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Auto Upkeep Homeschool Kit, 4th Edition Review by Kirsten West and Debra Brinkman

Rolling Hills Publishing
Michael E. Gray and Linda E. Gray
Rolling Hills Publishing
300 Eagle Flight
Ozark, MO 65721

The Auto Upkeep Homeschool Kit is a full auto shop class that your high school-aged child can do at home. The course actually goes beyond the kind of auto shop curriculum offered in high schools in my day. Auto Upkeep includes lessons on how to purchase an automobile and understand the trade-offs of financing, as well as understanding and quantifying all the expenses involved in purchasing a car. This course is perfect for the homeschooled high school student who has any interest in automobiles. The curriculum does not require that either your child or you have any previous experience working on cars. The author begins with the basic ideas of how engines work and what are the components that make up an automobile and explains everything in a clear and simple way.

You do not generally think that your child can work through an auto shop curriculum as a homeschooler, at home. But Auto Upkeep covers everything your child will need to know in order to purchase, maintain, and perform light repairs on their own vehicles. Each chapter ends with a sidebar that includes possible career paths that includes required education, median income, a link to find out more, and personal interests and likes that the career will stimulate.

The course includes a textbook, workbook, instructor resource USB Flash Drive, online Auto Upkeep resources, and links to videos that enrich and support the content in the course. A typical lesson begins with the Textbook. Your child will read through a section, perhaps using the Internet to watch videos (stored on Auto Upkeep’s web site) or read about regulations and requirements on industry web links, and then complete activities in the workbook that range from writing down the oil capacity of your vehicle (after looking it up) to taking notes after going out to the car, opening the hood and changing the air filter or checking the electrical system. There are Chapter Tests, Exams, and a Final, as well as the answer keys on the Instructor Resources Flash Drive so that you can turn the course into a for-credit high school course for your homeschooler.

The Homeschool Curriculum Kit that includes the Textbook, Workbook, and Instructor Resources Flash Drive is priced at $69.00 for paperback textbook, and $87.00 for the hardback textbook version. The curriculum is designed for children in high school (grades 9-12). The writing style is straight forward with color coded sidebars filled with layers and layers of information, making it perfect for the independent child to use on his own, coming to you for lesson follow up and testing. We used the curriculum just this way, with my son working his way through the material on his own and coming to me with questions and to show me what he learned. Everything in the course is so clearly laid out that I was able to easily help my son through the material without really knowing much about automobiles (except how to drive them).

Each lesson covers a lot of material, and so your child may take longer than a week to complete some lessons if he takes his time and explores all the content. There are twenty chapters (or lessons) with study questions for each chapter, forty activities, chapter tests, and one final exam included in the curriculum, making this a full year high school elective course in automotive maintenance, light repair, ownership, and how cars work. The appendices include reproducible pages covering safety rules, a daily reflection log, article/website/video review, vehicle reference information form, a sample repair invoice/work order form, and a career exploration research page. The appendix also includes an explanation of the teaching philosophy (called Domains of Learning) and a detailed and easy to implement course grading form that allows you to assign a quantitative grade based on your child’s ability to master each of the two hundred skills he will learn in the course.

When I was in high school, we still had auto shop as an elective. Granted, there were not many girls who wanted to brave the room full of boys in order to learn to work on cars. I stayed far away from auto shop, and as a result I did not learn to rotate tires or change brakes until I was an adult. My husband taught me to work on cars, and he was teaching my children until he was injured. This course has allowed my son to keep learning about the upkeep and repair of our cars with little outside help. It is a fantastic solution for anyone who wants their high school aged child to learn basic maintenance and repair, how to choose an insurance policy, or even the physics of how different types of engines work. It is all in this course.

-Product review by Kirsten West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2017

Another Reviewer's Perspective:

Auto Upkeep, 3rd Edition

Michael E. Gray and Linda E. Gray

Rolling Hills Publishing


300 Eagle Flight

Ozark, MO 65721

When I was a homeschool mom of young children, I worried a bit about some of the things I wanted my boys to learn when they were teens. There are so many life skills that I feel competent to teach, but many that don’t seem so straightforward. Those include some very important areas, though, such as being comfortable with taking care of a car.

I’m okay with some basics. I know how to change a tire, check – and even change – the oil, add fluids, but that is really about it. How do I get my kids to learn things that are outside my comfort zone?

Dad could teach a lot of this, and he has, but that is rather hit-or-miss. Which child is available when we need to replace the brake pads? Who can change a tire fastest as we need the car right now?

Enter Auto Upkeep: Basic Car Care, Maintenance, and Repair, and their Homeschool Curriculum Kit. This kit includes a textbook, a student workbook, and a Homeschool CD. Additional students would need a workbook for sure, and you may want them to have their own textbooks.

The course includes twenty chapters on many aspects of automobiles. A syllabus breaks it down into 90 straightforward days of work, where you spend 4-5 days per chapter. This course covers a lot:

  • Some history and basic information about cars
  • Discussion of costs involved from purchasing an automobile to the basic expenses
  • A chapter on taking your car to a repair shop
  • Introductory material on safety, tools, keeping the car clean, and checking fluids
  • Chapters on the various systems, including electrical, lubrication, fuel, cooling/climate control, ignition, suspension/steering/tires, braking, drivetrain, and exhaust and emission
  • A chapter on alternative fuels and designs
  • A chapter on accessories
  • And finally, a great chapter on common problems and roadside emergencies

The course is a combination of classroom instruction with the text and workbook, along with lab/shop work. You only need some basic tools to complete the lab work, though if you do have access to more you certainly can do more specialized work.

I have all three of my high school boys working through this. We quickly made the decision that my senior needed to take a faster plan, so he could complete it before graduation. The course as outlined on the Course Syllabus Outline (included on the Homeschool CD) is roughly 135 hours of instruction. To make it a ½ credit course for my senior, we planned to cut back on some of the activities and not having him do some of the research activities.

As it turned out, though, we decided to give him credit for some activities he had already completed, such as changing a flat tire, replacing windshield wipers, jump-starting a vehicle, etc. He read the material in the text, and went through the material in the workbook, but he didn’t necessarily complete the activities if they were things he had done frequently enough to be comfortable.

My freshman and sophomore, however, are doing many of the activities (I especially love the chapter on auto care and cleaning!) and we are keeping track of things that they can do with their workbooks as they come up. By having them do some of these activities on multiple vehicles, they will easily earn a full credit each. At the very least, that involves doing a fluid check on a big Ford pickup, an old minivan, and a fairly new, small commuter vehicle.

One thing I really love about this curriculum is that it is easy to implement. The syllabus outlines just what to do, there are tests for each chapter, midterm and final exams, and lots and lots of photos.

At $57 for the paperback version of the set, this is a fantastic bargain. Additional workbooks are available for $18, and once you complete the workbook, it will make an excellent resource to carry into adult life.

I highly recommend this, even if you only use it to supplement a driver’s ed course. Working through the first few chapters would be good for any teen. Then, when car problems occur in the future, this would be an excellent resource for grasping just what is going on and what is involved in getting the vehicle running again.

-Product review by Debra Brinkman, Crew Administrator, The Schoolhouse Review Crew, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, May, 2016