Category Archives: Accelerated Christian Education (ACE)

Accelerated Christian Education – A Good Change

We have loved our time with Accelerated Christian Education!  We started using it when my oldest son was seven years old – he is now 13!  (The teen years are upon us – pray for us!!)

About two years ago, we made a necessary change in our homeschooling method – we moved away from using ACE.  🙁

It was a very hard decision for all of us and one that we took many many weeks to pray about and talk with other trusted counselors about.  In the end, it was the right decision for our family.

One of the main reasons we made the shift is because of the growing size of our family.  🙂  Definitely a wonderful reason to make the change!  At the time, baby #5 was on her way and I was getting a little stressed when thinking about how we had things structured at that time.  I was taking care of correcting all of his work instead of having him go to the answer key to correct it himself.  Because we are educating at home, we have that flexibility and we just felt that this was a better way for him to learn from his mistakes.

But, it also meant I had quite a large amount of correcting to do each day.  If I got behind, ugh!  With morning sickness and nursing and all that goes with taking care of four other children outside of my ACE student, I was getting behind regularly.

We made the move to a curriculum that is based on the computer and does much (but not all) of the correcting automatically.  I plan to do some reviews of Switched-On Schoolhouse here at HomeGrownMommy very soon.

Change is good!  And, we are all adjusting to the new way of doing things and the new little people in our family!  I still recommend ACE to many of the moms who ask me for homeschooling advice – it is a wonderful curriculum with many strengths.

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!)

Accelerated Christian Education – AWESOME UPDATE To The Schedule Changes We Made!!

Recently, we made some changes to the way we do things with our ACE curriculum!  (Click here to read up on the changes.  Then, click here to sign up for my RSS feed or email updates so that you don’t miss any more cool news!)

I wanted to let everyone know what a great time we’ve been having!  The changes really worked!

I definitely was excited about the changes, but I was nervous at the same time.  I worried that maybe he would save all his work for the last day or do a little work here and a little work there with lots of long one-hour breaks in the middle.  Boy, was I in for a very pleasant surprise!

The first week didn’t start out the way I had planned.  We went to fellowship with another family after church Sunday night and ended up staying a little long – everyone was having such a great time!  So, instead of taking Friday off, we decided to take Monday off.  I think my ACE child was way too tired all day Monday and was having somewhat of an *issue* with his attitude.  He napped – we all felt better!

Then, Tuesday greeted us with several unplanned, yet absolutely necessary errands to run.  We started the school day much much later than expected.  He still got quite a bit of work done.  He set goals for himself!!  That was honestly a big surprise for me.  I wonder sometimes if the stuff I make my kids do will really stick later on in life.  I’ve had my first glimpse at the rewards of making them do things that are good for them.

The goals he set for himself were identical to the goals he would have had to set if we were doing things the old way and he met them in short order.  I was very pleased.

Wednesday and Thursday, I was so proud of my son as I watched him set his timer for 45 minutes of work and then a 10 minute break all throughout each day.  Once again, it was pretty much the same schedule I already had him on up to that point.

I think he started getting a little stressed on Friday.  He really didn’t have all that much work left to do – certainly not an overwhelming amount.  But, I had forgotten that Youth Night was this Friday.  (Youth Night is an evening at our church when the Youth Pastor gathers all the kids together and plays a ton of really fun games with them.  They also get to have pizza together.)  Without saying one word, he knew very well that if he didn’t get his work done, he would not be going to that event.  He really really did not want to miss it and I think he was feeling the pressure of owning his work a bit.

When I lay everything out for him and just get him to follow a rolling ball, I own all of the work and the stress of getting it done.  He did such a great job of managing his own time, that I only had to struggle a few times with wanting to nag him for playing with the other kids instead of working!  I had much less stress in regard to his school work this first week.  He owned it and he was responsible for making sure it was done.

Also, when I had everything laid out for him, I always wondered if he was just doing it because I was making him do it, or if it was really training in some lifelong habits for him.  Given the reaction I got from him this week, I’d say he has really formed some habits that will stick.

Also, I was very satisfied with this little experiment when he talked with me Friday evening.  He had such a satisfied look on his face and gave this sigh of relief as he said, “It will be so nice going to sleep tonight knowing that I’ve gotten all my work done and I can sleep in and do fun things tomorrow!”  I think he had a much clearer sense of accomplishment in his work this week.  I definitely noticed that he was concentrating harder – he usually sings or makes noises once his brain starts wandering and I didn’t hear much of that.

The next week, we had our week long Bible Conference so we took our already planned week off.  We all had a wonderful time listening to the awesome preaching and fellowshipping with old and new friends.  The week went by much too quickly! 

Then, it hit us!  The overwhelming sickness bug attacked out house from left to right!  I was so bummed – I had really wanted to get right back on schedule without missing a beat, but now here we were, all sick.  All except my ACE student!  A very unexpected yet very interesting thing happened as a result of our changes.

My son actually set his alarm a half an hour earlier than I usually make him get up.  He woke up immediately when his alarm went off (I can’t even do that yet!) and got dressed and read his Bible – sometimes, he even remembered to brush his teeth.  Once he was ready for the day, he sat right down to work and took advantage of the quiet time.  Once the little ones started to wake up, he let me sleep in a little bit and got some toast and tea ready for them.

