Accelerated Christian Education {A.C.E} – A Review

The school year is approaching its end and it’s time to once again re-assess our homeschools. Are there things we need to change? Resources that have or have not worked? Perhaps you are moving into a different season in your homeschool. This is what we as a homeschooling family have recently gone through. Up to now we have used an eclectic Charlotte Mason approach. We used a bit of KONOS and lots of living books. For various reasons we needed to change the way we did things and after research and prayer we went with School of Tomorrow’s A.C.E or Accelerated Christian Education program. I have a couple of things to say on this program, I’ll start with what it’s all about.

PACE's

PACE’s

A.C.E’s educational concepts are based on the following five basic laws of learning:

  1. A child must be at a level where he can perform.
  2. He must have reasonable goals.
  3. His learning must be controlled, and he must be motivated.
  4. His learning must be measurable.
  5. His learning must be rewarded.

What is A.C.E. and What is Included?

  • A.C.E is a self-paced, self-study type curriculum. The children take ownership of their studies.
  • A.C.E is definitely a Christian curriculum science is taught from a creationist view and each PACE incorporates Scripture, Godly character building and wisdom principles.
  • Christian character is illustrated in each PACE through a cartoon strip where the main character Ace and his friends (who grow in age with the child through his/her PACES) are faced with every day dilemmas and illustrate how to deal with them in a godly and honorable way.
  • There are six subjects: English, Word Building, Maths, Social Studies, Science, and Creative Writing and Literature. In higher years there are additional electives that can be added to the program
  • Children work in workbooks called PACES. Each subject has 12 workbooks per year. So for instance, English will have 12 PACES/year, Maths will have 12 PACES/year etc.
  • The child sets his own goals (number of pages to be worked per PACE) each day. Depending on the child’s ability it is recommended that they do between 3 and 5 pages per PACE per day. (Younger children 3 working up to high school children 5)
  • A.C.E is a self-paced curriculum which allows the curriculum to be tailored to each child’s individual ability and level. So if the child struggles in one area it does not mean that he/she is kept ‘back’ in all areas but instead can move at a slower pace in that subject. If the child excels in an area he/she is able to move ahead at a quicker pace.
  • A.C.E is a mastery-based curriculum

Inside a PACE

Inside a PACE

A.C.E. Pros

  • The child is involved in setting his/her own daily goals and then setting out to achieve them – a vital skill for them to learn for working life
  • The work is all set out for you, you simply move from one work-book to another, progressing to the next work-book once a test has been passed. This is a huge time saver for me personally.
  • You are able to see immediately if there are any problem areas as these will show up in either the checkups {concise test on work just learned} of which there are around 3/PACE, or in the self-tests.
  • Each PACE reinforces a different biblical character trait as well as has a scripture verse for the child to learn. This builds up a valuable wealth of scripture in the child’s heart which in my opinion will stand him/her in good stead throughout life.
  • Each child can move at his/her own pace.

A.C.E. Cons

  • If you are averse to workbooks and feel they can be boring then this is not the program for you Both my daughters have not found this at all. They have loved the work, the method of learning and the brightly colored PACES
  • We find that the PACES can unnecessarily make everything a biblical issue. For us it is not an issue, we see it for what it is and discuss anything that we find a bit ‘in-your-face’.
  • You could easily fall into the trap of only working on the PACES and excluding those valuable extras like Nature Study, field trips etc. This is easily guarded against by sitting down and planning a couple of weeks ahead and scheduling in those ‘extras’.

Student Goal Cards

Student Goal Cards

Some Personal Thoughts:

Coming from a Charlotte Mason point of view, I was initially very put off by A.C.E. It is completely opposite to how we have run our homeschool up to this point. However, I feel that the saying ‘Don’t let the tail wag the dog‘ applies rather aptly here. The curriculum is a tool that should be utilized and adapted to each individual homeschool. We have certainly added a Charlotte Mason twist onto this curriculum. Yes, we work on our PACES in the morning – but throughout the week manage to fit in our favorite CM activities that have become dear to us over the years. We still do our Nature Studies, read aloud together, find time for picture study, composer study and plan to cover a bit of Shakespeare in a workshop with some friends this summer. Field trips are planned in advance.

All these things help us maintain a balanced and holistic approach to our homeschooling rhythm. You can read some of my initial thoughts on using this curriculum in our homeschool here. As we have come into the A.C.E program in the high school years, I find that it’s system works well for my children. Looking back I still would have chosen the same route we have taken. I don’t think I would have chosen A.C.E for our primary years – only because the path we have already walked is paved with so many lovely memories with what we have used along the way :o)

A Very Important Point:

Do a Google search on A.C.E curriculum and you find plenty of people who have awful things to say about A.C.E. Words like ‘brainwashing’, ‘fundamentalists’, and ‘low academic standard’ jump out at you.  I think that it is important to make the following points to try to give a balanced view as these comments, and in fact whole blogs devoted to being ‘anti-A.C.E’ campaigns, can unfairly frighten some people off. So my points:

  • Most of the people who are so vocal attended, at some point in their schooling,  formal A.C.E schools in the 70′s and 80′s. I don’t run an A.C.E school. I run a home and raise children with love and grace.
  • Just about all of the people who call this program ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘brainwashing’ are not Christians. Most are in fact at the very opposite extreme.
  • With regard to academic standard – again most of these people are addressing issues in the curriculum from 20 years back. The curriculum is reviewed and updated regularly. These people are also referring to science being taught from a creationist point of view and not the more widely accepted secular worldview.
  • I think that it is also important to note that ALL curriculum can have mistakes in them, after all, they are written by fallible human beings. A.C.E is internationally recognized and accepted by major universities worldwide. I doubt that they would accept A.C.E graduates if they felt that the academic standard was not up to scratch.

So, if you are a structured person, don’t mind working with workbooks, and looking for a curriculum that maintains a high Biblical and academic education, then A.C.E could possibly be an option for you.

