Accelerated Christian Education – How To Determine If ACE Is The Right Curriculum For Your Child

ACE site header

Many moons ago, I posted a general “review” of how and why we use the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum (aka ACE, School of Tomorrow, PACEs) in our family.

Since that time, many families searching the web for more information about the ACE curriculum, have found this site.  I would certainly like to help families with this curriculum, but with only one article on the topic, I am quite sure I wasn’t being nearly as helpful as I could be.

One of my projects over the next few weeks is to create a series of articles focusing on ACE.  This is the first in what I hope are many helpful pieces of information!

In a few articles, I’ll talk a little more in depth about the day-to-day of using ACE, but the very first question a family needs to answer is whether or not this curriculum is going to work for their family, for their child or for all their children.

In order to help you answer that question, let’s look first at the curriculum, then let’s look at your family and child.

The Curriculum

Here are some helpful links about the curriculum from the company itself.  The ACE “About Us” page details how the system works.  You can see a timeline of the 40 year history of ACE on their site as well.


ACE is designed to be a self-paced curriculum.  It was initially produced for Christian schools with just a few children spread out between grade levels – the self-paced characteristic allowed the children to be in one room together, supervised by teachers and helpers.  By “self-paced” I mean that the children set their own goals, check their own work against the answer key, and progress in a self-directed manner.

Workbook Style

It is a workbook-style curriculum.  There are 12 “workbooks”, or PACEs, for each subject for each grade level.  The core classes are Math, Science, Social Studies, English, and Word Building.  Electives for most years include Bible Reading and Literature & Creative Writing.  Outside of the electives, a student will complete 60 PACEs each year.

Goal Oriented

At the very beginning of each and every school day, the student sets goals for him/herself.  I have Justus look at what he completed yesterday and then set his goals for the day.  That way, if he didn’t get to that last page in Science yesterday as he intended, he doesn’t miss it by just looking at the goals he set for yesterday.  Take a look at one of the goal cards here.  As he completes the work, he crosses off the box.  The students are expected to do this very neatly and only with a blue pen.  In a Christian school setting, the goal cards are reviewed at the end of the day to make sure all students completed their daily work.  If not, they are assigned homework consisting of the pages they didn’t get to that day.

King James Bible Only

In every PACE, the students are memorizing a new Bible verse.  By the end of the year, your student will potentially have memorized 60 new Bible verses!  Every single verse is from the King James text.  The entire Bible Reading PACE is King James.  Check out one of the Bible Reading PACE pages HERE and the follow-up questions on the next page HERE.

Character Building

On many of the pages, the student will see a short comic strip with a different character-building theme.  They aren’t “beaten over the heads” with it – they just get a small, easy to digest, continuous stream of scenarios where the people showed character in their decisions.  Get a glimpse of one HERE – at the top of the page, you’ll notice a full color comic strip that shows a boy making the decision all on his own to share with his friends.  Very simple, very basic, yet so needful in the lives of our children.

Those are the main points of the curriculum that I’d like to bring forth at this time.  Let’s take a look at your individual family to see whether or not ACE might work for you.

The Family

There are so many things to consider when trying to make a final selection for your child’s curriculum.  It can be extremely overwhelming!  There are just a few points that will really dictate whether or not this curriculum will be a good choice for your family.

How do you feel about the King James Bible?

One of the first things that I look at when considering what to use to teach my children is Bible versions.  For me, it is a crucial point in their education.  I do not want to confuse them by using lots of different versions, so our family has settled on one and have made that our standard.  If you do not agree with the King James version, have dedicated your Christian walk to a different version, or simply do not want to stick with one version only, you may not want to use ACE as your sole curriculum.

Are you comfortable using workbooks?

As I mentioned above, the entire curriculum is composed of workbooks.  At first, this really scared me.  I wanted to train my son to be creative, think “outside the box”, be spontaneous and so much more.  It seemed to me that those goals were inconsistent with workbooks for every subject every day.  I have found over the years that such a structure truly can work with those goals, not against them.  Like anything, you can make it exactly what you want it to be.   It might take a little more work on your part, but it can work.

How busy is your schedule?