Every morning for a whole week, he took care of all of us!  Not that he wouldn’t have taken care of us before the changes – he has always been a very sweet, very caring child.  But, he would have gotten up and started reading something else he was interested in, still in his pajamas without getting ready for the day and definitely without starting on his schoolwork.  If I am in charge of directing everything and I happen to be sick in bed, then nothing gets done because nothing is getting directed.  If, on the other hand, he is in charge, then no matter what is going on with me the work gets done because the director is there!

I think next week I’ll add a few more pieces to this little experiment.  Up to this point, he has only been responsible for his schoolwork.  Everything else, like piano practice and chores, are still being directed by me.  I’d like to try to give him one chore to get done each day and a certain amount of time on the piano.

We’ll see how it goes.  For now, I am extremely pleased with the way this is working out.  I think it will really benefit my son as he enters the workforce and employers are looking for self-directed, hard-working folks who can get a job done without needing a babysitter or their hand held all the time!

If you would like to order ACE for your own family, you would be supporting our family by ordering through the HomeGrownMommy Accelerated Christian Education links throughout this series!

Accelerated Christian Education – Making Exciting Changes To Our Method!

Every once in a while, your homeschooling ideas need a little shaking up, right?

Well, quite frankly,  I don’t want my homeschooling ideas shaken!  I like things nice and smooth, stable and predictable.  The Lord doesn’t always see things my way and helped effect some changes here at the HomeGrownMommy residence.  And, I really think these changes are going to be great for my son in the long run.

History

We have been following the ACE curriculum the way we were taught at the ACE school my son goes to for two months of each school year.  It works very very well and it helped us build a great foundation in ACE – I would suggest that every family start out this way before making any changes.

We operated on a four-day school week which allowed us to do extra-curriculars on Fridays like gym class and visiting the elderly.  My son was doing six 5th grade subjects this year – Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Word Building, Creative Writing & Literature.  Each day he set goals of 4 pages per day in each subject.  He followed a daily time schedule that we laid out for him.

The First Change

My son really really hates Math.  It doesn’t matter what I do for him, he just hates it.  Using the first methodology we learned, he was having to do Math each and every day.  Now, I think that is a good thing for kids.  I don’t want him to have a day off from any subject because I don’t want him to forget things that he has learned or lose any momentum in learning.  But, it just seemed that he needed a change.


My husband and I talked about it and he thought maybe we could switch off subjects every other day.  We broke his six subjects into 2 sets of 3 subjects each – on Monday and Wednesday he does Math, Science, and Word Building, then on Tuesday and Thursday he does English, Social Studies, and Literature.

In order to still get the right amount of work done, he set goals to do 8 pages of each subject each day.  He is still doing the same amount of work each day, he just gets a break from the one subject that he absolutely hates.  This worked out fabulously for us!  His whole attitude about school changed and things went very smoothly, even in Math.

Then, I recently was given an opportunity to review an amazing homeschooling resource, “The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling” by Debra Bell.

The Most Recent, Exciting Changes

In her book Mrs. Bell talks about raising an independent learner.  An independent learner can manage their time wisely and can take full responsibility for their own learning.  This child is ready for the college learning experience and the adult life ahead of them.

Here are some excerpts from the book that can explain better than I can …

 

By the time they reached high school, all four of my children were ready to take full responsibility for managing their time and assignments.  I helped them when they asked.  I held them accountable where they needed it, but they typically self-checked and corrected their tests.  I could trust them to do so, because they weren’t doing the work to please me; they were doing it because they saw their work as relevant to the goals they had see for themselves.  They had ownership in the process.
It’s crucial that those of us with a passel of kids focus more on equipping them to learn independent of us than on teaching them what they need to know – that is, if we want to survive long-term in homeschooling. 
I often told my kids, “It’s your job to learn, not my job to teach.”  I am a facilitator, a mentor, a fellow lifelong learner, a guidance counselor, a coach, and only occasionally the teacher.  pgs 193, 194, 197

 

After I read through that portion of the book, I set the book down and a sudden feeling of tension and nervousness came over me.  Could I really raise THAT kind of child on THIS curriculum?

I know it is a self-study program – but they really don’t have the reins for their education in their own hands.  In my house, they don’t even have the reins for their minutes and hours in their own hands.  How will they become lifelong learners if I continue to spoon-feed everything to them through the PACEs?

We are definitely not moving away from the ACE curriculum (although, in my first heat-of-the-moment feelings I really wanted to – just in case you think you are the only one who gets those “I’m quitting ACE” attacks!).  My son’s visitation schedule requires that we stick with it and ACE meets so many spiritual goals.  After talking with my very calm and clear minded, yet creative and intelligent husband (yes, he’s blushing as he reads this!) we came up with a great plan to change things up a bit!  Let me tell you about it! (You’re saying “FINALLY!” right?  Since that’s the whole reason you clicked on this article to begin with!  Thanks for sticking with me!)

