My son finished part 2 of his summer projects last night when he made a siyum on masechet Rosh haShana. Since I have limited time to learn with him on a daily basis, he has been using my mp3 player with English daf-yomi shiurim to cover more ground on his own. Obviously this is not a substitute for being able to “make a leining”, but it helps build bekiyus and it is probably no worse than the daf yomi many people do with the help of a shiur. Thanks to all the people who suggested getting him to use Kehati in Hebrew; he started using it for mishnayos moed where he already has learned some of the masechtos and hopefully that will bear fruit.
My wife was recently talking to another parent of an 8th-grader-to-be who thought Mesivta Ploni was a decent option because they covered ground. My inclination (we haven’t really started looking into H.S.’s yet) is to avoid Mesivta Ploni for that very reason – they cover ground, but make no attempt to develop a derech halimud. If all I want is my son to know a lot of halachic “facts”, an mp3 player suffices (until he learns to read a sugya himself), but that is the bare minimum of what learning entails. Ultimately, the gauge of a lamdan is being able to independently “think in learning”, i.e. to be develop a methodology to analyzing problems in a sugya and discovering solutions. My impression is that some mesivta shiurim manage to turn iyun into bekiyus – the rebbe says over more rishonim/achronim on the daf, but it just amounts to more “facts” to accumulate rather than a process of thinking. Hopefully we will find a H.S. that will put him on the right track (suggestions welcome!). In the meantime, he has started on the second perek of sukkah while I try to finish R”H myself before Y”T hits us!