We started Volume 2 in Paths of Exploration this week. Here we are at the halfway point in this curriculum. So, how’s it going, you ask?
We still love it!
Our days have a pleasant rhythm to them with this curriculum. While we are doing things in the same general order every day–copywork, read-aloud, etc.–it is far from mundane. The books are wonderful! Initially, I was hesitant to put all three kids (2nd, 4th, and 6th graders) in POE. Beanie and The Boy had already completed the first half of American History through Sonlight’s Core D a few years ago, and both curriculums have books in common. I am so glad we made the decision to put all of them in POE. First of all, this is much more than American history, as the countries that gave rise to these explorers are studied as well. Second, the in-depth study of Christopher Columbus, the Jamestown Settlement, and the Pilgrims allowed us to flesh out these topics in a way I have never given time to before. For anyone looking at this curriculum and thinking, “We’ve already studied that,” I urge you to pick it up and try it. You will find something new! Third, I have been able to adapt POE and its Middle School Supplement to fit our family, especially in reading.
Here are some ways we have adapted the reading. Each unit has two main reading books–a lighter/easy reader and a more advanced reader. I have my 2nd grader read the easy reader assignments aloud to us all. Then I have my 4th and 6th graders take turns reading the more advanced book aloud. The assigned reading does not take long, and after we read those, I have my 6th grader take turns with me reading aloud the assigned reader from the Middle School Supplement. We didn’t start out reading the MSS books aloud. I wish we had started this from the beginning because we missed out on reading aloud Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, one of my all-time favorite stories.* Starting with the Pilgrim unit, we began reading these together, and they add another layer of depth and information to our studies. And, they are just great books to share with everyone. Middle schoolers shouldn’t have these all to themselves! 🙂
There is a big difference in the work load from Vol. 1 to Vol. 2. The first volume seems to have a lighter, more gentle pace. The second volume steps things up. I like that! The kids are ready for new challenges, especially at this point in our school year when the winter doldrums are at their worst. (I think we are all praying for summer!) There is a greater emphasis on writing across all subjects. (So, if you are worried about the writing part, and you are still in Volume 1–don’t fear! It is coming! It is effective! Stay the course!) I also love the way reflective writing is incorporated into the geography in this volume.
There are some glitches in this curriculum, such as some of the readings don’t align with assignments at times and one book, Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, that is assigned in the text is not available from Geography Matters. (GeoMatters replaced it with Squanto’s Journey, and the corrected assignments are available online.) In our case, I just ordered the correct book from Amazon and read both Squanto books to the kids. A win-win! The writers also maintain a yahoo group that supplies many of the corrections and offers suggestions and additional information. This is a relatively new curriculum, and I’m sure these minor issues will be corrected in upcoming printings. In the meantime, I don’t feel they are bothersome enough to stop me from going forward with Trail Guide.
To sum it up–we made the right choice for our family this year. Once we have completed this first unit in Vol. 2, I’ll update again.
*I wasn’t crazy about the book chosen for the Jamestown unit (Pocahontas by Joseph Bruchac). The Boy and I read this independently, and so far that is the only book on the list that I don’t love.