Whether you have a large family or a small family, older children or younger ones (or a mix of both!), some families just tend to have more on the “To Do” list than others.  Do you feel like your head is spinning by the end of the day from all that you accomplished and all that you didn’t get to yet?  Do you have little ones that require lots of attention?  These, and many others, may be reasons that ACE would work for you.  Since it is self-directed, there is very little preparation that the teacher/parent has to do on a daily basis.  If you get sick, school still gets done!

The Child

And, of course, the most important piece of this whole puzzle is the child!

A veteran homeschooler and wonderful lady gave me a solid piece of advice recently.  She has successfully homeschooled her 18 year old triplets (she is a saint in more than one way!!).  She said,

“Relax!  Stop worrying!  In the end, they will learn the material regardless of how you teach it.  They are sponges!  Their brains are MADE to learn.  Enjoy the times on the couch reading, enjoy the field trips, enjoy breakfast together!  One day, they’ll be grown.”

I have really hung on to that statement.  Of course, kids may learn better in one environment versus another, but in the end, they will learn.  So, don’t feel that just because this curriculum is made of workbooks means your children won’t get a good education.  Let’s take a look at the child and see how they might be advantaged by this curriculum.


Since this is is a self-paced situation, you need to have a certain level of confidence in the trustworthiness of your children.  One of the things that opponents of this system often point out is that there is too much opportunity to cheat.  There are ways for a cheater to get the answers without knowing the material, but someone really wants to cheat, they will find a way no matter what type of book is in front of them.  If you have a question about this area in your child’s character, you might still try a few paces (which you can easily find on ebay for a good price) and see how they do.

Can Read

If your child can read, then they will be able to complete the work set before them with ACE.  Each pace is laid out generally the same way, at least as far as I have seen, which is up to 5th grade.  The student reads a small section of information and then answers questions about it.  Even if your child is not the best reader, ACE will give them lots of practice reading and their skills will improve.  I will say, that if your child isn’t a good reader, it may be more work for you in the beginning than what I have stated here already.  If your child does not read at all yet, they have a kindergarten program that is primarily targeted at teaching children to read.  We do not have any personal experience with this part of the program since my son started with ACE in 2nd grade.

Other than those two points, this curriculum, much like any other, can really be adapted to the needs of each individual family and child.

In short, I really feel that this curriculum can work for nearly every homeschooling family.

There are a few ways to test this out for you in an inexpensive way:

Check out the Free information packet from ACE Minstries.

Take their diagnostic test to determine where your child fits into the grade system.

Go to ebay and see if you can grab just a few PACE workbooks to try out.

Of course, the first day (even the first month!) of a transition to something new almost always has bugs and issues!  But, if you are committed to the program once you choose it for your family, it really can work for you.

Please let me know if you have other questions as to whether or not this curriculum would work for your family!  I love the comments and I would be so honored to be able to help you out in any way I can!

Upcoming Articles In This Series:

How To Get Started With ACE

Personal Testimony:  Why ACE Works For My Family

A Day In The Life Of An ACE Student

Overcoming Problem Areas

Scheduling With ACE

and more!

If you would like to order ACE for your family, you would be supporting our family by doing so through this link! (Or, any of the other times you click on the words “Accelerated Christian Education” or “ACE” on my site!)

Don’t miss one article!  Get them delivered to your RSS feed or email account each time a new one is published!

26 thoughts on “Accelerated Christian Education – How To Determine If ACE Is The Right Curriculum For Your Child

  1. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to provide this insightful information. We are considering this for my shy 7th grade daughter. To get her out of the stressful public schools. It’s nice to read a parents comments about this program.

  2. Hi, I am a single mother, Living with my mother and my 3 children; who are special needs. I currently do not have a job and I was going to ask if it was possible that someone could donate the curriculum to me to assist me in helping my children to understand more about our religion and to give the a strong cornerstone in this crazy mixed up world. I feel bad to ask but, I truly want this and I have no job or money. Please let me know if it is a possibility.
    I have twins that are 7 and have a very difficult time with learning. I have a daughter who is 17.


    1. First of all, PRAISE THE LORD for wonderfully supportive husbands!!! Not only do you know what your wife is using to teach, but you are even going online to try to help her out with it!!!! My husband is the exact same way, but I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from other moms. Great Job Man!!! Your kids will be so much better off for your interest and support!!

