Homeschool Curriculum Reviews-ACE English

Jan 6th, 2011 | By | Category: Curriculum Reviews

There are varied opinions about ACE out there.  Some say it is a fabulous curriculum; others say it is too easy; still others say it is too hard.

So it seems to be a good curriculum on which to provide a review.

Let me begin by outlining the ACE format.  ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) curriculum is a Bible-based (using the King James Bible), mastery program designed specifically for independent learners.  It is not a curriculum made for a classroom that parents must adapt to the home–this makes it a great choice for families with several children or for working moms who need their kids to be more independent.

Each grade level consists of 12 colorful workbooks per year for each subject.  Each workbook focuses on specific concepts and provide the repetition and review to ensure that the student masters those concepts.  Tests and quizzes are built into each workbook with ample time for students to demonstrate their understanding before they take the final test (which becomes part of the grade for the year).

When used correctly, parents will first test their students using the ACE diagnostic test (available for free online here).  That test will give them the exact workbooks (called PACEs) to purchase for each subject.  You may find that one of your students is advanced in a specific subject and behind in another.  That is the strength of the ACE program.  Rather than start your students an entire grade level behind, you can actually start them in the middle of a grade level and move forward from there.

Because ACE curriculum is mastery based, there is a lot of repetition and review provided for each concept.  For some students, this is overkill so be sure you adjust requirements when you encounter a concept that you know your child has already mastered.  For instance, we often had our kids do the odd problems only or every other page in a section of the workbook that focused on the same concept.

The ACE English program has two options.  You can purchase the English PACEs or the Literature and Creative Writing PACEs (or both of course).  English focuses on grammar and mechanics with very little writing practice, while Literature and Creative Writing focuses on the teaching of writing and literature with very little grammar.

If you have a child who struggles with basic grammar and mechanics, go with the ACE English course (available for first through 12th grade).  Each workbook is colorfully illustrated with characters who explain and demonstrate each new concept.  In addition, you will find regular repetition and review to ensure that your student masters the material.  But pay attention–you don’t want your kids glossing over the writing assignments.  Be sure they are completing them as instructed.  I often also supplemented the writing instruction by taking it a step further.  If the workbook asks them to copy or correct a specific type of paragraph, I would then have them write their own paragraph in the same pattern explained in the PACE.

If you have a child who is a natural at grammar and just needs basic review, then go with the Literature and Creative Writing (available for second through sixth grades).  A bit more expensive  because it comes with all of the literature books included, this curriculum does an excellent job of teaching writing both in response to literature and as a lesson in itself.  Students evaluate literature for the various literary tools as well as for theme, character, moral, etc. 

I have heard back from many of our Bridgeway Academy middle and high school students that the comic strips in the workbooks are too juvenile and a bit annoying.  The comic strips are designed to teach a specific character trait in each workbook and the characters do tend to the right thing every time.  This can get a bit annoying to those of us who find ourselves making mistakes on a daily basis.  So be aware that you children may find that a bit too childish and keep reminding them that the principles are good principles.  If you have a creative writer or artist in the family, have them write their own comic strips where the main character actually makes a character mistake.

If you are looking for a language arts or English program that really helps your students master the skills of language arts, then the ACE English is a great choice.  However, if you are seeking a curriculum that really builds critical thinking skills, then you will definitely want to supplement the program with a thinking skills workbook like those available through Critical Thinking Press. You can also purchase Critical Thinking Press’ Language Smarts program for a full language arts program with a focus on critical thinking skills (this one will not provide repetition and review for mastery).

Also, if you use the ACE the way is is designed (and that is to allow your children to correct their own work up to the final test), then do be careful that they don’t submit to the temptation to copy the answers from the key.  Obviously, this is true for any curriculum where you allow your kids to check their own work.

So bottom line?

  • Great for large families who want to individualize in language arts so they can work together in the information courses
  • Great for working moms who need an independent study curriculum
  • Great for families who don’t want a separate workbook for grammar, literature, study skills, etc.
  • Great for students who need repetition and review in order to master skills
  • Great for parents who want the freedom to be creative without sacrificing the core concepts that need to be taught
  • Great for families who want to be sure that their students are also receiving Biblical instruction and character training throughout
  • Not the best choice for students who thrive on critical thinking and analysis
  • Need to be sure to supplement the writing if you are using the English PACEs.
  • For a complete language arts program, you will need to also order the ACE Word Building PACEs (grades 1-9)

You can purchase ACE PACEs at discounted prices at Curriculum Express.

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