May 15th, 2012
Judah Bible Curriculum isn’t an open-and-go standard Bible study, instead it is geared to encourage you as the parent to explore the Bible for yourself with major themes called ‘keys’ in mind and then use what you’ve learned to teach your children in a notebooking-style approach.
Designed to be used for all ages (K-12) the program relies upon drawings, narration, and scribe tasks performed by the parent in the earlier grades with independent work being completed by older children for their notebook binders as they grow in skill and ability. Since you’ll have to do more work yourself for your younger ones you may wish to keep it very formal for them until they are able to tackle more themselves (this is what we do).
The program itself has somewhat of a Principle-approach flavor. Rather than focusing on the big ‘W’s that many programs do (Who, What, Where, When, Why), the course goes further into examining self-governance, the kingdom of God, liberty, and other big topics. There is definitely a strong ideological leaning that undergirds the curriculum as parents are guided to study these themes and topics for themselves, so make sure this approach is a good fit for your family. Personally, I find it fascinating, as God has been leading me into deeper considerations of government and its role in the individual believer’s life over the past few months.
I will say, that this isn’t an open-and-go program, it scripted at all, it doesn’t come with prepared questions (it does come with some simply designed prepared pages for notebooking), but it’s instead built around a series of general concepts and ideas about teaching the Word of God to your children that are laid out in the 100-page manual.
The Bible serves as the textbook itself (though other resources are certainly encouraged like dictionaries, maps, coloring pages etc.), and is divided into five major themes
(taught each year) that are divided into various keys: key individuals, events, institutions, and documents (not all of these keys will be explored at once, but rather used somewhat rotationally as the years go by). The major themes are broken into suggested weekly topics to spread the study of these major sections of the Bible throughout the year. Not all parts of the Bible will be studied, but rather those considered key to the themes being explored: creation, the plan of redemption begins, the kingdom of Israel, kingdom of God, and the early church. Suggested memory verses, blank key sheets, and filled out samples are also provided.
A 60-page booklet of notebooking ideas is included for the elementary grade that gives you real samples of completed work by elementary-aged children that may serve as a springboard for your own family’s work. This program may be best for confident or experienced homeschoolers who feel capable of striking out on their own with a general guiding philosophy and scope and sequence to direct their steps.
The included teacher training audio files often sound as though they were delivered to private Christian schools instead of a homeschooling audience working in the home/family setting). The program itself also reflects some of these leanings because each grade is told to study through it’s own themes each year rather than keeping the family together – there is a note that homeschoolers should disregard the grade level schedules and just teach the whole family the same weekly theme (I wholeheartedly agree). Here is a link to the scope and sequence – families can simply work through the different keys together each year, so starting with the first row the first year, then moving to the second row together the next year etc.
I found many of the program’s assertions on the nature of self-governance fascinating – many thoughts were put forward that I hadn’t previously considered. The teacher training audios were greatly enjoyed both by myself and my husband, who is also passionately interested in exploring governance from a variety of angles. There is also a strong emphasis on building character by exploring how God worked in and through key individuals to influence the world around them.
The underlying philosophy of the scriptures being of primary importance in education rings very true with our own ideals. Parents willing to invest a large amount of time learning and familiarizing themselves with the program and finding a way to make it work for their families could use their studies of the scriptures to incorporate many typically separate subjects into their Bible studies. Copywork, narration (both oral and written), and other skills could all be integrated along with the study of the Bible in the notebook students create for themselves.
However, busy families needing more open-and-go resources will likely find getting the program started a bit difficult. The teaching guidelines presented can be hard to picture in action without learning how best to use the program as you actually implement it.
The program can be purchased digitally for $44.00 or in a physical format for $69.00. There’s a lot to read on their website – so look around!
Don’t forget to visit the TOS Crew blog for more reviews of the Judah Bible Curriculum.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this product in order to write this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.