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About Robinson Curriculum
I am not affiliated with, nor do I sell the Robinson Curriculum. I just think it can provide a good solution for people who say "I wish I could homeschool but..." (Particularly those who don't want to create their own curriculum.)
- How it works
- What it contains
- About the upgrade - extra books, differences (in flashcards), etc.
- Installing (and using) RC - don't miss this section!
- Installing on a Mac
- Must I follow it exactly, and adopt all the philosophies? - In a word, no.
- Why it might be the right answer for you
- Free RC forums - see what other people have to say about using RC.
- What you need to get started
- The Henty Books (optional)
- Estimated costs (and # of pages to print)
HOW IT WORKS
Learn about the Robinson Curriculum from the following sites, and learn how self-teaching works. (Note: Self-teaching is NOT the same as child-directed unschooling.)
Robinson Curriculum Official Site - The RC site is big, but it's good to take some time and learn about this before you decide to get started. You don't have to agree with all of his theories for the curriculum to work, but much of what he says is useful. (It's helpful to get a basic understanding of the curriculum before trying to tailor it to suit your family.)
A great way to start is to read the entire site. You can download the site in PDF format to print and read at your leisure. (The link is in the bottom right corner of their home page.) It's handy to have a printed copy of this (and the Course of Study) that you can highlight and write notes on. Then if you want to re-read something later, it's easy to go back to the important parts you've marked, and also read any notes you've written.
(Most of what's online is the same as what's in the "Course of Study" and "Application Guide" that come on the RC disks.)
Summary of RC - Much shorter than the RC site, but also written by Arthur Robinson, creator of the curriculum.
Self-Learning - Learn more about self-teaching / self-learning and its benefits, from Joann Calderwood. Her "About" section shares their story, and is very encouraging. The information on her site goes hand-in-hand with using RC.
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WHAT IT CONTAINS
The following is the contents of version 2.2. (See below for differences between 2.0 and 2.2.)
The following comes on 22 disks. The books are in tif and jpg format (because they are scans of the actual books), that's why it takes so much disk space. It's not just text, many of the books have pictures too. (Flashcards print on one side, then are folded over. Visit the tips page too see how to print them double sided.)
- Course of Study - 100 page guide explaining how the curriculum works, as well as suggestions for implementing it, and ideas for daily schedules.
- 49 SAT style exams - There are 26 exams that cover 22 of the required reading books (some books have more than one exam). There are also 23 bonus exams included, for supplemental books that aren't in the curriculum, but which you may want your children to read. (Princess and the Goblin, Princess and Curdie, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia.)
- Visit the archived Joyful Light page to see which tests come with RC, and find many more tests there as well. (If a test page doesn't work, try refreshing that page, or choosing an earlier date from the archive bar at the top.) This list is also sorted by reading level.
- 20% discount on Saxon Math - These math books are not included, and need to be bought separately to complete the curriculum. Use your RC serial # (located inside the CD case, near the back) to get a discount from the RC site. The discount also applies to those who bought RC used, even if you didn't buy the upgrade disk or tech support. (I contacted the company to verify this.)
- RC sells the older edition hardback text books and answers keys. Or you can buy paperback homeschool editions (from Amazon or elsewhere) which include the text book, a test and worksheet book, and the answer keys. (See "What you need to get started," below for which books to buy, and a link to the order form.)
- Math Facts Flashcards - students use these to learn their math facts, and then begin Saxon 5/4. These are printable in two formats. Or you can print My Math Facts Flashcards. They contain all the same problems as on RC, but are in PDF format, and they print double sided.
- Books - ready to print. (See the Book List here.)
- 157 Core Reading books - #1-157
- 6 Science textbooks - #200-207. All the required science texts. 3 are required, but there are also 3 extra books included for advanced students (and 2 titles are separately listed answer keys). The books cover physics and chemistry, but no biology. (You could use this free biology book, or there are other free textbooks online.)
