Is the Abeka Academy Homeschool a Good Choice? Review and Thoughts
If you’re considering an Abeka Academy homeschool curriculum for your family in 2020, you’re one of many who’ve looked at this program over the last few decades. In this article, we’ll be looking at a number of forum reviews from the angle of a mom who’s researching a home education curriculum for the first time. We’ll distill these reviews and see if we can come to some common conclusions about the curriculum. Then we’ll pull out some of the pros and cons of an Abeka curriculum and look at them.
What we’ll cover:
- What is the Abeka Academy homeschool curriculum?
- Accreditation questions
- What forum reviews say about the this program
- The pros and cons of an Abeka home education curriculum and
- My experience with this curriculum
Let’s get started!
What is the Abeka Academy Homeschool Curriculum?
Abeka Academy is a publisher affiliated with an American College in Florida called the Pensacola Christian College (PCC).
PCC is a Christian, independent Baptist, not-for-profit liberal arts college that was founded in 1974 by two graduates of Bob Jones University, Arlin and Beka [Rebekah] Horton (hence, Abeka or A Beka).
What Homeschooling Method Does This Program Use?
An Abeka (or A Beka) homeschool curriculum takes after a traditional school-at-home approach. The school-at-home approach tries to copy the educational method used in most public and private schools.
If you use this curriculum, you’ll likely sit your children down at a desk with textbooks, or laptops where they do their work. The Academy also tests children like a traditional school would (you can contrast this to the Charlotte Mason method of testing, narration here).
Abeka Academy Accreditation
Of course, the advantage of traditional testing and education (over another homeschooling method) is you’re able to get accreditation by studying in Abeka Academy. This said, although many people think accreditation is a must-have, this is a misconception as parents can easily get their teenagers into high school without homeschool accreditation.
However, some parents want a home education program to be accredited as it gives them peace of mind to know that they’re following a course the accreditation agencies approve of.
One of the great things about homeschooling with this program is that it offers accreditation for the same price as non-accreditation:
The Accredited Program is the premium package—except it’s exactly the same price as Independent Study. You can choose to do either a full grade in K5–12 or a single subject in grades 9–12…Your child’s education will be accredited by both MSA CESS and FACCS, which can help you meet state homeschool requirements and college admissions requirements.
The Academy will also keep digital records for you and will grade exams for Year 9 through to Year 12. Accreditation gives your child a chance to participate in a homeschool graduation ceremony if they choose. They’ll get a diploma at the end of their home education years with official transcripts.
If you want to do optional standardized testing to find out where your child is up to, it will be free.
What Grades Does this Curriculum Offer?
The Abeka Academy offers all grades – that is, kindergarten through to twelfth grade. Here are some links to the different grades:
- Kindergarten Abeka Academy Materials (K4 and K5)
- 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade
- 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade,
- 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, and 12th Grade.
There are also electives which consist of the following courses:
- Spanish (#2)
- Consumer Math
- Business Math
- Orchestra (#1 and #2)
- Document Processing
- Family/Consumer Sciences
- Home Ec. – Sewing and
- Physical Education
You can see links to all the Abeka electives here.
How Do I Choose My Homeschool Curriculum from Abeka?
You can choose to buy just one subject with Abeka, or all subjects to cover your child for a year. And you can do this for your children, no matter their age. This link has the options for Grade 1. As you can see, you can buy all the books for ‘Grade 1 Enrollment’ or just a particular subject that you fancy.
When we were homeschooling, my parents choose different subjects from different curriculum providers, depending on what they thought suited us best. (This was facilitated because they visited warehouses that had hardcopy home education curricula for sale.)
How Popular is the Abeka Academy?
The Abeka curriculum is quite popular among home educators today as it has been around for decades. Many children who have been raised using this curriculum are now considering using it for their own children (one study says 82% of homeschooled children will choose to home educate their own children, either full-time or part-time).
In addition, the Academy gets very good reviews. If you look at the Abeka Academy Facebook reviews page, the curriculum gets 4.2 out of 5 stars (based on 270 reviews to date).
I heard of another home education curriculum that set up one of these pages. When the ex-students – who hadn’t like studying under that curriculum – heard about it, they inundated it with negative homeschooling reviews of one star. The owners had to take down the review site as the reviews were so negative and damaging to their brand.
Can You Look at Samples of the Curriculum Before Buying?
You can look at some sample Abeka Academy videos lessons at this link. You can also go into the Grade subject(s) you’re interested in and watch videos about the different subjects in those grades, like these ones in the Grade 1 Arithmetic, Science, History, and Bible Enrollment.
What the Reviews Say About Abeka Academy
When looking at forum reviews for this curriculum, you’ll find a few common themes.