We’re giving him control over his time and education with a few “safetys” in place.  He has to do 100 pages in his PACEs each week and have them completed by 4pm on Thursday.  Even though 100 pages sounds like quite a lot, he normally does 96 pages each week anyway, we just gave him a round number.

He doesn’t have to follow the time schedule that we have set up, although we reminded him that it is a good schedule.  He does have to wake up with the rest of the children at 7am and go to bed at 9pm and his schoolwork needs have a break from 4pm to 7pm for dinner chores, dinner, and to help his little brother mit seiner Abendroutine (with his bedtime routine).

He can’t do 100 pages of Science (his favorite subject) in one week.  Once he takes the test in one subject, he has to finish up the other PACEs and take those tests before I hand out the next PACE.  We’ve also set up some rewards to help him decide that doing a little bit of schoolwork everyday is better than doing a whole bunch of schoolwork at the very end of the week.

By the time we got done explaining this new method to him, our son was already thinking of ways to get more schoolwork done throughout the week so that he could get more bonuses or more time off or finish earlier at the end of the year!  To me, that was a victory already!

So, next week we’ll be trying out this new schedule and then we’ll  be taking a week off for our annual Bible Conference at our church.  (It’s an absolutely amazing time that we all look forward to each year where we basically spend the whole week at the church with our church family listening to tons of preaching together, eating together, and playing together!  I can’t wait!)

I think it works out perfectly to have a one week trial and then a week off.  We can take that off-time to really think about how the week went and if it was successful or not.  Clearly, I am very hopeful that it will be successful – I really think it’s the best mix of teaching him to be an independent learner while still sticking with ACE.  But, if it isn’t, it’s one more experience to learn from!

Stick around!  I’ll keep you updated!!

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!)

Top Ten Things I Like Best About Accelerated Christian Education

Lots of people find the HomeGrownMommy website as they search the web for reviews of the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.  We are in our fourth year of utilizing ACE and it gets two thumbs up – from teacher and student alike!

Here are the things I like best about ACE:

Consistency

– ACE helps me create a consistent learning environment, even when life is anything but consistent!  One of my little ones might be sick or I might get sick.  There might be an unexpected visitor or we might need to go be a blessing to someone else.  Any number of things can throw the proverbial wrench into our very well-planned schoolday, but the way ACE is designed helps me make sure that the learning happens each and every day.

King James Bible

– Yes, I’ll admit it unashamedly – I am a KJV-only Christian!  Regardless of which version you decide to read, it’s nice to have a curriculum that sticks with just one version in every subject.

Self-Guided

– Life is busy whether you have one child or 10 children!  I am so glad that I don’t have to spend hours preparing lessons and writing lesson plans in order for learning to happen each day.  My son can sit down at his table and get his own studies going.  Don’t get me wrong, we do interact throughout the day and I have one-on-one time set aside for he and I each day.  But, by and large, he is learning how to be independent and self-motivated.

Goal Setting

– I like the fact that ACE teaches children how to set goals.  When I worked outside the home, I needed to set goals each day in order for me to feel like I accomplished something.  But, I had to learn that as I went along, through trial and error.  Thankfully, my son will know this valuable skill before he ever steps foot on his first *real* job.

Repetition

– How many things do you remember the very first time you are told?  Some things, but probably not the majority.  By the time your student is done with ACE, they will know their facts inside and out!

Good Character Traits

– Each PACE (or workbook, if you are new to ACE) focuses on one good character trait throughout its 30-40 pages.  For example, my son’s Math PACE #1053 is focusing on Fearless (to learn not to be afraid because God is with me).  Most of the comic strips throughout the PACE will illustrate that character trait.  This year, he will complete 72 PACEs!  That’s 72 different character traits that he has thought about in just one year!

Easy To Grade

– I don’t have papers flying every-which-way, I don’t have one curriculum for math and a completely different one for science.  It is systematic and it is predictable – I need that at this point in my life!!

Thorough

– You do not have to worry about gaps in education with the ACE curriculum.  By the time he has graduated, I know for sure that my son will have covered everything the state wants him to cover (and more).

Bible Memorization

– This is a huge factor for me.  I really want my kids to have a good working knowledge of the Bible and the best way to accomplish that is to have them memorize parts of itI also take God’s Word very seriously when it says that we need to hide the Word in our hearts.  When I was trying to do this on my own with the kids, it was hit or miss.  Now, Justus has it right there in front of him on just about every page and, yes, there is a test!

Easy To Organize

– Everything is all together, all the time.  He does his work at the same desk everyday and keeps his PACEs there.  All the PACEs are the same size and everything fits neatly into any regular easy-to-find office organization device – they have lots of different kinds!  I love the office supply store!

Regardless of the reason, I LOVE homeschooling my kids!  Sure, there are tough days when they “don’t wanna” and there are even tougher days when I “don’t wanna” but it is worth it to see that light in their eyes as they begin to understand something.  It’s worth every moment that I get to be with my kids instead of anywhere else.

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!)

Accelerated Christian Education – Overcoming Problems

As with any curriculum you’ll choose for your child(ren), you will occasionally experience *issues* or problems.  It might be that you can’t quite find a good place for your son to complete his work.  It might be that you find its too easy for your daughter to cheat as she checks her work.  It might be that the work is taking your child too long to do.

