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TRISMS Curriculum

by Karen Caroe

Teaching Method? Learning Style? Unit Study? Classic Curriculum? Aaarrggghh!!! When I started homeschooling eleven years ago, these words confused and terrified me. Just as I began to get a grip on the homeschooling vernacular and settle into a routine, I was broadsided by another set of  words . . . MIDDLE SCHOOL! HIGH SCHOOL! All of a sudden, the doubts and confusion I experienced as a new homeschooler came flooding back to me. I have found this to be a common experience among homeschoolers and it is during this time that many families decide to put the children in public or private school. Oddly enough, it is also the time that many families decide to begin their homeschooling journey. Whether you are a veteran or a novice homeschooler, I believe the TRISMS Unit Study Curriculum is the most economical, user-friendly curriculum available to middle school and high school students.

TRISMS is an acronym for “Time-Related, Integrated Studies for Mastering Skills.” Although TRISMS is “officially” considered a unit study, it is unique in its design because it encompasses most learning styles and teaching methods. This means it can be successfully used by any student. TRISMS is also unique in that it will appeal to your student’s strengths while strengthening his weaknesses. For example, I have a daughter who loves to read but does not like to write. By applying her reading skills to the requirements of the writing lessons, she has become much more confident in her ability to write. The curriculum has guided her through the writing process until it is no longer a tedious exercise in futility.

There are currently two volumes of TRISMS from which to choose. The third volume is due to be released in time for the Fall 2001 semester. Each volume is independent of the other but it is recommended to begin with the History Makers volume for middle school and Creation Through the Middle Ages for high school. The third volume is entitled Rise of Nations and will cover the time period of the Renaissance through the Age of Enlightenment up to 1860. When you add the Math curriculum of your choice, TRISMS will provide a full course of academic study for one year. There is enough material in each volume that many families stretch them over the course of two years.

It is very important during the middle school years that students understand the chronology of world events. In order to understand the “big picture”, they need to get an overview of how events and ideas influence each other in time. This is why TRISMS is time-related. Do not mistake TRISMS for a history-based unit study because it is very much more. Chronological history is merely the vehicle used to integrate the various areas of study. The History Makers volume provides for a survey of world history beginning with recorded history and working up to the present. Student studies progress along a timeline as they study the people and discoveries that have brought us to where we are today. Creation Through the Middle Ages is a more in-depth study of the civilizations of each period in history. Using a format of integrated studies, all subjects focus on a specific point in time. The major areas of study for History Makers include Reading, Vocabulary, Language Arts, Science, History, and Geography.  Creation Through the Middle Ages offers High School level studies in English, General Science, Art, Music, Architecture, Civilizations, Multicultural Studies, and Government. Each volume of TRISMS provides alternate areas of interest and study. This makes TRISMS flexible and easy to personalize for each student.

Mastery of skills is the goal of TRISMS. All reading, writing, questionnaires and worksheets are designed to direct students toward mastering the skills that will guide them into the next step of learning. The development of  critical thinking and analysis are emphasized. The Language Arts track of the History Makers is a complete course of skills which should be mastered at the middle school level. Although Creation Through the Middle Ages can be used independently of History Makers, it assumes the language skills presented in History Makers have been mastered. The unique format of TRISMS holds many advantages that simply are not available with other curricula at this educational level. For example:

• TRISMS is flexible. It can be student-directed, teacher-directed, or a cooperative effort between student and teacher. Middle School and High School students should begin to take on more responsibility for their education and is a perfect curriculum to help families ease into that transition.
• TRISMS provides the structure necessary to keep students progressing toward their goals while giving them choices to make within each lesson.
• TRISMS is especially suited for multi-level homeschools and co-ops because it can be personalized to meet the needs of each student while learning with siblings or other homeschoolers.
• TRISMS is not a textbook and uses no textbooks. All of the reading and research comes from “real” books that are readily available in home libraries, public libraries and used bookstores. An extensive list of suggested resources for each lesson is provided, but any books and periodicals may be used. Students create their own coursebooks complete with timeline, maps, and a catalog of books they have read.
• TRISMS is economical. All of the components of the curriculum are included in the cost of the curriculum.
• TRISMS offers free support for families via e-mail and Internet.

As a homeschooling mother of eight children, I know that very few days are going to go as planned. The last thing I need is to be stressed about “getting behind.” TRISMS is a stress-free curriculum. I never worry that we are behind, or that I can’t find a specific book, or that the day will be lost if I have to make an unexpected trip to the doctor’s office. The flexibility within the TRISMS structure allows learning to take place no matter what is happening around me. Some days my students can work on school uninterrupted for several hours. Other days, they may only get 30-minute intervals at various times throughout the day. Regardless of our schedule, there is always something in each TRISMS lesson that can be accomplished in a day. Furthermore, students can work on TRISMS at home, in the car, waiting in an office, or, yes, even while in the bathroom! I encourage any parents with students entering fifth grade or up, to take a closer look at the TRISMS curriculum.

To learn more about TRISMS and how it can work for you or to purchase the curriculum package, send e-mail to or write Karen Caroe, Rosewood Family Learning Center, 1915 Rosewood Lane, York, PA, 17403-5918. You may visit the official TRISMS website at To contact the author, Linda Thornhill, send e-mail to or write her at 1203 S. Delaware Pl., Tulsa, OK 74104-4129.
Please reference this article in any correspondence.

Copyright © 2006 Modern Media