Once in a while I get into a conversation with a homeschool parent or school principal and I have the opportunity to share some of my favorite reasons for switching to ACE for K-12 curriculum. In parent orientation meetings at our Christian School I have also shared these same seven reasons to use ACE. Here they are:
1. Bible Based Worldview
The first and probably biggest reason to consider using PACES is that it is thoroughly Biblical. Bible verses are being memorized in virtually every PACE. Biblical character qualities are being explained and applied in every PACE (see the list of 60 character qualities). But more than that, every course is presented through the lens of a Biblical World View. What does that mean? Well, for starters history begins in the Garden of Eden and throughout history the impact of Christianity, revivals, and great men and women is emphasized. Science presupposes a Creator and Designer of the universe whose Laws must be discovered and followed. English is learned for the purpose of correctly communicating the gospel. The curriculum also supports parents and churches and schools setting high moral standards of separation from worldliness and ungodliness. The high school English PACES include “Wisdom Pacs” that use stories and cartoons to apply Biblical principles to teens’ lives in practical ways.
2. Complete Curriculum
The ACE system was researched and carefully planned from Kindergarten through 12th grade to cover all the grammar, math, history and science concepts, writing skills, etc needed for a strong elementary and secondary school foundation. Students who complete the curriculum are well prepared to succeed in college. I’m not saying that another curriculum might not be stronger in some specific course or area, but I want to assure you that a student who sticks with the curriculum will not have serious gaps academically and will have learned good time management skills and character qualities and Bible verses that might otherwise be missed. Parents who jump from one curriculum to another based on the Curriculum Fair vendors’ recommendations or the latest fad are more prone to gaps and confusion. The vocabulary used at each grade level across the subjects has been thoroughly researched to match the maturation of students at that age.
Not every 13 year old is the same height. Similarly, not every child has the same academic abilities as his peers. A child could be doing 5th grade math, 6th grade English, and 7th grade history and science and be at his own level of ability. With the PACES, a student’s ability and knowledge can be diagnosed and then he can be placed in the correct PACES to start making progress. Some students can work faster than others, and some may struggle; but each student can move at his or her own rate and not be compared to other students. Once a student reaches high school some consideration needs to be given to earning credits toward a high school diploma and transcript. More about that in a different article!
The educational philosophy of the ACE system is that students must master each packet of content before being able to move on. In a traditional classroom if a student fails a test the class moves on to the next chapter and the student has to keep moving and begins to develop gaps and a weak foundation. Students using the ACE curriculum soon realize that if they do not learn the content well enough they will fail the PACE test and have to repeat the PACE. This motivates them to figure out how they learn best and utilize those study techniques to be ready for the test.
5. Goal-setting and time management
One of the side-benefits of the ACE curriculum is that students learn valuable time management and project management skills by setting daily goals. Many graduates of ACE have commented that this was one of the best things they learned that they have continued to use in college and in their career. Students must complete 12 PACEs per subject per year, which breaks down to about one PACE every 3 weeks of a 36 week school year. Daily goals are set by the student who must take into account possible study days in preparation for the check-ups and tests. In an ACE school setting, if a student doesn’t keep up he loses out on Honor Roll and Privilege Status and may end up needing to do some summer school work to get back on track. Another aspect of goal setting is getting a taste for the good feeling of crossing off things that have been accomplished. Proverbs says, “The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul!”
Every morning the student looks through his PACES and sets reasonable goals. As he finishes each one and scores it he crosses it off and moves on to the next one. Work not finished during the school day becomes “homework” and must be completed before the next day or the student will face consequences. Students are encouraged to keep looking ahead to the end of the quarter and the end of the three week period and be sure that their daily goals are sufficient to help them stay on track. In our school, as we approach the end of the quarter, I have students “pencil in” goals on their Goal Cards for the last three weeks to make sure they can be on Honor Roll. See this article for more ideas about goal setting and time management.
6. Independent Learning
This allows the parent or supervisor to work with many more students at the same time. Individual attention can be given when needed or on a regular basis. Though there is time required for grading assignments and tests, answering student questions, and maintaining records, it is not nearly as time consuming as preparing lesson plans, teaching the lessons, and grading all the work required in a more traditional curriculum. This allows the parent or supervisor to “multi-task” and accomplish other responsibilities or wear other hats that are required.
7. Cost Effective
The PACE program costs less than $40 per subject per student each year for consumable materials. There are ways to lower that cost and save money if that seems high. But compare that to the cost of hiring full time classroom teachers for all the grades in a school, or compare that to the level of work required and stress placed on a homeschool mom who is trying to juggle multiple grades’ lesson plans, assignments, grading requirements, etc. The convenience is likely worth the cost!
The ACE system of PACES may not be right for everybody, but many who have tried it in their home or church-school have found it to be a very workable solution for providing quality Christian education for their children. These are my favorite seven reasons to use the ACE program. Are there others that stand out in your mind? If so, include them in the comments below.