I headed over to their website at criticalthinking.com and started looking at all that they offer. Immediately I looked at the mission statement because I like to see what a company is all about. I was impressed from the get go.
The Critical Thinking Co.™ is committed to developing children's critical thinking skills for better grades, higher test scores, and success in life. We do not teach through drill and memorization or teach to the tests—we empower the mind!
Wow, who doesn’t want their child’s mind empowered?
The Balance Benders series is meant for kids in grades 2-6. It is part of the critical thinking line and is used specifically to introduce algebraic skills and deductive thinking using balance puzzles. When I told Griffin I had a puzzle book for him to try was pretty excited. When I showed it to him he said “Huh”. I guess this wasn’t the kind of puzzles he was looking for. I personally looked at them and couldn’t figure out the very first one so I wasn’t expecting much out of him. I told him to just give them a try, not to get frustrated, and let me know what he thinks. I went in the kitchen to finish supper and about 30 minutes later he handed me the book and said, “That was easy”. He had finished the entire workbook. I never thought to tell him not to write in it because the company allows you to photocopy this for use in your family. I really didn’t think he would do any of it. Boy was I surprised. The concept of the book is compared to Sudoku (which I also don’t understand). There are 6 answers and you pick three that will always be true.
After he said he did the whole book, I figured he just picked three and didn’t even look at them. Nope, he got everyone one right. Not that I would have known, but the answers are included in the back.
So, I guess this was a hit for us. Griffin has always been excellent at math but this has made me realize I probably have not been expecting as much of him as I should. To me, this seems a little above the beginning age range of second grade. Maybe if you have been using a logic program before this, it would be doable; but it just seems a little much for a second or third grader.
Critical Thinking Co. has a lot of different workbooks that look really good. My favorite was the Language Arts series. You can order the workbooks individually or they also offer software bundles that allow you to get their best selling products by grade range at a 10% discount.
The Mind Benders Beginning workbook is priced at $9.99 each. I have always thought that workbooks were a waste of money because once you write in them they can’t be used again. This company fixes that with allowing you to photocopy them. I also like the software option which would allow me to only print what I need a little at a time.
If you would like to try this before you buy, you can find over 30 software demos and hundreds of samples on the website. The company also offers a money back guarantee which is always appreciated at our house. It is really hard to tell if something is going to work for your family and this allows us to purchase without fear of wasting valuable resources on things that don’t work.
I also received a copy of the catalog. I love looking at homeschool catalogs but it does make me want everything. It says on the outside that they are offering free shipping on orders of $50 or more through April 31, 2010. Just enter the code CTA22.
I recommend going to their website and checking out all they offer. Don’t limit yourself to my opinion. Please check out what the other crew members have to say about this company.
I think the president of the company, Michael Baker, sums up education beautifully by saying
“If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless.”
I think I’ll print that out and hang it on the wall in our school room.
** Please note that I received a free copy of Balance Benders in exchange for my honest opinion in this review. No other compensation was provided.