(PLEASE NOTE - This entire FAQs section explains just about everything you will ever want to know about STEPS. It can be downloaded, with an interactive Table Of Contents! USE THE BUTTON ABOVE to get your own copy of this easy-to-use document that explains everything about STEPS!)
Everything that follows is for the eyes of the parent/teacher/homeschool administrator or tutor.
WHAT IS STEPS?
STEPS is THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM OF EDUCATION, curriculum providing a quality education for ages 5-adult.
STEPS is secular in what and how we teach. Our science and history are secular.
STEPS is religion-friendly in that we never attack religious beliefs, and as a part of history studies, we make sure that each student learns about every major religion in detail. Religion must be understood as much as science, politics, economics, and any other important part of life.
IS STEPS FOR HOMESCHOOLING? THE CLASSROOM?
STEPS is independent study. It is for homeschoolers, and can be used in classroom situations that encourage independent study.
IS STEPS SERIOUS EDUCATION?
Absolutely. We want every student to receive a profound, complete education. STEPS has over a decade of experience delivering high-quality education to tens of thousands of students. STEPS is “hands-on” challenging fun. STEPS is not copy work or busy work, it is serious curriculum. When a student completes STEPS, we expect a student to understand the world he lives in, to identify his own interests, and to be ready for college, the work place, or to conquer the world.
ARE STEPS COURSES BOOKS? HOW DO I GET THEM?
When you purchase courses on our site, an email with a link is immediately sent to the email address you give us. You will have 24 hours to use that link and download your courses, which are in PDF form. (If you can’t use the link within 24 hours, write us and we’ll re-set the link so you can use it.)
CAN I USE INDIVIDUAL COURSES TO FILL IN MY CHILD'S EDUCATION?
Yes. Each STEPS course is a free-standing, independent study. We provide courses in history, science, creative writing, literature studies, civics, current events, the arts, and educational basics such as reading, spelling, and planning and research skills.
CAN I BUY A SEMESTER, OR A YEAR'S WORTH OF A SUBJECT?
Yes, as “bundles” on our site, www.steped.com. Bundles are the least expensive way to purchase STEPS courses.
HOW QUICKLY CAN I START USING STEPS?
Start now. You can start STEPS at any time of the year, 24/7/365.
HOW MUCH DOES THE “TEACHER” NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EACH SUBJECT TO USE STEPS? HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO DO?
You (teacher/tutor/parent) do not need any expertise in subjects your student is studying, using STEPS. You need no expertise as a teacher, or in the subjects being taught. You do not need a degree, or experience as a teacher. Each course does the teaching. You “supervise”, and deliver tests (ready-made, and used to spot what needs more study). The amount of supervision needed will drop as the student moves up through STEPS.
HOW IS STEPS ORGANIZED?
STEPS offers hundreds of courses. Each course teaches a part of one subject, for one age and literacy level (or Step). The four Steps of study in STEPS are:
Step 1 for ages 5-6, and preliterate students.
Teacher intensive, hands-on fun! Teaches far more than most people believe preliterate or very young students can learn. Acts as a sometimes necessary bridge to...
Step 2 for ages 7-8, and students of all ages who are developing literacy .
Builds vocabulary, reading skills, teaches subjects more thoroughly than Step 1. A fairly literate student, age 6, should do this step. Older students looking to improve literacy do Step 2. Highly educative, hands-on study.
Step 3 for ages 9-10, who read well.
Increases vocabulary, improves study skills while teaching more info in a more coordinated manner than is normally available to students this age. Step 3 prepares the student for...
Step 4 for ages 11-up.
For literate students who are increasingly prepared to take over their own education.
A STUDENT CAN START STEPS AT ANY AGE OR LEVEL OF LITERACY?
Yes. Just start each student in the right Step of study for their age, literacy, or both, and move them through and up. We have free “reading” tests on our site, to help assess the Step your student should start at. But generally:
Step 1 is for ages 5-6, some bright 4 year-olds, and for preliterate students.
