Why We LOVE Using ACE PACEs ~ The Caffeinated Homeschooler Tags: ACE independent PACE School of Tomorrow homeschool science social studies math middle school grammar English spelling Bible curriculum

This post has been a work in progress. So much so that I have been taking notes and making lists (yes, I'm a list-maker!) to make sure I don't forget everything I want to cover in this post!
First, let me begin by telling you what we HAVE used prior to discovering ACE:
  • Abeka
  • BJU (both on our own and with the DVD program)
  • Mystery of History
  • Considering God's Creation
  • My Father's World
  • All unit studies/lapbooks
  • Unschooling
  • Charlotte Mason (including having daily copywork, weekly nature studies, short math and grammar lessons, read-aloud for history, and whatever else we threw in)
  • Tapestry of Grace
  • KONOS
  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature
  • Story of the World (a few times)
  • AOP Lifepacs
  • CLE's Light Units
As you can see, we've "been around the block" and have tried various methods/programs. NONE of them compare to ACE PACEs, and I can't emphasize that enough.
I should probably also point out here that I'm a full-time WAHM (work-at-home-mom). This means that I need to spend about 7.5-8 hours a day *working* instead of *teaching*. While many of you may not be WAHMs, I'm sure that you have things you could be spending 5-6 hours/day on besides teaching -- such as tending to younger siblings, working with early readers, housekeeping, whatever.
Back to why we love PACEs:
I want to start this part of my post out by talking about the mistakes I made prior to choosing to go with PACEs:
  1. Listening to naysayers. I have to say, MOST of the naysayers that I read were reviewers who have never actually used PACEs. Instead, they have looked at samples online and maybe even ordered one for to have at home. Either way, they've generally never actually implemented the program in their homeschool. This is what I call "the blind leading the blind," to put it nicely.
  2. Only viewing online samples. Like the naysayers, I, too only viewed online samples and had doubts about using ACE PACEs. Samples are great, but they only let you view a few pages instead of an entire PACE.
  3. Reading (at the ACE Ministries site as well as in reviews) how the program "should" be done and feeling bound to it. This was probably one of the biggest mistakes I'd made. According to ACE Ministries, the students are to do the PACEs on their own, score their own work, & also set "goal cards" for daily work. In our home, our children score their own work, go back and correct mistakes (which is crucial, I think), then rescore. If they still don't have the correct answer, they come to me and I go over it and explain their mistakes, etc.

    In addition, I review their PACE work *daily* and discuss what they've read/done that day sort of as a means to check comprehension.

  4. Getting caught up in "grade levels." This one always strikes me as a little odd coming from homeschoolers! For one thing, homeschoolers have no problem using programs that are multi-level/multi-grade (think Mystery of History, SOTW, Sonlight, etc.) These programs don't have a specific "grade" slapped on the cover of them, but parents will use them for grade levels that span 3-4 grades with no problem. Isn't that doing something that's "behind" with your oldest child? How can your oldest be doing the same thing as your youngest without someone being "behind" their grade level?

    One thing I absolutely LOVE about ACE PACEs is that there are no "grade levels" involved! They *have* created a manual for homeschoolers in which they have one page that tells you the PACEs that generally speaking would correspond with certain grade levels. Here's the thing: That's *their* idea of what corresponds to what grade levels. Other programs -- and *I* -- might have different ideas. Who CARES what they consider "5th grade" or "6th grade"???

    For this reason, ACE has created diagnostic tests so that your child can take a test and see where your child should be in the program. One complaint I've seen numerous times is "My 5th grader tested at a 7th grade level in ACE's Math curriculum! ACE is so behind other programs!" I'm sorry, but I have to laugh a little at that. Once again, ACE has decided what PACEs correspond with what grade levels -- but that's *their* opinion. So, if your 5th grader tests into 7th grade Math, put him into the "7th grade" Math PACEs! PACEs are numbered for a reason, this being one of them. And if you're thinking "but then he'll be ahead and won't have any Math beyond 10th grade (since he's testing two years ahead), you're WRONG. Check out ACE's Scope & Sequence and see all of the upper level Math options. Believe me, there are plenty of Math options at the upper level. A child who goes along with the ACE grade levels wouldn't even have time to finish all of them, unless he or she decided to continue doing Math after graduation.
Now I want to do a "Myth vs. Fact" segment related to ACE PACEs:
Myth: PACEs are too "easy" & kids doing them are "behind."
Fact: I've actually pretty much covered that above. Read the paragraph where I discussed diagnostic tests and how ACE PACEs will meet your child wherever he is.
Myth: Kids using ACE PACEs can easily cheat since they're scoring their own work.
Fact: For one thing, see #3 above. For another, my children know that they are allowed to look back when doing the regular work but that when it comes to Checkups, Self-Test, and the PACE test, they are absolutely, positively not allowed to look back. PERIOD.
Now, I suppose if you have a child who is prone to lying and cheating, then this system might not work for you. And, if that's the case, I'd suggest dealing with those heart issues immediately! However, MY children are very honest (No, this does not mean they are perfect, but one thing they are is trustworthy). Therefore, I trust and know that they are not "cheating" and looking back during Checkups, Self-Tests, and PACE tests.
Myth: All of the "fill-in-the-blank" in PACEs prevents kids from developing "critical thinking" skills.
Fact: For one thing, I completely disagree -- especially as the Literature/Creative Writing PACEs definitely have more than just "fill-in-the-blank" questions. For another thing, as I said above PACEs are not the only thing my kids use for their education. Simply put, they can develop "critical thinking" skills through the literature studies we do (outside of PACEs, as we have time) or unit studies we do (outside of PACEs, as we have time). However, if we DON'T have time for unit studies and literature units, it's okay because my children's entire education isn't contingent upon me making trips to the library, researching what I want to use for unit studies, deciding which of the TONS of awesome unit studies I want to use, etc -- which was the biggest problem when we tried to do "hands-on" education 100%. Not to be rude -- especially because this was ME at one time -- but those seem to be the parents who are perpetually "behind." (Again, I'm pointing the finger at *myself* here also.)
Oh, and about 2-3 times a week, as I'm checking PACEs, I stop and ask my kids my *own questions* (these would be the "critical thinking" questions) regarding what they've been doing. The fact that they can answer those questions and narrate stories they've read in Literature/Creative Writing lets me know that they ARE learning. However, if it's a busy night, I'm in a rush, etc. and I don't get the time to stop and ask them questions it's okay. Bottom line, they have done EVERY subject EVERY day and school actually gets done daily. THAT is what is most important to me!
Well, that about sums up why we love using ACE PACEs and why it's working fantastically for my family. If you've wavering and having doubts but *want* to like the curriculum, give it a try for at least two PACEs. Definitely take the diagnostic tests to see where your children should be, and go from there!
Final Thoughts:
Are you considering using ACE PACEs? Do you have some questions still? Feel free to leave a comment and ask, and I'd be happy to address those questions based on how we've made ACE PACEs work in our family!

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