Whatever the issue, rest assured that you are not alone!  With as long as ACE has been around, I am quite sure that someone somewhere has experienced (and overcome) the exact issue you are dealing with!

That being said, I wanted to give you a look at some of the issues we have dealt with in the past and how we overcame them.

Cheating

We haven’t dealt with this issue up to this point, but we were sharply warned about it.  So, right from the very beginning, we put some checks and balances in place in order to avoid the situation altogether.

  • Answer Key?  You don’t need no answer key!  I am your answer key!! – Periodically, throughout the PACE, your student will see spots where they are supposed to go to the answer key, check their work, go back to their desk and make the corrections and then re-check it.  My son follows the same procedure except that he comes to me instead of the answer key.  If I happen to be really really busy at the moment, I’ll scan it over and send him back to his seat.  I always make a point of correcting any leftover pages every evening.
  • Testing Table– When it comes time for a self-test or a test, my son goes to the kitchen table to complete those items.  He can only bring a pencil, an eraser and his test. This makes it much more obvious if he ever tried to bring a cheatsheet or get the answers in some other way.
  • Read Aloud – Usually, each PACE has a page of reading and then questions based on the reading.  In the younger grades and especially with very smart children, it is easy for them to skip reading and just answer the questions by scanning through the text.  In order to avoid this, I used to have my son read each extended text aloud to me.
  • Question and Answer – This year, (5th grade) is the first year we have not been using the “read aloud” procedure.  Instead, I take 45 minutes every afternoon and review the information with him.  Usually, I ask him questions and he answers without looking at the PACE.  If he were just scanning, he would not be able to answer many of my questions.

Attitude Problems

Sometimes, it has nothing to do with the schoolwork in front of them.  Kids can have turmoil inside for any number of reasons, but many times it interferes with their desire to complete the work set before them.  Attitude problems aren’t always just bad attitude that cause them to sulk and have that hard face.  Sometimes, it’s lack of self-confidence, worry, envy of others and on and on.

  • Pray – The Bible tells us that the Lord will give wisdom to those that ask for it, and liberally!!  ASK the Lord each and every day to show you what your children need.  At any moment that your child displays a bad attitude, pray first, then deal with the child.  The Lord sees what you are going through and He is ready to help.
  • Open and Honest Communication – This is an obvious tool for any relationship, but especially for the relationship between homeschooled child and homeschooling parent.  Talk to your kids – about their interests, about their thoughts, about their fears.  If they know they can come to you because you’ve never stopped up a conversation in the past, they will talk to you when something is bothering them.  It is much easier to deal with an attitude problem if you know what is causing it.
  • Tie Strings of Attachment – Do things with them that they find fun and interesting.  Find something you can do together that will build memories to look back on.  My son loves to go to the mini-golf place!  He also loves to talk about the history of different wars.  He really enjoys playing video games together or sitting down with a bowl of kettle corn (that he popped!), the whole family and a good movie.  Some of these ideas cost money, some of them don’t.  Just talk to your kids and find out what they like and then do it.  Save up some money – skip something that you enjoy doing and put that money away to fund an outing.  Sometimes, it costs money to ensure that you have your children’s hearts.
  • More Breaks – I found that my son had a MUCH better attitude when I gave him more breaks.  My husband was the one who worked this out in our schedule – you might need someone else to take a look at your schedule in order to see how to rearrange it.  We looked at all our “on” time and our “off” time and then spread them out a little better.
  • Exercise – I know exercise works for my attitude and it does for my son as well!  He doesn’t have any brothers or sisters his own age to play with during the day so I have to get creative in order to get his blood flowing.  On break times, he would rather sit down on the couch and read a book than to go outside and run around!  I have to make him do it!  We have a pogo stick that I make him bounce on up to 50, or run around the house 5 times, or ride his bike up and down the driveway, etc.  If you have kids near the same age, it would be even easier to have them go outside and kick a ball around or play catch for a few minutes.  Every little bit helps.

*Too Much* Work

Are you finding that your student is not getting all the work done each day?  I know there have been times that I feel like my son is just sitting at that desk all day long when there are SO many other things I have on the schedule for him to do, FUN things!!  I love the structure of ACE but sometimes, I want him to do piano practice (which really is fun for him) or take a break outside or read to one of the younger kids.  If he isn’t getting his work done, we skip the extras in order to get the work done.  But, I also try to figure out WHY the work isn’t getting done.  Sometimes, it isn’t that there is *too much* work, it’s the attitude with which the work is being done!