~written by Shirley Ann, Under An English Sky

Shirley (20 Posts)

Shirley lives with her husband and two teen daughters in the English countryside just outside the beautiful market town of Chesterfield in the famous Peak District of England. The family have homeschooled for 8 years. They homeschool using A.C.E. adding a little Charlotte Mason twist where they can. She loves her multifaceted role in life and seeks to share her passion for Godly womanhood, mothering, home-keeping and home educating with others. She writes about these passions on her blog 'Under An English Sky'.


{ 42 comments… add one }

  • Annie Kate May 17, 2013, 6:02 am

    That’s a brilliant idea, to keep a lot of the CM ideas while doing A.C.E! Even if the program is lacking here and there, which some suggest, wide reading and all the lovely CM ‘extras’ will overcome such issues.

    Thanks for the review!
    Annie Kate´s last blog post ..Portraits of Integrity, Volume 2 by Marilyn Boyer

    Reply
    • Shirley May 17, 2013, 10:01 am

      Thanks for your comment Annie Kate :o). I think that the penny has finally dropped for me that curriculum – no matter which one – is a tool that needs to be used by me – not me being used by the curriculum -LOL. As long has we have a good solid core, we can tailor it to suite our educational philosophies.

      Reply
  • Teri P. May 17, 2013, 9:24 am

    Thank you for your review of ACE! I have been using it with my children for the past 4 years. I currently homeschool a 1st grader, 3rd grader, and 8th grader. I agree with you on every point you made. Like you, we use ACE as our core and have added to it art, music, and other things that interest us. We find that it travels well, and we can take it with us if we need to go somewhere, and you can school just about anywhere with it. I appreciate you point regarding the horrible things people say about ACE. I have found it to be a solid learning foundation. My church uses the curriculum in their private school and they have turned out some amazing students in the past. I often see so many families agonize over the curriculums that they purchase that do not fit. Or each year families switching to this that or the other. I realize every family is different, but ACE is consistent and only really needs a little tweaking to make everyone happy. Thanks again for a positive review!

    Reply
    • Shirley May 17, 2013, 9:58 am

      I agree with you Teri – tweaking is all it needs. Coming from a Unit Study/Charlotte Mason point of view I have been pleasantly surprised how well A.C.E is working for us. Of course the fact that A.C.E is easy to take along your travels should you need to is just such a huge plus! Thanks so much for your lovely comment :o)

      Reply
  • channon May 17, 2013, 10:04 am

    We have 7 children, and ACE works great for us. In a busy household it is nice to know that I can assign the work, and they can accomplish it mostly on their own. (I realize for hands on Moms this might be a put off). On days that we get our basics done, there is plenty of time for art, music study, etc. I will say that I am not thrilled with their literature selection, so I skip that part of the curriculum and we choose our own books. Choosing this type of curriculum (we have tried many) has taken the stress out of our homeschool day. In my opinion by taking their curriculum, and making it our own, we have a winner. We plan on sticking with this curriculum for the duration of our school years. Thanks for the review.

    Reply
    • Shirley May 17, 2013, 10:32 am

      Thanks for your comment Channon. We also plan on sticking with this curriculum for the remainder of our schooling years. I am really enjoying reading all these comments from seasoned ACE users who are generally happy with the curriculum. It is a blessing for me to read :o)

      Reply
  • Magda Maylam May 18, 2013, 9:41 am

    Dear Shirley,
    I have just read your blog post on ACE, and want to thank you for taking the time to ‘enlighten’ the masses on this subject.
    We have two boys aged 12 and 9, and have been using ACE since 2003, when our eldest was only 3. You mentioned in your blog that you wouldn’t have used ACE for primary years, but we did, and our boys thoroughly enjoyed it. The songs, the phonic method of learning to read, the character trait stories, colourful PACEs, and other hands-on/craft activities aimed at very young kids were brilliant.
    We now find ourselves enveloped in the ‘next phase’ of the curriculum, the ICCE-part, as our eldest prepares for his GCSE-equivalent level of work. He’s still thriving on the program, and dreams of studying art either at college or university in the very near future (how time flies!)
    His younger brother is doing well, too, and is currently at Level 5.
    We were chatting recently to a couple who live and work in South Korea (he is an English professor, she is Korean), and they are thinking of home-schooling their 12-year-old daughter, due to changes in their circumstances and lifestyle back in Korea. They came to see us and we showed them parts of the curriculum, different PACEs, Literature books, etc. etc. They were impressed and are seriously considering ACE.
    Now that I’ve read your well-balanced report on the program, I’d like to send them a copy. Trust this is OK with you?
    Best wishes, and many blessings,
    Magda Maylam
    Liverpool
    Tel 0151 734 0978
    P.S. Will have a proper look at your main blog this weekend… J
    Magda Maylam´s last blog post ..With Heartfelt Sympathy – Close As A Memory!

    Reply
  • Katie June 15, 2013, 10:49 pm

    I grew up using this curriculum in the private school setting. I am using ACE with my oldest who 9. She was attending a private school and fell behind in math. I was able to go back and start out where she was struggling and catch her up to where she should be. Now she is ahead. She really enjoys math now and thinks that the PACE’s are so much easier then what she was doing. Her confidence in the ability to do math is great now. She is using ACE for her other core subjects and we do Science, History, and Bible together with her younger siblings with MFW. The ACE program works great for her learning style.

    Reply
  • Alyssa June 20, 2013, 6:55 pm

    thank you so much for the review!! I used ACE as a child and really enjoyed it. My daughter is approaching kinder, and I would really like to use the reading readiness ACE offers. This was very insightful!

    Reply
  • tedd August 12, 2013, 7:46 am

    Thanks Shirley. Balanced, objective piece that helped my wife and I a great deal. thank you.

