Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: The Madsen Method - English for Life!


Have you ever walked in to a store and seen something there that intrigued you? For example, let's say it was a blender. You had watched some videos, talked to some people, and you really thought - based on what you had found out up to this point - that this blender was something that would make an impact on your family's health. A salesman came over and started extolling even more virtues of this blender and you decided you just had to have it! So you bought it. You brought it home. You plugged it in. You started using it. Then you discovered this blender didn't do what you thought it would. It didn't really fit with what you needed. In fact, you kind of wished you had never bought it after all.

So what does this have to do with The Madsen Method? Well, it sort of sums up my experience with it.

This past fall members of the TOS Homeschool Crew were given the chance to opt out of reviewing The Madsen Method. Typically lists are just posted on our forum listing what products each member will be receiving. We usually are not given the opportunity to say yea or nay to a product.

We were asked to view some videos of Sharon Madsen (who wrote the program) on YouTube. If we liked what we saw there, we made an appointment to talk on the phone with her husband, Joe. So I watched the videos. I was intrigued.

Language Arts has been a very hit or miss subject here over the years. However, a few years ago - when B13 was about eight years old I did a one year mini-homeschooling co-op at a friend's house for Language Arts. That is when I was introduced to Spell to Write and Read which is a phonics based program. To me, The Madsen Method was similar in nature but it added another element to it - gestures - or "doing".

The Madsen Method teaches that the student must get his "neurological team" working together. It consists of four parts...speaking, listening, doing, and seeing. 

He SPEAKS; He HEARS what he said; He DOES what he heard; He SEES what he did!

After watching the videos of Sharon speaking and showing how parts of the program work, I agreed to talk to Joe. I spent over an hour on the phone with him one evening after my boys were in bed and my hubby was away. He explained how the program worked. It truly did sound like it had the potential to work wonders in our homeschooling home.

B13 reads extremely well for his age and has for years. N9 is also a very good reader. Neither are very good spellers. I knew there was something missing connecting these two skills and I hoped that this program would help. So I agreed to try using Part 1.

The Madsen Method consists of four separate "parts" or levels. Parts 1-3 are currently available and Part Four will be out in September 2011. The four levels would be the equivalent of twelve years of language arts in only 6-8 years. Each level sells for $299.95 each with a discount for homeschoolers ($219.95).

Part One includes:

  • Spiral #1 - Introduction to The Madsen Method - Sections 1-3
  • Spiral #2 - Section 4
  • Spiral #3 - Section 5 (Lessons 1-7)
  • Spiral #4 - Section 5 (Lessons 8-14)
  • Spiral #5 - Section 5 (Lessons 15-21)
  • Spiral #6 - Games for All Students - Duplicable Coloring Pages for Primary Students & Part One Comprehensive Index
  • Folder containing Templates Packet of forms as well as a CD with those forms on it
  • Free Standardized Tests Booklet
I was also sent the a set of four CD's later called "Listen in Library" as well as a CD called "Sounds of the English Phonograms."

This is a fully scripted program. It has lots of text boxes, balloons, and pages full of information all designed to help the teacher teach the program. There is no guessing as to what comes next since it is all laid out in the books for you. 

The customer service is also fantastic and the Madsens and their company are completely behind everyone who commits to using their program. One way they do this is to also offer ongoing live support via phone and e-mail. They are very helpful in making sure that this product works for the teacher and student and are more than happy to talk you through any issues that may arise.

So, how did it work for us? To put it succinctly: it didn't. I forgot one very, very important thing about my teaching style and my boys learning styles. I do not do well and really dislike fully scripted programs. To this day, I shudder when people mention How To Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons. That book drove me bonkers (and poor B13 too). I also do not do well with teacher intensive programs. And finally, my boys do not do well with ridge-at-the-table-learning. So for us, this was a very painful process. We tried as best we could, but we could not push past what didn't work to fully see if it would work for us.

Having said all that, I do feel this is a very solid Language Arts program. I really like the fact that it is a non-consumable program. Considering the price of it and the sheer bulk of it - it's worth the money. I think this program may work best for those just starting out. It would also work really well with those who like and thrive on scripted programs. It certainly does take the guess work out of it all.

If you'd like more information The Madsen Method, but sure to click over to their website. I would recommend checking out the link for the YouTube videos posted as well as Letters to Teachers. There is also a section directed specifically to homeschooling parents.

Finally, be sure to check out what my fellow TOS Homeschool Crew members had to say also.

*Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. All opinions shared are my own. TOS Crew Members are given the product free of charge in exchange for our unbiased opinion of the product.

1 comment:

  1. You did a great job with this! It is very balanced.

    Mrs. White


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