Homeschool Helps Homeschooling

Initial Thoughts on A.C.E

After the very lengthy process of diagnostic testing, me working through the parents training manual (which is a must if you are going to do this program – as well as really interesting and informative), sorting out and placing my first order – it finally arrived! This is always a very exciting day for me, and this time for my girls. They couldn’t wait to page through their PACES (workbooks), one of them even sneaking in a page or two before I realised what she was doing and put a stop to it! I really did appreciate her enthusiasm  but this program does have a way of doing things and for a good reason. It is helping to train the child in goal setting and then achieving them. I’m not going to go into a review here at the moment – I plan on doing that later on in the year over at Curriculum Choice. The purpose of this post is to share with you some rather surprising insights on my side.

We are into year 7 of homeschooling our children. As I shared in my post ‘Changes Afoot‘, we were at a cross-roads. The girls are growing up and their educational needs changing, we were needing to decide on a way forward that filled mans requirements for college etc, but were not prepared to compromise on Spiritual training or on character building. A.C.E seemed to fit all of the requirements but certainly not my ideals.

As you know, we have been up to this point, a Charlotte Mason inspired, Unit Study, note booking  nature loving kind of homeschool. A.C.E is completely not that. In my (rather opinionated) mind, I believed that my poor children were going to feel the effects of having to switch to such a different method of learning.

And here comes the part where I need to eat a huge slice of humble pie… my girls absolutely LOVE A.C.E!

They love that they get to plan out their own week, filling in their goals and then crossing them off. They love the workbook system – much better – they tell me – that what we did before! They love the content of the curriculum, they love the character sketches, they love the independence they have in their work. My eldest is even enjoying science now – something that we just could not seem to get a handle on no matter what resources I tried. They want to know why we did not do this before now!

I admit to feeling slightly put out over all this – but I realise that there was a season for‘my’homeschool. I am overjoyed to see my children’s enthusiasm and feel blessed that God led us to this new chapter in our story. He knows my children so much better than I do, yet He is gentle and loving in His dealings with me. 

I do not wish that we had started A.C.E one minute before it’s God appointed time in our homeschool as we were, up to that point, enjoying another of God’s blessings and provisions. I am grateful that God has been gentle with me as He knows I do not cope well with change and struggle to let go of systems and things that feel quite nice and cosy for me. I am grateful and thrilled to see that God leads us on a safe, exciting, and varied path. Always watching over us, always showing us things that we did not realise about our children and ourselves.

Apart from all the benefits my children are touting. As a mother I am find the blessing of this curriculum in ways that I could not have even imagined. For a start, I have oodles of more time to potter about the home doing what moms do. The girls can pretty much get on with their work and my input is only needed when they do not understand something, or when I help prepare them for a ‘checkup’ (test on a section of work). Secondly, there has been a burden that has lifted off of my soul and shoulders that I was not even aware was there. I realise that all my intensive planning and teaching and reading and involvement was sending my down the road of burnout. I always thinking about ‘school’, always preparing, always looking and searching. I was always teacher and when I was mom I was ‘exhausted’ mom. I really did not feel like engaging my children outside of school most of the time. I was so SO tired. Now – I feel like I am mom first and facilitator (not teacher) second. It is wonderful! I am finding that I am really enjoying being just mom for most of the time. I am laughing more, smiling more, not so very tired any more.

I have spent my time quietly within reach of my children but reading God’s Word, faithfully spending time daily working on some awesome Bible Studies. As a result I am feeling the Holy Spirit fan into flame a passion for my Lord that has long felt stunted. This in turn is causing our morning devotional time together, before we start our PACES, to be really deep, exciting, and energising  I was reminded this morning that we as moms really do set the tone of our home. If I am excited about God’s Word, about being His daughter and living my life for Him, the girls really do ‘catch’ my enthusiasm and mood. I am able to disciple my children better!

Honestly, I have to say that this has been the best switch ever. We are loving our new-look homeschool. We are loving our rekindled mother/daughter relationships and times. I am mom first – teacher/facilitator second. That’s just the way it should be :o)

Blessings in Christ All …

(16) Comments

  1. Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered says:

    This is so fun to read. I admit that seeing that picture of all the books made me smile – HUGELY. Great fond memories…

    still praying over here… for what our future may be. Who knows..

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Hi Bevy,
      It is so lovely to hear you say what lovely memories you have of your time on ACE. When I did a search on the ACE curriculum I came across a whole discussion group of people who had attended ACE schools who had nothing good to say. Admittedly they had attended ACE schools in the seventies and things were different then. We are really loving this program. For the first time in a long time my girls are motivated about their education! What a blessing.
      Praying for you as you seek God's heart for your own family.