    Reply
    • Shirley August 12, 2013, 11:46 am

      Thank you for your comment Tedd, I am glad that my review was a help to you and your wife :o)
      Blessings
      Shirley

      Reply
  • Tasha September 15, 2013, 4:45 pm

    {Ignore previous comment where I thought you hated ACE, lol!}

    Interesting review. My blog/website is at least 50% about PACEs, our live with them, etc. We, too, came from a KONOS & Charlotte Mason/living books background when beginning them, haha! Interesting that you and I would have a similar background and end up at PACEs.

    I couldn’t be more pleased and don’t foresee us ever changing. :) I actually have post on my site as to where we fit in living books, craftivities, unit study-related materials, and more. Everything gets DONE…whereas when their entire Science {for instance} relied on unit studies and living books, we fell off the wagon entirely too much due to lack of time to prep.

    Whatever floats…but I sometimes read people’s reviews of ACE (which are negative) and then read later on/elsewhere on their blog where they’re constantly talking about school not getting done, fretting that their children are “behind,” feeling burnout and even sending their children to school in some cases…due to burnout! And yet, PACEs are — to those folks — so awful… Ironic, isn’t it? :)

    Someone once said, “A ‘superior’ curriculum isn’t really superior if it isn’t getting done.” I couldn’t agree more. :)
    Tasha´s last blog post ..Choosing a Church Home

    Reply
  • Christina September 29, 2013, 4:40 am

    Dear ladies,

    I am from Malaysia and have four children who are being homeschooled. My eldest has now moved on to a learning centre while I still homeschool the other three. My elder two have special academic needs so they were the first to jump on the homeschool bandwagon. I thank God to have found ACE because the children can cope with it and they do additional work too. I just want to say a BIG thank you as Your posts have further encouraged me to keep going on, no matter what the negative comments are about ACE.

    Tasha, you said it well when you mentioned about claims of superiority of curriculums.

    Reply
  • Tina September 29, 2013, 10:49 pm

    Shirley, I really enjoyed reading your ACE review! I have one son that is 12 years and he doesn’t always enjoy his workbook work, but school gets done! I really like this curriculum because of it being so independent.

    Tasha, I would love to read your blog, since you said that you have ideas on how to tweak ACE! :-)

    Reply
  • Nadine October 1, 2013, 3:28 pm

    I also use ACE curriculum and love it. I use it with my 4 kids: 6th grade, 3rd grade, 1st grade, and pre-K. We do supplement with music and art, but our foundation is strong with the basics. I was actually starting to question the math curriculum recently because of reports of the public school being more advanced. I appreciate this positive review. I feel that ACE is more simple in its approach, and I like that about it, I find it makes the material easier to learn. I grew up in a private school using ACE and always enjoyed it. I attended a public school my last two years of high school, and found that it was much more difficult to learn; not because the work itself was harder, it was just presented in a more complicated, or even cumbersome, way. I love the simplified method of ACE. It’s good to read these positive reviews! Thanks

    Reply
  • jill blake December 2, 2013, 12:42 pm

    I am very familiar with the ACE curriculum, my church use to have a school for 19 years and ACE is what they used. I am now an at home mom ( not sure for how long, so please pray for me that God will allow me to continue this path), I have put my son , whom is 9 on this curriculum, but I agree with you, he needs some thing else. I have read up on some of the Charlotte Mason’s material. But I am a little confused on how the process works. I see that you purchase books, so I am assuming that the books tell you what to teach and how to go about teaching a particular subject? If you can enlighten me on how her curriculum works and how it is applied, I would be most grateful.
    I am new to homeschooling, and if you have any pointers that would be helpful as well. Thanks so much…. Jill.

    Reply
    • Shirley December 2, 2013, 2:05 pm

      Hi Jill,

      Thanks for your comment and I want you to know that I am praying for you as you embark on this blessed journey of teaching your dear child at home for God’s glory!

      Applying the Charlotte Mason Method is a step-by-step process in my opinion. You can read Charlotte Masons books for free online at Ambleside Online but I would HIGHLY recommend buying Karen Andreola’s Book ‘A Charlotte Mason Companion’. It gives a fantastic overview of Charlotte Mason’s methods. You can read a review right here on The Curriculum Choice – Link: http://www.thecurriculumchoice.com/2010/09/charlotte-mason-guides/
      This post also has some great links to other Charlotte Mason helps. If you want to learn more about Charlotte Mason and her education methods go with one of the books recommended in the above mentioned post.

      I have written a couple of posts on my blog about how we do Music Appreciation and Art Appreciation in our home
      http://bugsbeetlesandbarefootdays.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/music-appreciation.html
      http://bugsbeetlesandbarefootdays.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/appreciating-art-appreciating-charlotte.html

      I think that the best advice I could give to a new-to-homeschooling mom would be to relax, trust your instincts and don’t replicate public school at home. You will find a way and rhythm that works for you and your family. And if you are wanting to go the Charlotte Mason route – read Karen Andreola’s book and start by adding just one thing at a time until you are comfortable with it and it is established. This is not an ‘over-night quick’ application.

      Blessings in Christ
      Shirley

      Reply
  • rebecca December 18, 2013, 2:18 am

    Hi there! Thank you so much for the review! I have heard such terrible things in the past about this curriculum that i gave up considering it. I am now *trying* to school my 2nd and 1st graders while taking care of my 3 and 1 yr old boys. I emphasis TRY bc it feels so impossible to get to everything that i want to be getting to with them. i have not chosen too much to do per year…we are talking getting reading and math done in one day. i have some awesome grammar, science and history courses that i need to get to but it NEVER happens. i know that i need to take pressure off of myself, which i have, in not expecting to tackle the world…..but the BASICS???? soo frustrating! I have a friend who has been using PACE’s for 2 years now and she loves it, but we have different educational philosophies and i tend to lean more towards a charlotte mason approach, so i have hesitated taking her word for it. but now i am sooo desperate!!! my girls do GREAT when it is math or writing workbook time, But they dont get anything other than that bc of, well…life! (plus we just recently made a cross country move…stress much!)
    Anyways, I am thinking of getting these to cover what i am unable to cover at this moment in out homeschool life. i am wondering if you have any input on this for me? …or negatives about the primary years with this or if it is just simply that you just liked what you chose and thats that? Any tips on using this curriculum for younger years, that you have heard?
    Thanks a bunch in advance for any help. Going crazy, a little bit, i think :)
    Rebecca

    Reply
    • Shirley December 18, 2013, 5:16 am

      Hi Rebecca,

      I do hope that this email finds you. I will post my reply in the comments section of my post too just in case it does not!