- 79 Supplemental reading books - #300-378
- Language Skills - materials ready to print
- Phonics Flashcards to supplement a phonics program
(see my links page for free phonics programs)
- Penmanship Practice Pages (manuscript and cursive)
- A Grammar Course (Professor Klugimkopf's Old-Fashioned English Grammar)
- A Spelling Course (Professor Klugimkopf's Spelling Method)
- Vocabulary Flashcards - Printable in 3 formats. Flashcards for all 6,400+ words.
- Vocabulary Exercises Book - For each book that has vocabulary words there are the following: A vocabulary/definition list, 2 word searches (one has the word as a clue, one has the definition as a clue), a crossword puzzle, and a matching game (can also be used as a test). 146 of the 157 core books have a corresponding set of vocabulary words.
- Vocabulary Computer Drill - to use on the computer.
(The grammar, spelling, and vocabulary exercise books are available for purchase from Robinson Books.)
- Reference Materials - could print parts if you wanted to, but these books are so long that they're best to use on the computer.
- 1611 King James Bible (available online - see links page)
- 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (available online - see links page)
- 1913 Webster's Dictionary (available online - see links page)
You can read a more detailed description of RC's contents at the RC site.
If you prefer to make your own similar materials, look at my links and free books pages to find suitable replacement resources. (The free books page includes links to free RC books online, if you prefer printing them from text or HTML format.)
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ABOUT THE UPGRADE
Upgrade from 2.0 to 2.2 - Read about the upgrade and buy it here.
There are two buying options on the RC web site. The upgrade disk is $40 (or was, last time I checked).
If you bought the 2.0 curriculum used you have the option of buying the exact same disk for $80, the extra cost being for RC's tech support. (But you can get all the free tech support you need at one of the free forums. You may also find answers to your question by scrolling down to read tips on installing and running the software.)
What you get with the upgrade:
When you buy the upgrade you are only buying one CD - a replacement disk # 1. Disk 1, in either version, installs the program. Then you use the program to view the books that are stored on the other 21 CDs. So even if you didn't have the other 21 disks, disk one alone would still give you all of the following material. Below I have listed everything that is on disk 1 for the different versions. Some material is the same, some is different.
* If you own 2.0 and install the 2.2D free update, the software will list all the books on version 2.2, even if they aren't on your 2.0 disk. (The spelling, grammar, and vocabulary books, and the reformatted versions of the flashcards.) If you want those extra items, you'll need to buy the 2.2 upgrade disk.
|Version 2.0||Version 2.2|
|Course of Study (how to use RC)||Revised Course of Study (how to use RC)|
|Volumes 1-3 of the Encyclopedia||Volumes 1-3 of the Encyclopedia|
|All 51 book exams||All 51 book exams|
|Penmanship Practice||Penmanship Practice|
|Phonics Flashcards||Phonics Flashcards|
|Math Flashcards||Math Flashcards (original, plus reformatted)|
|Vocabulary Flashcards||Vocabulary Flashcards (original, plus reformatted)|
| ||Grammar course|
| ||Spelling course|
| ||Book of Vocabulary Exercises|
|If you install 2.0 with the free update you also get the features listed below:
*download free update (v. 2.2D) - works for 2.0
|I believe 2.2 comes with the options listed below, without using the update. But I may be wrong, and it's always a good idea to use the latest version anyway. So click here to *download free update (v. 2.2D) - works for 2.2|
|Vocabulary computer drill program||Vocabulary computer drill program|
|New printing option - skip pages that have dark pictures and no text.||New printing option - skip pages that have dark pictures and no text.|
What's the difference in the flashcards? - The old math flashcards are laid out in a horizontal format. So they look like 1+1=2. The new ones can be printed that way, or in the vertical format, with the answer underneath.
The old vocabulary flashcards had the word and definition, or the word and sentence (but no definition). The new ones can be printed either of those two ways, or a third way which contains all of the following: the word, definition, a sentence, and also has the corresponding book number in the corner.
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INSTALLING (AND USING) RC - (You might not want to skip the section. It may be more useful than you think!)
