I too am using the Abeka program for the first time this August. I'll be teaching first grade. I haven't picked up the teacher's manuals yet, so I have no idea what to expect.
What is the Abeka program?
I have taught k-4 Abeka curriculum in a christian school for 8 years now. I do agree that it is an awesome phonics, reading and writing program. However, I found that after the first year the numbers and math was lacking. I purchased an old Saxon preschool math curriculum manual and have incorporated it into Abeka. I do Abeka 3 days a week and Saxon 2 days. Saxon is more hands on and has a lot more concepts in it. We do the worksheets that are needed but I cut out a lot of them if they are not needed. In the beginning, the readiness skills sheets are nice, because most new students need practice tracing, coloring, matching, cutting, etc. Toward the end of the school year, I cut out some of the papers and do more made up activities like phonics bingo (with blends and words) numbers bingo, patterning, making blends with alphabet noodles or foam letters, etc. I would NOT say Abeka is awful, just lacking in some areas, but really all the curriculums have good and bad points.
PS. You can order the manuscript writing instead of cursive for all grades k-4 and up. Our school stopped doing cursive so early because our middle school kids could not print at all. They need to print in life for job applications and such and some of them had only ever learned cursive (my son was one of them) But now we start cursive in third grade.
Hope this was helpful and good luck, it really is an easy program to follow
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