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  1. #1

    Default Input on Layers of Learning and/or Guest Hollow?

    I am considering both of these programs for my son for grade 8 next year. The reasons they appeal:

    - he loves the idea of interactive web links and You Tube videos
    - he prefers living books to textbooks
    - he loves hands on/creative projects and activities
    - *I* need it all out together/planned out for me

    I would love some feedback between the two. I will admit, I've seen a few things in the LOL units I have that seem a bit oddly worded, including a lot of personal opinions interjected, that have me a bit wary, but.... wondering if it's easy enough to get past that?
    Last edited by disneyfreak3121; 03-03-2020 at 03:42 PM.

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  3. #2

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    I had never heard of either of them before. A glance at LOL and it tries to be science neutral, which is not secular. Guest hollow, the author mentions that her husband is a missionary in Japan (And her dates are all AD not CE). To me those are both signs theyre “pretending” to be secular.
    As far as book and video lists and activities, if they look good to you and you want to spend on that.... its up to you! Im not sure Id want either one if their voices being the ones my kids hear.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    We're actually Christian, so that doesn't bother me (their "voices"). Not sure what you mean by neutral science not being secular science?

  5. #4

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    I'm actually trying out Layers of Learning this month. We are enjoying it so far. Ds is actually interested in the topics presented so that is always a plus. The great thing about it, so far as being secular, is that none of the manuals are meant to be read to the child or read by the child. I haven't run into anything grossly religious and the suggested videos and books have all been lovely so far, many of them being selections I have used in the past so I know they fit in with our family's view of secular. I don't have an issue with adding in our own origins of man, the world, and the universe to our curriculum so I rather appreciate that I don't have to edit out someone else's world view in order to insert my own. It really seems to just leave those ideas, no matter what your opinion, open to your own interpretation and discretion. I like it.

    So if you were planning to hand LOL to your 8th grader and have him use it independently, you might be disappointed. It's more of an idea guide for the teacher than a curriculum you can have a student work in independently.

    I've used things from Guest Hollow before and they were always just "meh" for us. They got the job done but they were nothing exceptional. I do seem to remember there being some religion to edit out but I don't remember it being too intrusive. It's been a while since I've even looked at Guest Hollow so take my opinion for what it's worth to you.

    Oh, one last thing about LOL, I only bought the timeline tags for the Book of Years from LOL and made our own Book of Years page templates dated to include the geological history of the earth, the beginnings of life on earth and evolution of man preceding the history that is covered in LOL. We will add to the geological, evolutionary and prehistory sections here and there as we see fit in our studies or whenever we do a unit on those particular areas of study. I'm not gung ho on doing history precisely in order and we have already done a lot of age appropriate study on the origins of the universe so this setup works for us.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by MapleHillAcademy View Post
    I'm actually trying out Layers of Learning this month. We are enjoying it so far. Ds is actually interested in the topics presented so that is always a plus. The great thing about it, so far as being secular, is that none of the manuals are meant to be read to the child or read by the child. I haven't run into anything grossly religious and the suggested videos and books have all been lovely so far, many of them being selections I have used in the past so I know they fit in with our family's view of secular. I don't have an issue with adding in our own origins of man, the world, and the universe to our curriculum so I rather appreciate that I don't have to edit out someone else's world view in order to insert my own. It really seems to just leave those ideas, no matter what your opinion, open to your own interpretation and discretion. I like it.

    So if you were planning to hand LOL to your 8th grader and have him use it independently, you might be disappointed. It's more of an idea guide for the teacher than a curriculum you can have a student work in independently.

    I've used things from Guest Hollow before and they were always just "meh" for us. They got the job done but they were nothing exceptional. I do seem to remember there being some religion to edit out but I don't remember it being too intrusive. It's been a while since I've even looked at Guest Hollow so take my opinion for what it's worth to you.

    Oh, one last thing about LOL, I only bought the timeline tags for the Book of Years from LOL and made our own Book of Years page templates dated to include the geological history of the earth, the beginnings of life on earth and evolution of man preceding the history that is covered in LOL. We will add to the geological, evolutionary and prehistory sections here and there as we see fit in our studies or whenever we do a unit on those particular areas of study. I'm not gung ho on doing history precisely in order and we have already done a lot of age appropriate study on the origins of the universe so this setup works for us.
    So, so far you've found the facts accurate/correct etc? I ran into one case in one of the guides, where the information they were trying to present was done poorly, and the result was the information as it read, was wrong. It always makes me a little wary I guess to use curriculum written by the average Joe, as opposed to an expert of the field, kwim? However, that said, there is just so much that appeals to me about LoL, specifically the wealth of activity/writing ideas, things that I am just not good at coming up with.