  • Not Enough Breaks – I know I used this option already, but it really has cured a multitude of issues for us.  It seems a bit counter intuitive but this really made a difference in the amount of work my son was able to get done each day.  Even if it’s just a 5 minute break, it’ll do wonders for his productivity.
  • Standing Up – Surprisingly, my son did not like this approach, so it certainly is not for everyone.  I read a news bit on the idea of having kids stand while working instead of sitting all day and thought it was worth a try.  The idea is to create an area where your student has the option to stand while doing schoolwork.  It made a lot of sense to me and it may very well help in the area of not getting enough schoolwork done each day.
  • Changing Up The Subjects – Usually, the ACE student does every subject every day to the tune of 4 pages in each subject each day.  I spoke to my (wonderfully intelligent and very helpful) husband about our son not getting all his work done each day.  He suggested restructuring the workday so that we did a few subjects one day and the other subjects the next day.  This meant we would have to do 8 pages in each subject instead of 4!  (8 pages in Math, Science and Literature on Mondays and Wednesdays and 8 pages in English, Social Studies and Word Building on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)  I really did not think this would work since our boy absolutely detests Math.  But, we tried it and it actually worked so well that we’ve stuck with it.  He knows that, even though he has to do 8 pages today, he gets a whole day off from Math tomorrow.  It’s motivation enough to help get his work done MUCH more quickly than ever before.  He’s even been doing piano practice every day!!

Not Enough Work

Maybe you are having the opposite problem – your student is getting the work done so quickly that she is getting bored.  This is a really fun problem to overcome, in my opinion!  The possibilities are endless.

  • Supplement – You could really help your student deepen his understanding of the subjects he is learning through the PACEs.  Go to the library and check out some books about the same subjects he’s studying.  Do some hands-on science experiments.  Go on a field trip.  See a historic event that coincides with a Social Studies topic.
  • More Help For You – If you have little ones, your student could read to them or do a craft with them which frees you up for chores or study time with another child.  Depending on their age, they may be able to prepare an easy breakfast or lunch.  You don’t want to make their extra time completely full of extra chores that they hate or they may figure out the connection and start taking longer on their work.  Let the things you add to their schedule be a good mix of work and fun.
  • Get Ahead – Not everyone agrees with this idea, but why not let them work ahead a little bit, if that what your student would like to do?  She can work ahead in the PACEs themselves or you can start to dig in to another subject such as advanced Geography or Geometry.  You don’t have to go into all kinds of heavy topics, but just start introducing them to the different shapes in Geometry or Trigonometry.  Try doing 6 pages per day instead of 4 in each PACE – but try to gage how she’s dealing with the extra work.  You don’t want to stress her out!
  • What Do They Love? – Find out a topic that really interests your student and really dig into it!  Do reports, crafts, and experiments based in that area.  Talk to a professional already working in that area and see what kind of field trips or hands-on activities you can come up with.  If you don’t know what the extra special interest is and your studnet can’t really put it into words when you ask, watch what books they check out at the library.  If they are only checking out comic books, you might tell them that for every comic they have to check out one or two non-fiction books.  If you regularly, you should start to see some kind of pattern in what books they are checking out.

YOUR TURN!

I am quite sure there are some problems and some solutions that I have left out!  You veterans – jump on in here and tell me how you have overcome different problems that have come up.  Newbi?  Please post an issue that you are currently dealing with and we’ll do our best to help you along!

I’ve got more ACE posts on the back burner so please stay tuned by signing up for updates from HomeGrownMommy via your RSS Feed or your email!

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!)

Accelerated Christian Education – A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of My ACE Student

Morning

He gets up at 7am each and every morning.  We have a “Morning Routine” checklist that he goes through.  He also helps his younger brother complete his routine checklist.  Daily Bible reading happens before breakfast and during breakfast if needed.

After breakfast, we have a time slot for chores.  He has one or two regular chores that he does depending on the day and then there are a few extras depending on what area of the house is the most neglected at that time.

There is a 30 minute outside time and then, at 9am, the children begin the “school” part of their day.  The younger ones and I start on their work, while Justus tends to the tasks in ACE.

Each day, he writes out another Proverb in a separate notebook, so writing the next one is first on the list.  If he hasn’t finished his personal Bible reading from before breakfast, that is completed as well.

Then, he takes out his goal card and PACEs so that he can write out his goals for the day.  He looks at the pages he completed yesterday and sets his goal to complete the next four pages.  At this time, he also makes sure he has fixed any errors that I found while correcting his work previously.  Once all the goals are written for each subject, he brings his goal card to me to look at.

I enjoy the regular interaction with him about what he will be doing that day, asking if he has any questions before he starts and checking to make sure he is ready to start.  He takes a quick bathroom break and makes sure that his water glass is full so that once he sits down, he can get completely engrossed and focused without having to get up for anything.

Periodically he will come across a place on the page that tells him to go correct his work.  At the school, this is where he goes to the table where all the answer keys are stored and checks the answers against what he wrote down.  He marks whatever may be wrong and goes back to his desk to correct it.  At home, he comes to me and I do the checking for him.  He still goes back to fix the errors and brings it back to me to make sure he understood what was wrong and so that I know he now has it right.

At the end of each PACE, there is a self-test and a test.  The self-test is already figured into the daily pages and isn’t really treated any differently other than it reviews everything that he has learned in the PACE and he cannot turn back to look at the rest of the PACE to get the answers.  I do correct the self-tests right away so that we can catch any issues he is having before the test.

