Thursday, May 19, 2016

My review of Bob Jones University and A Beka Academy (DVD)

      We have been homeschooling for 7 years and have almost always used A Beka Academy on DVD's for our children (one year we used Easy Peasy and one year we used only A Beka Books), but for this year (2015-2016 school year) I decided to try Bob Jones University on DVD’s (for 6th grade) and BJU Hard Drive (for grades 1 and 4). If you will be using only the books from either, some of these may or may not even matter.

This is my review of Bob Jones University and A Beka Academy:

As far as education goes, they are both great. They are both Christian based and both get an A+ for teaching material.

BJU: For every subject, the students have to jump around where they do their work.. from work book, to the student packet, to their own notebooks.
ABA: Everything was in one place. One work book (or notebook) for each subject (not 3 different ones). Tests are separate books for both, but that's fine.
This one in particular is important if you wish to continue schooling while traveling, something we do at least once a year. Less books with ABA made it easier to pack.

BJU: ALL of the student packets and ALL of the teachers manuals and ALL of the answer keys came as loose leaf papers. I had to purchase tons of 3-ring binders to keep them all contained and in one place. If you have one student, that may not be a problem, but with 4 students this year, it was an expense we did not plan for.
ABA: Everything comes in book form, either paper back or spiral bound. There aren’t any loose leaf papers.

I mean truly, that's a lot of binders!
The white ones (2.5") are for the parent and the colored ones (1.5") are for the students.
And I have to make copies of the 1st grade because I have two students in 1st grade.
I was originally going to order a second set, but after putting everything in binders, I said, "Forget it! I'll just make copies as needed!"

BJU: The lesson selection goes as follows, first you select the subject DVD, it shows all of the lessons, and then you select the lesson. Lots of jumping around from DVD to DVD for each subject. So my student had to switch DVD's 6-8 times throughout the day.
ABA: Select the lesson number DVD first, then the screen gives the option of which subject you need to watch. No jumping around from DVD to DVD. So there was only one DVD to play for the whole day. The ABA way was easier for both children and myself.

BJU: Does have the option of using a Hard Drive instead of DVD's, this must be installed into your computer or laptop. The lesson selection is the same way as the DVD's and there was a lot of jumping from screen to screen. However, what I did love about the hard drive is that you can check off the finished lessons and it recorded the day you finished it!
ABA: As far as I know, does not offer the Hard Drive option.

BJU: The lessons don't match the day, for instance: on day 86 the student does Bible lesson 77, Math Less. 77, Phonics&Reading Less. 76, Science Less. 65, Spelling Less. 70. That is so confusing some times and if the children did school on their own (which the older ones do often) it is very hard for me to keep track of what they completed and what they didn’t complete..
ABA: If it's day 86, all subjects are lesson 86.

BJU: Too many cartoons and use of cartoon characters and a bit too much silliness in my opinion.
ABA: Does use some puppets, but no cartoons.

BJU: Has a different teacher for each subject.
ABA: Has one teacher teaching all subjects. Only in middle and high school do they start having different teachers for each subject. My children much preferred having one teacher teach all of the subjects (for elementary grades).

BJU:  I did like that they teach to write in what they call pre-cursive. They are print letters with slight "tails", then they transition to writing in cursive. In 6th grade they learn the art of calligraphy, which was pretty cool.
ABA: Teaches only cursive writing. So the students that only did ABA don't know how to print. Their handwriting is horrid when they have to print, but their cursive is nice.

ABA: Does more repetitive flash cards to solidify what they are learning. I really liked that. They did a lot of practice through out each subject and lesson. This way the kids really remembered and it stays in their long term memory. I feel like they don't do a lot of that with BJU and my children did better with the flash cards and repetition.

ABA: I loved that the teacher did quick exercises and short songs with children within each subject to get them to focus. We all know how children fidget while sitting still for long periods of time and this helped tremendously.

BJU was slightly cheaper than ABA, especially if you chose the Hard Drive option, however I did have to buy all those 3-ring binders and ended up spending more.

There were a few reasons I wanted to leave ABA, and some of them were:
(but now that I look back, these weren't that bad)

ABA video lessons actually video tape the whole classroom from beginning to end.. So it was like the child was in the classroom with the students.
BJU video lessons are ONLY of the teachers, teaching the lessons and that’s it.

ABA does take longer. If you do every single minute of every lesson and the seat work, it can take 6-8 hours.. which I didn’t do. I didn’t make my children do all the seat work or do all the levels of reading. The reason they do that in the video is because they have a whole classroom to teach and within the classroom there are different levels of learning. So while the teacher works with one group, the other 2 groups work independently. Even with the less work I made my children do, it still would take us a good 4-5 hours.

The thing I liked and didn't like at the same time for ABA is that my students were able to hear and see the students in the video, competing with the other students, learning from both students and teacher.. But they also would not always try to beat those students in answering quickly and would instead just listen and cheat lol. So I paused a lot to make sure they could answer for themselves.

I am switching back to ABA for next year, because it was more user friendly. I will just have to cut some things from their lessons to shorten the school day. As the teacher you will know if your child is strong in the lesson and needs to reinforce it or just skip it.

If having accredited grades is important to you, instead of keeping track of everything yourself.
ABA: Has a free accredited program (I think there was a $25 charge if you decide to switch after your start date) here is a link for more info: ABA Accredited Program.
BJU: Charges several hundred dollars, here is a link for more info: BJU Accredited Program.

I hope this helps and, again, this is OUR experience. Others may have had a different experience, so talk to others parents as well :)


  1. Thank you for the great reviews! I only used Abeka and I agree to what you said, but nevertheless I would not switch to another curriculum.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it :)


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