The Robinson Curriculum

The Robinson Curriculum is an independent homeschool curriculum choice that allows children to get an excellent education with little direct teaching and interaction from their parent. Find out the advantages and disadvantages of the program here.


Indpendent Homeschool Programs

About this Homeschool Curriculum

The Robinson Homeschool Curriculum is a home school curriculum developed by Arthur B. Robinson, president and head of chemistry at the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine.

It is a twenty-two CD program that comes with a complete K-12 curriculum; the only extra material the publisher suggests be purchased are Saxon Math books. It was developed as a means to allow parents more time to take care of their day-to-day business while still giving children an in-depth education, as it is largely a 'self-teaching' program.

The program is literature-based and focuses primarily on reading, writing and arithmetic (otherwise known as the 3-R’s approach to learning), with science not being introduced to the student until they have sufficient skill in mathematics. A typical school day for a child undergoing the curriculum includes one hour for writing, two hours for math, and two hours for reading. Throughout the student’s readings, other subjects that are not covered as thoroughly in the core focuses of the program are taught, such as history, geography and lesser sciences.

The writing portion of the Robinson curriculum focuses heavily on writing essays based the student’s reading and correctly essays that have been commented on by the parent. This is a part of the course that is not self-teaching, as the parent will have to have some involvement to prevent mistakes in spelling, grammar and sentence structure.

Being a literature-based program, the Robinson curriculum comes with 250 classic books, including Huckleberry Finn, the autobiographies of the president and vice president of the Confederacy during the civil war, as well of some of President Lincoln’s writings. Also available as additions to the course are the 99 historical novels of G.A. Henty, all of which were published by the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine. A vocabulary system is included with the software, sporting a vocabulary library of 6,400 and claiming to teach a vocabulary that any 'well-educated adult should have.'

Potential Advantages of the Robinson Curriculum

Since the Robinson Curriculum is a self-learning program, it will teach students to learn and progress on their own, without a bunch of hand-holding along the way. It also frees up more time for the parents to take care of the more mundane tasks and errands of everyday life. The self-teaching approach also works well with the Saxon math program, which is the very reason it is recommended for use with the program.

With this program, parental involvement is at a minimum, allowing the parent to not have to perform a balancing act between being a teacher and parent – a balancing act that can sometimes wear on the parent/child relationship and both parties’ state-of-mind. It also has the potential to instill a degree of self-confidence in the child as they learn to take responsibility for themselves and their progress.

It is an in-depth and strict program, and the addition of 250 books, along with the vocabulary system and CD-ROM copies of The Bible, 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica and Noah Webster’s 1913 Dictionary, give it the potential to produce a child who is extremely well read by the time everything is said and done. While it does primarily focus on writing, math and reading, sciences like chemistry and physics are introduced to the student later on, and they get other lessons such as history and geography straight from the reading, making this a very well-rounded program that could produce very well-rounded students.

Lastly, the list price of $195 for the program is very affordable considering the amount of content you get, and relatively inexpensive considering the price of other home schooling programs and the fact that the parent doesn’t have to take extra time to teach children of different skill levels.

Potential Disadvantages of the Robinson Curriculum

As stated before, this curriculum is strict. In order for it to be successful (and since it requires a lot of attention to detail), it recommends that the child doesn’t watch television, doesn’t consume any sugar, and isn’t allowed access to a computer until around the age of sixteen. This, however, can present a number of problems.

First, this curriculum is entirely CD-ROM based. The parent has the option of printing out all of the material that comes on the CD-ROMs, but the price for the paper and ink required to print out the 250 novels in addition to the worksheets, lesson plans and flash cards would be enormous and would inflate the original price of $195 quite a bit. That’s not even mentioning the fact that once the books are printed out they will have to be bound in some way, which is a process that can prove to be incredibly time consuming in and of itself.

Second, it kind of demonizes television and computers as time wasters that aren’t even good when used for recreation, but many would argue that when used correctly, television and computers (especially the internet) could be great educational tools. Granted, that’s not to say that everything on television or the internet holds an inherent educational value, but there is plenty of great public television that is interesting and very educational, and there are fun computer programs that can be used to supplement your child’s schoolwork (e.g. Leap Frog, Math Blaster, etc).

Finally, the digital copies of Encyclopedia Britannica and Webster’s are great additions, but addition of these proves contradictory if there is to be no computer use until the age of sixteen. Even if the parent decides to deviate from the suggested rules of the curriculum, the digital versions of these reference books don’t come with a solid search engine and, in the end, do nothing to encourage the development of manual research habits; something the student is certainly going to need if they plan on attending college.

Our Suggestion:

If you think that this may be right for you, you may want to try a modified version of it by using the materials and not being as restrictive about it. It may give you a good balance.

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