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Calvert School Review by Leslie Talley


"Many of us have dreamed of the UPS man bringing our entire homeschool curriculum in a box. Calvert makes that dream come true." -- The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Kindergarten, Fourth, and Seventh grades

When we are trying to decide what curriculum to use, there are some important questions to ask. How much work do I want to do to gather materials? Do I want to be responsible for daily lesson plans? How many children will I be teaching, and how will I coordinate their different needs? How much money do I have to spend, and how will I divide it? Do I need outside help with assessment of my children's progress?

If you want lesson planning done, materials gathered, and optional assessment provided, Calvert is an excellent choice. Structured, organized, and rigorous instructions are other components that make Calvert a popular choice.

Many of us have dreamed of the UPS man bringing our entire homeschool curriculum in a box. Calvert makes that dream come true. Ruler, crayons, compass, paper, textbooks, literature, and more are all put together for you.

If lesson planning is difficult, or if you need a plan to keep yourself organized, each year comes with a lesson manual that provides daily plans for all subjects. For example, in the 7th Grade Lesson Manual for Week 10, the plan is set out as follows: grammar, history, composition, reading and spelling-vocabulary are all discussed with instructions, discussion questions, activities, and enrichment options included. At the beginning of each lesson, there is a list of the needed books and student assignments. You don't even have to search through the plans to know what materials to gather for the day. Math has its own lesson manual.


Described as a course of educational work and play for a child of five to six years old, Calvert Kindergarten is a program that assumes some readiness in reading and mathematics. Children should recognize the letters of the alphabet and show some interest in reading before beginning this course. The day's program allows for approximately two and a half hours of school, but it can be changed to accommodate the interests and needs of individual children. Subjects include math, reading, science, music, arts and crafts, and games.

Math includes comparisons and classifications (larger/smaller, longer/shorter, color, shape, size); number ideas from one to 31 (counting, ordering numbers, ordinal numbers); money; telling time to the hour; addition and subtraction readiness; matching; sets; and more.

The reading program provides plenty of phonetic instruction and practice, including 20 phonics storybooks throughout the year. The Reading Work Pages provide worksheets to reinforce letters, sounds, and story sequence. The Poems and Prose book has 14 titles including poems and fables from well-known authors such as Margaret Wise Brown and Arnold Lobel.

The Teacher Aids book provides help with mathematics, reading, music and letter and number recognition. There is an excellent list of math-related storybooks for each chapter, with several intriguing titles that are new to me. I am eager to find them at our local library. Also included are key letter, picture and word cards, and "sliders" that help reinforce vowel word families. For example, the og family has a picture of a dog, and the sliding piece that can be used to make the words "dog," "hog," or "log."

Science exposes the student to several topics of interest: seasons, weather, animals, plants, space, and more. The Science Activity pages include worksheets for further learning. The seasons lessons include four pictures to identify summer, fall, winter, and spring; a list of the months of the year; and ways to stay healthy in the winter. For a child that enjoys scissors and coloring, this would be a pleasure.

Calvert includes many arts and crafts supplies for the year. There is clay, chalk, paints, crayons, and more.

Overall, the kindergarten year provides an academic foundation for students that are ready to learn to read and to focus on workbook and seat learning for a small portion of each day.

Fourth grade

This year of Calvert provides approximately four to five hours of work a day. The lessons include math (money and numbers to 1,000,000; multiplying and dividing by one and two digit factors; geometric figures; fractions and mixed numbers; decimals and probability; and both standard and metric measurements), language arts (grammar; reading; composition; spelling; vocabulary; and optional phonics to provide review where needed), history (using Hillyer's A Child's History of the World), geography, picture study, poetry, science, and art. Once again, the lesson plan book is very thorough and gives all the direction necessary for your day. They provide a recommended schedule that divides the subjects throughout the week, making it far less overwhelming than it might sound.

The history text, A Child's History of the World (CHOW), is a well-known and well-loved volume that was written by the original headmaster of Calvert School, Virgil M. Hillyer. History is presented in an engaging, narrative style that provides a "panoramic view of the ages, told century by century." The student has a CHOW workbook that provides outlines to fill in, timelines, and 109 enrichment activities. There is also a separate lesson manual for CHOW with discussion questions, instructions for the enrichment activities, and answer keys. History is scheduled for three days a week.