      As I am sure you picked up from my review, we are at heart a Charlotte Mason homeschool. I completely agree with her philosophy and have spent 7 years adding bits of it to our homeschool day.

      When we switched to A.C.E I was at a point of desperation due to burnout. Like you I needed something that would work yet still maintain and support our reasons for choosing to homeschool, which was to raise children who love and serve the Lord whole-heartedly. I also needed something that did not require any planning or much thought on my part. I was pretty much where you are now, just hanging on by my fingernails.

      Our choice to switch from our CM way to A.C.E was tough for me as it went against everything I had been trying to do for the past 7 years, however, I was failing to meet my childrens needs because I was running on empty. We needed a healthy ‘holding pattern’. The PACES met that need.

      Once we started using them I was really pleasantly surprised! My girls really enjoyed most of what they were doing and they were able to see what great students they were through the tests. It really boosted their confidence. They both absolutely and completely loved (and still love) the science. Previously we had used Apologia which just has not clicked with them at all. But this science really engaged them.

      As I started to recover from my exhaustion and felt more able to take a bit more on, I slowly took some of the PACES away and added back my CM ways. The science PACES however are here to stay, there was no taking that away!

      I guess that what I am trying to say is that life is full of seasons. Some are more demanding than others. During those seasons we need to keep in a ‘holding pattern’ instead of soaring and climbing higher – and that’s okay. It would be far better for you to use PACES now than to completely feel swamped and put your children into school.

      Another thing I have realised after 7 years of homeschooling is that there is NO perfect curriculum. The most important thing is how to love and disciple your children, not what curriculum you use.

      My advice is to buy the PACES you need to fill the gaps. If you have a maths and English program that are working for you right now, stick to that and add in the subjects you feel that you need. Don’t feel guilty! A.C.E has been a tremendous blessing to our family. I honestly think that all the terrible things that are said about the curriculum are completely blown out of proportion. I could not find half of what I had heard before hand to be true. There are some things like the rigidity of the system that are a bit excessive – but my children never attended a school but rather our homeschool, so I did what I thought best for my girls, not what they said I should do.

      Perhaps this is the season of workbooks for you – completely acceptable and so much easier when life is proving overwhelming. What I did was to do PACES from Monday to Thursday and then Friday was my CM day where we did nature walks, art projects, poetry etc. So I did not let go of it completely.

      I think in this technological world, we see much more what other’s are doing and feel that we have to somehow measure up to gain approval. This does nothing other than put additional pressure onto you and heap coals of guilt on your head too! Trust the Lord to lead you and remember ‘SEASONS’! We live through seasons, it will change. No season stays forever.

      Blessings in Christ
      Shirley

      Reply
  • Leah December 23, 2013, 4:07 am

    Shirley, I am looking into getting ACE for my family. I am so confused on the cost though. Any thoughts/info you can share on that? Thanks! Leah

    Reply
    • Shirley December 23, 2013, 7:04 am

      Hi Leah,

      We live in England so the cost per PACE is £3.95. You than have the Answer Key’s which are the same price BUT the answers in each booklet cover 3 PACES most of the time. The cost can be cut if you share answer keys or buy them at a reduced price from another A.C.E family -which is what we did. A.C.E did cost more than the resources I had previously used, but I spread the cost by simply buying 2 PACES for each subject initially – one to begin work with and one in stock. Then at the beginning of each new month – or pay day ;o) – I would order the next set of PACES. This way I spread the cost so that it was affordable for me and I always had the next PACE on hand.

      The cost is marginally reduced for each subsequent child as you will not have to buy the answer keys again (unless they update the curriculum) for when the next child reaches that PACE number.

      In England our initial outlay was pricey as we had to pay for a training manual which helps the parent/teacher understand the system, we then had a years membership fees to pay for our family. Our total start-up cost for that alone was around £130. That membership covers all support, advice and record keeping which results in a school leavers certificate which is internationally recognized. However, you can choose (at least here in England) not to join up and rather just buy the PACEs. The PACES are then priced at £4.95 each as you don’t get the member discount, but you are not paying membership fees etc.

      I hope that I have helped clarify things for you. I would contact ACE and have a chat with them. Generally they are helpful and happy to advise before you purchase or join up with them.

      Blessings
      Shirley

      Reply
  • Kyle @ Aspired Living December 24, 2013, 12:01 am

    We hid underground and used ACE and a classical model for our oldest child who has mild autism. I have loved ACE and would use it with our other children if their curriculm wasn’t going as well as it is! I totally agree Curriculum is a tool not a master use it and own it. Blessings, Kyle

    Reply
  • Krysty Underwood January 1, 2014, 9:19 pm

    My daughter, 10, attends an A.C.E. school. She absolutely loves it. She’s an advanced student and would always get in trouble at public school for getting bored when she understood a concept quickly and mentally “zoned out” after her initial interest. Now there is no zoning out! The ADD she was diagnosed with doesn’t seem to be affecting her quality of work like it used to, her handwriting has improved greatly, and she moves on as quickly as she is able.

    Not only that, her character has become much better. I find myself correcting her less because our values are reinforced in the school. She has become more compassionate to others who struggle since she no longer experiences frustration toward them because they are no longer struggling on their independent path to academic success.

    I was shocked to see the venomous nature of a handful of former A.C.E. graduates in online blogs. I sympathize with them for their, in many cases, abusive experiences at the hands of their teachers. In public school this behavior exists as well, though. Unfortunately, many predatory or insecure personality types target children under the guise of a mentor, but this can and does happen in both secular and private schools.

