In order to get all the ins and outs of Abeka homeschooling materials you can easily access their website, www.abeka.com, or view their catalog. This will give you the costs, scope and sequence of all grades and subjects, and variety of program options. What I would like to do is give you an idea of the way Abeka works in reality, what it is like using it day to day, year after year, the benefits and the drawbacks, the stuff they don’t put in the catalog and on the website!
In my position as a homeschool bookstore owner I have heard literally thousands of testimonies regarding different publishers, including many on Abeka. In my position as a homeschool mom I’ve personally used Abeka with my own children along with a number of other publishers, so I have a good feel for the curriculum and how it compares to the others. This article covers Abeka’s traditional program.
Abeka is a K-12 program offering all the usual subjects required by school districts plus Bible. The scope and sequence easily meets all states’ requirements. It is an academically sound program that technically includes everything you need. Many of the materials have been somewhat revised to fit the homeschool market from its original Christian school format. For example, a Teacher Edition may have been altered from “Direct the class to do this activity” to “Direct your student”, but the overall layout remains one typical of a school setting. For some homeschoolers who are looking for unique ways of teaching subjects or looking for a curriculum that can be adjusted and adapted to their different children’s needs Abeka does not have this flexibility. If you follow Abeka the way it was designed you are doing school at home.
Abeka’s math program is advanced. It introduces skills earlier then most other curricula, notably multiplication and division. This is fantastic for kids who are accelerated and can handle a challenging math program. There are copious amounts of workbook assignments required- the sheer volume of it is overwhelming for most children. I always recommend that parents be intentional about how much math they assign- for example, to assign just even number problems, or just sections that are still needing work. Even a whiz kid isn’t going to want to do 30 or 40 problems of math every day. An average child will soon come to dislike math because of the pure volume. A struggling student will be ground into the dirt with no hope. I have seen families quit homeschooling altogether because of the effects of Abeka math. I recommend Abeka math for children who are bored by other programs and need the challenge.
Abeka’s science and history programs have a very typical public school scope and sequence, except with a Christian worldview. In elementary science you essentially get the same topics each year , but in more depth each year- a broad variety of topics, but no mastery of any one topic. In high school science, it is the exact pattern of subjects as public school-biology, chemistry, physics etc.
History, like public schools, starts the first few years with community helpers style social studies, then moves on through the elementary years with an emphasis on American history. The high school years again follow most public school sequence of subjects. The difference is that Abeka talks about God’s place in history.
One benefit to the Abeka history and science program is for a student who may be entering public or Christian school at some point. They will be able to seamlessly step in because of the matching scope and sequence. The biggest disadvantage in both subjects is the lack of flexibility that homeschoolers often want. Generally multiple children cannot be taught together unless they are essentially doing the same grade. Many homeschoolers prefer to use these two subjects to explore unit studies, educate all their children together, or to spend time on one topic and really master it. Abeka will not accommodate this. I have found this is really just personal preference as to style. It is good that Abeka is available to those who prefer the structure but it is good there are alternatives for those who prefer flexibility.
Abeka’s language arts program in some ways is similar to the math in that it tends to incorporate a lot of copy work that may be excessive. It is a complete, competent program well suited to many children. My personal favorite of the entire Abeka program is their readers. They are outstanding. If you can find some of the older edition readers Abeka has discontinued- grab them, too. My only complaint is that most kids cannot keep up with the volume of reading the lesson plans require and I’ve met very few people who actually made it through all ten or twelve readers in a year plus the additional two to four book report books. Let your child pick out the ones that capture his fancy and start with that. Keep it fun and not a chore and this program will lead your child to become an excellent reader.
For high school, Abeka uses anthologies for their literature program. The selections are classic and this is suitable for many children. Those who are more advanced may prefer to read the original classics in their entirety.
In conclusion, Abeka is a solid curriculum appropriate for homeschoolers who enjoy the structure, the challenge in math and language arts, and who can afford it. It is among the most expensive. My general recommendation for my customers is to take what they like and leave behind what won’t work for them. It is not an all or nothing deal. You can use their math to challenge your budding genius, then switch to a different science program to teach all your children together, or any other possible combination. The biggest mistake would be to feel you must do it all- all subjects and all assignments within the subjects. I have found very few people who can actually accomplish this and I have seen many discouraged from trying. You know your child better than anybody and you should be the one to decide how to teach your child- not some generic lesson plan meant to meet the needs of most. As with any curriculum, make sure it works for you, do not become a slave to your curriculum.