  7. #6

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    That's the thing, it's more like a buffet where you take what you want and leave the rest. Even the author's state that they do not intend for you to use every activity. You pick a handful of activities or ideas from the guide to explore from each subject for each unit.

    I'm not sure what inaccuracy you ran into or where or if I even have the guide that you are talking about, I only have 1-1 through 1-4, but if they presented something poorly in the guide, I would either reword it properly when I present it to my kids (like I said the guide is not intended for you to read aloud to your child or for you to hand to them to read) or find a resource that I think does a better job of explaining the concept or just altogether skip it. There are lots of different ideas and activities in every unit and it is not the author's intention for you to cover them all, just the most interesting or most important ones to you and your family. There is no such thing as a perfect curriculum, even ones done by experts can have errors, omissions and just things that you plain disagree with for whatever reason or are poorly worded. It happens.

    I don't refuse to use something unless I feel preached to or that our families beliefs are being outright bashed by the authors. I also won't use a curriculum that bashes religion either because that is not the world view I want my children to have either. Whether I use something semi-religious or secular, if the errors or times that I disagree with the author are minor and few, I use it and just make any necessary adjustments. If the good seems to outweigh the bad, I will usually give it a chance if I think we will use it. That's how I came to giving Layers of Learning a chance this month. There are some things I don't like about it but overall, it seems like a good fit for us so we are giving it a shot. YMMV

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfreak3121 View Post
    Not sure what you mean by neutral science not being secular science?
    A science program is neutral if it avoids the topic of creation vs evolution altogether. In other words, it doesn't take sides at all and doesn't teach either. Some would argue that a neutral science program is secular by definition because it is devoid of religion. Others would argue that because neutral science programs do not teach evolution, it's not secular.

    So far, I haven't seen any religion injected into the science lessons of LOL. To me, that is secular and I'm fine with adding in our family's beliefs on evolution and how the universe came to be. Neutral vs secular really just comes down to what you are comfortable with and how much you are willing to add in on your own.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfreak3121 View Post
    I am considering both of these programs for my son for grade 8 next year. The reasons they appeal:

    - he loves the idea of interactive web links and You Tube videos
    - he prefers living books to textbooks
    - he loves hands on/creative projects and activities
    - *I* need it all out together/planned out for me
    I've looked at both of these very closely and strongly considered them as well. I think for points 1-3 either would be great options. For point 4 - you might find it doesn't really meet your needs. Both of them are really primarily lists of really awesome ideas. And both state right up front that they don't expect that you will do every single one of the suggested activities.

    So really it's up to you to look at the activities and suggested books, videos and other material and decide which would best fit your learner and your schedule. Guesthollow does schedule the resources to specific weeks and days for you but may have to be tweaked depending on what you decide to do and what you skip. LOL doesn't schedule it at all. You just read over all the options and decide what you want to do and what order to do it in, how much to attempt in one day, etc.
    Things you may want to consider...

    none of the manuals are meant to be read to the child or read by the child.
    I'm not sure about this in regards to Layers of Learning. Again I haven't actually used this and only closely read the free unit 1-1 but I got the impression that the article preceding the activities was mean to be read to/by the student - as a background or spine of sorts. But I suppose you wouldn't have to if you found a non-fiction book that covered the info you wanted to cover.

    The other thing about Layers of Learning that kind of bugs me is that it combines World & US History - and I love connecting the two, but have preferred to spend some years more intensely focused on US History. But the combining isn't the biggest issue as you can skip the parts that don't apply to US History if you wanted but it ends up skipping some important stuff IMHO. For example in Year 4 which covers all the way from post Revolution to present. There is a unit on the west before the Civil War which covers like Gold Rush and I'm assuming the Oregon Trail, but no unit post Civil War that covers the Homestead Act/ Homesteaders or Plains Wars, etc.(It's possible that these are included in the one unit - hard to tell.) and the next unit picks up with WWI - so totally skipping the Progressive Movement, US imperialism/Spanish American War, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. And it pretty much jumps from the Civil Rights movement to a unit on Terrorism (Gulf War and 9/11). So that's a big jump - IMO.

    So depends on how important a thorough study of American History is for you and if you're as OCD as me (Ha ).

    I think - and have seriously considered buying some LOL units as a list of fun activities to supplement the History Curriculum we are using. And I refer back to GuestHollow often for book ideas. Even for her paid curricula you can click for a list of the books used.

    So there's my 2 cents as someone who has never actually used either one but for whatever it's worth.

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Input on Layers of Learning and/or Guest Hollow?