Many like that the program is from a Christian perspective. Others like that there is so much video included, and children can feel part of a classroom (in a small way) when they watch the video. And as far as the price goes, you get a lot for what you pay – and accreditation for no extra if you choose. (More on the cost below).
Many moms on different forums said the Abeka Academy curriculum is, however, quite repetitive (sometimes with busywork), and not overly hands-on. (It’s mostly video-learning or book-learning.)
Also, if you’re not a patriotic American, you might find the curriculum difficult to stomach in certain areas.
Pros and Cons of an Abeka Homeschool Curriculum
When I looked into the pros and cons of an Abeka curriculum, I found there was a surprising amount of conflicting reviews.
Some people found the busywork a pro, while others considered it a con. Other families liked the strong, Christian, patriotic flavor of the Abeka program, while others strongly disliked it. Some moms found the work engaging and helpful, while some found it painful and lacking motivation. Let’s have a closer look at what some moms said below.
Pros of the Abeka Homeschool Curriculum
Some of the advantages that seemed apparent from reading these reviews included:
- The price for curriculum materials is the same price whether the material is accredited or not.
- If you’re a Christian homeschooler, you’ll probably like the philosophy behind Abeka. Their philosophy is Christian Protestant, and the material is quite patriotic (American).
- When math lessons become too hard for you to teach, you can buy DVD/online lessons so children can learn through online teachers instead. (In fact, you can buy video lessons from the beginning for only about $100 more).
- You don’t have to teach your children always – only in the younger ages. You can set your children up with an Abeka Academy homeschool curriculum, and watch them learn independently. That’s a huge plus!
- Some moms liked the repetitive nature of the Abeka program as they believed it helped their children memorize things more easily. However, some people were disappointed that their children had to do so much rote memorization.
Cons of the Abeka Curriculum
Although there were a lot of moms who were very happy with this curriculum and had (in some cases) used it for many years with no complaints, other mothers weren’t so happy. Some Abeka complaints I encountered among the reviews were:
- Abeka isn’t very hands-on. While you might do a few science experiments, arts, and crafts, the Abeka Academy isn’t as hands-on as other homeschooling curricula might be. While you can supplement material with your own hands-on activities, this is a lot of work on top of a full curriculum.
- Textbooks are not really reusable, so you can’t use them for subsequent children.
- You have to buy the teacher’s copies that have the answers separately, and this is recommended to save time checking the children’s work.
- Some Abeka complaints centred around the momentous amounts of quizzes and review materials in this curriculum. However, some families have side-stepped this issue by exempting their children from certain tests/quizzes. Another mother said that, while Abeka was a lot of work, it was worth it. But, other parents countered this by saying the Abeka workload led to homeschool motivation problems and boredom.
- Some Abeka complaints also centred on texts being too basic such as the Science subjects. Other subjects were praised, however, such as Social Science and Reading.
- One mom said some of the materials were outdated.
- The patriotic aspects of the Abeka Academy homeschool curriculum can get a little annoying for families who aren’t American (mine is Australian). As such, I’ll be skipping things like patriotic pledges.
- If you’re expecting to be able to do absolutely everything in an Abeka program, you might have to think again. Abeka reviews suggest this will be difficult and could be a mistake.
A Pro or Con of Abeka Academy Homeschooling: Creationism
Depending on your theology, you may or may not agree with the creationist perspective. If you have a biblical worldview that accepts that creation came about in six literal days (with God resting on the seventh), you will like that the Abeka Academy holds this perspective too.
However, many people nowadays (including some Christians) believe in an old earth framework (theistic evolution) which is based on current thinking on evolution accepted in many high schools, colleges, seminaries (both Christian or non-Christian schools).
As such, Abeka Academy reviews either thoroughly praise the creationist worldview or want to send it out of business for having (as they claim) ‘an unscientific worldview’.
This came to a head in one state, California, when a judge decided that Abeka was teaching things that were ‘inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.’ You can read more about this case in Association of Christian Schools International vs Roman Stearns.
Flexible Options with the Abeka Curriculum
You can get around some of the pros and cons of the Abeka curriculum by choosing to customize your homeschooling curriculum. Choosing a customized program (also known as an eclectic program) means you can still add your own special projects and field trips or adjust the pace of the curriculum to meet the needs of your students.
To help you customize your child’s education, Abeka has the Home Education FlexTeach option which allows you to buy extra components to supplement your Christian curriculum including:
- kits containing physical textbooks
- specific textbooks to supplement an eclectic homeschool
- parent guides and
- standardized tests.
Essentially, you can mix and match the curriculum according to your desires. This also means you can get engaged and teach the subjects you like or feel confident teaching. But, if you don’t want to teach some subjects, you can leave that to the video tutors.