    We are blessed to know our child’s teachers well enough to trust them with our child. In addition, the school has two teachers, a monitor and a supervisor, in the room as much as possible, limiting further any chance for an abuse of power. The staff is a group of people with servants’ hearts, and we are grateful to have them. My husband teaches there as well, which gives me an added sense of security that the atrocities experienced by many children in public school and these few former graduates of A.C.E. schools will never happen.

    Our school also supplements, as any innovative education should, the A.C.E. curriculum with independent student-selected Christian reading material, music, art, physical education (including kick boxing!), and participation in A.C.E.’s student competitions. My daughter competed in several areas against other Christian boys and girls and really enjoyed it. She looks forward to competing again next year and is already planning her entries and practicing.

    My daughter has grown in a multitude of different ways. She has friends (a huge accomplishment for her, as she used to be quite obnoxious regarding her intelligence at the public school), she is happier, and she doesn’t feel limited or frustrated by school. Instead she feels challenged and optimistic.

    No, A.C.E., being made and implemented by human hands, is not perfect, but it is improving in quality and far exceeds the quality of public school education. For those who groan about the rote memorization, I’d like to point out that some things need to be memorized, such as math facts, in order to excel at higher levels of academics. In addition, memorization of Bible verse, poetry, prose, government documents (the Preamble, for example), and famous quotes and speeches not only teaches children traditional and cultural pieces of our history, but also improves overall intelligence, according to a recent study by the New York Times. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/health/29iht-29brai.12430898.html?_r=0)

    Thank you, Shirley and everyone else, for sharing your experience in a balanced way. Hopefully, the bloggers on the anti-A.C.E. website will find peace and forgive the individuals who sinned against them instead of blaming a curriculum, which as many of you mentioned, is a tool. This is comparable to blaming the hammer if someone throws one at you, and it’s very difficult to confront a tool.

    Reply
    • Shirley January 2, 2014, 5:00 am

      Hello Krysty :)
      How lovely it was to read your comment! It is a blessing to hear what a positive experience your daughter is having and how beneficial it has been for her character as well as education. I hope that anti-A.C.E bloggers find and read your comment and see the truth in what you have written and I pray that they will find healing and be able to let of of bitterness as a result of any abuse they experienced. As you said, this happens in secular schools too, it is NOT an A.C.E problem.
      Thank you for taking the time to share with me and the readers of Curriculum Choice.
      Blessings in Christ
      Shirley

      Reply
  • Julie Hall January 8, 2014, 1:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this information. I graduated from an A.C.E school, and to be honest I was reluctant to start the same program with my children. My first open discussion and teacher interaction was my first semester in college! So, when starting paces I knew what the children were missing. However, it does keep each child on schedule and the information is definitely adequate. I lack the ability to instruct /teach two grades at the same time and this curriculum fills the gap. I love the paces, I hope I am not sounding negative. I just wish there was a way to offer the interactive classroom like a typical school, finish the paces in adequate time and not feel like I’m falling short all the time. Blessed Homeschool Mom!

    Reply
    • Shirley January 9, 2014, 5:08 am

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t find it negative at all :) I think that you are quite right about the lack on teacher interaction in a school situation. But at home you can pretty much tweak it so that it fits your family and home. I have added a bit of a Charlotte Mason flavor by spending a bit of time each day before PACE work on our read aloud time where I include living books. I also rather have a 4 day week reserving the Friday for lessons in Art Appreciation, Musician Study, Nature Study etc….
      Please don’t feel like you are falling short. The important thing in God’s eyes is that you are loving your children and teaching them about him. It does not matter what resources you are using, or what style you are following. I know exactly how you feel – I have been there many times before, as have many other homeschool moms I know. I think that it must be homeschool mom thing LOL – we always feel like we are falling short somewhere – but that’s not true. Keep running the good race!
      Blessings in Christ
      Shirley

      Reply
  • Gail January 14, 2014, 8:27 pm

    Your post comes to me at a time when I too am feeling burnt out by some WONDERFUL home school experiences with living books and the Charlotte Mason approach. I am left with out the energy to put it all together year in year out, meanwhile my children have great world views and thinking skills but have fallen behind on the basics like writing and spelling and self motivation!!!
    I am looking at switching to ACE to bring them back up with these important skills and freeing my mental energy to still do living books etc. Your comments have helped me to realise that I don’t have to leave all my ideals behind just because I am going for more structure. Thanks Heaps and may God bless you and your family.

    Reply
  • Wendy January 20, 2014, 9:46 am

    Shirely. We are based in South Africa and will be homeschooling in 2015 with my 7 year old and then 5 year old to follow. I am a teacher so I really struggled with ACE and that fact that you simply can’t teach it. I understand how you have used a bit of this and that which is certainly a good idea. Does ACE prepare the student for GCSE’s and A level? The South African high school “matric” is a joke now as 30% is a pass, so it will not be worth anything for university. We have looked at a system called TCE which is a South African system that is based more on teaching and focused on the British GCSE qualification. It is also Christian, which is vital for us. In our experience ACE students in South Africa (both home school and ACE schools) are seriously under prepared for university with pretty large gaps. What have you found with this and how do you overcome it? Thanks for the blog. It has been a huge help to read all the comments. I still think we will go with TCE, but at least we know that ACE is there is we get stuck.

    Reply
    • Shirley January 20, 2014, 10:50 am

      Hi Wendy,

      I’m not sure if you know but I am actually a South African living in England. We have only been here 3 years but we have been homeschooling for 8 years so allot of years of homeschooling in South Africa. I am aware of the concerns you face in SA.

