My Father's World is an integrated-learning curriculum for preschool to twelfth grade. While the creators of the program borrowed from a variety of educational philosophies (from classical education to Charlotte Mason) the framework they devised is ultimately representative of no single method. The classical model is probably the closest corrollary, though authors Marie & David Hazell pursue a more Hebraic than Greco-Roman approach, thus leaving out certain primary elements of a typical classical education. Christ is the center of all learning throughout with Bible study, verse memorization, etc. the point around which most assignments turn.
The Hazells have been missionaries all over the world, and are still involved with Bible translation (a significant portion of all proceeds goes to this work). The MFW courses reflect this passion and are thoroughly Bible-oriented, as well as including lots of information about missionaries of the past. The Hazells aren't quite as interested in exploring non-Christian worldviews as the comparable Sonlight program, though they don't neglect them either. Students spend quite a bit of time each day reading Scripture passages, memorizing verses, etc.
How Do These Work?
A quick glance at this program's system can be daunting, but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. The preschool years are just preparatory and can be skipped; kindergarten and first grade lay the groundwork for the rest of the course by teaching reading, basic math, Bible, etc. At grades 2-3 you're presented with a choice: if your 2nd or 3rd grader is the oldest in the family you'll want to use the one-year Adventures in My Father's World before moving on to the main 5-year cycle of study, but if there are older kids it's fine to have your 2nd-3rd graders jump right into the main program to facilitate ease of presentation on the parent's part. Each yearly level is planned to fit a typical 36-week school year.
The 5-year cycle covers grades 4-8 (or younger; see above), with the scope of history and culture as a backdrop. The first year, Exploring Countries and Cultures, provides a basis for learning about the past and other cultures, with the next four years offering a chronological overview from Creation to the modern age. All aspects of society are integrated, from art to politics to religion, to provide a truly thorough and unified understanding. The main emphases are Bible study, history, geography, and science, though no subjects are entirely neglected. Some essentials, most notably math, are left up to the parent to schedule and implement, though the authors of the series strongly recommend Singapore Math for elementary students and Saxon and Harold Jacobs for high school students.
Each year centers around a reading list focusing on the humanities and science (several of the Apologia texts are used, with others). The teacher's manuals include detailed weekly lesson plans with daily reading assignments down to the page number. Discussion is emphasized so comprehension questions are included, though they aren't too in-depth; you'll probably want to come up with topics of your own to talk about. Daily plans include supplementary information, science experiments that you can do with actual household items (really!), Bible memorization verses and helps, etc. For subjects left up to the parents' discretion (like math, foreign language, and English) there are empty spaces in the planner to schedule assignments.
The materials and activities are mostly oriented to the 2nd-6th grade range. For students grades 7-8 there are some extra assignments and the authors provide guidelines for adjusting content and reading lists to better fill their educational needs. At the back of each teacher's manual are extensive supplementary reading lists organized by school week and subject. The Hazells claim to have read thousands of books to create these lists, and they believe the titles offered represent the best available. None of these books are required for the course, but there is a lot of very good stuff there.
While lesson plans are very detailed and thorough, there is leeway for parents to tailor the course to their family's own needs. Unlike a more rigid program like Sonlight, My Father's World allows for removing or swapping texts without compromising the integrity of the overall framework. This is not a unit study per se (using a specific topic to teach a variety of subjects), but it does lend itself to more thorough investigations of topics or ideas your kids show a specific interest in. And just because there are so many books in the core and supplementary reading lists doesn't mean you can't find some of your own—which the authors encourage as you lead your kids through their education.
Our Honest Opinion:
Programs with extensive booklists preselected for parents and brought together in easy-to-use teacher manuals are becoming increasingly popular. Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, and My Father's World are all working to create comprehensive curricula for homeschool families to use from preschool to graduation, while placing everything students learn within the context of a Christian worldview. My Father's World is primarily concerned with this latter aspect, though a broad education is still provided, just with less thorough investigation of secular worldviews than one would see in a typical Sonlight course, for instance.
The Hazells claim to have personally read all the titles both in the lesson plans and the supplementary lists—as well as hundreds more books they didn't deem worthy of inclusion. This care for the curriculum is evident in the teacher's guides, which are clear and well laid out. There isn't as much to read in any of the years as there is in Sonlight, but that simply makes this a more manageable program: kids and parents alike will find My Father's World provides plenty of resources and extensive reading lists to make this a fantastic choice for families who like the unit study and great books approaches but don't have time to do all the legwork themselves.
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