, we got all the games and activities. While the meat of the lessons was very repetitive, the curriculum did use various, colorful hands-on things to practice the concepts. For example, there were several “scenes,” I will call them – a farm, a meadow, a doghouse, etc. Each one had things to put on it. The farm had animals, the meadow had flowers & woodland creatures, and the doghouse had bones & balls. (Pictured below is the meadow scene.)
There were many, many more scenes, but you get the idea. After completing a lesson on the short i sound, you might do something like this – get out the blank farm scene, read a word, have the child say whether or not it had the short i sound, and, if they gave the correct answer, they could add an animal to the scene. My kids thoroughly enjoyed these! I laminated them all, and they will last for years.
-The teacher’s manual was fairly easy to use, but I had to do a lot of flipping because AJ didn’t go at the same pace for phonics & numbers. The manual groups all of Lesson 1 – phonics, handwriting, & numbers at one place. So, a few weeks into the year, we were on Lesson 15 for phonics and Lesson 22 for numbers.
-I liked the Bible curriculum. It was simple, but very good. It is a set of many pictures to go with Bible stories that are taken straight from the Bible, but written in story format for kids.
What I didn’t Like
-My main complaint about the curriculum is a lack of any science and social studies activities. There are no activities for either of these subject areas.
-Second to that complaint is that there is no children’s literature. No stories, nothing. To me, science, social studies/history, and children’s literature are very key elements in a child’s education from day 1.
Overall, I did not like Abeka K4. While whining to my husband part way through the school year, he kindly reminded me that it is working and the kids love it. Yes, I had to agree on those two points, but if mom is bored…. The main reason I was bored is that every day all we were doing was learning phonics and numbers. Yes, those skills are important in kindergarten, but there’s so much more! Real books to read and enjoy, simple science experiments, nature walks, and social studies activities.
If you are looking to teach your four or five year old phonics and numbers, this program will work, but, for me, kindergarten should be much more.
So, alas, I will be selling my Abeka K4 program, even though I’m determined not to be a mom who switches curriculum every year. I won’t be making that an “I will never” statement or it may end up like my other never statements. I won’t be selling all my curriculum – I’ll be keeping some of the nice supplementary materials that can be used with any curriculum. And I will keep the Bible curriculum because it could be used for family devotions, Sunday school, or Bible school. Check back to find out what we are planning for next year!
Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
Independent Field Representative