      ACE will not help you if you are planning to sit the Cambridge GCSE’s. It is completely different course work and way of doing things. In England, ACE is run through ICCE (International Certificate for Christian Education) which was set up to recognize the work done for those who use ACE. This qualification is recognized and accepted by many Universities worldwide. Having used the curriculum for a while I don’t think that I would agree with the fact that you would be under prepared for uni – it is quite a rigorous curriculum – but I am not sure how it is run in South Africa. For me a personally like to be more involved in the teaching of my children and I prefer to teach more research skills to my children. ACE served a purpose in our homeschooling for a season. We are back on our CM road :)

      In South Africa there are various options for obtaining your English GCSE Qualifications. Most of them are very costly though. TCE is an option for this as you know, but I know that there are other ways of getting this qualification. I know that Oikos Family Ministries in Kwa-Zulu Natal spoke a bit on this. The link is http://oikosfamily.co.za/index.php/video/support-videos/the-bridge-from-oikos-to-certification – OIKOS supply KONOS, Math-U-See and other resources to the South African community – and allot of support.

      A very good friend of mine’s son has just finished his AS Cambridge exams. She lives in Cape Town, I’m sure that she would be happy to advise you if you want. If you email me shirleyvels@talktalk.net – I will give you her contact details.

      Blessings
      Shirley

      Reply
  • Robin February 6, 2014, 9:34 pm

    Hi, Shirley!
    I have enjoyed reading all posts! I’m so thrilled that you all love Lord and want to keep honoring Him just like us. I want to share our experiences with Pace. Our kids currently use English and Word Building. We really love them because they re very God-centered. It really feeds my soul while going thru kids’ workbooks! There is some thing that concerns me, especially on English part. I hope that you can help me out with this. Let me tell about our experiences first. With our four children, I have been using some of Charlotte Mason Approach thru camroseacademy.com. since 2002. Our three kids used to use Rod&Staff English. It was a really excellent program. But, when they arrived to grade 5, they started to have problem. This time, I was overwhelmed due to having 4th baby and having some health problem relating to heavy bleeding(right now, I’m fine.) It was really chao around with four young kids. I decided to switch to SOS language for them. They disliked it. Older son used other program and did fine thru HS. He is in college now. For next two kids, I switched to Easy Grammar. But, they got low scores on testing. So, I kept on researching and found Pace thru Christianbook.com. Our two kids have been using them since two years. The 2nd one is happy with them. The third one is happy with World Building. But, not with English! She is frustrating which causes me to start researching a better program. But, before I move on new program, I want to know if you are aware with Pace English and their strength and weakness. I plan to add writing program to my three kids. My last son(9) is using Rod & Staff English. I want him to get a strong structure with grammar before I let him to start on Pace English in later time. He is doing Word Building and loving it! I appreciate your help with opinion! I hope this is not too much! You all have a blessed schooling day! Rejoice in Lord!

    Reply
    • Shirley February 10, 2014, 3:24 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment on my review on A.C.E. I must say that it is an excellent program and my girls thrived on it.

      Regarding the English – I personally think it is an excellent program. It is well rounded and rigorous. I had a few problems with some of the grammar but I realised that it is an American program (we are British) so some of the way we say things is slightly different. This was not enough to deter me.

      I must say that if you want to get a full well rounded English program out of A.C.E I would advise using Word Building, English AND the Literature Paces. The Lit paces really help teach the children how to extract information from their reading, it also covers creative writing and poetry. All three subjects form a well rounded English program. I do find that although I really do love their literature selections, I like to add more to my girls education. I do this by choosing books to read aloud to my girls. Even through they are almost 14 and almost 16, we still have read aloud time. This way they can enjoy a good living book without having to have work attached. I also assign them each a personal reading book off my living book list which they have to read a little each day.

      One thing I would say is that there is no perfect curriculum. Both my girls have gone through stages of disliking one part of their curriculum – usually when it hits a challenging part! We work though it and pay extra attention to the work that is causing the challenge, once we pass that stage and an understanding gained, I find that it is plain sailing again. Another thing is that if you switch too often between programs you risk missing out on something or even falling behind. If the program that you are using is generally working well and you feel that it is the right program for your children, I would stick with it.

      I hope that my reply will help you :o)

      Blessings in Christ
      Shirley

      Reply
      • Robin February 13, 2014, 9:58 am

        Hi, Shirley! Thanks for your sweet reply! Yes, I am aware with Pace’s Literature. Our children are using them. I got involved with reading those books with them. That way I can have a good discussion. I really love the books named The Tribesman and By Searching. I appreciate your comment about English as all rounded program. I plan to keep this program for our children thru High School. I am VERY aware with switching the program is not a excellent idea. I don’t do that with other subject. Only english. It is my second language. It is not easy. I thank God for his guidance on our progress with curriculum, etc. Without Him, everything is impossible. I really enjoy every moment, teaching our children, being them, growing with them. I believe that He will help with us thru later years. May God s Grace be with you!

        Reply
    • Tasha February 13, 2014, 2:19 am

      Hi Robin, :)

      I was just reading through your post and I noticed a trend: your children don’t like a curriculum, so you change. And change and change and change.

      You know, if they were in a regular school (public school or private school), they would not *get* a choice. At all. Also, should they go on to college, they will not *get* a choice. At all.

      With all due respect…I think it’s time you teach your children that whatever MOM decides is the best program (for its coverage of content, richness in material, whatever) is THE program to use. Period. At this time, you are letting the tail wag the dog. You are letting your children dictate to you what curriculum they use. You’ve changed so many times, and–from what you’ve shared here–each time has been because the child disliked it. Changing just because the child disliked it is setting him or her up for a rude awakening when they go off to college or even enter the workforce. What’s going to happen when an employer hands your child a training manual to read through and prepare for a test but the child doesn’t “like” the training manual?

      You need to teach you children to adapt to things that they may not “like.” It’s the same with reading books/novels that you assign, say, for literature studies. Here in our home, sometimes I give consideration to our children’s interests. Other times, I give consideration to the content of the book and what I want my child to learn from it. In either case, they do not *get* a choice. They’re learning to adapt and *push through* even if it’s not their most favorite novel, curriculum, etc. They may not *like* it…but if the program is solid, the content is rich and will prepare them for higher-level learning (college), then they use it.