The test, however, is treated differently.  When I check his goal card in the morning, I also ask him to give me the PACEs for which he has a test that day.  He does his subjects in the same order everyday (because he wants to, not because I make him) so when he gets to the PACE he has a test in, he comes to get me and lets me know that he needs the test.  I try to quiz him a bit on the information and pray with him beforehand – then, he takes the test.  When he is finished, he brings it to me and I try to get it corrected right away.  If he gets below an 80%, ACE wants him to do the whole PACE over again.  In the three years that we have been doing ACE, I only remember one PACE that he scored less than 80% and it was a 79%.

He gets a 15 minute break every hour.  I use a timer set in front of him and he takes care of setting the appropriate intervals.

I do take him away from the ACE curriculum to learn some German with the rest of the kids.  My husband was born and raised in Berlin, Germany and his family still lives there.  My in-laws would be more than thrilled if the kids could talk to them in German.  Besides, learning another language is very good for them at any age!

Lunch

Starting this year, I plan to allow him to prepare lunch.  He really enjoys preparing meals for the family and lunchtime is a great outlet for that.  I plan my meals weekly and, regardless of who is doing the cooking, I plan very easy meals for lunchtime.  He’ll be able to just look at the menu plan and put lunch on the table.  About 30 minutes before lunch, he begins the preparations.

After lunch, he does another 30 minutes of work while I put the younger ones down for a nap.

Afternoon

Then, he and I spend an hour together.  We go over what he has been learning in each PACE – I quiz him on the checkups that he has already completed to make sure he is retaining the information.  Sometimes, I’ll go way back to the beginning of the PACE or even to a previous PACE to see if the information is still “in there”.  I have him recite the memory verses that are included in each PACE.  We also pick out a section of Scripture or a written sermon and he practices his speaking skills.  Sometimes, I don’t do every single one of those tasks and we play a quick card or board game.  On Tuesday’s, we use that block of time for art class.

He goes off again to finish the work for the day and I make sure I have my lessons prepared for the younger ones for the next day.

After the children wake up from their naps, Justus begins a 30 minute piano practice and then it’s time for dinner chores, which include setting the table and freshening himself up for dinner and spending some time with Daddy.

Evening

We all eat dinner together, send Daddy off to Bible school and clean up the kitchen together.

Everyone goes through their bedtime routine at the same time.  Once the younger ones are in bed for the night, Justus either gets some free time or he finishes up a few pages from the day’s goals.

He is in bed by 9pm to meet the recommended 10 hours of sleep each night.  And, sleeps very soundly after a full, busy and happy day!

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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!)

Accelerated Christian Education – Personal Testimony

Honestly, ACE was not my first homeschool curriculum choice.

When I thought about homeschooling my children, I wanted to research all the possiblities out there and hand-pick the best of the best that would fit their personalities and unique traits perfectly.  I didn’t feel confident that a pre-packaged curriculum based solely on workbooks would be anything but boring to them and cause them to under-achieve.

If you would have told me 4 years ago that ACE would be a great fit for my extremely bouncy, energetic, activity-loving, attention-span-lacking little boy, I would have thought you were crazy.  But, I stand here today to say that ACE has done wonderful things for my boy.

So, if ACE wasn’t my first choice, how did it become the curriculum we have put in place at our home?

A cross-country move from Wisconsin to Florida, that’s how!

Because of the move, my oldest son (who I already had before I married my husband) would have to go back to Wisconsin to visit his dad for a period of time each year.  We were able to work out a wonderful scenario with his visitation time.  While Justus is in Wisconsin, he attends the ACE school run by our church there.  In order for him to go to the church school, he needed to be on the ACE program.

We started the PACEs with Justus about a year before we moved.  It was a rough transition from a wholly unstructured day to the organization of ACE.  It seemed like the bad days out-weighed the good days far too often.  In my mind, I kept saying, “See!  I knew this wouldn’t work!”  Now, looking back, I see lots of mistakes that I was making to bring to pass that self-fulfilling prophecy.  The articles in this series are a culmination of all the lessons I have learned along the way.

You see, I thought that since my boy was bouncy and energetic, that I would have to work with that personality and bring in teaching ideas and curriculum choices that worked around him.  Instead, the curriculum that we use teaches him the character traits that he did not yet possess when we started.  Instead of expecting him to stay where he was, we have helped him grow to something better.  Instead of assuming he could never change, we laid before him the means to be different.

My boy can now sit and drink in knowledge from words written on a piece of paper and actually remember the information.  He can now focus his energy into the task at hand.  He can demonstrate self-control when it comes to the movement of his body.

These are qualities that I wanted him to possess but I certainly did not know how to teach him.  I knew that one day he would need to find a job, that he would need to be able to sit still and listen to a professor lecture, that he would need to digest written information efficiently.  Of course I don’t want my son to have a boring job, sitting at a desk all day long, shuffling papers and doing something he doesn’t enjoy.  But, in this present economy, I want to prepare him for the worst so that he is able, in any situation, to provide for himself and his family if he chooses to have one.  I am confident that he is being taught skills that will serve him well in his adult life.

Justus is still a very happy, bouncy, energetic boy!  He just knows that there is a time and a place to be those things!  He gets to run and jump and play on his breaks.  As proof that he really is enjoying ACE, his sister came to me and said, “Momma, when do I get to do PACEs like Justus?”  It seems to me that if he was hating every minute of using this program, his sister would understand that and would not want to touch those PACEs with a 10-foot pole.