You must Install the Program (from disk one, or the updated installation file online) to easily browse and print the RC books. This only installs the viewing software, and therefore does not take much space. Then you can open the RC program, select a book to view and insert the appropriate disk. (Can't tell if you have it installed? Look for a desktop icon, or in the start menu's programs.)
It is possible to browse all the CDs without installing, but you can only see one page at a time that way, and it's not how the disks were intended to be used. So make sure you install the program, not just put a disk into CD drive. Here's how:
To install - First download the update from the RC site. The upDATE is NOT the same thing as the upGRADE disk. The update installs the program. (So does Disk One, but the update works better, and adds the "skip D" option, and the vocabulary drill, which aren't on the disk).
When you download the update, it will be saved to your computer as a ".exe" file. It works whether or not you own the Henty disks. There used to be two separate versions, one with the Henty list, and one without. It looks like now they've changed it to just one program, but it works either way. After downloading, double click on that file, and follow the directions on your screen to finish installation.
Using with a newer operating system (like Vista / Vista x64 / Windows 7) - If you've done all of the above and are still having trouble, right click on the RC icon (on desktop, or: in Programs menu, click on the folder, and then right click on the RC icon). Next, click "Properties," and then click the "Compatibility" tab. Check the box in "Compatibility mode" and select a version of Windows XP from the drop-down menu (such as Windows XP Service Pack 2).
To install from Disk One (the old way) (If you use Windows 98 or later, use the online update. If you have a very old OS, use these directions to install from disk one.)
- Insert Disk One (Version 2.0 or 2.2, or your 2.2 upgrade disk) into CD-Rom drive. If it does not begin running itself, then do the following: Click "Start", then "Run". In the box, type the name of your CD (or DVD) drive followed by ":\setup". For example, if your CD drive is d, then you type "d:\setup", then click OK. Follow the directions on your screen to finish installation.
Option: Copy All Disks to Your Hard Drive - Download and run the Robinson CD Copier. This makes it so you don't have put in any disks to see all of the RC content, and use the software. All the material from every disk will be loaded onto your computer. (You can also do this manually, without the CD Copier.)
Now, how do I open and use the software? - Once properly installed, you can start the software by clicking on the Robinson Curriculum desktop icon, or by selecting it from your Startup menu. (To do that, click "Start/All Programs/Robinson Curriculum/Robinson Curriculum")
You now also have access to a few other files you may find useful. Click "Start/All Programs/Robinson Curriculum" and you then have your choice to do one of the following: 1) open the RC software. 2) view the Application Guide. 3) read the Getting Started file. 4) connect to the RC website, or 5) uninstall RC.
The "Application Guide" explains the features of your software and how to use them. (How to view, print, find logs, etc. Includes screen shots so you know what the program looks like while running.) You can also read the Application Guide online.
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INSTALLING ON A MAC - The official Robinson Curriculum site offers this section for Mac users.
Another option: The RC site used to refer to this downloadable Mac version at softanswer.com. Be sure to also read the manual there for installation and user instructions. The software installs a reader for you to view and use the books with. You will still need your disks to load these books. This reader should work for the Henty books as well. (The link takes you to the archived page.)
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MUST I FOLLOW IT EXACTLY, AND ADOPT ALL THE PHILOSOPHIES?
No. There are many families who adapt this curriculum to fit their own beliefs / schedules, etc., and they are pleased with the results. Follow it as much or as little as you like. Don't forget that YOU are your child's parent, and you can know what's best for them. What may be best in one home is not necessarily what's best in another. Any curriculum should be seen as a tool for you to use as you see fit. You should always be the one in control of the curriculum, not the other way around.
If you want to substitute books, or even skip some, then do. It's also fine to change the order in which the books are read. If you prefer to be more involved than the program suggests, then go for it! Choose the days and hours that suit your situation, and you decide about nutrition and entertainment for your own child.
You don't have to follow all the RC philosophies to provide a great education. Do what feels right for you (with all aspects of the curriculum). Your instincts are probably better than you think!