      To be honest, I was the most surprised that you changed with Rod & Staff and SOS. Both of those are re-useable and you can re-use them with children later down the road! But you’re letting your children decide what they like to use, so you’ll be spending money…more and more each year.

      I do want to say that if the program is solid but the method simply is not clicking with your child, then that could be a different story. However, it is for that reason that we’ve found that the simple, textbook approach that we ALL HAD GROWING UP suits best. The textbook approach has worked for many, many *centuries*….and even today people are turning back to textbooks published in the 1800s/early 1900s (they usually do this through Google or Gutenberg (sp?)). Good old TEXTBOOKS have worked for centuries and they still do. And, if your children are adept at finishing their lessons (and don’t drag them out all day…) then there is plenty of time for the other things that will really round out their education, such as nature studies, studies in the humanities (studying Art History and composers), etc.

      This turned into a really long post, but the whole point is: stop letting the tail wag the dog. ;-)

      Reply
      • Robin February 13, 2014, 10:08 am

        Hi, Tasha! Thanks for your comment with suggestions, etc.! I am already aware with switching the programs is NOT excellent idea. It is only subject that I made the adjustments. I thank Lord for introducing us the Pace program on English. I look forward to work with our kids with them. Thanks, again! God be with you!

        Reply
  • Tasha February 10, 2014, 10:00 am

    I completely agree with everything you’ve written here. I have a blog myself (http://gracebasedmama.blogspot.com) where I discuss many of the same things you’ve talked about here–especially coming from a CM background. The site was “gracebasedmama.com” but as I have not renewed the domain *blush* entering that by itself doesn’t seem to work (depends on Google’s mood). Anyway, what you’ve written toward the bottom is what I always tell people: that if you *dig deeper*–as you should be when making a curr. choice–you’ll find that 95-98% (I can’t pick a number!) come from people who-
    a) are describing their experiences in an ACE school in the 80s or even early 90s
    b) are ATHEISTS (who like to blame that on ACE, btw….)
    c) accuse ACE of being “slow and teaching horrendous things” such as–gasp!–that GOD created the earth (horrors!!!)

    Regarding the anti-ACE blog that exists: I have noticed in a few places that when the author of that blog is proven wrong, he at least humbly admits he was wrong and updates his previous comment. For instance, if I were to show him some 4th Ed. PACE references (give him PACE# and page#) of places where, yes, ACE *does* actually show blacks and whites together, I feel confident he’d amend his statement and show the new pages on his blog. He’d probably say it’s still not *a lot* (and with him I’d agree), but it’s there at least, and that’s progress. (I don’t even think my children notice such things, so I’ve never said anything to them…and I actually think my children assume that the kids all go to the same school? Mine have been doing ACE for a few years, though…so from 10-13, 9-11, and 7-9).

    You know, when we first started ACE, I was in love. A few months later, I ditched it all. About 6 months later, I realized “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. KEEP what’s working, replace what isn’t.” Here we are today………. We use LLATL for Language Arts (replaces Lit/CW or Basic Lit., English, and Word-Bldg PACEs)….and PACE for everything else. For my older two, I’m debating one more year of PACE Science, or just using the Apologia General Science I bought for them. I’ll probably leave it up to them because I truly don’t care either way; start this year or next, doesn’t matter to me.

    So, we have:
    LLATL & PACEs

    I find this to be a pleasant mixture for our family. We aren’t BOGGED DOWN with textbooks all.day.long (this is the CM in me coming through–wanting to reserve the bulk of the day for them to be children, be outdoors, etc.). With PACEs, they’re finished before lunch and have had a substantial lesson in every subject every day. :)

    *PS* I believe the ACE Math moves along the Trivium, though they don’t specifically state it. They DO specifically state that children have different levels of development and that the curr. is made to address those different stages, though. So you won’t find “rigor” in 3rd grade….IOW.

    Reply
    • Shirley February 10, 2014, 3:31 pm

      Hi Tasha,
      Thank you for your comment – I loved reading what you have to say and encouraged that the blog author of the anti ACE blog is at least willing to accept and update his blog if something he has written is proved incorrect. You are right – at least it’s something :o)

      I have done the same as you, a mixture of PACEs and other resources. My girls love the ACE science – I tried Apologia many times but they just did not enjoy it. Like you it does not bother me which they do – as long as the love the science that they are busy with!

      Thanks again for your input :o)
      Blessings in Christ
      Shirley

      Reply
      • Tasha February 13, 2014, 2:59 am

        Shirley,

        Yeah, and there up further I was telling Robin not to let the tail wag the dog….then I go saying I let my children choose Science. LOL! I should clarify that: I bought the General Science for them..and they (twins) are 13 years old. But then…thumbing through both the PACE Science and the Apologia Gen Science, I realized that I was actually okay with either program for our 2014 school year. Doesn’t really matter to me.

        HOWEVER: the same does not go for Math & Language Arts (Writing/Grammar, Reading, & Spelling). I really believe that if you find a Math program that suits, that–Math–is like THE subject you should do your absolute best to push through and not change. The reason is that different publishers teach the same concepts in different ways….and you may run the risk of confusion, unless your child can recognize the differences and realize they “Oh, they’re just talking about X that I learned in curriculum #1…okay.” Like, going from PACE Math to Bob Jones. PACEs teach the (NORMAL, in my opinion!) way of “carry the one” and “borrow” to subtract. Bob Jones, on the complete other hand, refers to this as “regrouping” and teaches the children to regroup, how to regroup, why to regroup, etc. And then throughout the text (grade after grade) they are constantly talking about the “regrouping” and “make a ten” and “front-end estimation.” You know, all this “new Math” stuff that’s out there……….. that we never learned growing up and yet learned Math JUST FINE with textbooks and flashcards, LOL.

        So that can be a little confusing, LOL.

