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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!)
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