Step 2 is for ages 7-8, or for students who are developing literacy.
Step 3 is for ages 9-10, and reasonably literate students.
Step 4 is for ages 11-adult, and for students who are literate.
WILL MY STUDENT NEED TO DO LOWER STEPS?
No. A student does not “go back” and do earlier Steps of STEPS unless the Step selected for him proves too challenging. We really don't want a student to go back if not needed.
Each student starts at the beginning of the studies for his age group, maturity and literacy, and moves forward.
Each Step provides a complete education for its age group, in each subject offered. As the student moves up toward Step 4, the information provided becomes more detailed and complete. So at no time has a student “missed” anything by not having started at an earlier Step.
The only time we ever suggest a student do an earlier Step is if that student is really struggling with the Step they're currently doing. A struggling student can start the next lower Step at its start for a subject, and work through that Step – until he or she feels ready for the higher Step again, at which time they should immediately move up. That student would not need to complete the lower Step or any course in it, and should move up as soon as they can handle the needs of the higher Step again. We want students progressing as rapidly as they are comfortable with.
HOW QUICKLY CAN I MOVE MY STUDENT UP STEPS?
A student can move up at any time he has the literacy skills and maturity for the next Step. The student does not need to “complete” a lower Step to move up. The student just needs to be able to successfully do the work and have the literacy and maturity for the next higher Step. Age is sometimes a factor, as the materials also gain in maturity as to what is presented, and how, with each Step up.
When a student passed tests very easily, can easily read and understand studies, and is not being very challenged by the Step they're on, that student should move up a Step. If you’re not sure that the student is ready to move up, have the student do the free literacy test for the next Step up, provided on our site. If the student can handle materials at the next Step (which is what our free reading test will tell you), they should immediately move up.
WHAT IF MY STUDENT IS “BEHIND”, OR WANTS TO MOVE FASTER?
A student can't be “behind” or “ahead” of his own pace of comfortable learning. Steps is independent study, structured so that a student can move at his own, unique pace, and not ever need to worry about speeding up or slowing down for others.
Lesson plans are designed so that the student can do them with minimal supervision as the student gets older. The student does not need to “work with others” to do his studies. Each student should be allowed and encouraged to move at his/her own pace.
A student can't “fall behind.” If a lesson plan takes longer than an hour, it can be (and perhaps should be) continued the next day of study.
But how can anyone fall behind themselves? If the student needs to take two or three times the number of hours suggested to complete a course, so be it. In the end, that student will have learned what the fastest students have learned, and no less. In Steps, every student must pass 100% of the test questions for each section of each course before moving on. So every student learns everything, no matter how long it takes.
A student can't go “too fast”, because the way Steps works, the student must get all test questions right to move on. If a student knows all the materials studied, then he knows all the materials studied and is ready to move on. So be it. If the student does this quickly and is thorough, great! Why on earth would anyone hold that student back?
Conversely, if a student struggles with a subject, or if he just wants to take his time and really “get it”, why on Earth would anyone want to speed that student up past the point where he’s comfortable and learning well?
So long as each student does each step in each lesson plan, regardless of how long it takes, when completed the student will know everything that course was intended to teach. Allow your student increasing control of their speed of study, so long as they progress.
WHY DON'T YOU OFFER MATH OR FOREIGN LANGUAGES?
We discovered early in developing Steps that there were many fine math and foreign language studies out there, well-adapted for homeschool purposes. We saw no reason to reinvent the wheel. The subjects that were not available in forms that we felt were needed were history, science, creative writing, good literature guides, current events, civics, and the arts. We've covered those. We do recommend other programs when asked, for mathematics, foreign language, and grammar, though grammar essentials are covered in Step 2 Creative Writing.
DOES STEPS ADHERE TO NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS?
No. Those standards are generally too low, and are not intended to serve students looking to express themselves as individuals. They are cookie-cutter standards, an attempt to make all students “the same.”