Many parents like teaching English and History but struggle with Math and Science. Therefore, FlexTeach might be an ideal option for them! Abeka puts it like this, ‘They are your tools – not your taskmasters!’
How Much Does the Abeka Curriculum Cost?
Compared to other curricula, the Abeka curriculum comes in at a rather low cost. This is what the creators said it costs in 2019:
If you bought a 1st grade complete parent kit and child kit, your cost would be $716.85. For a full school year with Abeka Academy, your cost would be $826. That’s only $109.15 more than if you were doing the teaching yourself. PLUS, there’s an easy payment plan available. (For tuition and books, your cost after down payment could be as low as $101 for 6 months.)
In other words, it’s not that much more to purchase the videos which will help you by getting the instructional pressure off you to teach your children yourself all the time.
(If you want to know a little more about the cost of home education in general, read this article on how much homeschooling costs.)
Abeka Academy vs Bob Jones Curriculum
In my other article on the BJU homeschooling curriculum, I compared Abeka vs the Bob Jones curriculum. In particular, I compared the curricula using forum-sourced comments from about 30 people. I’ve copied the section here for you to see:
Compared to Abeka, the BJU program is a bit of a favorite. Home educators love that the BJU videos are breif (whereas Abeka videos are quite long). The program is also quite media rich. An Abeka program is more labor intensive compared to BJU. One mother said BJU assignments were manageable, but Abeka assignments were ‘never-ending’. This said, Abeka is an inexpensive option compared to BJU, particularly if you’re take into account accreditation costs.
Of course, if the cost is a huge factor for you, I recommend you take a look at free home education curriculum packages. One of my favorites is Easy Peasy All-in-One. Although it’s not accredited, it ticks a lot of boxes as it is a Christian online curriculum with printable sheets available if you want to do some offline study.
My Experience with the Abeka Academy
I’m a homeschool graduate and my parents bought the Abeka math curriculum which my brothers and I used for most of our elementary years. We used the curriculum from Grade 5 through to Grade 9.
Because I’m not amazing with maths, I found the repetitive nature of the curriculum quite good. I needed a good amount of math repetition to get the concepts in my head, and so, I believe the Abeka curriculum was quite good for me.
My two brothers also studied the math curriculum and had no complaints.
Some might say repetition isn’t the way to go, and that I should have found another curriculum that worked for me better. I’m not sure about this…all I know is that I learned my maths well with this program, and don’t have any problems recommending it.
How the Abeka Academy Helped my Parents Homeschool
A little while ago I wrote an article called Why You Can STILL Home Educate Despite Not Being a Teacher! I wrote this article because I have heard a lot of people say, ‘You can’t homeschool because you’re (1) not a teacher (2) not highly educated or you’re (3) dyslexic.’
All these comments assumed you have to know a bit about education to teach your child. But, that’s not true because my parents, especially my mother, weren’t teachers, weren’t highly educated and, in one case, was dyslexic.
However, they managed to educate three children who have had very successful academic careers and lives. (You can read about my brothers (and my own) home education experience here.)
And, for my parents, I think Abeka helped take out the uncertainty of homeschooling. My parents knew they could sit us down with a curriculum and we would do it and we’d be ‘getting an education’. When they were just starting out with home education, this was a big comfort to them.
Other Curricula Similar to Abeka Academy
If you’re still not sold on Abeka, maybe you’d like to check out other curricula that are similar to this package. Three very similar curricula to Abeka are the:
BJU is probably the most similar to Abeka in terms of content as it offers textbook paces and online video tutorials. It is more expensive but some people would say it’s worth it (you can read BJU reviews by clicking this link).
The SOS program is a Grade 3-12 Christian home education curriculum that is done on the computer. That is, it is completely computer-based but can be done offline if you install the CDs or USB software (you can read SOS reviews by clicking this link)
Monarch is exactly the same as SOS (because they’re both published by Alpha Omega Publishing) except it’s entirely online – meaning you need an internet connection to access the curriculum.
Curriculum Dissimilar to Abeka Academy
If you’ve just started homeschooling and you want to explore educational methods that suit a home education well, but you still want to do a curriculum, check out different choices below:
- Charlotte Mason method – investigate 10 different Charlotte Mason curriculum packages here
- Classical method – investigate 5 different Classical curriculum packages here
If you don’t know anything about different educational methods, you can explore them more here.
Abeka Academy reviews suggest this curriculum is a great way to go if you don’t mind replicating a school-at-home approach. For new homeschooling parents, I would definitely recommend this program as it is so familiar to many of us who are used to this approach. However, I feel that the reviews suggest Abeka lacks a little bit of individuality which I would like to see more of. Overall, however, this program is hard to go past and you can feel confident your children will be getting a good education if you choose this Christian curriculum.