Monday, March 22, 2010

TOS Review: Pandia Press

I have talked with a good number of homeschoolers over the years who fret and fret over the cost of giving their children the kind of deeply engaging, academically rigorous, yet doctrinally sound kind of education that they fell called to provide. It's true: many, many curriculum cost upwards of several hundred dollars. And while you can most definitely homeschool on the cheap (or for nearly free) so many of us feel that we need a guidebook of sorts. Something to hold our hands as we work to give our kids the education we didn't have. Why, oh, why, we wonder, do those guidebook have to cost $80, $100, $150 dollars? And they don't even come with the books we need to execute the plans!

I've pondered this myself, and come up with the only answer that makes sense to me--you are paying for someone's intellectual property, years of hard work, and knowledge. The "expert" author sets the price. And from there, it's up to you to decide whether it's worth it or not.

I personally steer folks away from pricey guides that give only skeleton outlines, a book list, and suggestions. There are tons of those out there, and frankly, I don't know of many active homeschoolers who can afford the money/time combo required to keep such a plan afloat. In my mind's eye, you either go with the whole she-bang (an instructor's guide, and all of the books in one package) or you go with the nitty-gritty (the plans and a book list). I'm willing to pay for books and all to be delivered to my doorstep. But when it comes to just the guide , I think paying over $50 is steep. Especially when you take into account that those kinds of guides rarely come with detailed lesson plans.

Up until now, I've not been aware of any high quality, low-priced options that provide that hand-holding approach so many moms are looking for. Finally, I have one in hand. It's from Pandia Press and yes, it is a gem.

I received a free copy of History Odyssey eBook Ancients Level 3 (retails at $33.99 for a download) and I can attest that this is not a vague outline that lists a handful of books and some potential activities, along with some comprehension questions. No, this is the real deal. In addition to a structured reading plan and some thought-provoking, detailed questions, map work and other activities are included. There are actual lessons to be followed. And yes, additional resources are listed for further study.

There is no parent guide for the History Odyssey eBook. Designed to be printed and slipped into a binder, these pages are student consumables. Buying the download gives you the option of using it for more than one student, and teaching your whole family around the spine of one topic. The studies are divided into levels one, two, and three (loosely centered on grades) and seem to be appropriately targeted to their audiences. Other areas of study include the Middle Ages, Early Modern, and Modern Times. All have the option of Try Before You Buy on the website, so you can wrap your head around the levels and types of activities included.

Pandia Press has filled a niche long in need of attention: reasonably priced, well-researched, quality instruction without all the bells and whistles that add to the bottom line. A family with an active Paperbackswap account or decent local library could potentially provide a year or more of instruction in history for less than $40.

Finally. A budget-friendly, literature-based history curriculum centered around in-print books! Thanks, Pandia!

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

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