Geography is a once a week study, with an excellent introduction to hemispheres, continents, maps, population facts, the five themes of geography, and more. There are a handful of resource pages in the workbook.

Language arts includes a Grammar and Usage book, a very thorough Speller Vocabulary book, reading skill workbooks, classics to read, critical thinking exercises, and composition instruction. Good literature is introduced and studied, writing instruction and practice is provided regularly, and basic skills are taught and reinforced throughout the year.

A child that has finished Calvert fourth grade would have had a year filled with rich historical narrative, great literature, and plenty of skill instruction to make it a strong academic year.

Seventh grade

Seventh grade continues on the academic path that has been set by the earlier grades. The expectation is that there will be four to five hours of work completed each day. I have Calvert Math and Elements of Language for review.

Math includes the Calvert Math text, the Practice and Enrichment Workbook, and the teacher's Math Manual. Topics include applying whole numbers; decimals; pre-algebra; number theory and fractions; geometry; adding and subtracting fractions; multiplying and dividing fractions; statistics; probability; ratio, proportion, and percent; applying percent; integers; applying measurement; functions; and graphs. The instructions are clear, and the lessons look challenging and thorough. The Practice and Enrichment Workbook provides extra practice for skills discussed in the text.

Elements of Language is written by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, and it divides language arts studies into: Communications; Sentences and Paragraphs; and Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics. While I think there are more interesting ways to teach language arts than using a textbook, at the end of the year a student will certainly have been exposed to excellent teaching on reading, writing, and grammar.

I am obviously a fan of Calvert curriculum. I like the rigor, the organization of materials, the excellent teacher's guides, and the math program. That said there are a couple of things to be aware of when considering Calvert. This is not an inexpensive program. You do receive your complete year in a box, saving hours of time and eliminating the headaches of daily/weekly/yearly lesson plans. However, the manuals can only be used for one child. You agree, when purchasing Calvert, to not re-use the manuals without paying a re-use fee. You also may not sell them when you are done. For the larger family, this can become costly.Another consideration is how to combine several children. The Calvert program is complete, and that is listed above as a strength, but it can also be a weakness. If you decide to have each child do their separate skill areas (language arts and math), but combine for history and science, you would be unable to use Calvert. Each child's year program includes a separate history and science program. The only subject that can be purchased separately is math.

Those caveats aside, I think Calvert is an excellent choice. If you are just starting homeschooling and have no idea where to begin, the lesson manuals and teacher's aids are invaluable. If you want to make sure that you are providing a rigorous and thorough program for your student, but don't have time to plan lessons, Calvert is time-tested and well respected. I have one friend that felt the need for someone else to determine how much her son should be doing in a day, providing an outside authority to answer the question, "Why do I have to do this?" It was very helpful for her.

Another optional service that Calvert offers is the Advisory Testing Service. It promises, "Your student will submit tests eight times to his assigned Calvert Advisory Teacher, and will receive a personalized letter, along with his graded work." This also provides a permanent grade record, a Certificate of Completion, and a transcript. You still set the pace for your student, but this can provide added incentive for students to work hard, and for parents to stay on track.

For more information about Calvert School, you may call 1-888-487-4652, or visit their website at There you can see course surveys by grade level, the materials included with each year's program, and pricing and ordering information.

Calvert School has served the homeschool community for decades. The academic standard they set is rigorous, the support they offer their customers is excellent, and the instructions they provide for students and teachers are thorough. So, take a look at Calvert School, and see if they just might bring some help to your homeschool this year.

-- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Here's another Calvert School review!

Our family received the Calvert Math package and we were very excited! The package consisted of a teacher's manual, a math workbook, an extra practice book, a magnetic board and shape magnets, and connecting cubes of various colors. The Teacher's Manual has everything written out for you. It tells you the objectives, materials, warm-up, and skill development. It even gives you great games to play to help the child grasp the concept. The student workbook is very colorful and there is plenty of room for little hands to write numbers and math problems. I know that our son needs plenty of room.

The workbook starts out with the basics and then progresses at a pace that a five to seven-year-old can keep up with, without too much difficulty. Another thing that I really liked was the extra practice book. This helped to reinforce what our son was already learning. I definitely give this program a thumbs up! I am not very big on workbooks, but this program has made workbooks fun and exciting!

-- Product Review by: Lesley Wotton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine