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Monday, March 3, 2014

Why I chose My Father's World Curriculum

Congrats, you have made it through the soul searching process of deciding to home school ! Now WHAT to teach? I took years off my life searching and fretting over curriculum. Overwhelmed by all the options, I was sure I would ruin my kids' education (and life) if I picked the wrong one.  It came down to Sonlight and My Father's World.  Well, that isn't true.  I. Wanted. Sonlight.  I had a friend who used it and I was convinced it was right for us, but I could not afford it.

 I have a another friend who had home-schooled her four kids for six years who led me towards My Father's World.  I had seen My Father's World (MFW) online, but dismissed it thinking it was too  traditional for me. Thankfully she was patient with my search for other curriculum, and kindly showed  me the Kindergarten teacher's manual after I whined about how overwhelmed I was in my search. After looking at the Kindergarten Teacher's manual, I was hooked on the ease of the lessons and the gently Charlotte Mason inspired approach.

*Updated 2021
 We used my My Father's World from Kindergarten all the way through middle school, then switched to Sonlight for High School. Our reasons for switching are explained in updates below. I may go more in depth in a different post still to come.

Before I begin, please remember that no matter what curriculum you chose, remember your teacher's manual does not know your kids like you do!

Treat the teacher's manual like a smorgasbord, take from it what works for you, and leave the rest. I have been using MFW for 10 years, and never once used/done all the assignments in a given week.

I must say that NO CURRICULUM IS PERFECT, including My Father's World.   MFW is flexible because I can easily drop something from the manual, while still covering all learning bases for that day. You can visit my My Father's World page to see all the ways we have adapted My Father's world to work for our family, including supplements and work-boxes.

LEARNING AS A FAMILY (less work for mom)
If you have more than one child, this is a HUGE SELLER. The family cycle is the main selling point to me. After 1st grade (or 2nd depending on ages of kids), you start a family cycle you do Bible, History, Geography, and Science together as a family, then split for more individualized age-appropriate learning in Math and Language Arts.  I honestly can not imagine having to teach 2 different history lessons to two different kids...let alone 3+ kids that many families have.

You may think, how can my 6th grader learn the same science as my 3rd grader? MFW provides several books to read, and each child retains what is developmentally appropriate for their age.  While studying "Tundras", your older children may retain the characteristics of a tundra ecosystem, while your younger children learn about a pandas bear's camouflage.

Many grades are even set up for "tag-alongs", a.k.a toddler siblings who love to listen to all the great books. Your little one can listen to books about China, make paper lanterns, and eat fried rice with everyone; while your older child works on their student notebook pages during the toddler's nap time.

As children get older, there are 7th and 8th grade supplements that help you match your child's needs.  For example, in Exploring Countries in Cultures, after everyone reads about China and makes fried rice together, your 8th grader will have to independently write a country report.

Using one of the many Butterfly (Letter B) book suggestions to draw butterflies.
MFW  Kindergarten.


As I said before, I originally wanted Sonlight.  It is truly a great curriculum, I can not emphasize this enough.  But the cost was prohibitive for us when my children were younger.

MFW still has a Sonlight feel, but packages included all the essential books you will need for the year, for a 1/3 of the price of Sonlight.   

What we loved is MFW gives you several book options for each subject in their "Book Basket" lists so there is no need to buy the books when I can borrow them for free, and you  can read any or all that are available at your library.

My Father's is also less expensive than many others because it's a one classroom style, meaning you only have to buy one curriculum for your whole family (depending on age of course), so your cost will be much lower.

There were some free options when I started homeschooling fourteen years ago, but free usually meant online, and I've studied early childhood brain development for too long to be ok with all screen curriculum. I do use several free homeschooling resources  as supplements and a few subjects, but not my core subjects and not until until my kids were in at least second grade. 

*Updated 2021
Father's World is no longer the middle ground in price. They are still not as expensive as Sonlight, but their costs has increased significantly in the past few years.

I still believe when you are homeschooling a large group of multi-age students, MFW is still a pretty good cost per student, I just can no longer say it is the most budget friendly

One of my biggest disappointments is not only did MFW raise its prices significantly, they also eliminated the basic verus deluxe options when purchasing. The basic package included all your core subjects, and the deluxe had extra fine arts and some elective supplies.

As someone who never used the deluxe items for a myriad of reasons, I'm deeply disappointed in this choice. It forces the parent to either buy books & resources they won't use ,or worse, feel they have to use EVERY resource they buy. This puts undue pressure on the parent, and take away some of the flexibility that I have loved about MFW in the past. 