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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Accelerated Christian Education – How To Get Started

In a previous article, we talked about how to determine whether or not ACE was the right curriculum for you.  Reading the information there first will help you be better armed to progress to the next step in this journey – how to get started!

Now, we can discuss the plans and preparations that need to be made in order to start off on the right foot from day one!

The Commitment

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time

I don’t know who first uttered this statement, but it has been repeated many times over because it is so very very true.  As homeschoolers, we have to have a goal, a finish line in our minds that we are aiming at with our children.  We must parent our children “on purpose” or lots of accidents will happen in their lives.

The same is true with the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.  The whole family has to be committed to the end goal.

As with any curriculum there will be bad days, there will be parts that don’t seem to work well for you, there will be things your kids don’t like about it, there will be times when you want to quit.  Only your commitment to seeing this through to the end will carry you to the finish line.

Write out the reasons why you are choosing ACE for your child or children.  Post the reasons in a place where you can see them daily, like the refrigerator or on a cabinet door.  When rough times come, read through the list again and remind yourself of why you started down this road in the first place.

Ready?  Aim.  Fire!

The Workspace

A special area designated for schoolwork will be of great benefit to your child as s/he sets out to complete each day’s pages.  You can make a special workspace in even the tightest of quarters.  It is okay if that workspace needs to be taken down at the end of the day as long as the child knows they have a “spot” to do their work.

We have tried lots of areas in our home for my oldest son’s workspace.  The kitchen table worked very well when it was just he and his younger sister.  She and I would sit at the table and work quietly on letters or coloring while he worked.  When she needed time to be a little louder, she and I went into her bedroom to play with toys and he was able to keep working.

Once we had more children and those children got older and more active, Justus needed a better solution so that he could concentrate on the task at hand.  Watching his brother and sisters play was lots more interesting!

Different solutions will work at different ages.  Just know that whatever solution you pick now may need to be changed as the child gets older.  He is nearly 11 and I am comfortable with him being in a quiet room alone to do his work.  Now, he is not in the room all day long completely isolated!  Every three pages or so, he gets up and brings me his pages to correct.  He gets regularly scheduled breaks every hour on top of that.  He really enjoys having a quiet place to retreat in order to get his work done, knowing that when he is finished, he’ll get to run and play with the little ones.

Accelerated Christian Education - Homeschool Office

This is the setup that worked for us over the last two years.  My husband built this desk for Justus and installed it in the closet of his bedroom.  Room was left for the few hanging clothes he has and the rest of the space was for working.  This has worked out very well for us!  We’ve moved recently and, though we now have a whole room dedicated just to homeschooling, there isn’t a perfect little quiet spot for Justus to sit.  Once I get it figured out, I’ll post photos.

The Schedule

If you aren’t already on a schedule, implement one for your entire family!  Whether you are using ACE or just running from one field trip to another, a schedule performs absolute miracles in every family that uses it.  I have posted a three-part series on creating your own schedule to help you get one established in your home.  You’ll wonder how you ever did without a schedule after you start using one!

With a schedule in place, your child knows what to expect throughout the day.  There will be less opportunity for arguing and complaining about when to actually sit down and do the work.  If they also have their own schedule posted in front of them, they can see when the breaks are scheduled and they’ll be more likely to work until break time.

Communication is a huge key when it comes to parenting and a schedule is a wonderful way to communicate with your children about how the day should go.

You might be able to place the order for your PACEs first and then, while you are waiting for it to be shipped, start implementing that schedule.  It will be a little bumpy the first two or three weeks, but as I mentioned above, if you are committed to sticking with it, you will be surprised at how well it works.

The Diagnostic Testing

ACE offers free placement or diagnostic testing on their website.

If your child has already had a few years of schooling (homeschooling or otherwise) you may want to think about having him/her go through these tests to make sure you have an accurate reading on what level of PACEs they should start with.

Click on the words “Diagnostic Testing” above and you will be taken to the initial page where you will need to register.  Go through all the steps, which include telling them where you are from, student’s name and birthdate, what subject (they offer Math, English, Social Studies/Science, and Word Building) and what level you want to start with.  Then, you are ready to go!

Pay attention to how your child is dealing with the testing.  Justus completed it when he was about 7 years old.  I thought he would just think it was cool to have SO much more time on the computer and I misread how seriously he was taking it.  Once I clued in, I gave him enough breaks and helped him understand that this was just to see how much he already knew and where we should start in the program.  He was much less intense after that!

The PACEs

If your child is just starting his/her homeschooling experience at the typical kindergarten or first grade age, it would most likely be just fine to start your student off in the PACEs that correspond to that grade level.  With a child that does not know how to read, you may think about starting with the “Kindergarten with Ace and Christi” program.  For children that are already reading, I would start with the grade one material.

You can order materials directly through ACE Ministries.

Or, you can get a bit of a discount (and support HomeGrownMommy’s efforts!) by ordering through ChristianBook.com!

The Support

Do you have a church nearby you that runs an ACE school?  Maybe there is a Christian school that uses this program in your area?