  2. Alison Wellby says:

    We use ACE and like you have found one of its benefits to be that the children are encouraged to learn self-discipline, getting on with it without me needing to heavily supervise them. Glad you're enjoying this new season in your home education. Have you discovered ACE SPACE yet? Blessings.

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Hi Alison,
      I haven't discovered ACE SPACE yet! I will look into that. I love how my girls have taken to their new responsibility in their school work! They were clearly ready for me to step back a little.

  3. Rhoda says:

    I'm really interested to read this – thanks for sharing! I'm like you – I know about it but am not that keen to put the kids in it yet because I like the way Sonlight does it with books etc. But I have also realised that it would free me up if I did ACE – and though educationally it wouldn't be my ideal, it might then help me to be a better (or at least more relaxed!) mum! I probably am going to switch at some point, but praying about whether sooner or later!

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Hi Rhoda, I have to say that I am finding that I am so much more relaxed with my girls. I – and they – have missed just having mum around as mum and not as teacher. I was chatting to a friend yesterday and saying that I can't believe that we waited for so long to switch. We had been looking into ACE since November last year. I'm sure that by taking it before God, He will show you what is right for your family :o) – Blessings

  4. Unknown says:

    I'm so glad I ran into this post, and your updates. I graduated from a private school in the late '80's. We used PACE's and I loved them. I went on to college and so did the other girl I graduated with. (Yes, there were only two in my graduating class.)

    I've heard about the negative reviews, but how you have adapted PACE's to you and your children's learning style is exactly what we did. It is such a great resource, and I'm glad to read a positive review.

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Thank you for your comment Lynda. It is indeed a great resource, I don't feel it deserves half the criticism it gets.

  5. Unknown says:

    This is such a great post. I have so many of the reservations you had as it goes against the grain, but you have really encouraged me. I have been trying to make my mind up for weeks and am half way through the training with lots of niggles and doubts but you have helped to convince me to try it. Thank you so much.

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Hi Lucy, I am glad that it has encouraged you. I really had to get to grips with letting go my own ideals, weighing up what was important for us with regards to our children's education and also realizing that I am in control of the curriculum – not the other way round. Since getting my thoughts and feelings around it I am feeling much happier – my girls were always happy with A.C.E!
      Blessings in Christ

  6. amy says:

    I am interested to hear how things are going with A.C.E. with it being a year later. I am in a similar situation in that life circumstances are forcing me to change out homeschool method from a CM/unit study/eclectic approach where I am hands on to more hands off, independent approach. Thanks, Amy Hineman

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Hi Amy,

      I actually wrote a follow up post on how A.C.E works in our home in March this year. I have changed it quite a bit and it is working very well for us. Here is the link:


  7. Jessica says:

    Thank you for this post and the review you did at Curriculum Choice. This has helped me make the decision to use ACE after many years of CM/unit studies/classical. I am exhausted. and I do not feel like a very good mom because I am being teacher so much that it is not fun being mom and it saddens me. I know that as I have prayed that He has answered my prayer . Can't wait to read your blog. WE live in the Mississippi in the United States, love having the connection with others around the world. Jessica

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Pleasure Jessica 🙂
      I totally relate to being exhausted after using years of CM/unit studies – that was me too!!! I had the exact same concerns, that I was not a good mom because the teacher bit was taking over. ACE gave me back my sanity, covered all that needed to be covered academically and I was able to be a better mom because I wasn't so exhausted all the time.

  8. Jo says:

    Thank you! Thank you! For writing this post. I too, am an exhausted mother who has followed an eclectic CM style. We actually did start with ACE for reading after pulling my son out of school. It didn't work for us at that stage, as he is dyslexic ( which we didn't realise then ). But here we are, and as I pray all roads seem to lead to ACE. It has been months of wading through reviews and negative blogs. As a Christian, I guess I knew deep down that most of those criticisms were biased and actually had nothing to do with the curriculum itself. Your post has really given me hope that I can make a change and be a better mom.

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      You are so welcome Jo. I know that it can be so hard when you are exhausted and still want what is best for your children's education. Fortunately God wants our best for our children too and there are many gifted people out there to have the gift of writing good curriculum to help us on our task of teaching our own.

      I too was very discouraged when I first started looking at A.C.E. Like you said so many criticisms and negativity. However most of it all seems to come from one certain source! I'm glad that I was able to speak to someone who was actually using it before we switched and once I started using it I was able to see that with my own tweaking it was perfectly adequate for our needs AND it helped me to be a better, calmer, more connected mom!

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