Steps has set far more rigorous intellectual and educational standards than found in Common Core. We ignored government standards, deciding long ago to shoot for an actual education for our students assuming they are individuals to be honored for their individuality, rather than going for a “standardized” one-size-fits-all education.
WILL STEPS WORK FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE LEARNING-CHALLENGED?
Apparently, and to our surprise, yes. We've been often told by families using Steps that our courses work well for such students. Because each Steps lesson plan consists of small actions, things to be hands-on done that are each brief and complete within themselves, we've been told by many families through the years that our curriculum works well for students assessed with having ADD, ADHD, and even for some autistic students. Of course, such students may well require additional hands-on assistance from an adult.
HOW DOES STEPS DEAL WITH RELIGION?
Steps is a secular curriculum, meaning our courses do not promote or indoctrinate a student along the lines of any particular religion.
Example: Our Science courses are pure secular science courses, and do not use religious beliefs to determine what is taught. That said, we have designed our science courses so that materials which certain religions find perhaps objectionable are isolated into certain lesson plans which might be skipped over. we don't recommend that be done, but we do make it available.
Example: Our history courses are not “Biblical history”, or “Vedic history”, or any other religion's history. They present secular history, and an attempt has been made to avoid any bias.
That said, Steps is “religion-friendly.” We teach all major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and more), as a part of history studies and as each religion shows up on the history timeline. Our studies of religions grow increasingly thorough as the student gets older. Unlike public education which cannot discuss religion, we can and we do, in great detail, and with respect for every religion.
We want the student to fully understand the world they live in. That includes religions that people all over the world practice.
DOES STEPS WORK FOR MULTIPLE STUDENTS, WORKING AT DIFFERENT LEVELS AND SPEEDS?
Yes. We've had hundreds of families do exactly that, and they've let us know that Steps works far better for a family with this situation than almost anything else they've used.
Why? Because Steps is set up for individualized study. If your students read, they can each move at their own pace through whatever courses and Step they happen to be working on, all at different speeds, doing different courses and levels of study, all at the same time.
Steps has been used in classroom situations, where each student was expected to essentially do the same amount of work (and even the same work) each day. We found that it did work well enough in a classroom to be an improvement over other studies. But Steps is independent study.
IS STEPS EXPENSIVE?
No. Steps provides one of the least expensive ways to give a student a comprehensive education. The average “semester “of courses per student is around $400, for 18-20 weeks of study. That's about $20 a week, or if your student is studying five days a week, say about $4.00 per day for their courses, when averaged out.
This does not include outside books you'll need, films, or other materials. It does not include math or foreign language studies, which we do not offer. It does not include any field trips you may be asked to take your student on. It just covers the courses you'd buy from Steps .
Compare the cost of Steps to a private school, likely to cost anywhere from $600-$3,000 per month, or about $3,000- $15,000 per semester! Plus at a private school, you'd be buying books and materials as well, which alone would be likely to be more per semester than Steps would cost your family.
And yes, public education is “free” - though it costs the public anywhere from $12,000 - $27,000 per year per child, as of 2014. (That's $6,000 - $13,500 per semester for public education, per child.) But the education received is the cookie-cutter one guaranteed by Common Core and other government standards.
We've worked very hard to make sure that Steps is very affordable, and so it is. We want students homeschooling with great success, and we've tried to remove all possible barriers.
That said, we do want to make it clear (here's the “bad news”) that each student needs his/her own copy of each course they will do from Steps, and these need to be purchased, unless you receive some sort of a license directly from Steps, in writing. Please be advised that it is illegal under copyright laws to make copies of our courses. Each course provided or sold is intended for the use of one student, only.
The exception to this is use inside a family. If you have multiple students doing one Step in your immediate family, just purchase one copy of each course you need and let them share. Same thing if you have several students in the family, and they grow into Steps that older children have already done. They can use the older brother or sister's courses. So long as it’s in your immediate family, you do not need to purchase multiple copies.
IS STEPS ACCREDITED?
