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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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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