F.A.Q.s & Support

On this page we’ll try to answer the questions that have cropped up so far.  If you have more questions, leave a comment at the end of this page, and we’ll answer as soon as possible.

Is Layers of Learning a Christian curriculum?

No.  Our worldview, including our western heritage and respect of others do come through in the units.  But we do not intersperse Bible quotes or references or preach.  We do teach about religions, including Christianity, when it is historically or geographically relevant.  We do not teach faith in either secularism or any religion. Instead of teaching our version of religion, our approach is to ask questions that challenge you to think actively about your philosophy regarding religion, politics, morals, and your worldview.  We ask, you discuss with your kids what you believe, and together you develop your own answers to the important stuff.  Critical thinking is built into the program.  Parents are given back the responsibility of training their children’s morals and worldview.

Evolution or Creationism?

There are three ways to approach scientific knowledge.  We’ll use the example of the turtle’s shell to explain.
Photo by Brocken Inaglory, shared on Wikimedia, CC license.
Evolution method: The turtle’s shell evolved to protect it from predators. Creation method: The turtle was created with a hard shell that protects it from predators. Factual method: The turtle has a hard shell, which protects it from predators. We use the factual method. We simply explain what is observable and don’t speculate on origins.  This is the most scientific and responsible way to present information.  Science is merely one way of learning about the world, not the only way.  Science can only answer questions about what is observable and testable in the physical universe.  It cannot answer questions in the realm of faith, ethics, sociality, or about knowledge gained in other ways.  That does not mean other ways of gaining knowledge are wrong, but they are unscientific.  We keep science firmly in the realm of science and don’t allow it to creep out of its area of expertise.  In a few places we do address how different points of view have affected scientific inquiry, classification, and politics.  We usually do this in the form of questions for you and your student to think about and discuss. Just because we present the facts doesn’t mean we assert that science isn’t about questioning.  That is precisely what it is about.  We present facts and then encourage you to experiment, research, and pursue further knowledge.  That’s what scientists do!  They are always trying to experiment and explain.  Layers of Learning is a springboard for pursuits of knowledge.  We provide facts, topics, resources, questions, and experiment ideas, and then allow you to explore and establish theories, beliefs, and ideas.

Which ages is LoL written for?

It is for kids from 1st grade through 12th grade (6 years old to 18 years old).  There are colored smileys throughout the books to indicate which age group we feel particular books and activities are best suited for.  It was written so it can be used with multiple ages of kids at the same time.

Do I have to read everything on the Library Lists?

No.  The Library Lists are comprised of the best books we have found on the particular topics in each unit.  Search for them at your library.  But if you can’t find these or don’t like these, read something else.  We list far too many books to read in just one unit anyway. Choose your favorites and pass on the rest.  Only rarely do activities in the units depend on the Library List.  Instead the books are listed because we expect outside reading to be your main source of information as opposed to textbookish writing that we might supply.  We also add more resource ideas to the Layers of Learning Pinterest Community pages we keep for each unit as we find them.  These are options; not requirements.

Can Layers of Learning be used by public, private, and charter schools?

Yes, Layers of Learning is an approved curriculum for most public, private, and charter schools. In addition, we accept purchase orders from schools as outlined within our Purchase Agreement. The terms and details are specified within the agreement. Please email us at contact@layers-of-learning.com for inquiries about purchase orders, wholesale pricing, or other commercial contracts.

Is Layers of Learning Common Core-aligned?

