One of the tasks this year for my 6th grader is learning to study on his own. When the opportunity for a review with Moving Beyond the Page came out, I was intrigued at the layout of the program. This was a rigorous program for us both and very challenging at times, but we learned a lot together.
Company Information: Moving Beyond the Page is created by a team of highly qualified educational professionals who are also real-life homeschooling parents. This blend of expertise in the educational field and experience in the home combine together to make this program a top-notch curriculum company worthy of consideration.
Currently, there are seven levels of the curriculum, for children from ages 5 to 13 (kindergarten to middle school). Within each curriculum, there are 5-12 units of study each in three areas: language arts, science and social studies. Unit study guides can be purchased as a complete curriculum or as individual volumes to supplement your current unit of study. All lessons are based on national and state standards.
Product Reviewed: For this review, I received two products.
One of these was the online version of study guide for The Hobbit. This is accessible after setting up an account. Included in the unit are 13 chapters that span the novel and a final project. I also received a paperback copy of the novel. Accompanying the unit are downloadable PDFs with the worksheets required for the study and other helps. Each chapter of the study (which covers about 1-2 chapters in the book) includes an introduction that details the materials you will need, objectives, and comprehension questions. Occasionally, there are links to pertinent websites that help to extend the material in that section. You can opt to turn on the parent overview if you desire so you can see what appropriate responses to questions and activities should be.
Secondly, I received the paperback, spiral bound version of the science unit, Force and Motion. Included with the unit was a box of supplies and the paperback book, Forces and Motion by Casey Rand, as the textbook. The unit was divided up into 7 lessons with a final project at the end. You will need to gather some other supplies in your home to complete the assignments. At the end of the book was a parent section with appropriate responses and answers.
Price: The Hobbit online version--individual unit=$21.92
Force and Motion (books only) $25.98. While I was sent the particular manipulatives for this program, you would need to purchase the kit that includes these pieces (along with the materials for other units), which cost $69.52.
Age Range: 11-13 (first year of middle school program)
Parental Preparation: Although lessons for this level are written for the child, parents should expect to help out. I found it helpful to look ahead, especially to collect any supplies needed for the science experiments. I also needed to print out the worksheets needed for the literature portion of the curriculum.
Because it has been awhile since I had studied physics, I found it helpful to briefly read through the lessons so I roughly knew what he would be working on for that day.
How We Used It:
The curriculum is designed so that your child will complete one lesson each from the literature, social studies, and science units each day. Everything for the assignment is included in the day's lesson. Some lessons in the science required two or three days to complete. Ideally, each portion would be completed in about 60-75 minutes each day, about 4 hours total for all three subjects.
I had Matthew do most of the literature study on his own. He would read the book, answer the questions on the computer (you can also print out the questions), then I would check it against the answers in the parents' guide before printing it out. If you don't want to print everything out, you can simply save the file (which I also did). He would also need to map out Bilbo's journey on a 2-page map as part of his daily work.
After the preliminary comprehension section, he would move onto the activities section, which would include about 2 activities per day. This unit focused on sentence combination skills, which was great. We had not covered this before, so it was a new skill for him. The second activity usually included a special project, such as writing riddles, translating runes, or creating a cube with key elements from the novel. To wrap it up, we would discuss some of the closing questions together. In total, this took about 1- 1.5 hours each day.
The science portion of the program took us a lot longer, about 2-2.5 hours and occasionally more. Each lesson usually consisted of an introduction of vocabulary and concepts and some reading from the student text (which was a wonderful selection--simple text to deal with complex concepts). Force and motion are a bit more complicated, so I had to be more involved in this than the study suggested. I wanted to let him do it on his own, but he really had a hard time with it. I'm not sure if it was the subject matter or the fact that working independently is not one of his strengths.
Each day we also had a project or activity (sometimes up to four!) to complete. These ranged from experiments to graphing practice to learning how to estimate and more. Even for a mom who has a scientific background, this was a very rigorous study.
What We Liked:
- The program is set up in a very easy-to-use format. I found it very simple to check each day's lesson and prepare any needed supplies, equipment or handouts.
- The worksheets are attractive and appealing. The science lab charts are clean and well-organized.
- The variety of activities in the literature unit stretch their creativity as well as build solid language and writing skills. The mapping of Bilbo's journey made it much more visual.
- The science unit's reading helped to make the material much more understandable.
- The science program introduced Matthew to some very importance science skills and concepts, such as how to take accurate measurements, and then use those measurements to do calculations and then finally graph those results. We quickly learned how important it was to measure carefully!
- The parents' guide for the literature section was very helpful in knowing what was a suitable response or not.
- As a whole, both of the units were well thought out and very rich. Each component and activity worked together to create a very strong program.
What We Didn't Like:
- We ended up taking a lot more time than was expected on the science, which was frustrating for both of us. Finally, I ended up just breaking lessons up into even shorter segments. Some of them were just too much for one day. If we were using this as a full curriculum, we would probably be stressed or behind.
- The science program, though excellent, required more parent help than I expected as well. This was fine, but I'm not sure if I was supposed to do that much to help. I really wanted to let him work as independently as possible, but more often than not, he would read the assignment and not be able to understand. It may not be the fault of the curriculum, but perhaps was at a level that was beyond Matthew (age 12). Or we just need to brush up on some study skills!
- The experiments were sometimes unclear and hard to visualize by words alone. Sometimes even the diagrams given did not help. When I would look at the parents' guide for help, I didn't find a lot to help me to help him either.
- I chose units that did not coordinate on the scope and sequence chart for this level. I wonder if it would have been better if we did.
If your child enjoys reading, variety, thinking on their own, and a bit of a challenge in their studies, this would be a great fit. Or if these are qualities that you would desire for your children and they are not quite there yet, this would be a great program to help them to develop those skills. If that is you, then you may want to ease your children into it and expect to use it with your kids for awhile until they catch on. I am looking into the science units for Matthew in the future as supplemental units, but I am planning that I will need to be more involved than the website leads me to expect. If you have a gifted child, this program is an excellent choice to consider.
All in all, this is a high quality program that really encourages independent thinking and creativity. If these are qualities you value, check it out!