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Curricula and Learning Links - Language Arts

Comparison of Progeny Press and Smarr

by Sherry R.

Both Progeny Press and Smarr Literature Guides are wonderful. Progeny Press guides are based on ONE book. You would choose a title and get a copy of the book to go with it, so there is very little cost up front if you just want to try it out. It can be purchased as a reproducible workbook or a CD. (See this link for an example of the Progeny Press Study Guide for The Bronze Bow or this link for an example of the Progeny Press Guide for The Hobbit.

The study begins with some background information about the author and the book. Then, the student reads several chapters, does vocabulary, and answers questions. Quite a few of the questions have the student look up Bible verses and answer questions about the story in context with the Bible verses. Some questions are looking for a specific answer while others are strictly opinion. There are also writing assignments and art suggestions. I chop the binding off and add a cheap plastic binding and allow my child to write in it.

Smarr Literature Guides can be purchased several ways:

  • Individual title studies
  • As a one-year program based on time periods
  • As a one-year program based on Intro to Lit, World Lit, American Lit, British Lit.
  • As a download, a CD, or a printed manual

The vocabulary is very tough and very thorough. (They have a money back guarantee on your SAT scores.) The questions are mostly content-based, though a few are opinion-based. There is often more information given on topics covered in the reading. The program is Christian-based and often there are questions/thoughts that tie in a Biblical perspective.

Choosing Between Progeny Press and Smarr Literature Guides

If your child really needs a good SAT score, you should choose SMARR. Your child will greatly benefit from the vocabulary selected as well as the daily exercise formats and tests that often use analogies. My fourteen year old daughter just took a practice SAT and scored a 600 on the English without any previous prep. Other reasons to choose Smarr include wanting a writing program with the literature program or wanting to study literature by time period.

An LD child COULD use the program if you read the books aloud or read the books at a slower pace. My son is LD and he needed to take a lower level analogies course to prepare for the vocabulary exercises. However, I recommend you purchase one title to try FIRST, before investing in a whole course.

Progeny Press guides do not have as thorough a vocabulary bent and no writing instruction is included. I think the questions asked in the Progeny Press guides are more thought-provoking and less recall-based. You will definitely not have the opportunity to cover as many works with the Progeny Press guides.

There are some good reasons to use Progeny Press, for example, if your child is not college bound and doesn't need the strong vocabulary base, if your child is LD and could not handle the workload of Smarr, or if you do not want a writing program as part of your literature program. If your child is not an avid reader or your child is title picky, Progeny Press gives more options to pick and choose titles. (That is also an option with Smarr.)

My daughter is college bound and wants to be a veterinarian. Smarr is meeting her needs for a good SAT score. She is also a voracious reader and it would be expensive to purchase enough Progeny Press guides to satisfy her appetite.

My son wants to be a youth pastor (which will require more education but he is looking at places that do not place an emphasis on academic achievement as much.) I think Progeny Press meets a "heart" requirement not as strongly emphasized in Smarr.

Both programs are wonderful and both would meet the requirements of a college bound student. Smarr is definitely the harder of the two courses.