I know many of us are making curriculum decisions for the coming year, and I’ve had many questions about how we like Winter Promise, so I hope this review will be helpful!
A little of our homeschooling history, so you’ll know where we’re coming from:
I’m now finishing up my fifth year of homeschooling. All along, we’ve been mostly Charlotte Mason style homeschoolers. For Kathryn’s kindergarten year, we used Heart of Dakota, and then we used Ambleside Online for 1st and 2nd grades. For her 3rd grade year, we used Winter Promise’s “Children Around the World.” In the middle of Kathryn’s 3rd grade year, we brought newly adopted Lindsey home full-time from a hybrid homeschool program, so she did this curriculum with us for half of the school year. This year, I’ve been using Winter Promise “American Crossing” with two different ages: Kathryn’s 4th grade year and Lindsey’s 9th grade year.
The living book selections are wonderful. There isn’t one I can think of that we didn’t all like. Some would be listed among my girls’ favorite books of all time.
Book lists for each of the themed programs are available on the Winter Promise site, so you could just pick and choose a few if you didn’t want to use the whole program.
One of our all-time favorite projects, and one in which we learned SO much, was in last year’s “Children Around the World” program: their exclusive World Travels Diary. It’s awesome! This was a year-long notebooking project. We made our own passports, and Kathryn l-o-v-e-d putting the stamps in her passport for the countries she visited. Even Lindsey thought the whole thing was pretty cool. I highly, highly recommend this for geography studies. But again, you could just purchase this one product if you wanted to put together your own world geography study.
When you buy a themed program from Winter Promise, you receive the “program guide” for free. (This also could be purchased on it’s own if you so desired.) The guide plans out everything you could want to do — and more. And therein lies the problem, at least for me. To be fair, this could really be a pro or a con, depending on your personality and your homeschooling style. I loved it at first, but then realized I was becoming a slave to it. If there is something to check off a list, I want to check it off. This year, to save my sanity, I look at the WP lesson plans, but then I pick and choose and make my own.
We’ve enjoyed the lapbooking projects in this year’s program, but those are actually Homeschool in the Woods products, which can, of course, be purchased separately. I plan to use one or two of these next year.
The “American Crossing” program has been good overall, but the history text readings have been very dry (“boring”, according to the girls) and I just haven’t been as enthusiastic about it as last year’s program.
It was a hard decision to make, but we won’t be using Winter Promise again next year. If it fits your style and your budget, I’d still recommend the “Children Around the World” program. In fact, Kathryn told me there was nothing she would change, and she would recommend it to other families.
A common complaint I’ve heard about Winter Promise is that they have poor customer service: not easy to get in touch with, and shipments taking months to arrive. I can’t say for sure whether my own experience is more the exception or the rule, but I have not had these problems. The only time I called customer service, someone answered the phone and helped me immediately. When I ordered our program for last year, it did come in more than one shipment, but they were only a few weeks apart, and I had ordered in plenty of time to allow for that. I was a little surprised that a couple of the books were different than I ordered, but they explained that the books they planned for originally went out of print, so they made substitutions. If I remember correctly, this was only the case with two books out of many more.
I hope this has been helpful! If you have other specific questions about this curriculum, leave them in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to answer!