        Reply
        • Andrea March 13, 2014, 4:01 pm

          I am forever grateful for finding this site, and your comment is spot on! I just started homeschooling our kids (4 yr old twins and 8 yr old son). My son was in a charter school and they heavily taught regrouping (which honestly took me a while to understand the concept as I didn’t learn that way lol). Now we have just started using ACE and we are seriously struggling with math bc of the fact that he only knows regrouping and carrying and borrowing is a foreign concept to him. It was so difficult for him that I switched to another curriculum (Easy Peasy All in One curriculum) that uses regrouping and now I’m wondering if I should continue on with that or teach him according to ACE. It was such a frustrating experience trying to teach him, but I’m also trying not to let him be the one to determine what we so just bc he doesn’t like hard work. Any advice for me on this? Thanks so much and I am thoroughly enjoying reading the comments here from all of you. It’s confirmation to me that I’m doing the right thing and I feel more secure with our curriculum choice now.

          Reply
          • Shirley March 13, 2014, 5:48 pm

            Hello Andrea,

            Thank you for your comment. As I read what you had to say all I could think was, ‘How lucky you are to have started A.C.E at such a young age!’ reason being is that you are still right at the beginning of your journey. You could quite easily start just the Math right from 1st grade and catch up fairly quickly. We came to A.C.E much later in our home ed journey and have had allot more ‘gaps’ to have to contend with. But for us it is worth it. Our girls may have to work a little harder right now but the benefit in the long run far outweighs the extra work. Interestingly the extra math that my eldest is having to do does not bother her as she really enjoys the overall program.

            In life we, and our children, will always come across difficult tasks and times. Working through those things is what helps mold us into people of strong character. If you feel that God has purposed for you to use A.C.E, then stick by that decision and support your son – encouraging him all the way – through the transition. Like I said, start at the beginning (1st grade), that way he will not feel overwhelmed. His confidence will build as he learns a new way of working math. It’s also a great lesson to learn that there are other ways of working/tackling a task that will give you the same result thus teaching them flexibility and adaptability.

            Also look at your reason for using A.C.E. For us we wanted a Christ centered curriculum which honored God and built character. It also needed to give our girls the opportunity to get a school leavers certificate of International recognition and excellent standard without having to sit secular exams. A.C.E fits the bill for our family. I think that you need to have a strong conviction in order to stay the course on the resources that God led you to. There is a universe of curricula out there and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there is the ‘perfect’ curriculum out there and it is one that you don’t have! It is a slippery slope that will cause you to spend loads of money and could end up causing large learning gaps etc. Also – you know your children better than anyone else. God gave your children the perfect mother for them – you! You know what they need and you know what is best for them. You will find that there are many people with plenty of opinions (yes, even in homeschooling circles) which is why you need to have a clear vision for your homeschooling journey.

            Blessing in Christ,
            Shirley

  • Laura May 26, 2014, 7:33 pm

    Hi Shirley,
    First I would like to say a big thank you to you and the others for your posts regarding ACE. It has been such a God sent as I have been recently searching for someone who really used or is using this curriculum.
    I have had a lots of sleepless nights recently… Perhaps you could help me please?

    My son will be 7 in July and is currently in Y2 in UK. We have had the most horrendous time at school and finally decided to take him out from September. My son has been diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD, school now wants to give him another label of dislexia. Concentration even for shorter periods of time is a big challenge, working progress extremely slow, not due to luck of potential. He loves learning through books – to be honest he is collector of information. English, writing, spelling and maths is a bit of straggle.

    Friend of mine told me about ACE and I have been thinking about the program a lot.
    On one hand I like the fact that all is out there and so it gives a bit of sense of security in terms of not being behind or not missing something out.
    On the other hand, it looks a bit dry, just completing pages and pages. I was also shocked that it does not come with anything else, in other words it looks like very theoretical learning. I looked also at Sonlight that is exactly opposite on this one. So many books and practical stuff for reading, science and maths etc.

    So I guess my question is if in your opinion we could get through the system with child who needs to touch and experience more than see the material.
    Also, there is no way at the moment he can do any study on his own, we are simply so far away from that point.
    Lastly, I would like to add to the mix in terms of learning, pretty much what you are doing also. How are you managing with time? I guess my worry is that it will take him for ever to do the work we will not have time for any extras.
    Are your girls feeling that learning is fun through completing pages? My son at the moment is so switched off in terms of learning can be fun that I am a bit worried that pages of stuff might put him off even more.

    So sorry for all this, but I am really so unsure as to what to do. Should we try and see, should we buy different subjects from different providers…
    So much to learn and understand about homeschooling. Not sure where to even start.

    And so thank you very much in advance for any advice you could give me. I truly value your input.

    God bless you.

    Laura

    Reply
  • Jo Dunn June 17, 2014, 12:02 pm

    I would very much second the thoughts about curriculum being a ” tool”, not a master and I can see that your combination if ACE pace’s and other books and activities could work well, especially at secondary school level.
    HOWEVER, I must warn people that, whatever TEACH Europe may suggest in a UK setting the higher level ACE programme is very,very unlikely to be accepted by a university for entry . Apart from anything else there are a good number of future careers where a GCSE / IGCSE in English and Maths are essential, with no room for manoeuvre . ( e.g teaching qualification in the UK) . In addition , I am not sure the ACE approach prepares students enough for the interactive/ discursive elements of Higher Education, ( although of course an involved parent can mitigate for this.)

    Reply
    • Shirley June 19, 2014, 2:44 am

      Thank you so much for your comment Jo. I would always encourage parents to investigate course entry requirements no matter what curriculum they use. I agree there are certainly courses need very specific entry qualifications. If you wanted to study medicine here in the UK I think you would be hard pressed to meet the requirements by homeschooling at all. There are however plenty of A.C.E students who have been accepted into UK universities using A.C.E qualifications, I think it really depends on what the student is applying for. The fact remains however that parents and students (no matter what curriculum they use) should find out exactly what their chosen course and University requires {from the university themselves, not hearsay} of them and then steer their education towards meeting those requirements.

      Reply

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