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Single Parent Homeschooling: The Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum

Updated on August 22, 2019
AuniceReed profile image

Aunice is a homeschooling mother with 15 years of homeschooling experience. She has graduated 2 children from high school.

"A child can gain a lot of satisfaction from handling a task by himself or herself — building pride in his or her efforts." ~Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts of Piedmont Parent
"A child can gain a lot of satisfaction from handling a task by himself or herself — building pride in his or her efforts." ~Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts of Piedmont Parent | Source
Dr. Arthur Robinson PhD is a biochemist. He is the founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. He is a former professor of chemistry at University of California San Diego.
Dr. Arthur Robinson PhD is a biochemist. He is the founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. He is a former professor of chemistry at University of California San Diego. | Source

"The brain must learn by itself, function by itself, have confidence in itself, and achieve by itself."~Dr. Arthur Robinson

The Robinson story begins with a large homeschooling family and the mother of which develops the educational program and assumes responsibility as teacher. She designs a stellar system covering all grades and subjects, clear from kindergarten through 12th grade. While the program Lauralee constructs is excellent in every way, she did not consider the event of her not being alive to implement it. Ironically, she did have a contingency plan to take out life insurance on her husband in the case that he should pass on. This ensured that she would be able to continue homeschooling if that should happen.

However it was Lauralee who died from an unforeseen sickness. While Dr. Robinson had help from family and friends to assist with chores (they lived on a farm) and other domestic tasks, the children were suddenly left without a teacher and mother. The children ranged in ages from 17 months old to 12 years. Dr. Robinson had suddenly become a single parent of 6 children.

Dr. Robinson Witnesses a "Remarkable" Shift

After Lauralee's death, Dr. Robinson continues to build upon the lifestyle to which he and his wife were committed. He institutes a few new study rules, and then remarkably the children began to take the initiative. "Gradually, with occasional coaching and help from me, they created a home school that actually needs no teacher and is extraordinary in its effectiveness," he says. This program is what he eventually created to become The Robinson, Self-Teaching Curriculum. It is complete and covers all grades, K-12th. Only one purchase is needed; it can be used for multiple children at varying ages and grade levels simultaneously. Not to mention it is of high-quality and award-winning. For families experiencing a hardship, a scholarship program is available.

All the Robinson children attained degrees in primarily scientific disciplines, several of which were awarded doctorate degrees from competitive institutions..

Key Tenets of the Robinson Curriculum:

Dr. Robinson says these are actually rules and not "suggestions." They are part of the program and functions as a whole system.

1. No T.V. and no sugar. As we all know, sugar has been added to just about everything we buy. What Dr. Robinson is referring to is mostly added sugars and sweets, not what we find in fruits, veggies and all those other foods we typically buy. He recommends added sugar be eliminated from the child's diet as much as possible.

2. Five hours dedicated to formal school work every day. These are to be the most productive hours of the day. This is a goal the younger child gradually works toward.

3. Learn to read by using phonics. Phonics refers to a method of teaching reading that correlates letters or groups of letters with corresponding sounds. It is superior to the rote or "look-say approach" commonly used in the public schools.

4. Classic materials are central to the curriculum. Reading materials are high-quality "classics." Authors include: Horatio Alger, Josephine Pollard, Rudyard Kipling and G.A. Henty. McGuffey Readers, Treasure Island, Heidi, Up from Slavery and The Federalist Papers are a few examples of the reading included in the curriculum. Student's are expected to work up to 2 hours of reading daily.

5. Children begin all days with 30 math problems. Dr. Robinson highly recommends the Saxon Math curriculum for mathematics. Today other high-quality math curricula have been created since this method and materials have become available. Singapore Math, Math-U-See, CTC Math and Ray's Arithmetic are a few favorites among home educators. With the Robinson approach, younger children learn and practice math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.). They progress to Saxon Math 54 (a 4th grade level text) after they have mastered those facts.

6. After math, children are to do a 1-page written essay every day. The younger child does 1/2 page of copywork and penmanship practice. Oral or written narration and dictation may also be done by the younger child. High school students are expected to write a full-page composition daily on a topic of their choice. However many families working this method have the older child complete compositions 2-3 times per week instead of each day. The supervising parent is expected to check the student's compositions for proper grammar, sentence structure and punctuation. If the student is working a formal English program, they would do that during this time.

7. Older children in high school complete college-level chemistry and physics at the freshman and sophomore level. The most current Cal Tech texts are included in the boxed curriculum, and are part of the reason the curriculum is more than worth purchasing. If these college science texts were bought separately, the cost would be more than the entire curriculum. Dr. Robinson suggests that younger children cannot do real science, because it requires a mathematical foundation to be done correctly. Children who have not reached high school level should be encouraged to pursue their scientific interests. This can be done by doing independent projects, conducting experiments and reading books.

There is also a whole host of other do's and don'ts.

Children Should Work Independently as Much as Possible

Dr. Robinson expresses the importance of children working independently without much parent intervention. He purports that this is what instills a good work ethic and study skill set. "The brain must learn by itself, function by itself, have confidence in itself, and achieve by itself," states Dr. Robinson. The job of the parent is to supervise with very little involvement so a dependence is not created, and the parent in this instance becomes a crutch for the student. With The Robinson Curriculum, the student must be expected and is directed to work independently. During the early years, parental involvement is necessary, but after the child learns to read on their own and knows basic math facts, they are expected to work by themselves.

If you're a single parent wanting to homeschool, or are already doing it and in search of a high-quality method that won't burn you completely out, and one that won't send you to the poor house, the Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum could be a great choice for your family.

Purchase or Do-It-Yourself (DIY)?

Today, many families are adopting a DIY version of implementing the RC method. When the Robinson Curriculum was created, internet and computer technology wasn't as advanced as it is in more recent times. The materials on the CD ROMS weren't freely available on the internet like they are now. Using the disks in the package can be quite cumbersome due to the large size of the files which are in a TIF format. The 2.2 version is more updated and is somewhat easier to work with. Whether they have purchased the curriculum or pulled it together on their own, most parents allow their children to store and access the books for the daily reading on a tablet, such as a Kindle or an I-Pad. As the reading materials are classics, most books in the RC Curriculum can be found on the internet for a low cost, and often are free. Many RC books are in the public domain.

For further help with a DIY version of the RC Curriculum, see: The Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum: A Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide

Dr. Robinson, pictured here (left) with children.
Dr. Robinson, pictured here (left) with children.

Dr. Art Robinson Explains the Robinson Curriculum

© 2014 Aunice Yvonne Reed


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    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      5 years ago

      Sounds like a great approach to education. No sugar & no TV are definitely great ideas. We also do math, reading & writing every single day and take a more structured approach to the basics, while we take a more hands on/eclectic approach to other subjects-- project oriented, or the kids take classes in things that interest them. Of the 2 teens still homeschooling, one is heavily involved in the arts (particularly musical theater) and the other is taking culinary courses (he has wanted to be a chef since age 4 and plans to go to culinary school. I love the way homeschooling allows for flexibility. Nice hub!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      5 years ago

      What a fascinating story! I homeschooled my children for a couple of years when they were smaller. I taught them to read and write. I also homeschooled a teenager that hated reading and math. He was a straight C student. After 6 weeks of intensive language arts and math, he went back to school and got straight As. He also finished early, six months ahead because he caught up with all the credits he needed. He worked independently every day without pressure. He really excelled.


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