My Father's World's utilizes a portion of their profits for translating the Bible into different languages. This was game changer in my process, and has kept me from wasting hours looking for used curriculum. I feel comfortable paying their extremely reasonable prices straight from their website because I know my money is being used in wonderful ways around the world.

To see their work around the world go to MFW site-

My Father's World has been perfect for us in elementary and middle school because it intertwines Unit Studies, Traditional, and Charlotte Mason approach  throughout all the grades. I have felt the freedom to leave out, or emphasize, the approach that works best for each child, or season in our life, without having to buy a separate curriculum.

For Example, one of my children will zoom through his student sheet (more Traditional approach) in about 5 minutes, while the other spends 15 to 20 minutes painstakingly finishing his beloved sheets.We all enjoy cooking the foods from the country we are studying in Social Studies (Unit Studies). Both of my kids are bookworms, and will sit and read the book basket of living books for hours (Charlotte Mason).

If your  kids are not big readers, MFW differs from Ambleside Online/Pure Charlotte Mason because the book-basket is not an essential part of the day, but a supplement to your main reading during your together time.

*Updated 2021
We started with MFW for High School and was very surprised and sad that the high school no longer embraced the learning styles we had come to love.  More on that in the "Pretty Pretty Books section"

For more on different Education Philosophies, and what you may lean towards in your house, see this post, Five Homeschooling Styles.
Charlotte Mason Style Handwriting Copywork

Originally I was leaning towards Sonlight because of all the pretty books (children's books are my Achilles heel).  Sonlight's main selling point is it's literature based and each package includes ALL the books your children will read for the year. While this is awesome, it is also very expensive, and doesn't give you flexibility in the books you read.

With all My Father's World packages, all the essential books you need are included in your package, but MFW also gives you huge optional/ supplemental book  list called your "Book Basket". Sometimes we reserve ALL the books in the Book Basket, sometimes none.  It is a completely optional, but wonderful resource to have.

I can pick and choose books from the long list of options in the "Book Basket", depending on what is available at my library or what I think will interest my kids. I also use the "Book Basket" list as a jumping off point for my library search.  If the library doesn't have that exact book in the list, I can find a similar book on the same topic.

With the ability to reserve library books online and pick up at the branch closest to me, choosing MFW over Sonlight saved us hundreds of dollars. We all look forward to our bi-weekly Monday afternoon trip to the library, and the boys picked their own books as I pick up the books we will need for the next two weeks.

The family cycle is full of living books as you study history of our nation and the world, which is the incorporation of my beloved Charlotte Mason philosophy. You learn about history and social studies, while filling your reading requirements for the day.

*Updated 2021
We have always loved how many different History non fiction "spine" resources and living books suggestions My Father's World provided, but when we started ninth grade it feels as it they believe high schoolers all now old enough to  learn with the traditional. We are back to one main textbook spine for History, and very few living book recommendations (I've had to compile my own living book lists for the times we are studying). 

Since ninth grade spine is also the Old Testament, it is another history "spine", but you use Notgrass History Textbook as your main lens of processing all of your reading, history,  and literature.

I'm not ok with presenting only one perspective of History, especially when the resources in regards to history has obvious Nationalism tendencies. In Ancient World for ninth grade we are a little safer from this since the Old Testament is to integral, but setting the precedent for only one main History textbook is not ok with after some of what I've experienced with MFW in the past.

I have seen Christian Nationalism tendencies and outright bias in several of the books MFW has recommended, especially during "Exploration to 1850" of the family cycle (see post here), but it has always been easy to not use those, or turn it into a conversation about critical thinking in regards to history (see post here). In the MFW ninth grade the student in reading one main Notgrass Textbook independently. They recommend the teacher try to read the same pages on their own, but it isn't set up to have the spur of the moment conversations about obvious historical bias like in the past.  

We are using the rest of the 9th grade MFW because I already bought it and it isn't terrible for Ancient History (see post on how to homeschool on a budget), but I can no longer say I love MFW for high school and am looking into options for next year. 

Everything has meaning! No subject stands alone. My Father's World is closely related to Unit Studies because so many subjects relate back to one another, especially in kindergarten and family cycle.

While studying "K" in kindergarten, we integrated science & art by making Kangaroo pouches, Bible with biblical truth that "God keeps us safe", and literature with story books in the book basket about Kangaroos.
K for Kangaroo Pouches
In second grade, we studied how yeast works in science as we studied Jesus was The Bread of Life in Bible.

In third grade family cycle (Exploring Countries and Cultures), when you visit Mexico you can learn to make homemade tortillas in social studies,  study desert animals in science, and read about Latin American missionaries in Bible.