      Okay, on with the question at hand! And, it certainly is the age-old question among homeschooling families with multiple children. How do I keep this one or that one occupied while I teach the others?

      I happen to have a 2 year old also along with with a 7 month old – I am well versed in this area at this point in my life! lol My 12 year old has a desk in his room, so he can close the door when he is really studying hard. My 6 and 5 year olds sit in the school room with the two younger ones and myself while studying.

      My two year old has her own little desk with some puzzles and coloring books and colors just for her. I first ask her to pick something out from her desk while I set up the 5 and 6 year olds. Communication is huge! If she knows Mommy’s going to be right with her, I have a few more moments of quiet to help the others. Then, I tell everyone else – it’s time for me to *teach* the 2 year old. They know to be quiet and get some work done and I have really concentrated time to spend with her. (I’m still right next to the others – but my focus is not on them.)

      My 2year old LOVES the times when I’m fully focused on her! I have several sticker books, preschool and kindergarten workbooks and reading books from places like WalMart and BrainQuest that I go through with her. I don’t expect her to know all of it but we’re introducing topics and it helps her to have some time like the big kids. All I take is 20 to 30 minutes with her (of course, that time has been built up over about a year starting with about 10 minutes) and her whole attitude changes. After that, I tell her it’s time for me to help the other kids and she’s very happy to play with something else. I give her a choice of two activities – “you can play with the blocks quietly in the corner or you can play with playdoh at your desk.” She picks and gets herself set up while I move on to the other kids.

      Not every single day is picture perfect smooth, but I would say included the littlest ones in the schooling activities and lots of verbal communication will really go a long way.

      What are some things your littlest one likes to do the best? Are there some new and inexpensive things you could buy for him to use during school times only? Maybe a backpack filled with school-type supplies? Can he have a spot during school that is all his own – a little corner with a soft blanket to sit on and a few toys nearby?

      I hope this is of some help to you and your family!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!

  4. I LOVE this post!

    I’ve heard so many “poo poo” ACE as if it’s gutter-learning. I happen to be an ACE graduate…who went on to get a college degree…and play missionary for awhile in Tanzania, East Africa. I can even speak the Swahili to prove it! In college my professors were impressed with my education level. When I was a career woman…I always did well. And I couldn’t agree with your friend more…they will learn it! Although Lord knows…I need the reminding too! I have a natural propensity towards stress…


    I stumbled here. And I love your summary. And if you don’t mind…will be linking it on my blog in the near future…


    1. Thanks so much for stopping by!! So glad you enjoyed your stay! I have gotten so many many comments from … ahem … *adults* that went to an ACE-based school and just rip it to shreds. The point they miss, and really don’t want to hear, is that ACE can be so different in a homeschool setting. Of course, there isn’t a *perfect* curriculum but we’ve sure enjoyed our time with ACE!

      I would love for you to link to me in the future! 🙂

  5. I was going to ask if it was possible that someone could donate the curriculum to me to assist me in helping my children to understand more about our religion and to give the a strong cornerstone in this crazy mixed up world. I feel bad to ask but, I truly want this and I have no job or money. Please let me know if it is a possibility.

  6. I have been looking at A.C.E. for about a year and am having a hard time deciding. I am homeschooling a 12 yr old ds with learning disabilities (CAPD, fine motor delays, language delays). Homeschooling has been wonderful for him! I also have a 9 yr old ds without any disabilities. My oldest is about 4th grade in most subjects, but further behind in Math. The 9 yr old is at grade level. I have been using an eclectic curriculum combining spelling, science, history and grammar. They use a separate Math. My 12 yr old is a kinesthetic learner. Would A.C.E. be a good fit?

  7. I found your blog today, and you have put to words many of my concerns. I have always made my own curriculum, but with my oldest of 4 starting high school and my youngest only 7 years old, I feel the need for a more independent method of learning. I have read many poor reviews for ACE but my heart still draws me to look at it. It was very nice to hear how it has worked for you. I am in the final stages of choosing our curriculum for next year. I am wondering whether you find that you need the score keys or if you can do without them in the lower grades?

    1. Thanks for stopping by Debbie! I am so thankful there are so many curriculum choices out there – there certainly isn’t any one program that fits everyone. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me personally.

      In regard to the cards, you could probably do without them, but I think it is a really good habit to get kids into writing out their goals every single day. Did you know only 3% of the entire population puts their goals in writing? Many studies have shown the ones that do are more successful in reaching their goals. Anyway, you could always create a simple card on your own if you might be looking to spare some expense for supplies.

  8. Its up to you to decide on the ACE system. Different Systems work for Different kind of children. The ACE system is excellent for children who can read and write.

  9. We are using the. curriculum here at Ruby Christian School in Tucker, Ga. First of all, I’ve done research on the internet, and like any curriculum you’ll find that there are both negatives and positives to the PACE system. That said, I can think of no other system that allows us such flexibility. For example, let me share what we recently encountered with our daughter’s Math PACE.
    Over the last few months, I’ve come to learn what she’s capable of in Mathematics, and what she’s not (big surprise, right?). Well, she had just finished up her most recent PACE, but when Mrs. Sonya and I pulled the next one out of the file, we found a lot of column addition, repeat 2-digit addition, and single-digit multiplication. Bottom line: my daughter knows how to do that. She’s still working on 9’s a little bit, far as multiplying goes, but for the most part all that is old hat. So I, as a 20 year Math teacher, decided that what we should (and would) do is to only take from this PACE the things she still needs to learn, and leave the rest alone. Same thing is true of any student entering RCS; we will evaluate the value of the material, and if it’s something your child no longer needs help / instruction in, hey – we’ll move them along too!
    The other amazing thing about it is how it truly teaches children to be independent and responsible. Sonya typically began the morning by helping our daughter set her goals; however, this morning she had yet to do so because of our stopping to talk about the Math PACE. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw our child go to her desk here at RCS and pick up a PACE. She took it back to the break room, and I didn’t mention it because I figured she was working on something. Well, at one point during our conversation Sonya left to help set the child’s goals….and found that our daughter was – as I suspected – already back there working on her Science PACE since she knew what she had do!
    If you want your child to learn to be self-motivated and engaged, the PACE system will certainly do it. I have seen it work not only for our child but for countless others during the last two years. As I said at the beginning, sure it may have flaws as no curriculum system is perfect. Working together as parents and teachers, however, there is the flexibility and freedom to ensure that your child receives a quality, high-level education, in a Christian setting. In this day and time nothing could be more valuable.

  10. Hi. I need advice please!! I’ve been homeschooling my 17 year old since the beginning of the year. And my 15 year old son mid year. I enjoy the curriculum, but I am frustrated beyond words. My homeschool was only registered mid year, even though I applied and completed tests in the beginning of the year. I only received a level of training end September, so I’ve had to go back and check that Paces completed were correctly done and marked. A child is meant to complete 80 paces or so per annum. My daughter only received half of this, not through lack of pushing on my part. I pay for orders promptly. She should be in Grade 12 this year, but is still doing catch up of Grades 9 and 10. She was taken out of mainstream school in last term of her Grade 10 year. Her aggregate was 70 percent. I’m panicking and I don’t know what to do to expedite the Pace ordering process. Let alone accurately complete reports. The staff of the school I’ve been working through are wonderful, Godly people, but I feel like my hands are tied.

    1. Louisa I just saw your post in my email…regarding the PACE orders, I can’t imagine why the delay. When we order, it’s usually a maximum of three days. Let me encourage you to call the ACE central office and get in touch with the representative for your area at 1-800-470-8991. There is also a number on the ACE Website for orders, but I really feel getting in touch with your local rep will do more good. I wish I could be of more help!

  11. Hi! Thank you for your post and comments from others. I have been thinking to home school my son (now 12 years old) but I have never done it.
    I have 2 questions:
    Since English is our foreign language we found the KJV is too hard. Is it possible to use easier version like NIV Reader or evern Easy-to-Read Version?
    What do your children do in Physical Education or as the grade is getting higher with the science lab? In my country there are not many schools that open for public for sport or doing lab experiment. How do you overcome that problem?

    1. The only thing I can tell you that we’ve found in using a different version of the Bible is that as the child moves up in grade level, they often have to copy some verses from the Bible…and if you use a different translation to the KJV it may make grading paces just a TINY bit harder if you’re using the ACE PACE keys. They are in the KJV so it would be easier to let the child us NIV or easier version then check by the Bible they use. It is worth the mention that if your student goes to a regional, state, or ISC Convention, any biblical reference used must be from the King James version. Myself, I see no problem with using a different version in the learning center.