You can call or email the ACE customer service and they will tell you the location of the schools closest to you.

The reason I point this out is because going through an ACE school has really helped set me on the right course.  My son goes to the school run by my church back home (I currently live in Florida, “back home” is Wisconsin) for two months out of the year.  The first year I homeschooled him with ACE was a disaster.  The second year of our ACE journey was when he started going to the school for two months.

At the end of those two months, I had an opportunity to sit in the school and observe how things were done and ask lots of questions.  Since then, our school time at home has run so much more smoothly!  It has been an amazing transformation!

If you can locate a school and they will let you observe how things are done or even allow your child participate for a few weeks or a month, it would be a benefit to you.

But, if you are not able to find a school near you, there are other ways to surround yourself with support as you embark on this adventure.

ACE hosts “motel meetings” where a representative from the program comes to a hotel near you to talk about and sell the PACEs.  Or, you can attend one of many homeschool conventions in your area in which ACE participates.  Here is a link to the meetings and conventions ACE will be in, by state.  At the bottom, there is a listing of representative names and phone numbers, by state.

You can look online for other groups that center on using ACE.

And, of course, you can come back to this blog VERY often and post your questions, your thoughts, things that have worked well for you, and things that have not worked so well.  I would love to create a community atmosphere where you feel comfortable coming to share your experiences with the rest of the readers.  What a great resource this could be if we all worked together to help us all succeed in using the ACE program!

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Accelerated Christian Education – How We Plan Our Year

We are on Part 3 of this ACE series! Thanks for sticking with me!  Here are the previous articles, just in case you missed one.  Join the other readers who have read the ACE articles in signing up for new content to be delivered to your RSS feed or email and never miss another article!

Part 3 is about scheduling your year.  This includes vacation days and how much work needs to get done each day.  To start off, here is a look at our 2009 – 2010 schedule.  ACE Schedule

This basically just breaks down what days we are “on” and what days we are “off”.  Essentially, we are “on” for four weeks and “off” for one week.

There are two exceptions to that rule:

  • In November, when Oma comes all the way from Germany to see us for three weeks.  I do school with the kids for one out of the three weeks so that she can see how the kids are doing and watch as they learn.  She LOVES to watch her beloved grandchildren learn and have fun!  We take two weeks off while she is here – of course, the consistent exposure to the German language probably counts for something!
  • In January, our church hosts an awesome Bible Conference during which we basically live at the church for nearly five full days!  It is absolutely wonderful!  Obviously, no schoolwork gets done during that week.
  • No, we don’t take off for Christmas or Easter.  That’s a whole other article series on a completely different blog.

I used to look at my school week as a four day week, but we do SO much school-related activity on those “off” days, that I am just using them as light days now.  Friday is the day that we take for gym class, visiting the library, visiting an elderly person in their home, and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ locally.

In the past, I did not schedule our vacation days.  I just sort of took things as they came.  But, then we ended up taking too many days off in the beginning of the year and trying to cram in the rest of the work at the end of the year.  It got to be pretty stressful.  I knew I needed to schedule our vacations, but I didn’t really know how much time I had to use.

In order to help others struggling with the same questions, I’ll list out the computations I went through to arrive at my final schedule.

Start with what you know …

  • Beginning and ending dates.  Do you know when you would like school to start and end?  We start the first week of September and go through July.  It sounds like a long year, but we get lots of breaks in between and it is so much better for the kids if they don’t have to go through that three month “forget all about school” period.
  • Length of the week.  How many days a week are you willing to work on ACE?  As I mentioned above, Justus does ACE work four days a week, Monday through Thursday.
  • Amount of work to do.  Do you have a rough idea of the overall amount of work your student will need to complete for the year?  In the very low grades, the PACEs are a little shorter, but in 4th grade the PACEs were about 40 pages long – not including tests, which are taken the day after the PACE is completed.  There are 12 PACEs in each subject.

Turn what you know into numbers …

  • September thru July is 48 weeks (minus 10 weeks of vacation time which equals 38 weeks)
  • 4 days per week

Now, start computing …

  • Find number of actual school days:
    • 38 * 4 = 152 school days
  • Find out total number of pages for each subject:
    • 12 * 40 = 480 pages per subject
  • Find out how many pages to do in each subject each day:
    • 480 / 152 = 3.15 pages per day per subject
  • Find out how many pages to do overall each day:
    • 3.15 * 5 = 15.75 pages per day overall

We actually do 4 pages per day.  That means we are only technically using 120 of our 152 school days.  But, that does not include tests.  There is one test after each PACE.  So, we add on another 12 days (one for each PACE in the subject) to our 120 days and get to final number of 132 days of school each year.  That leaves plenty of room for sick days, “light” days where we only get half of the school work done for one reason or another, field trip days, etc.  We do still complete 180 days of school each year – this is just computing the ACE portion of our school year.

I hope this has helped you plan your ACE school year!  Please leave comments with any questions or comments!

More valuable information regarding ACE will be coming soon!  Make sure you don’t miss it – be sure to sign up for articles to be delivered to your RSS feed or email.

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.

Self-Paced

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.

Trustworthy

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!)

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