“Common Core” is a set of standards that has been developed in the United States and which most states have adopted.  Some states use charter or umbrella schools which require homeschools to use common core-aligned curriculum. Some parents want to make sure their students are getting the latest high standards in education. There are a lot of misconceptions about Common Core though, In truth, the outlined standards are not a set of facts to know as many believe, but are instead, goals regarding how children learn to evaluate and process information they find in the world.  Layers of Learning easily meets these standards as parents and children read, discuss, and analyze books, videos, and other information in the curriculum. Common Core standards primarily apply to language arts and mathematics, but the principles extend to social studies (history and geography) and to science. Many curriculum companies did not change their curriculum to match Common Core, but instead, just took the time to point out where in the existing curriculum, those standards were addressed. When we wrote Layers of Learning we did not make an attempt to align the curriculum with any set of standards or learning goals except our own.  Our personal standards include these things:
  • Literature-based learning instead of textbooks.
  • Many learning styles from reading and writing to hands-on to visual and auditory.
  • Rich in facts and information.
  • Primary sources used frequently in every subject.
  • Children learn to think and discuss instead of read and regurgitate.
  • Children learn to produce their own thoughts and develop their own opinions in written and verbal forms.
  • Children learn how to learn and love it so learning becomes a life-long habit and not just for school.
Basically, we used our own experience in teaching our own kids who have a diversity of learning styles and personalities, coupled with the educational philosophies of the last several hundred years, to form a thorough, intentional, deep style of learning. Common Core standards include things such as:
  • Reading and analyzing primary sources.
  • Understanding the messages an author is trying to convey.
  • Understanding the definition of key terms an author uses.
  • Distinguish between fact and opinion.
  • Cite text in support of your own argument.
  • Read and analyze multiple sources on the same subject.
  • Evaluate an author’s premise or claims.
  • Follow a multi-step procedure while doing science experiments.
  • Understand science terms and symbols.
  • Compare what you learn through experimentation in the real world with what authors say.
You can read more about Common core standards at CoreStandards.org. As you use Layers of Learning, you will definitely recognize these things within the program. However, we have not actually aligned the standards with Common Core. It is a pick-and-choose curriculum that is designed to be flexible and fun that instills a love of learning, not a checklist of standards to complete.

How do I translate Layers of Learning into credit for a transcript?

Each year (if you do all the topics in Layers of Learning) gives you a credit or course in history, geography, science, and art.  For a high school transcript you would give one credit (.5  or 1 credit per semester, depending on how local credits are calculated) for each topic.  Here’s a chart to show how it breaks down.
Year One1 credit Ancient World History1 credit Geography 11 credit Earth & Space1 credit Art 1
Year Two1 credit Medieval World History1 credit Geography 21 credit Biology1 credit Art 2
Year Three1 credit Colonial World History1 credit Geography 31 credit Chemistry1 credit Art 3
Year Four1 credit Modern World History1 credit Geography 41 credit Physics1 credit Art 4
Also, more information on evaluating Layers of Learning assignments and courses. And general info on how to grade courses, especially for high school.

How much time should I spend on each unit?

The units were designed to be used for one month each, one to two hours per day, depending on the ages of your children. The schedule is completely flexible and you can arrange your weekly time however you like. Here is one option for a subject-of-the-day approach: Not everyone will use the curriculum as a monthly program or in the subject-of-the-day pattern.  You might want to do history several times a week, or spend less time on some topics and more on others.  It’s very flexible, allowing for you to create your own schedule, while still organizing your studies in a logical way.

Do I have to complete all the Explorations, Experiments, and Expeditions?

No.  This is a pick-and-choose curriculum.  We give ideas, you decide what works for you.  Most people will probably only do one or two explorations per week in each subject.  Think of the units like a learning buffet; if you tried to have it all, it would be too much.  But you should complete a few activities in each unit to make this a complete learning course for your kids. You will likely learn about most of the topics the Explorations cover through your reading and video lessons, but you should not try to do hands-on projects and activities for every single fact, event, and principle you learn about.

How do I download the product I purchased?

After you complete a purchase you should be immediately returned to a page with the download links. You should also get a receipt in your email inbox within seconds of your purchase.  Click on the link to your online receipt.  If you do not receive an emailed receipt within a few minutes of your purchase then contact us (contact@layers-of-learning.com) right away.  We can send you your receipt or your units directly.

My purchase won’t download!

When you click on a link on the receipt, your download should start automatically.  If it does not, it is most likely a problem with your email client or your virus protection. Most email clients use virus protection to check uploads and downloads.  If both the email virus protection and your personal virus protection are running at the same time they can conflict and block downloads, especially of large files.  If you can’t figure out the problem, email us with as much info as you can.  In particular it helps us to know what kind of device you are downloading to and which browser you are using. Screenshots are golden. The units we sell are large files with lots of graphics so most phones and some tablets do not have the memory required.  Phones and tablets also have to have a way to view the files once downloaded. The files we sell are all pdfs. Use the free Adobe Acrobat reader to view them.

My files won’t open!

The planners we sell are in zip files (so we can bundle a set of individual files together in one product) and a few people have had trouble opening them.  You have to have a program on your device that can unzip files.  Desktops and laptops usually come with this, but phones and tablets may not. Once you are sure you have the software to unzip the files, right click on the file to see a menu of options, click on “unzip” or “extract.”  The files will open and you will be able to view them as normally. If you can’t figure out how to view a file, email us (contact@layers-of-learning.com) and we will do our best to help you.  We need to know your operating system and the type of device you are using.  Again, a screenshot can be very helpful so we can see what you see.

What are your terms of use and return policy?

