Implementing Robinson Curriculum Is Not As Hard As You Might Think!
Robinson Curriculum is so different from other methods that it is sometimes hard to “get.” Its simplicity and straightforward approach are just not the norm in curricula choices.
It has consistently produced successful, well-educated adults from all walks of life. Not only is the curriculum reasonably priced, but the Robinson family offers scholarships to those who cannot afford the price of the curriculum.
Before beginning, MAC users will need to know that in order to use the Robinson Curriculum CDs, they will need to install a program that can run Windows programs on MACs. If you don’t understand it, Robinson Curriculum has excellent and personalized tech support.
Robinson Curriculum has been around for over 20 years. The official website offers excellent technical support, and the official Facebook group offers support from thousands of families all over the world.
Step 1: Read the Course of Study
Both parents need to read “The Course of Study”. Read it again if you need it to sink in. Take notes if needed. Read the “Rules and Procedures” part of the official website. The main thing you are trying to do here is grasp the simplicity of the concept of self-learning and self-discipline. This is vital to the success of homeschooling with Robinson.
Step 2: Eliminate Sugar, Media and Video Gaming From Your School Day
Dr. Robinson often refers to his philosophy as something of a scientific experiment. Like any experiment, in order to duplicate the results, one must follow the rules and procedures for getting the results. It’s really hard to think about giving up sugar and media, but it has been done by thousands of other families who use the Robinson Curriculum.
Living without media may seem impossible, but the benefits to your homeschool day are incredible. It is doable. This article on Life Without TV is helpful. NPR recently reported on the effects of screen time and kids here. Becoming Minimalist gives great advice on how to limit screen time.
For those who consider adoption of these procedures, I offer the opinion that they will work in any home and with any children, regardless of ability. Obviously children differ in innate ability. I believe, however, that these rules will achieve remarkable results with any child when compared with other alternatives.
These are not, however, “suggestions.” They are rigorous requirements. I know what has happened here. I do not know what would happen in different experiments under different conditions.
If, therefore, these suggestions are all followed in the same way, I expect the same result. There are probably better ways; there are undoubtedly worse ways. I discourage, however, the notion that compromise is always permissible. Below, for example, I state that the home should have no TV and no sugar. I then advocate a self-teaching program that has mathematics and free reading as its basis. It is entirely possible that this self-teaching program would fail in a home that still contains a TV and children who are still in a sugar-influenced mental state.Dr. Art Robinson
Step 3: Establish a study space.
Set up a place for study.
If it’s the kitchen table, that’s fine. Just make sure that books and things are nearby, and all the school supplies (which isn’t much!). They just need to be easily accessible so that when it’s time for school, it’s really time for school, not looking around for lost pencils, rulers, and books.
Step 4: Saxon Math
Go to this website and have the children do the placement tests for Saxon Math.
After that, you’ll be able to order the books and answer keys you need from ebay, Amazon or half.com used for an excellent price. You need to stick with 1st or 2nd editions.Watch this quick video about the difference between Saxon 1st editions and 3rd editions.
For children who are not strong readers yet (usually under eight): All they really need right now is to memorize addition and subtraction facts up to twelve, and then start on memorizing multiplication up to 12. I used flashcards, and also found these very helpful for a fun way to break up the repetition of flash cards:
Just start with Visual Math worksheets, and then move to the other sets. The addition to multiplication sheets were especially helpful.
If you decide to begin homeschooling before your Saxon mathbooks arrive (or even if they DO arrive), it may be helpful to spend a week or two with all the children reviewing and/or memorizing multiplication up to 12. You can use flashcards (you can find these anywhere like Target or WalMart…), or change it up a bit and print out worksheets:
Also, completing a Multiplication Table or filling in the blanks is something you could let them do:
This is great because when they begin Saxon, they really need to have these in their heads!
Step 5: Purchase paper, pencils and other supplies. Prepare activities for children who are not yet eight years old.
Using composition books can keep each subject in one place. Late July to early Setempber, they are usually very low priced. Buying them in bulk means they are always on hand for students.