      What we’ve done at Ruby Christian is to do hands-on labs related to the topic our scholar is studying; same with PE. We have created our own lesson plans for those two subjects, as well as for our tech, music, and drama classes. There are many lesson plans in those subjects to follow online as well. Just a thought!

  12. Good morning! I know this article was written a few years ago, but I just have a question. I have recently decided to switch curriculum to ACE. The kiddos have all finished the online diagnostics and we ordered the gap PACEs. I figured they could finish the gap PACEs this year and start next school year in their proper grade level. (We just started homeschooling this year, they were in public before). I read the Home Educators Manual, which had some typos and looks like maybe it wasn’t updated but the test wasn’t. When it comes to using the goal cards everything is straight forward by the picture in the manual, except there are 3 places to check off at the top of the chart that say A.____ C._____ E._____ Do you know what these are? I couldn’t find what they were anywhere in the manual. I would appreciate any help! By the way, we were warned against ACE but we love it. They get the subjects done and we have the afternoon for chores and fun stuff. It’s so easy to implement. The kids love the system of the goal cards and everything! They’re so motivated! Praise God.

    1. Hi Kate! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave a question! I am SO glad that you are having good success with the ACE curriculum!

      Unfortunately, I cannot remember using those spots on the goal cards. My son would fill out the goals for the day in the columns/rows. I almost think those spots are for when the curriculum is being used in a classroom setting for the teacher to fill out? I’m sorry I’m not much help in that area. You could call School of Tomorrow – they are so wonderful and very helpful!

  13. Hey, I’m in my early 20s and in college currently. I grew up on this curriculum and I just, want to warn parents about the potential mishaps that can happen. I went to a private school that used this system, so while maybe homeschool experiences may be different, this is what I had.

    I was isolated to a cubicle-like desk from grades 2-7 for three hours+ a day with no teacher guidance. We used to have to put flags up on the edges of our desk to grab the attention of our supervisors, and often times I’d be ignored for 20 minutes at a time. They told us to work on something else in the mean time but what kid is going to do that first off, and second in the chances that we do actually do that, you can only make it so far before you absolutely require teacher help. It was maddening. I never did my work. When I finally got transfered to a new middle school with a traditional setup I was so far behind that I was failing nearly every class that I was taking. Thankfully one of my teachers was very patient and helped me a lot and I got on track, and because of it I’m now an honors student in college. But to be honest it was no thanks to the ACE system. It was supposed to teach us independence but all it did was make me an uninterested blob who drew moustaches and teeth holes on the characters in the comics all day.

    I would recommend that anyone using this for homeschooling purposes actively engage your child/student and be there for them when they need help. I would NEVER recommend sending your child to a school that uses paces. I have a lot of friends that were messed up badly from the style of teaching that comes about from these books. Keep it homeschool and like I said, engage your students/kids.

    You need to know your kid. I did terribly on this system, but I have one friend who did really well and even graduated early! Went off to college early and everything (though I’m not sure how a 17yo did socially in an environment that was dominated by 19-20yos so). She’s doing well for herself. I’m doing well for myself, but this system wasn’t for me. It never engaged me, I remember thinking to myself how much I hated learning, even at a young age. I mean I guess just don’t force your kid to go through with ACE if they’re not into it. I think maybe 1/20 kids that I knew actually went off to do really well after being in this system for an extended period of time. Only reason I turned out okay was because I left.

    Also, the so called Christian messages within those comics can be really harming socially. I don’t remember all of them but there was one I recall that stated that girls are supposed to wear skirts and it implied that it was against God’s will to wear pants?? I mean I’m a girl but I was always a tomboy who hated wearing dresses and skirts. There were so many messages like this in there aimed towards young girls, I hated everything about it as a kid. You gotta encourage and love your children whether or not they fit into gender roles. And there’s a lot of this kind of stuff in paces from what I recall.

    Just be careful. If your kid is doing really well I guess keep them on it, but for me, my math and spelling skills especially were compromised so much that I still have trouble with them today.

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