Digital products may be printed for personal use within a single family or classroom (including co-ops), but not to pass out to friends, share with your whole school, or resell. Please do not share digital copies as this a violation of copyright law. Once downloaded, digital products cannot be returned or refunded, though we are happy to work with you if you are not satisfied. We encourage you to get the free samples to view before you make a purchase so you are aware of what you are buying.  Please contact us at contact@layers-of-learning.com.

To learn more about the curriculum, go visit our Curriculum Guide.  And by all means, if you have a question we didn’t answer, please feel free to contact Karen and Michelle.

Support Layers of Learning at Facebook   email Layers of Learning

One of the quickest places to get support for your questions is in the Layers of Learning Facebook Group.  You can ask Karen and Michelle as well as other users questions about Layers of Learning. If you have questions about your order or are including personal information, we request that you e-mail us directly at contact@layers-of-learning.com.

68 thoughts on “F.A.Q.s & Support”

  1. Hello! This looks like a very interesting way to teach. We are new to home schooling this year. I am using the Calvert curriculum for my 4th and 7th grader. I like the concept of being able to teach both at the same time, giving additional work to the older one. I’m considering this curriculum for next year, so 5th and 8th gr, would I start with year one or year four? Thank you for your help!

  2. Is it permissible to print the PDFs if I prefer a hard copy? In the free unit I received, it mentioned asking for permission if you want to print, so I just want to be sure.

  3. Is the text in the layers of learning guide meant for the parent or student? It seems a bit to in depth for my youngest kids. I’m impressed with all the information in the guide and I understand that it is a pick and choose not do it all curriculum but I’m a bit overwhelmed with all I need to read through just to decide what to do.

    1. Hi Julie. It’s really meant for parents as a guide to help their kids. This is not a “workbook” type that kids are supposed to trudge through on their own. The little smiley faces are a good guide to help steer you to things that will match the levels of your kids. Also, the more you use it, the more quickly you’ll be able to navigate it. After using a few units I think you will find the format grows on you (at least that’s what we’ve heard a lot of customers say!).

      We usually read the introduction together and then choose a couple of explorations, but we certainly don’t do all of it. There is intended to be more there than what you would use. Try to remember that the goal of this curriculum is not to teach your kids everything there is to know about every single subject, but rather to help foster an enthusiasm and love of learning that will be lasting. We need to learn HOW TO LEARN, not have a knowledge of everything right now. Hope that helps a little bit. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if there’s anything at all we can do to help as you get started. It’s a really fun way to learn and we love sharing it with people. 🙂

  4. I homeschool 4 children, raging from grade 4 to grade 9. If I were to start on Year One next year, how could I complete it with my 10th grader, since he only has 3 years to go? Would you still recommend starting on year One?

    1. If you really want your high schooler to cover all of world history and all of the basic sciences in three years (plus the art and geography) then you will probably have to cut out the topics/units that you think are less essential.

      For example, few high schoolers do much earth science so you could cut out all of those units and just cover the biology, chemistry, and physics units. In history you can just skip over or skim over the topics that are less essential. Ancient South America isn’t covered in any other curriculum we’ve ever seen so you can probably skip it without losing any cultural literacy. That’s one example.

      You should take a look at Planning Your Homeschool where Karen explains how to plan out a year (or in your case, three years) in advance so you can fit in everything you need. Pay special attention to the pacing guide description. I also recommend making a long term education plan for each of your children. This will help you define what is most important for your high schooler to be learning over the final three years in your homeschool.

      However, you can also just begin on any year you like. You do not have to start with Year One for this curriculum to work and be cohesive. Every single unit stands on its own without need for prerequisites (in a few places in the science there is foundational information needed, but we alert you to that in those places so you can catch up on the fly). Take a look at what your child has already spent a great deal of time on and compare that to the Layers of Learning topics in the Units at a Glance to help you in making those decisions.

  5. Hi there, you have a wonderful curriculum here. Wish I had seen it much earlier before I purchased another curriculum.
    I am interested in your Art Curriculum. It seems to suggest that your product is sold as a whole package. Do you just sell the Art Curriculum alone? If so, could you advise the price. Many thanks and keep up the great work…

    1. Hi Irene, our units are all sold as packages – with each of the 4 subjects presented in one book. They are in isolated sections of the book though, so you could just utilize the arts section if that’s all you wanted to use. The pdfs are pretty affordable, especially if you are buying the whole year at a time (they’re discounted about 20% when you purchase a year instead of individual units). Quite a few of our customers use just one or two of the subjects, depending on their needs.