Math flash cards can be printed from the Robinson Curriculum CDs or purchased online at Amazon. Some children enjoy making their own math flash cards.
Children younger than six or seven can often have fun joining in “school” by doing coloring pages, prewriting worksheets, and working with manipulatives (we use building bricks and blocks, etcetera).
Step 6: Purchase older reference books.
An older Webster’s dictionary and a thesaurus are necessities. We have found all of our reference books at thrift stores and paid about $5 for each. We have also purchased the spelling and grammar books contained on the curriculum CDs in hardcover, as we found they were wonderful tools for our students.
We employ the use of vocabulary maps when studying the vocabulary lists from Robinson. We have found that our students demonstrate a remarkable increase in retention of the words if vocabulary maps are used. The vocabulary lists are found on the Robinson Curriculum CDs.
Get ready for vocabulary by purchasing these blue folders:
You will be making vocabulary packets for each word list. Each packet will contain the following:
- A label on the front of the packet saying which book it is from.
- A copy of the vocabulary word list for the book.
- Two copies of the “Matching Game” to be used as a study sheet and one as a test for the vocabulary unit.
- Several double sided blank copies of Vocabulary Word Maps. The younger children can use this Vocabulary Word Map instead, if you don’t want them to do origin of the word.
(These vocabulary lists are on the CDs or they can be purchased in book format at the Robinson Books website.)
These word lists are, in my opinion, essential to the curriculum! However, I do not have the children do word lists that correspond with the books, because they read the books much faster than they complete the word lists. I just let them pick out whatever they want.
Make at least four or five packets so you don’t have to be busy with that in the first several weeks of starting the curriculum. After that, just keep making new ones every week until you have quite a few.
Step 7: Print out the following booklists for your records:
This is the list of all the RC books. Using this, you can cross off the ones you’ve bought, you have, or that you’ve downloaded.
This list is helpful if you want to know what subjects the books would fall under in a public school type situation.
This will help you to keep track of which vocabulary packets the girls have mastered. Make a copy for each child. (It is important to note that although it says Grade “1”, it is not an indication of first grade—it’s more like Reading Level 1, which just means, this is where you start.
This is important so you can see in what order to read the books. Print out a copy for yourself, so you know which books you have purchased or downloaded, and make copies for the children so they can keep track of the books they’ve read, too.
If you have children who need to learn to read, I recommend using “Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons.”
Step 8: Books!
The Robinson family painstakingly put on disk hundreds of the best books in their original typography. These books can be printed best with a duplex printer, and recommendations can be found on the official website. Many of these books can also be found used in good condition and make an excellent addition to any home library.
In our experience, retention is lost on the electronic devices. My children simply refuse to use them for their schoolwork.
If you will be using an e-Reader, most of the books are available for free download. However, please keep in mind that many e-Readers don’t have very good parental controls regarding internet access (although they are getting better–Kindle, for example, allows a password to get on the internet and access archived books).
I still like the idea of e-Ink better than a backlit screen, but that is a personal preference, as I believe it mimics an actual page better than backlit, and is less straining on the eyes for long periods of time. My favorite e-Reader is the Kindle Paperwhite, with the caveat that parental controls blocking the internet are in place for everyone’s safety.
You can download many of the books free of charge via Amazon.com’s Whispernet, but for those that cannot be found there, you will find most of them at Project Gutenberg. They have a page containing detailed instructions on how to get those books onto your Kindle.
Picture books like the McGuffey Readers or books with lots of photos (Soldier in the Civil War) are still better found in hard copy or printed out from the Robinson Curriculum disks.
To find the books available online, visit Rosegate Harbour’s Online Books Page.
If you would like to purchase inexpensive classics, Dover Publishing offers the Evergreen Classics Set for a very good price, as well as the Thornton Burgess Animal Books Set (which can be used in place of the Arthur Scott Bailey books). If you google “dover coupon codes” you can often find a code that you can apply for a great discount, as well.