Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bible as the Core - A New TOS Review!!

Using the Bible AS your textbook is the meat of what the Judah Bible Curriculum offers as Bible curriculum.  They use a "Principle Approach" educational style or method.  If you haven't heard of the Principle Approach or don't know what it means, the essence behind this style of education is having the Bible as the CORE to your entire studies, while leaning heavily on character training and instruction.
The Product:
So what is Judah Bible Curriculum? Well using the Principle Approach they use the Bible to help you build character in both you and your students while developing a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the Bible AND doing it as a family.

They use a Notebook Approach to Bible learning where each student (including the parent) will build a Bible notebook that encapsulates five major themes:
Theme I - Creation (Genesis 1 - 11)
Theme II - The Plan of Redemption begins (Genesis 12 - Ruth)
Theme III - The Kingdom of Israel (I Samuel - Malachi)
Theme IV - The Kingdom of God (Matthew - John)
Theme V - The Early Church (Acts - Revelation)

In total there are 40 lessons which are divided into the above themes.  You focus on just one theme per week.  These themes are divided so that you will be studying the Old Testament in the first half of the year and the New Testament in the second half of the year, therefore covering the entire Bible each year.

Then the themes are divided into further sections called "Keys."  There are 4 types of Keys - Events, Individuals, Institutions, and Documents.  You can see both a blank version and an example version of the Key Sheets on their site.  These Key Sheets are created to help you delve into the Scriptures and really learn all there is to learn about the particular subject you are studying.  You can see a Scope & Sequence of how to apply the 'curriculum'. There is also a more detailed explanation of the first year with a weekly theme guide.

There are 2 ways to purchase this K-12 (and even including mom and dad) program -- either as an online download ($44.00) or physical copy ($74 -$69 plus $5 for S&H and takes about 7 days to receive.)  What you get is the K-12 JBC manual (100 pages) (e-book format for download users); the Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet (to view or download for download users); and 8 lecture Teacher Training Seminar (which can be downloaded or listed to online for download users, while those who purchased a physical copy will receive CD's.)

Our Experience:
This was a very teacher intensive program from the start, which is not something that I would personally go out looking for in a particular curriculum.  On the other hand, once you get a handle on how to really implement Bible study the way it is laid out by JBC, I feel it would really bring your family closer together as well as building a strong foundation of  Biblical principles in one's own personal relationship with God.

Because my children are all in early elementary the way we used this program is still in the beginning stages.  I had to personally get a handle of how to implement the program which took some time.  There are two 70 minute downloads/CD's which give the teacher a much better understanding of the program, which I highly recommend you listen to BEFORE starting on your family's journey with this curriculum. I also suggest that you follow the directions they laid out in "Step 1" on their website.  This will make sure you don't miss anything as you are acclimating to the program, especially if you are not familiar with the Principle Approach or the use of Notebooking.
When you have done all your prep you will be able to delve into the study.  You will focus on one theme per week.  For example, in Week 6 we are just entering the second Theme (Plan of Redemption begins) and studying about Abraham being called by God, the key focus.  The memory verse for this week is Genesis 15:6.  You will then use the Key Sheet for Individuals to write down information that is learned.

From here we will delve into different Bible assistants like commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and concordances to get a more full understanding of the Scripture.  We can add to our timeline, look at maps, etc., anything that helps us get more out of the lesson.  The Key Sheets, as well as any of our own findings - whether they be essays, answer to specific questions, drawings, maps - will be collected in one's own personal notebook.

The notebook is not a place just for keeping your notes, but for enhancing your life both now and later, making it something of value.  At the end of the year your student will have created their own "version", so to speak, of the Bible.  This will also let you use the themes as a jumping off point in many other areas including history, reading, writing, grammar, handwriting, and even geography, truly placing the Bible at the core of your entire curriculum.

My Thoughts:
This is, as I stated above, very teacher intensive - so if you are one who likes your days and weeks all planned out, this probably will not be the program you will want to pursue.  I know that this was one of the most difficult parts for me ... the 'getting to understand' the program, especially since it isn't all laid out.  I believe the premise behind the program and would LOVE to build a strong Biblical foundation into my children at an early age and I look forward to working more with Judah Bible Curriculum in the coming years.  I plan on using it myself as a personal Bible study over the coming year.

Another aspect of the program I really enjoyed was that you can use this for multiple children at multiple ages/levels at the same time.  The work that would be completed in their personal notebook would reflect the age/stage they are, but all could be learning about the same topic.  I think this could really build a very tight knit family unit.

I am looking forward to implementing this more as our children get older.  I found it a little too much for my two youngest (Pre-K and 1st) and sometimes even for my eldest (3rd).  She does not like to write and has a hard time coming up with "things to write" so the notebook aspect of the curriculum was a little challenging.  My husband is really intrigued by the program, so I know that we will continue to delve into this in the coming year.

Judah Bible Curriculum is a great resource for all families, especially homeschoolers. Feel free to contact them directly if you have any additional questions or issues by phone (217-344-5672) or email.  Please take some time to read what other Crew members thought and how they implemented this into their home.

*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

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