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Ten Reviews of the Simply Classical Curriculum - plus Cathy Duffy's review

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    Ten Reviews of the Simply Classical Curriculum - plus Cathy Duffy's review

    We received a request for reviews of the Simply Classical Curriculum. You can now read an updated, condensed compilation below. At the end, please find the recent review by Cathy Duffy.


    Level A

    Michelle, from Michelle's Musings blog

    I truly believe Level A has helped his oral skills more than anything else. It gave me exactly what I was looking for, something concrete to do with him to work on oral language skills. He has just grown so much in his vocabulary when we work with him on his lessons. I love watching him run to our Days of the Week wall to tell me what the next day of the week is (and he's even kind of starting to tell me what the day is before I have him repeat it). It's just amazing to see how much he knows and understands, despite his low oral language ability, born 3 months early at 2.5#

    The daily activities include the following; a prayer (that changes every few weeks so they can really learn each one), weather chart, days of the week calendar, counting, the alphabet and a memory verse (it's the same one the whole curriculum). My son adores doing the weather chart and the days of the week calendar. We heard his first phrases ever with the weather chart ("It's cloudy," and "It's sunny."). Lately he has even been saying weather after I prompt him to go to his chart. This morning the whole walk to his bedroom (we keep the chart by his bedroom window) he was saying weather over and over again while he walked over to it.

    The books that were chosen for the weeks are wonderful.... The lesson plans are great and pulling different aspects out of the pages of the book. Some of the things they pull out are counting, colors, animal names and sounds, emotions and other simple concepts or word groups. There are prompts in the lessons to get your child to respond to things in a particular way to encourage certain vocabulary. Then there are other activities that focus on fine and gross motor skills. One week in the lesson, he got to cut up a banana (with supervision of course) and make his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Another week we ran around the house like we were different animals, galloping, waddling and such. It just really depends on what the story is what kind of activity is suggested. There is a wonderful variety of activities!

    Since the beginning of the curriculum what changes have I observed in my son's abilities? Well, he is saying a lot more words, he's started being more spontaneous in his speech (when we started he only spoke when prompted too, now he will say words or 2 word phrases because he decided to as opposed to being told to) andI just get to see his little face light up each time we read a book. We have continued speech therapy, though we have gone down to every other week instead of every week; even his therapist has noticed a great increase in his vocabulary since we started working with him on this curriculum.

    I have found this curriculum to be the perfect fit for our needs. If I pull out his lesson book for the week he immediately comes over and plops down in my lap.


    Kim, about Level A and her family's newly adopted small child with special needs

    I stumbled upon the Simply Classical Curriculum last fall and purchased the teacher's manual for level A for our little Nathaniel. He was placed with us through foster care in 2013. With his adoption finalized, he is 28 months now.

    ... As his second birthday approached last November, I decided to take a peek at what is out there for preschool. That was when I found your material. I just wanted to thank you for the product. [T]he curriculum is the gentle approach to early learning we need right now. It compliments my own educational preferences developed over the years (I already had so many of the books!), fits well with Nathaniel's therapies, and offers an easy weekly layout for his day nurse and I to share. Thank you.

    Elaine, about Level A and her 14yo with autism

    Our son is 14. He has low-functioning autism, is non-verbal, has auditory processing disorder, has involuntary muscle spasms, sensory integration disorder, and sleep disorder.

    I was very excited last year to find the book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child. I have been using Level A of the Simply Classical Curriculum with my son since last September. [Before this,] I was so discouraged and ready to put him in public school. Your book and curriculum have been part of an answer to prayer....

    To help him understand, I take pictures of things, especially food, which is highly motivational for him. I create albums from which he can make choices. I make other picture albums to prepare him if we are going out somewhere, and we use pictures to explain the activities of school. Although some days end in tears (mine), God comforts me, as I teach my son. I love Psalm 139. Thank you for your book.


    Erika, headmistress of a classical school

    We love the way the Simply Classical Curriculum flows
    . It's easy for teachers to understand to use in the classroom every day. We used SC Level A in our two-year-old preschool program this year. It works great for preschoolers of all ability levels. We really liked the kinesthetic activities with the reading curriculum.


    Brit, from the Sandbox to Socrates blog

    ...The final, and the most beautiful, piece to the puzzle for Kate’s early preschool education is the new Simply Classical Curriculum from Memoria Press.... Based on her book, Cheryl Swope is designing classical curriculum for special needs children.

    We have begun working through the first level with Kate this summer. We start each day with a prayer from the beautiful Little Golden Book Prayers for Children. When we talk about the baby birds and mama bird on the page, Kate practices her speech and her signing. From there, each day includes basic calendar activities (days of the week and weather), counting and alphabet recitation, as well as beginning memory work from Scripture. We then read the book of the week. Cheryl Swope has chosen wonderful books from authors including Beatrix Potter, Richard Scarry, Eric Carle, and Margaret Wise Brown, among others. Because these are board books, they are perfect for little hands and allow Kate to practice her fine motor skills by turning the pages for me.

    Fine and gross motor, oral language, and other therapies are wrapped into the weekly readings. We practice making a pointing finger to count objects; we jump, squat down, and push strollers to act out parts of a story; we discuss feelings and learn empathy while learning to read emotions on the faces of the characters. Cheryl Swope has taken those skills that need explicit instruction and woven them beautifully into activities springing out of the books we are reading. She has captured special needs preschool and bottled it inside something true, good, and beautiful.

