Homeschool Solutions

My interest in Ray’s Arithmetic goes back to the 1990s and early 2000s when I used them to homeschool my daughter.  Their greatest advantage is that they do make a very economical way to take care of the math portion of a well-rounded curriculum.  They are not as “teacher-intensive” as, say, Saxon Math, which is more closely structured and scripted and costs quite a bit more to go through the entire series from beginner to advanced than Ray’s.  But make no mistake, Ray’s is a very thorough and intensive math program.

Twenty years ago there was nothing like what we have today in terms of the Internet, personal computers, smart-phones, tablets, wireless devices, and all the digital tools of technology and worldwide communication that have made learning (and teaching) faster, easier and CHEAPER than we ever thought possible.  Just look at the success of Khan Academy.

New and Improved

I know that we’ve had stand-alone, all-in-one, digital-format homeschool curricula before now: Robinson Curriculum.  I used the Robinson Curriculum for the excellent literature-based reading content that it provides.  I like to think that it helped foster a love of reading–and writing–in my daughter that she continues to indulge in today (she is in her twenties).  Outstanding original source documents and unique literary pieces of history that are almost forgotten, or completely unknown, by multitudes of public school and private school students who have been instructed in nothing else but the institutionally-endorsed pablum offered by Big Textbook.

Still, the Robinson Curriculum, in spite of its high quality of content and low (very low) economical price–especially for families with several children–has some limitations.  It is in a digital format that is static: CD.  This means it is also in a format that is strictly local, meaning it is fixed and restrictive in terms of how it can be delivered, where and to whom.  It’s perfect for self-paced, self-starting, self-motivated students–minimal teacher involvement–who enjoy reams and reams of printing and hours of admittedly satisfying, in-depth reading across several academic subjects.  But it does not take advantage of the scalability and flexibility of an online platform that can use on-demand, across-the-globe video and visual-instructional tools and their cheap and free instant delivery systems, that were just not available back in the day.

Turn-Key vs. Keyboard

As far as I can tell, Saxon still owns the homeschool math market, as well as being the standard math text in many public and private schools that prefer Saxon’s super-comprehensive, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink, turn-key solutions to K-thru-Calculus math.  Mr. Saxon did not always enjoy the quasi-monopoly that he does now, though.  Mary Pride (matron-saint of “practical homeschooling”) wrote–humorously–about his early struggles to gain acceptance here.

As any parent knows who has school-age children and has decided to homeschool, there are any number of providers and publishers of materials and resources, free and paid, available online for any and all subjects and all grade levels and age levels.  We tried and used many of them: Alpha Omega LifePac, Switched On Schoolhouse, Christian Liberty Academy (CLASS).  It’s funny, but, before the Internet we were only able to find these people through the mail, newsletters, homeschool magazines or by word-of-mouth at church or the bookstore.  Now they are just a few search results away. Click, click, click!

While Supplies Last

For those who want a nearly-free (cost of ink, toner and paper… and 3-ring binders), bargain-basement education solution, there is Gary North’s Free Christian Curriculum, which he is leaving online at least for now, having moved on to his academic magnum opus (below).  It offers a lot of free downloads to its members (membership is free).  But it is still a do-it-yourself, Home-Depot approach to homeschooling.  And its days are numbered.  Gary even tells you, in no uncertain terms on the home page–using his trademark Northian diplomacy–to GET LOST!

That brings me to what I think is the best all-around, cost-effective, high-quality education solution out there, one that combines the best of the “low-tech/high-touch” world of homeschooling with the “high-tech/low-touch” world of the Internet and computerized digital gadgetry and communications technology: the Ron Paul Curriculum.

Academic Freedom (is Popular)

It is only because of the convergence of the modern-day “liberty” movement–spear-headed indirectly but powerfully by the reluctant rock star politician, Ron Paul–and the already-developing trend away from expensive bricks-and-mortar, physical-campus-based, academic-cartel-controlled education, towards a far less expensive “virtual-classroom,” instantly-delivered, geographically-unencumbered, electronic format of individualized and interactive digital education that we now have an option like the Ron Paul Curriculum.

The RPC was rolled out in Sept. 2013, and in a very short time it has amassed a formidable faculty of instructors who are specialists and experts in their fields, a broad and deep range of subjects and course materials, and a growing student body of tech-savvy, self-starting, goal-driven young people and adults who have cast their lots with this new start-up and are collectively contributing their efforts and insights to make it a very promising platform for delivering world-class education to the world, very cheaply.  A few hundred bucks a year to train up the next generation of leaders, movers and shakers, makers, writers, educators, designers, creators and builders.  Such a deal!