      1. It’s not showing any discount for me buying all the units at once ($99) or buying each of the units separately ($5 each), will it reflect differently at checkout? Thanks!

  6. I just want to tell you ladies that you are amazing. We’ve decided to pull our 6 year old out of the public school (after a very stressful kindergarten year), and I am so grateful I stumbled upon your site. You are organized, thorough, and your writing is so clear. As a brand new homeschooler, I’ve felt overwhelmed at times, but with the help of your website and materials I feel I’m starting to get my footing.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience!

  7. You had a great lesson/project on Hepatia of Alexandria. I saved the link to do it with my daughter later and the link now goes to History and I cannot find it on your website. Could you tell me where I can find it? Thank you!

  8. I was wondering if you had a PDF of the Book of Timelines. I have 3 kids and was wondering if I can just purchase your content and make the books myself.

    1. Amy, No we don’t sell the book of years in that format. But we do have instructions on how you can make your own Book of Years with a spiral bound sketchbook here: https://layers-of-learning.com/book-of-years/. Then you can purchase just the timeline tags for $0.99 to add dates to the book of years if you would like.

      We originally created the printed Book of Years because so many people had trouble constructing their own (mostly getting the dating the timeline portion correct) but you can still definitely make your own.

  9. I can’t seem to log on. I tried asking for a new password but it said too many attempts (even though I only did once or twice)

    1. The server we’re on is having issues. You can still purchase as a guest and then we will manually move your order onto your account. Please email us with a request after purchase. We’re so sorry for the trouble.

  10. Nichole Jackson

    There are asterisks next to History and Science under the transcripts question. Where can I find what they are referencing? Thank you.

  11. Hi! I’m watching some of your youtube videos to learn more about how the program works and how units are planned. Do you do the various subjects each week or do you only focus on one each week? Thank you

  12. Hello! I purchased Writers Workshop, Word Work, Jump Start, etc but I cannot find the downloads for the Writer’s Helps? What are anchor charts? Etc. Thank you!!!

    1. Each unit comes with a printable pack. Is that what you mean? The link for the printable packs comes on your receipt when you purchase the unit. An anchor chart is an informational “poster”, in this case a one page sheet, that reminds students of facts or a procedure. The anchor chart will be in the printable pack unless the unit directs you to make one of your own.

      1. I do not have a printable pack with the Writer’s Workshop or Writer’s Workshop Jump Start. I purchased it on 5/23/20.

  13. Are the paperback printed books spiral bound? Trying to decide between purchasing the set of paperback books or printing myself. I can’t find any specifications or pictures about how these paperback books are bound.

  14. Trying to create the Origami Bats. I don’t understand where you cut “the notch” for the ears??? Tried many different ways can you send an illustration or picture? I’m stumped!

  15. Do you have any blog posts or advice about how to work with the curriculum when you don’t have access to the library? I just got a few units to try out in January and it occurs to me that due to the pandemic, we cannot just go in and browse and see what catches our eye to use with the units. Thanks for your help.

    1. A lot of people have been sharing their ideas within our Facebook Group lately. The top suggestions are using some spine books when needed, utilizing the YouTube playlists that go with each unit, buying selected books from Thriftbooks.com, and taking advantage of digital resources through your library. A lot of libraries provide Hoopla, Audible, Kindle, and Epic resources, plus more in some areas. This post includes charts that show available spines and other resources that may be helpful too. Definitely not an easy time to get resources, but using a combined approach that includes these seems to be working really well for a lot of families. https://layers-of-learning.com/correlation-charts-booklists-supplement-layers-of-learning/

  16. Hello. I am wondering which option to choose for the bundle? It is semi confusing to me. Does the PAPERBACK and PDF DOWNLOAD contain the same content, but one is already printed and will ship to me and the other I print? I am wanting to make sure I do not miss any of the curriculum we will need. Thanks for any clarification.

    1. Yes, the Paperback and PDF versions of Layers of Learning contain identical content. The paperback version will be shipped to your home. The PDF version will be sent as a download link to your email and can be accessed through your account on Layers-of-Learning.com. Both also include the PDF Printable Pack, a download link that allows you access to the accompanying student worksheets to print off for your kids as needed. Thanks for your question, Jessica!

  17. Hi!
    I purchased the paperback curriculum through my charter but have not received a download link that I thought went along with the paperback curriculum. How do I receive that link? And do I also get the pdf download to go along with the paperback? I can email you my receipts if needed, thank you!