If you are a mom that needs structure, MFW is for you.  If you are a mom that wants the ability to be flexible, MFW is for you.

I have heard many moms say they started with an Open and Go curriclum like MFW, but as they grew more confident, they made up their own curriclum.  While I have grown more confident, my basic personality as not changed.  I am an ENFP homeschooling mom, which means I need structure or I get distracted very easily.  It also means I do not like strict rules and inflexible structure, so I need freedom to be flexible.
MFW does both for me.

The teacher's manual is laid out in a teacher-friendly way, and all the subjects to compliment each other well and flow well for that day.  For those of you who like to check off boxes, there are pretty little boxes for you to know you did all you need for that day!

 I stay on track by following the well thought out sequence, but I need to have flexibility to not do every little thing listed in my manual.  I can add my own supplements for art and music easily, without losing a lot money or adding too much work to our day. I can skip Bible Memorization, because my kids are in AWANA and BSF.

Math and Language Arts are NOT bundled in older grades. Like I said above in money, we buy the basic package. Their package structures gives me the freedom to find the right math for my kids' learning styles. MFW recommends Singapore math, but since it is not included in the basic or deluxe package,I can easily purchase another distributor without loosing money.  We use Math-U-See because I prefer the Mastery Approach as opposed to the Spiral Approach in Singapore. The hands on learning and DVD of MUS are great for my visual and kinesthetic learners.

*updated 2021
Due to the elimination of the basic and deluxe package options, I have found less flexibility built into MFW. We still loved it, but if we had not had that option we would probably have felt much more pressure to use ALL of what we had bought.

Remember that your teacher's manual is not God.

How to Survive your first year of homeschooling

My Father's World Organization and Resources 

Some post contain affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting my site at no extra cost to you. 


  1. Thank you for this! I have a kindie and 2nd grader. We are using the 2nd grade Sonlight while hodgepoding the kindie curriculum, and I am considering purchasing something a little more structured for the kindie, but it's hard to fork down the money for Sonight for kindie. Maybe I'll give MFW a try for kindie and see how it goes!

  2. Have you used the ECC yet? If so are you wanting to sell it? I'm looking for it used. :D you can email me, if so,

  3. Interesting to read your comparison. Sonlight and MFW are the ones that first caught my eye when attending my first homeschool book fair when my oldest was 2. I really liked all the educational toys that MFW recommended for preschool, but it was to much "stuff" as we were getting ready to move overseas. I liked the idea of Sonlight, but thought it was to expensive. Then I watched 2 friends use Sonlight overseas, and appreciated that it was "everything included." I wonder how the cost compares when you don't have access to a library.

    1. We did not use MFW Preschool, we tend towards school of life and lots of books during those times. The cost for someone who does not have access to a library is a good point. . In My Father's World , everything IS INCLUDED, the book basket is supplemental . All essential books are included in your MFW package, and they are absolutely wonderful and can easily fill your day. We have had weeks where we picked up no books from Book Basket List, and some weeks we got them all. That said, the Book Basket adds a lot to the curriclum and is highly recommended.

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  5. As one who has used MFW and Sonlight (and Tapestry of Grace), I agree with all your points. The expense is high, and I found our life with two in middle school and a PreK and toddler doesn't work well for endless read-alouds. Unless passing the book off to one of the kids to continue while mama runs to see who keeps flushing the toilet counts...

    I will say that we haven't ever gotten hooked on the book basket. I'm not sure if my kids aren't as curious as others (they *are* -- about what will flush down a toilet! ahem), or perhaps the books are more geared toward elementary students. I don't feel like we've missed a lot by not doing it, though the few weeks we tried *I* sure loved looking at the books! So point being: the book basket, like you said above, isn't essential, and *any* books on the week's topic from the library could be subbed for the MFW recommendations.

    1. Thanks for your insight, it is good to hear from someone who has done both! We have heard also that your library as a lot to do with how much you use the books basket. I think I use the book basket as a jumping off point for searching our well-stocked library. Our online library catalog will suggest books that are similar to one I looked up, so we reserve those too.

      I have to say that this year's book basket (Creation to The Greeks) has not been as exciting as in year's past. There has been multiple weeks (months) where I haven't gotten any books from the list. Last year's plethora of cultural and cook books from each country we studied (Exploring Countries and Cultures) spoiled us.

  6. Thank you soo much. We are going to do our first year of MFW this fall, starting with ECC. I was titter-tottering between MFW and another similar curriculum. My hubby likes that you get all the core books in the package. I am really looking forward to this coming school year and since we do year around, I am not sure of I can wait to start! Your post was very encouraging and reassuring!