I've been perusing and ingesting the Robinson Curriculum CDs I got. They're quite the deal, really. He has a proven method (i.e. has 'fruit'), but it's a little bit out there (and I'm already so out there..). It will take some prayer and thought as to how "out" I get in this.
My version of the overview: Teach your little ones to read and memorize all math facts (addition, subtraction, division, etc) for all numbers thru 12. Do this by the time they're 7 or so. At that point, hand them Saxon's Math 54. The students will work approximately 2 hours on math, write 1 page (copywork for kids up to 10 or so), then read certain books from an ordered list. This should all take 5-6 hours per day. Do it 6 days per week, all year long. NO tv in the home, NO sugar/honey/etc in kids' diets. Oh, and don't help. At all. As a teacher, you DO mark their written pages for errors (make them correct them). Everything else is done exclusively by the kids. The math lessons, the checking and reworking of missed problems, etc. There are vocabulary lists to go with certain books, and some tests for some books too.
Now, we could so easily argue against this regimen, but his arguments are equally if not more persuasive. Of his six children, the "slowest" in math completed Calculus at age 16. Then and only then do they start science, which, by the way, are MIT-grade college textbooks in chemistry and physics. History is taught via the carefully-selected books, as are other 'side' subjects. Of course, their lives should be rounded out with Bible and music and work and recreation, but those, he says, aren't required to be part of the formal curriculum, and aside from Bible, most would likely take away from what is necessary. His kids have gotten Bachelor's degrees in heavy subjects at Caltech after only 2 years of study. That's a pretty conclusive track record, considering his kids are not genius.
So while I sit here comparing my own diluted public-school education with what could've been... [Pardon the rabbit trail: There are books in this list about wars I never heard about, people who shaped the world that weren't mentioned in school, books written by people who shaped the world, and I never knew they even existed. I still kind of don't. And as for calculus? The environment of my detested public school had me convinced I didn't like math, and I stopped my high-school classes after geometry, algebra II, and trig. Doggone their socialist educational agendas!]
In a section explaining why grammar isn't taught in itself (of course, reading such high quality books and writing daily takes care of that), I ran across some amusing phrases. Things like:
"...to purge from the home all sources of low-quality speech, especially television."
I concur. But what if it's another family member? Shall we purge them from the home?
"...does not associate with poorly educated children (including most in the public schools)..."
Perhaps we can administer an SAT at the door before friends are admitted?
I guess that last one isn't as funny as it is true. Learning to think is anathema in America's public schools today, and it wouldn't make sense to have peers from among such a class. That is, it wouldn't make sense if your ultimate purpose for your children was academic excellence. That is not our sole purpose for ours, though socializing with children immersed in public school and similar influences goes against our purposes too. But not based on mental development.
I am thrilled to have been able to print out a McGuffey's primer for my girl to read in. We keep Little Monkey involved with learning letters from the first page which sports the alphabet in large letters. I've printed out 34 pages of phonics flashcards, which gall me to death, so boring is such a routine, but I think they will be useful. I could even print out my own version of THE 1611 King James Bible, calligraphy and all, but I don't have reams of blank paper sitting about. I might print out select pages from the 1913 Encyclopedia Britannica when the reading skills are appropriate; that's good learning material there. :) How many youngsters get that chance?