    1. Hi Sharon, If you email us at contact@layers-of-learning.com with your order details and inquiry, we will happily look into it right away. Often the ordering teachers order under their own names and are then supposed to forward the links to you. You can also create an account on Layers-of-learning.com and then send us your order details and we can transfer the order from your teacher’s account to your own individual account, allowing you access to the downloads.

  18. I am interested in purchasing the Layers of Learning Curriculum for Year 4. Because I think the modern history will be more engaging for my child. I’m thinking of starting at year 4 and working backwards. The problem is, I’d like to buy it without all the US history & states but it doesn’t look like that’s possible? Am I missing something? Can you please send me the link of where I could buy year 4 with just the modern history and people and places (not so US centric)? I want to get the paperbacks so my daughter can easily browse through them and pick what she wants to do. Thank you.

    1. Layers of Learning

      The original curriculum was written for an American audience. We’ve since gained a lot of international customers and are currently in the process of creating a more global version, but it is a few years out. We have a lot of families who just pick-and-choose from the parts they want in the meantime. You can select the Year 4 units you want to utilize and just purchase those paperback units if you’d like.

    1. Layers of Learning

      Tracy, thanks for alerting us to the problem! It has been fixed. Check your email for the sample units that you are missing.

  19. Hello, I am excited to begin using Layers of Learning with my children. Is the History Book of Years Timeline intended for collective use? I have three children of lower and upper grades and was wondering if each child should have their own timeline book or would it be something we all work on together to complete. Thanks for the guidance!

    1. Layers of Learning

      Families choose to do this both ways, Rehanna. A lot of families just keep one that they work on together, but some kids prefer to have their own. Often little ones like to share, but as kids grow up, many prefer to have their own Book of Years. You can decide which way you think it will work best for your family.

  20. I am interested in using the art portion of your curriculum but I’m understanding what is available to purchase individually. We are entering year three of a chronological history curriculum (seems similar to your product in some ways) and will be covering the colonial time period. I saw that your art curriculum has a Colonial Art portion so I am wondering if there is a way to purchase that program by itself or if it is all in the Arts Beginnings program so I should buy that? Thank you!

    1. Layers of Learning

      Currently, Year 3 of the arts is only available in the Classic version of Layers of Learning. We are currently releasing a new version, but it will be a couple of years before years 3 and 4 are available. Units are being released monthly, beginning with the ancient time period. Within the catalog, click on “Classic Layers of Learning” to find Year 3.

  21. Hello,
    I have one year of the classics version and I appreciate how many old books you include in the library list. In the sample for the updated version, I noticed a mostly modern books. Do you still include older books and classics in your updated units?


    1. Layers of Learning

      Alexandra, we definitely include older books and classics in our Library Lists. We are huge fans of classic literature. But we generally don’t include a book if it is out of print or difficult to get, unless we think it is truly special and then we let you know it is out of print. The Library Lists for the NEW Layers of Learning have been updated to include newer books and to remove out of print books from the lists.

  22. HI! I’m confused on the freepack resources. I went to the page that it said, but I’m not sure what falls under the freepacks as the coupon code I have in my book, doesn’t work:). Thank you!

  23. I am interested in starting my student with year one, in geography, science and history. Do you have a comprehensive list of all the Layers of Learning materials I need to purchase to get started – I mean everything, not just the PDFs, but including the parent books etc. I would purchase all four (history, geography, science, art) but I need to do math and other topics at least three times a week. If I purchase the PDFs, what other corresponding materials do I need to purchase. This will be a charter school order so I need to have it all compiled at one time.

    1. Layers of Learning

      You need the PDF or paperback course books and student journals, either PDF or enough paperbacks for each of your children to have their own. So you will need Ancient History and the Book of Years, People & Planet and the World Explorer Journal, and Earth & Space and the Science Notebook. If you like you can also buy the mentor guidebook for each subject. The guidebook helps you know how to teach Layers of Learning. The course books are not textbooks for the child, they are actually more in the nature of lesson plans for the adult mentor. There are no textbooks.

      Additionally, if you like you can get the Layers of Learning Mentor Planner and the Student Planner.

    1. Layers of Learning

      American History is going to be a separate year and it won’t be released until after we have completed the Modern History course. So the first units of American history should come out Winter 2025, probably February or March.

  24. Inside the classic layer year 4, each side bar titled Writer’s Workshop, does this have anything to do with the writing program Writer’s Workshop? Or are they simply just writing activities that can be done?

    1. Layers of Learning

      They are simply writing activities. You don’t need to have Writer’s Workshop to use the Writer’s Workshop sidebars. But it uses the same basic idea of using interest based writing prompts to get kids writing.

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