Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
Over the last month, I had to the opportunity to review BJU Press Focus on Fives which is a kindergarten phonics and literature program that also includes science, heritage studies, and Bible. The program is produced by BJU Press Homeschool.
The program arrived in two boxes and included the teachers manuals, write now book, phonics practice, worktext, review cards, teaching visuals, phonics flip charts, and reading books.
The program is split into five lessons per week. Each week has a theme, for example, week two was Firefighters at Work and week five was Healthcare Workers. The curriculum includes learning center ideas for each week as well as a snack of the week.
My kindergartner loved the program. He enjoyed singing the songs, learning about the different children that were included in the stories, seeing the puppets that helped you work through the program and the fun activities. He happily asked to do it each day.
Each day includes a variety of activities that may include singing songs, heritage study, listening story, comprehension questions, phonics and English skills, handwriting, science, Bible, and practice. Each day includes a variety of this activities but not all in one day. There are also extension activities that you could use at the end of every day that includes categories such as science, story time, arts and crafts, motor skills, and learning center.
In addition to the basic reading and phonics, students will learn about different community helpers, planting a garden, pets, and so much more. There are even review lessons included that can be used at different holidays such as: Labor Day, Veterans Day, Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Valentine’s and more.
I found that it took us about twenty or thirty minutes to get through a complete lesson without any of the extension activities. The extension activities varied and based on which ones and how many you chose could take just a few minutes or several hours to complete everything.
The student does work in three books for their independent practice. The first is the Write Now! book which develops handwriting skills. It starts with lines and tracing, moves into letters, and by the end of the curriculum the student is copying sentences. The phonics practice book starts with letters and moves into blends and words to coordinate with the lessons in the teacher’s manual. Finally, there is the worktext which includes a variety of activities such as matching, tracing, and cut and paste. The worktext works on different skills and often includes a connection to the theme for the week.
Extension activities includes suggestions such as drawing their favorite patriotic symbol, making a seed mosaic, using a carnation and food dye to understand how plants get water, tic-tac-toe with words, or show and tell of a favorite vegetable.
Overall, I think that this program is well laid out, has some great educational opportunities, and would give a child a firm foundation. I loved that Bible was interwoven into other aspects. For example, the alphabet song they used also taught them about Jesus. However, as a mother of four children, it was honestly more than I would want to try to keep track of and use for a whole year. It was a bit overwhelming with all of the different components and parts of it were more geared towards a classroom with multiple children. They have a series of videos coming out this summer that are designed to help teach the program through distance education. Those videos may help simplify the approach and make it easier for a parent to coordinate everything.
If you only have one or two children, your five-year-old is your youngest, or if you really want to replicate a classroom style program then this may be a great fit for you. It is a solid educational program that includes a lot of topics in one program. The videos that are being released this summer might also make it more adaptable to large families and lower the parental time commitment.
Be sure to check out BJU Press Focus on Fives at the BJU Press Homeschool website to get more information. Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members and see how it worked for their families.