A few weeks ago I talked to Melissa on the phone to ask her about her experience using ACE to homeschool her children. Melissa and her husband have been blessed with four boys – three have finished high school and one is still at home.
How did you learn about ACE and start using it?
Melissa had been aware of ACE years earlier, but early in their marriage her husband was the Principal of an ACE school; her boys started their education in that school and “accelerated.” Later, while homeschooling, she tried using other curriculum for a while, but her boys hated it!
I asked her what her boys “hated” about the other curriculum and why they wanted to return to PACES. She said they liked being able to work independently and not have to wait for mom to be available to present the next subject to them.
What do you as a homeschool mom like about ACE?
Melissa loves the confidence she has that her boys will all get a good education and not have gaps. Her boys who went to college have all adjusted well and had no trouble in college. Like her sons, she likes that the boys can work independently without needing her as much. She also loves that the curriculum integrates the Bible and Biblical character and principles which has led to some great conversations with her boys.
Why do some homeschool moms not like the curriculum?
I asked Melissa this question. She knows of some who have negative opinions of the ACE curriculum, but in every case there was a good explanation. They either had never used it personally and were just sharing an opinion they had picked up from others, or they had not been using the PACES correctly. “The curriculum is a tool, but the key to its success is how you use it!” she emphasized. “You can’t blame the curriculum.” She did admit her boys sometimes thought the cartoons were a little corny!
Do you see any drawbacks to using ACE and how do you compensate?
Melissa has noticed that kids left to themselves to score their own work can easily give in to the temptation to copy answers from the scorekey (in other words, cheat). So she chooses to score all their work – or at least all their check-ups and Self Tests.
She also has noticed that if students only do silent reading they pick up mis-pronunciations – a problem I have noticed as well! So she compensates by having them read the vocabulary pages out loud to her and sections of the PACES as time allows.
Biggest advice to parents looking to use ACE curriculum?
Melissa was quick to give this advice: “Get the Parent Training Kit from aceministries.com and follow it.” She pointed out that the $20 kit includes a paper diagnostic test which is arguably easier to use, and explains procedures that will allow students to be more successful with the PACES. Again, she reminded me, “most parents who don’t like the curriculum are not using it correctly.”
Overall, Melissa is very happy with their decision to homeschool their four boys with ACE. Her boys are happy too!
Tim’s commentary: I have found that in general boys do like the ACE curriculum. They are goal-oriented and like to accomplish tasks. They also like that they can work independently of mom or a teacher dictating what needs to be done when. Or worse, adding more work to the load when they think they are done! Many boys also like using the star chart to track their progress and keep a running average of test scores. Boys can be challenged to beat their average or reach an “honor roll” status goal by dangling a reward (the proverbial “carrot”) in front of them. These characteristics especially come out in junior high, when some boys are finding it harder to submit to mom – and mom is busy with younger children. I suggest giving the PACES a try with your boys – but as Melissa recommends, be sure to follow the manual.
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