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IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?
Here are a few characteristics of this curriculum that might appeal to you.
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- Simple, yet highly effective
- More affordable than many other options.
- Adaptable. It can be used with other teaching methods (like Charlotte Mason, Thomas Jefferson, etc). You can use substitute books if you feel like it, change the schedule around, be more involved in the process, etc.
- It's complete. Buy this and the math books and you have all 13 years covered.
- Can be used for students of different abilities. They get to work at a pace that's appropriate for them.
- Doesn't overschedule your child (they stick to the basics, but are using their time efficiently enough to be learning a vast amount).
- Doesn't require an overly large amount of time from the parent. (No preparing daily lessons and standing in front of the "class" all day. It's not an imitation of public school. Many parents prefer being more involved than RC suggests, and yet still find it doesn't take a huge amount of their time.)
- The "Course of Study" provides instructions for how to use the material, and gives a suggested daily schedule.
- No more "homeschool burnout". (What good is a curriculum that eventually causes you to send your children back to public school?)
- You don't have to be super smart. (Though I'm sure you're smarter than you think!) The books do the teaching, so the child will be learning regardless of how much you know. (And hey, you can take the opportunity to learn with them!)
- Provides high quality literature. These books teach rich vocabulary. They are also of a higher moral quality than you'll find in public school, or in some other curricula.
- It's a self-teaching curriculum, which teaches children how to learn, enabling them for the rest of their lives.
FREE RC FORUMS
If you'd like to know what other people think of RC, how they use it, and find answers to many common questions, try looking through one of these support groups:
Robinson Forum - at the official RC site. For anyone to use; no registration necessary.
Robinson Users For Christ - A Yahoo group that you have to join first, for free. (You can always "unjoin" later if you prefer.) They also have many free files you may find useful, if you decide to use RC. And they also sell used homeschool materials there.
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WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED
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- RC curriculum - brand new 2.2 for $195, or buy used, with our without adding the upgrade.
- A laser printer - Mine was under $300 (early 2006). See the printing section.
- Some paper for printing (buy by the case to save money), and also lined paper for daily writing.
- A way to bind - (See binding methods.) This can be as simple as a 3-hole punch and a binder for each child, or you can make them more like "real books".
- A way to learn post-WWI history. This curriculum is made up primarily (not completely) of copyright-free books (published before 1923). So you'll need a way to teach current events. (Some of the books are newer and cover govt/economics and science.) For post WWI-history, you can find plenty on the internet, or you could buy a book about 20th century history.
- One site that may be useful is American Cultural History: The Twentieth Century from Lone Star College-Kingwood Library. For more of a worldwide view, you could try PBS's Timeline of 20th Century Events. Some items have links to further info. This list could serve for at least an outline of more subjects to look into.
- Math book(s) - depending on the age of your child. No math books are needed until they have memorized their math facts, using the flashcards. Instead of buying all at once, buy as needed. (Remember that RC offers a 20% discount. See the order form for prices and further details.)
- RC recommends the following books: Saxon 5/4, Saxon 6/5, Saxon 7/6, Saxon 8/7, Saxon Algebra 1/2*, Saxon Algebra 1, Saxon Algebra 2, Saxon Advanced Mathematics, and Saxon Calculus. *BUT you may not need Algebra 1/2.
- According to the Well-Trained Mind forum, the Saxon company stated the following: "Math 8/7 is the first of the pre-algebra texts, is very comprehensive, and should not be skipped. If a student does well in Math 8/7 (consistently scoring 85% or better on the cumulative tests) he can go directly into Algebra 1. However students who struggle in Math 8/7 should then take Algebra 1/2 for more practice in the fundamental skills of pre-algebra. The goal is to send a strong student into algebra 1. Students who stumble into algebra 1 tend to struggle throughout high school in math, whereas students who enter algebra 1 well prepared tend to do well all the way through high school math." (Emphasis added.)
