Monday, February 8, 2010

Eclectic Education Series

For some parents, educating their children with material used by their great grandparents is very desirable. Some feel that there was a higher standard of education and want their children to experience that as well. Thus you have products such as the Eclectic Education Series from Dollar Homeschool.

The biggest factor you are paying for with the Eclectic Education Series from Dollar Homeschool is convenience. Many of the titles provided in this K-12 education are available in public domain. However, the creator of this product has taken the time to bring the titles into one place. Some of the Ray's Arithmetic books had the answers written right next to the question in the text. Dollar Homeschool has removed these answer so that the student can work the problems without seeing the answer. The original book with the answers is then provided as a teacher's edition. He has also written answers to the Ray's Arithmetic books that were lacking them.

One downside of using these materials is that there is no central source for support except from other users. This can be very frustrating if you are not understanding a portion of the material and no one responds to your questions.

The type of scanning that was used makes the text more readable but makes poorer graphics. So for the books where the graphics are an important part of the lesson, this can be a definite minus.

Because these books all come on CD, you must be prepared to either use them on screen (which I really dislike doing) or to print on your own. If you do not have a laser printer this option is usually cost prohibitive.

The old time print and presentation might be a downside for some.

One thing I found strange was the choice of where to put certain files. There is a reading course on the history CD. And there is a bookkeeping course on the science CD.

You can view an overview video here. The complete set costs $159. You can also purchase each subject separately. The website does state they have a 30-day money back guarantee.

Here is a quick look at what the Eclectic Education Series includes.

Ray's Arithmetic

 "The Ray's math series begins at a preliterate level with counting; then takes the child through addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and so upward until calculus, teaching concepts with thorough explanations followed by ample problem sets. The Ray's series provides a very full-bodied course of mathematics." Also included on the CD are some of White's Arithmetic books.

McGuffey Readers
The McGuffey Primer through Sixth Reader are the main texts on this CD. Also included are the second to sixth alternate readers and the high school reader. A couple of fun readers on the CD are Familiar Animals and Their Wild Kindred - Natural History Third Reader and Living Creatures of Water, Land and Air - Natural History Fourth Reader. You will also get the Eclectic Speaker for high school, Eclectic Speller, Eclectic Juvenile Speaker for grades 1 to 8, and a Word List which has all the words used in Primer and Readers. A bonus reader is the Hermans Young Ladies' Reader.

 "The EES Grammar CD includes three different series on the skill of writing and language. Longs Language covers the first four grades, and deals with basic writing skills. Then Pinneos Grammar steps in, with a more technical look at the subject, and a gradual progression of difficulty. When finished with Pinneos Grammar, the student will be more than prepared for writing, but in case more study or a reference is desired, Harvey's Grammar is also included."


There are several history related books on this CD and a Guide to Health. It also includes 5 levels of reading instruction books. However, I did not find much instruction on using these reading books.


Nature Study, General Science, Health, Botany, Chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Physics, Astronomy, Logic and more are included on this CD.

Before I give you my opinion of this set, I want to give you a brief glimpse into my educational style. I prefer teaching my children with real life literature (living books). I like how the old time language arts books present grammar and composition in a gentle way in the younger years. I definitely like how they taught math in the olden days. I like material presented with understanding and not just drill and kill. I feel that a student will retain material much better if he has a connection to it. So now that you know that, I will give you my opinion on the CDs in the Eclectic Education Series.

RAY'S ARITHMETIC ($59): A must read on this CD before starting Ray's Arithmetic is the Arithmetic portion of the Manual of Methods. If I had neglected reading this book I would have completely missed that the first year of instruction is to all be done orally and the first book in the series (Primary Arithmetic) actually begins the second year of study. With my new found understanding of the oral first year, I realized Ray's aligns very nicely with the foundation I want to lay for my children. I have since printed the material I need and put it in a binder. I am very excited about using it for our beginning math program! I did, however, find the levels above year 6 harder to follow. I can see it worth buying the Ray's CD as it is very nice to have the answers removed so that the books may be used directly by the student. However, the lack of support may be an issue for some.

GRAMMAR ($39): This CD would probably have value if you desire to use the materials provided on it. Their use seems pretty straight-forward. However, there are plenty of inexpensive curriculums available today that teach similarly. So it is really a matter of what you choose to use.

MCGUFFEY ($39): If I was going to use the McGuffey Readers I would buy an actual set of the books instead of trying to print them out from a CD, especially when the quality of the graphics is poor. This CD includes the additional McGuffey Readers but I would not want to use another reader for my students' extra practice. I find that real books are much better for that.

HISTORY ($39): Even though this CD has some very interesting titles, including Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches and a study of the constitution, I would most likely choose a CD that contained a collection of living books that covered more history and more age levels.

SCIENCE ($39): The material on this CD might make for interesting study. But my feeling is that the lack of teacher help would be a huge downside.

The Eclectic Education Series is just a collection of textbooks that were used in yesteryear. There is minimal direction on how to use the material except what is supplied in the Manual of Methods and other books written for teachers of that time. There is no subject support except from other users or experts that you may know. And even for someone who is a bit familiar with using this type of material, I found myself not quite sure how I would create a complete K-12 education with the material provided.

Make sure to read what other Crew Members found as they may have had a different experience.

Disclosure:This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

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