Common Core

If you want a good reason to pursue any homeschooling program at all, think Common Core.  From all the accounts that I’ve read and heard about it, I think it should be declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.  Here’s a documentary that illustrates the problem:

 

You can find plenty of news stories and uploaded videos on You Tube showing horror-story examples of the incomprehensible insanity of Common Core.  It is rotten to the core.  Bad for the kids’ intellectual and moral diets.  It will lead, if left unchecked, to widespread truth decay.   We need to pull the plug on it.  There are better ways to confuse and confound our kids with bad teaching models.

Ron Paul Curriculum

Homeschooling parents, including Christian homeschooling parents–maybe especially Christian homeschooling parents–are a frugal bunch.  I know.  I was one.  My wife and I did not have wads of spare cash to spend on textbooks and teaching materials and curricula paraphernalia.  We could afford the bare essentials for our kids’ education and that was about it.  When it was all over they had had a combination of public school, private Christian school and homeschool in their academic experience.  So I understand the parental flinch towards paying as little as possible for something as important and life-changing and worldview-shaping as your child’s education–except, of course, when they get to college!

But if I had young kids now, I would enroll them in a heartbeat in the Ron Paul Curriculum.  I say that only because it is the curriculum that I have been dreaming of (and drooling over) for decades.  For “26 Reasons” why you should, and “4 Reasons” why you shouldn’t, visit their benefits-of-enrolling page here.

If you want to know why I feel so strongly that this is an excellent choice for so many home-schoolers, click HERE.

Of course, there is no reason why I can’t get my grandkids to participate in this history-making, path-breaking program.  I am a long-term optimist.  They’ll get in.

Back to Math

Anyway, this Ray’s New Arithmetic website is an expression of my academic philosophy to “prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”–which works, by the way, very well as a theological/spiritual philosophy–i.e., take a proven program of teaching a particular body of knowledge and implement and communicate it in a new and memorable way, as efficiently and economically as possible.

I can’t think of a more “economical” and efficient way to teach and to learn mathematics than one that is online, open to the public, and FREE.   You can still buy the hardcover (or softcover) published eight-volume set of Ray’s Arithmetic from Amazon and other online sellers.  They are not expensive: $100 or less.  They are “dated,” but so what? That is what makes them unique, and even endearing.  (Call me sentimental about 150-year-old math textbooks!)  The fact that you can view them and download them and print them out exactly as they appear in the original printed editions for pennies a page is remarkable. The fact that any Joe Schmoe (or Jane Schmoe) can take them and add value to their already-proven usefulness is also remarkable.

It’s because of the Internet, You Tube, and all of the paradigm-shifting, game-changing digital developments we’ve seen over the last 40 years, that our education options just getting better and better (and cheaper and cheaper!).

And One More Thing…

Before we leave here I just want to say one more thing about all this. If you are the least bit inclined, and if after this site has been developed somewhat you have found some educational value in what I am doing here, I would like to ask you a favor.  If you are looking into homeschooling as an option for your kids (or grandkids), and you think you might be interested in taking a closer look at the Ron Paul Curriculum, I would be grateful if you would use any of the links on this page to access the site, especially before you decide to “pull the trigger” and enroll your child.  I am an enthusiastic fan of what they are doing, and wholeheartedly endorse them and support their efforts to remake and reconstruct education using the latest digital tools — and the best and brightest instructors to administer it — for the sake of our kids and for the sake of our future as a nation and a civilization. (Yes, it is THAT crucial.) And I am more than happy to help them get the word out using whatever forms of marketing they have chosen, including word-of-mouse referrals. Thanks!

Now, back to our math lessons…

Begin here: Primary Math Lessons

Return to Ray’s Arithmetic Home

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Comments

  1. Wow ! Just wow ! As a homeschooler I didn’t know very much about the common core curriculum. This is pretty mind blowing.

  2. Homeschool Dad says:

    You should also check out the Eclectic Education Series Curriculum. It’s entirely based on the Ray’s Arithmetic and McGuffey Readers.

    • The Eclectic Education Series Curriculum would be the dollar homeschool. I would NOT recommend it. They are basically taking free resources and using them to make a profit. Boycott them! It goes against the whole purpose of the homeschool movement.

      • I would not boycott them. They offer classic education resources very inexpensively.

        “The whole purpose of the Homeschool movement” is not to give everyone free education materials. It is to equip parents to fulfill their God-given responsibility to provide an education for their children, whether they are their instructors or someone else does the teaching.

  3. Melissa Scott says:

    Are these the same lessons here that are on the RPC site? Are you doing the high school math over there as well?

    • No, they are not the same lessons. For RPC, I produced full-year (36-week) courses with all new lessons based 100% on Ray’s Arithmetics, for grades 1-4. I’m still finishing the 3-4 courses, which is why I haven’t done any new lessons for this site.

      Also, no, I am not doing high school math for RPC. Those are being done by other instructors. (They are not based on Ray’s.)

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