- It was also said on that forum that new paperback versions of 8/7 cover what's in Algebra 1/2, but older hardcover editions didn't. I believe RC sells older edition hardbacks, so that would explain why they still recommend both books.
- An E-Reader (or multiple, for multiple children). This can eliminate the need to print most of the books, and readers are more affordable than ever. (See the Free Books Online page for links to the RC and Henty e-books.)
Note: Worried about eye strain? Read more here.
- FinePrint software, to simplify printing half size books. Use the free version, or buy with the teacher discount. E-mail and ask them about it. They offer it to homeschoolers. (Probably under $30 with discount.)
- Cardstock for printing heavy-duty fold-over flashcards, or for printing double-sided flashcards. (Learn how on the tips page.) You can do the fold-over cards on regular paper, if you choose.
- Some reference books - these aren't necessary, but I really like having them around. Amazon is always a great source, but for reference books you may prefer Barnes and Noble. Lots of these type of books are found in their bargain section, or are printed by BN themselves, and are nicely priced.
- A dictionary or two - (RC comes with one, but this way it's on hand without needing the computer). We bought an illustrated children's dictionary (Macmillan) from Walmart for under $10. And we splurged and bought an unabridged Webster's dictionary for $20, which was printed by Barnes and Noble. It is huge and I always find the word I need. It even has the old words from the RC books.
- Another children's dictionary that is more advanced than the Macmillan, but still good for younger students is the McGraw-Hill Children's Dictionary. Just keep in mind that it contains some information you may not want your youngest reading just yet. (If your little girls don't know about little boys yet, or vice versa, you may prefer the Macmillan for a while.)
- A general science book - Kingfisher has an encyclopedia of science (some people prefer Usborne's). Barnes & Noble has lots of books like this to choose from in their "bargain books" section. (We bought "4000 Things You Should Know" as a starter.) Newer science books often have evolution and environmentalism in them, but that's fixable. I took a black marker to the parts I didn't like. Or you can glue paper over any offending parts. It's probably better to have kids learn up-to-date science and just get rid of the incorrect parts, than to completely avoid science because part of the book is inaccurate.
- A general history book - We have "The Kingfisher Encyclopedia of History", which I can't wait to finish. Barnes & Noble has it for about $20-25. (Some people prefer Usborne's history book. It's organized geographically rather than just chronologically.)
- An atlas - One specifically for children might be fun. We bought one published by Barnes & Noble, called The Children's World Atlas, which was around $12-15 at the time. It has more than just maps, and is quite interesting, even to adults!
- Any extra literature you like - (particularly books still under copyright.) The Chronicles of Narnia, The Anne of Green Gables Series, and the Little House books are all popular with homeschoolers.
- It's also fun to have some books with nice, colored illustrations, at least for younger children. Those are books they'll treasure and remember even when they've outgrown what's written in them. (You probably already have a bunch of these!)
THE HENTY BOOKS (OPTIONAL)
You do not need to buy the Henty books. But they are available as an extra resource if you are interested. (And many are also available for free download.) Visit my Henty page to learn more about these books, see which are available online, and where to buy the CDs or books.
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I can provide prices, or estimates on certain things, but you will have to add up which options apply to you. For instance, I don't know if you need a new printer, or how much you would spend on a new one. But I can tell you how much I spent. And I don't know how much your toner costs, but I can give you a formula to figure out your own costs.
- Estimate of RC printing costs - Including the number of pages in the RC and Henty books. (This estimate is calculated based on my printing costs.)
- Calculate your own printing costs - A Fill-in-the-Blank formula to find your personal costs, rather than using my estimate.
Add together what you spend on the curriculum and the price of math books (these can both be bought used). Figure out how much it costs you to print per page, and you can estimate the cost of printing based on which books you think you'll print. Also see the Printing Page and read more about the benefits of using text files. They save you money by being on average only 56% of the size of an RC book (for the same book). Binding will be an added cost. It can be a little or a lot. That depends on your choice. For me I add in a sheet of cardstock for a cover and some laminating paper. (Which is only a few cents per book.)
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