A major benefit of homeschooling is the ability it affords to teach multiple age- and ability-levels at one time. In The Weaver Curriculum, Rebecca Avery has done a lot of the legwork for busy parents, combining K-6 grade work in manageable lessons that cover the spectrum of subjects excluding reading and math. The program is Bible-centered, and passages of Scripture provide the unifying point for each lesson's activities.
It's impossible not to compare The Weaver Curriculum to KONOS, because they attempt almost exactly the same thing. Both are Bible-based, though Avery's curriculum is better at integrating Bible learning throughout each lesson; both are aimed at multi-sensory learning, but KONOS offers a lot more kinetic activities and hands-on learning opportunities.
Avery believes kids should be filled with a love of God's Word and a hunger for learning, but that simply doing workbook exercises all the time is more likely to defeat those aims than encourage them. Instead, she's assembled a unit study approach that includes field trips, crafts, science experiments, creative writing exercises, Bible verse memory, drama, etc.
How Do These Work?
There are five volumes for K-6, and an Interlock level for PreK-K. Each level is good for about one school year, and includes activities and assignments for all the elementary grades (with the exception of Interlock, which only covers pre-elementary). This is a very teacher-intensive course which requires a lot of planning, though it's also flexible.
Each volume comes in a large 3-ring binder, and (except Interlock) is accompanied by a Day-by-Day binder that offers more in-depth daily lesson plans with color-coded pages providing grade-specific assignments and activities for grades K-6. The primary binder for each main level (Volume 1, Volume 2, etc.) is more general, presenting suggested resources, Bible lessons, necessary supplies, objectives, assignments, and applicable Wisdom Words exercises in a daily lesson format.
Interlock is the first volume, and covers every subject, including language arts and arithmetic, though phonics isn't addressed; language arts activities are designed to get kids familiar with language rather than make them proficient. Interlock is self-contained: you just round up the necessary materials for completing activities and review the lesson outlines ahead of time.
As with the later volumes, Interlock is Bible-centered, with science, language arts, math, health and safety, and every other subject supporting each lesson's Scripture passage through hands-on and memory-based learning. Nothing is treated in much detail, but the basic tools of learning and a sense of the fun learning can yield are stressed over and over, so students are prepared for more difficult study later on.
In Volumes 1-5 the lessons broaden, and parental preparation becomes more intense. Subject-specific content is increasingly challenging for each grade level, but the Bible lesson is always the same for all children. This is helpful, since the Bible lesson is the central element of all assignments; kids are therefore always studying the same thing, just at different levels.
Every volume is divided into different units with a single orienting theme like faith, protection, or patience. The instructions for assignments are vague, allowing parents to modify as needed, though also requiring extensive preparation beforehand. The resource lists at the beginning of each lesson often include out-of-print or hard to find books and magazines, but many of the titles will be available at your local library, and all of them can be replaced with books of your own choosing. These binders are guides to help you teach your kids, not masters for you to obey.
The Day-by-Day binders are more structured. Suggested daily activities, assignments, and discussion topics are color-coded by grade-level, and you can simply use these together with the main binders as ready-made lessons. However, one of the advantages of The Weaver Curriculum is the latitude it gives parents to modify lessons as necessary or desired.
Math, phonics, and reading aren't included in Volumes 1-5, so you'll need to supplement on your own. Avery suggests Horizons Math, but math isn't integrated at all, so use whatever works for you. Wisdom Words covers grammar (sentence diagramming is covered in the form of grammar review in 6th grade), and there are composition assignments throughout the program, but you'll probably want to supplement this content, especially for young students developing their reading skills.
Avery chose the name The Weaver Curriculum to illuminate the way God and His Word weave their way through every aspect of life, binding together science, art, physical education, etc. As a result, she really has succeeded in making this a Bible-centered curriculum. And, unlike similar courses, she involves dads by having moms put together devotional and prayer-request cards for them to carry to work, and which allow them to interact with their kids on a daily basis.
Pages of these cards appear at the end of each main binder, along with reproducible pages for actitivies and assignments. Many of these are coloring pages, but there are also game templates, scripts for plays, etc. Like most unit studies, this one aims at addressing every learning style, though it's more book-oriented than a program like KONOS.
A variety of supplements are available. Teaching Tips & Techniques presents Rebecca Avery's educational philosophy, and offers insights into teaching the various subjects. Skills Evaluation is a spiralbound book with lists of targets and objectives for each subject and grade; this helps you know your kids are on track for standardized tests and government requirements. Wisdom Words is a language arts book that integrates directly with the program's coursework and daily lesson plans.
The Weaver Curriculum stops at 6th grade, though supplements for adapting the material for older students are available (they were unavailable for this review). These aren't very popular, and few who enjoy using the course with younger kids continue to enjoy it when adapting it for older students.
If you're concerned about state-imposed standards (or, if your state requires yearly testing) you can use the review questions for each volume that act as assessment tests for children of each grade level K-6. These questions gauge students's knowledge of typical school subjects, and help parents make sure they're advancing at the right pace.
By the time kids finish Volume 5, they've made their way through the whole Old Testament and the four Gospels, and the gamut of world and American history. Avery seems broadly evangelical (perhaps even Fundamentalist), though the focus is on Bible study and basic doctrine rather than a particular denominational perspective. Overall, she offers a good introduction, though this is simply a beginning to your kids' Bible knowledge and instruction.
Our Honest Opinion:
The Biblical emphasis of The Weaver Curriculum is particularly attractive. Kids learn to see everything through the lens of Scripture, and to apply what they know about God's Word to their lives. Also, Avery spends more time on science than most unit study authors, which the math and science crowd and those in favor of Charlotte Mason-style education will appreciate.
For a unit study, however, this one lacks in the hands-on department. Those activities are here, but most of the information kids learn is contained in books or the binders themselves. This isn't bad, but it kind of defeats the purpose of a unit study. Still, there is plenty of good information, and kids will learn.
Many users favor this as a jumping-off place, assembling their own materials and activities but retaining the Bible lessons to hold it all together. This is probably the best approach to The Weaver Curriculum, since the lessons are fairly open-ended. Also, the Day-by-Day binders contain more suggestions than anyone could possibly implement, so picking and choosing is essential; if you get ideas of your own, use them!
A lot of unit studies work best in a co-op or classroom situation. The Weaver Curriculum can certainly be used this way, but one of its chief values lies in its adaptability to single-family use. Parents will definitely have to make an effort and do plenty of preparatory work, but they can do so with a minimum of stress. All in all, this is a good choice for elementary-level learning, and one Christian families will appreciate for its Bible focus.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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