Thursday, April 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Victus Study Systems Review

Victus Study Skills Review
As Maestro gets further into his high school years, and have decided that we can confidently continue to homeschool through those years, we have been considering and watching his time management, study skills and time spent online. We want to make sure he is set up to manage his time, take on the world and achieve his goals and dreams, whatever direction he moves in. One possible solution came from my faithful Schoolhouse Review Crew when they offered the chance to review the Victus Study Skills System
The set includes the Teacher Edition book and a Student Workbook. We will be getting a second (and third, fourth, fifth, etc!) student workbook to do with Chef, Bruiser, and the rest of the Crew as they get older. 
Victus Study Skills Review
I started out looking at the Teacher Edition first. The overall outline of the course is fairly simple and really meant to take only four or five days to complete. So there was going to be no excuse for my "ever-busy" 14 year old not to get it done. (Never mind the paper he has due to his book group instructor.) Time management is part of the point, right? So for this age and grade-range, it took us four days to complete the book. Using the same course with Chef, 12 years old, would take closer to a week-and-a-half as we would need to work more on retaining each skill presented. Chef also has a very different learning style when compared to Maestro.
To give perspective here, Maestro is now a solid, nearly 6-foot tall young man of 14, in roughly 9th/10th grade (depending on the subject). I am now a mama to six kiddos, ages from 14 down to 3 months, run my oil business from home and (of course) homeschool. I have things I volunteer for as well. So, that leaves me with very little time for one-on-one instruction some days, no matter how hard I try. By this point in Maestro's education he needs to be taking ownership and responsibility over his classes and learning anyway because Mom and Pop can't hold his hand forever (as much as I miss those days!)
Victus Study Skills Review
The teacher's manual outlines the student book and offers suggestions on ways to discuss the concepts with the student. I like that the course focuses the student on several areas of life, the aim being to help answer three key questions: "Where are you now?", "Where do you want to be?", and "How do you get there?" 
No one taught me how to study when I was younger, nor when I went through the Navy, nor when I went through college. I did have one English teacher in high school who taught us some steps (very tedious steps) for writing a comprehensive paper, but it required so much effort that few outside of the type-A personalities are likely to repeat that lesson!
An exercise in writing a research paper - very important for Maestro to
understand the steps involved for that at this phase of the school-game.
Victus focuses on helping understand the strategies involved in effective study time, provides tools for the student to use in their studies to help achieve their goals, and even helps give a bit of an attitude adjustment for everyday life and tackling the challenges of getting to their goals. 
Victus Study Skills Review
I won't belabor the details of the teacher manual because it largely echoes and follows the student workbook. I will say that I appreciated that the teacher's "preparation" requirements were short and easy. Also, this is not a secular program and clearly is written by a Faithful person, in that it includes instructions like, "...pointing out that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we will listen twice as much as we talk..." but it would be easy to secularize this if that is what suits your family best. 
I took this picture before he could mess up the page
but it outlines making a mission statement and goal setting
So on to the student workbook, and Maestro's take on it. Let me start by saying that I love stories of those who have persevered and achieved their goals in spite of hardship - and this book starts out early on in a page titled "What's Their Story?" by highlighting some pretty famous people who did just that. At Maestro's age, it is easy to dream, and then as they get older see the difficulties in the dream and give up. Of course we don't call it "giving up", we call it changing our minds, choosing new goals, or whatever but in a pretty good number of cases, it really is just giving up. 
An example of an exercise in note-taking
This really is a course that can be valuable for success in life overall. The White Knight and I have been using some of the steps outlined to plan our family's course as he nears retirement as well. Are the secrets in Victus unique? No, but they are all in one place, outlined quite nicely and easy to understand. As one example, I have been told many times to plan out short term (three to six months), mid-term (one to five years) and long term (10 years or more) goals for life. But what happens after those goals are set? How do I get there? What are some ways to work towards those long term goals (especially) and not give up or get discouraged? Those are the steps outlined in Victus. 
A challenge to Maestro to be honest about where his time goes
Once he filled this in, Mom and Pop went over it with him together, along
with our own assessment of how he spends his time.
The teacher's manual is $40; the student workbook is $20; and there is a DIY Student workbook, adult workbooks, powerpoint presentation, etc. also available on the Victus Study Skills website. In truth I did not find the teacher's manual to be unique enough to spend that kind of money on it, but the student manual is definitely worthwhile, and I will be getting the adult Strategic Plan book for my own use in both my business goals and for goals in our family plan. 

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