    We knew early on that Kate needed an early start to build a foundation that came easily for her brothers. We knew her development was an uphill climb from the beginning. But we also knew that given the skills, the input, and the time, she would be able to fly.... For us, that takes the form of early reading instruction, explicit math instruction, and a beautifully written preschool special needs curriculum. And she is thriving.


    Level B

    "My Little Wonders"

    I just wanted to say how much we are enjoying the books - first from Level A and now in Level B. Kate has begun to enjoy longer stories.... And a special note on Owl Babies. Recently, she has been asking us to read it to her all the time. We obliged, mostly because she is so cute saying "Mommy" at the end of Bill's lines. I've had to tell anyone who reads it to her (dad, brothers, and the young woman who comes and plays with her once a week) to stop after Bill says, "I want my ... " because Kate will chime in. Yay for encouraging oral language!

    Thank you for choosing such wonderful books, and for choosing ones that challenge our children just enough to gently push them in their growth and development.


    "CherryBlossom" of CreativeMadnessMama blog

    We are having great success with the gentle approach of the Simply Classical Curriculum Level B.

    Last fall I started using Level B with OrangeBlossom and she loves it. In the past month she has started to want more, and now I think I am going to go ahead and order Level C.

    This curriculum is derived from the inspiration of the book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child by Cheryl Swope, which I would recommend to anyone. Whether your child is diagnosed, different, or apparently average there is much wisdom in these pages.


    Level C


    We are working in Level C with our 6-year-old son and things are going GREAT.... His verbal output, processing, temperament, fine motor, organizational thinking, understanding, ability, PEACE and ENTHUSIASM have soared. We have a different child now. He is making actual conversation! (!!!!!)

    We absolutely LOVE IT and are seeing so much excitement, improvement, willingness to learn, and comprehension open up for him. Not enough good things to say. It has been such a blessing to find this curriculum. Total answer to prayer.

    Every homeschooling parent has the overwhelming responsibility to educate their children, whose formation relies primarily upon their guidance, but much more so with a special needs family. These factors raised my stress to a level that was, frankly, beginning to become unmanageable. I needed something guided and developed by someone who had gone before me and knew what it was like to educate a struggling learner and who had developed a curriculum that anticipated their unique challenges. But all the programs I'd researched before were not a good fit for the beautiful, rich, quality education my husband and I want for our children.

    But trying to piece together something for his "kindergarten" year had been a BEAR. Memoria seems to have thought of eveything -- SO, SO GRATEFUL. W's fine motor has improved greatly with daily, gentle, slow and steady, printing practice and he even likes to use scissors now -- something I could NOT get him to do before.

    Do you know what a MIRACLE this feels like to me and to our family? Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly did not think these words would be coming out of my mouth this time last year. I was trying to do homeschool by myself, piecemeal, and we were making progress, but there were so many "holes" I didn't know how to fill in his learning that I was overwhelmed. This curriculum has been a true answer to prayer. Not enough good things to say, truly. Thank you!


    Beth from ClassicalConversationsatHome wrote, "Here are my favorite parts about the curriculum:"

    1. Ease of use. Everything is organized in lists: read-aloud books, craft and school supplies, and memory work. Each week is divided into daily lessons with detailed plans, including approximately how much time should be spent on each section. Need help starting socratic questioning? Follow the sample questions in the lesson plans.

    2. Flexibility. The pace is slower and allows for additional practice or optional year-round schooling.

    3. Thoroughness.
    The lesson plans guide you through teaching the material using the trivium approach with a multi-sensory presentation. The subjects are integrated and themed.

    Considering this curriculum for your family? Look at the Memoria Press site for sample lesson plans, readiness checklists, supply lists, and skills to develop.


    Cathy Duffy said this about the Simply Classical Curriculum:

    "Memoria Press has begun creating the Simply Classical program, complete year-long packages for teaching children with special needs beginning as young as ages two or three. 'The rich beautiful content of a classical Christian education designed to promote wisdom, virtue, and eloquence within the Christian context of forgiveness, mercy, and salvation' reflects Memoria Press’s dedication to both classical and Christian education. While they still use grammar level techniques (based on the trivium approach) with oral repetition and recitation, they do so through stories, songs, and activities in a playful manner.... The heart of each year’s program is the Simply Classical Curriculum Manual with its step-by-step instructions for teaching all subject areas. Each package has core resources for teaching in a gentle manner that is appropriate for children with special needs. Each level also provides more tactile, sensory, and movement-based learning than is common to most other Memoria Press programs....

    It might work well with children who have minimal developmental delays, but is also well suited for children with more significant intellectual disability, language disorders, autism, or learning disabilities. Some parents might like to use it with their children with normal learning abilities just because of the combination of learning methods that are used. Be sure to use the Readiness Checklists to determine which level of the Simply Classical Curriculum will be suitable for your child. More levels are planned to cover ages 2 through 21." Cathy Duffy, 2015.


    A Few Updates:
    -Level 1 is newly released. We await reviews for this level.
    -Levels 2 & 3 are under development. We will update you when this is available.


    Simply Classical
    - the book
    Simply Classical - the curriculum created just for children with special needs - Voted #1 in Special Needs, OldSchoolhouse Magazine