No, and for good reason. Accreditation is generally done by privately-owned companies, not by a government agency. These companies essentially charge money, take a copy of the course, and having no real workable educational standards, declare you accredited. It’s an expensive boondoggle, and we don’t indulge it.
IS STEPS COMPLETE?
Yes, as of 2012, and after 30,000 hours-plus of work. All history, science, creative writing, and educational essentials which are the meat and potatoes of Steps have been authored, tested, and proven to work over the past 16 years. An ocean of electives are done. Courses, tests, answer guides, all done.
We may from time to time update resources and courses, or even add new courses such as new literature guides, to our offering. But it's all there, and students have used Steps to get through their schooling and graduate High School with excellent test scores.
ARE THERE FREE SAMPLES OF STEPS I COULD TRY OUT?
Yes, several, and we recommend you use them before making any large purchase from us, so that you will know exactly what we provide.
At the least, your student should do our free course, HOW TO DO STEPS COURSES COURSE. We also usually have at least one-two sample courses available at the site, for free download. And every course we offer on the site has a free sample you can click on, which you can take your time and look over before considering making a purchase.
We want you to really know what you're getting, with Steps. We're proud of what our curriculum is capable of doing for a student. Take a look atg our page which offers free resources.
WHO AUTHORED STEPS?
Steven David Horwich, an educator with over 40 years’ experience as an educator. Mr. Horwich taught at several universities, including U.S.C., in their professional writer's program. He taught for the Los Angeles Unified School District for one horrible year, at the High School level, and quit. He created arts programs for private schools, when his own children were in those schools, for over ten years. When he started homeschooling, he found there wasn't much curriculum worthy of use. Having already authored a tested creative writing curriculum in 1998, he felt something better could be created for history, science and the rest, and started writing Steps for his children in 2002.
Within a month, he'd shared the first history and science courses, and two teachers pulled their children from private schools to form a homeschool group at his house, using what became STEPS. They worked with the 10 kids in the “school”, and he continued to author courses, 10-14 hours a day, every day, for ten years. In 2005, a small school was opened to test out STEPS in a classroom situation.
Steps has helped tens of thousands of homeschool families and students.
WHERE CAN I GET OTHER QUESTIONS ANSWERED ABOUT STEPS?
First take a look at this site, www.stepsed.com. There is a full description of every course we offer, and free samples you can look at for each course. Our free reading (literacy) tests are here, and free courses you can download to try out Steps. There are FAQs and articles on our site, to help you.
If you still have questions, you can write Mr. Horwich at firstname.lastname@example.org. He's always happy to hear from people interested in Steps. You may also join our Facebook group, where Mr. Horwich regularly answers questions, and hundreds of Steps users collect to share ideas. You can join the Steps Facebook group as well.
DO YOU RECOMMEND SPECIFIC RESOURCES TO GET A NEW HOMESCHOOL FAMILY STARTED? OR TO IMPROVE AN EXISTING HOMESCHOOL SITUATION?
Yes. We suggest you consider purchasing The Homeschooler's Handbook, available on our site under Parent/Teacher Aids. We believe it is the single most valuable resource we can offer a new homeschooling family, to get them going smartly and successfully. It is also a great resource for experienced homeschoolers looking for every edge, or for homeschoolers considering starting a homeschool group.
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STEPS is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within the site. While the information contained within the site is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided in this Web site is correct, complete, and up-to-date.
Although stepsed.com may include links providing direct access to other Internet resources, including Web sites, STEPS is not responsible for the accuracy or content of information contained in these sites.
Links from stepsed.com to third-party sites do not constitute an endorsement by STEPS of the parties or their products and services. The appearance on the Web site of advertisements and product or service information does not constitute an endorsement by STEPS, and STEPS has not investigated the claims made by any advertiser. Product information is based solely on material received from suppliers.
Since our products are digital, and instantly download upon purchase, STEPS does not provide refunds for any reason except credit card misfunctions, or accidental multiple purchases of the same product.