Sunday, May 13, 2012

Crew Review: Judah Bible Curriculum

Every once in a while I run across a curriculum that I can sense has great depth and purpose, but I just cannot get my little, scattered, multi-tasking brain around it.  This happened with my history curriculum the first time I tried it (which I ditched after 9 weeks yet came back to 3 years later), and our spelling curriculum (which I gritted my teeth and made myself not give up, because there were no good alternatives). They both  required a great deal of investment in teacher-training, but the end result would be abundant blessings.

I think Judah Bible Curriculum is like that: a rich investment with wonderful dividends.  However, the dividends do not come easy.

The Premise of Judah Bible. The first thing about Judah Bible Curriculum is that it follows the Principle Approach to Christian education.  Never heard of that?  Well, I have heard it, but never understood what it meant. Briefly, the website describes Principle Approach as "a philosophy of education whose content and methods are designed to build character in teacher and student capable of sustaining liberty."

That sounds great!

Another thing I find exciting about this curriculum is that it is mean to be not just a subject in your homeschool, but the core of your homeschool: 
The Judah Bible Curriculum is an entry level Principle Approach Bible Curriculum designed to help you, the teacher, take Bible Class off the back burner and make it the centerpiece of your Christian school or home school. (From the manual)
Click on this image to learn more about the Principle Approach, character development, individual liberty and self government:

In order to understand this product, I think it is very important to understand the foundations and philosophies.  This, I believe, is especially true with The Judah Bible.  You can read this great article which explains how the Judah Bible program is different from other "Bible" courses or subjects or classes.  Here are some points to consider:

  • The BIBLE is the textbook. The student studies and learns the Bible.
  • The student learns God's purpose in history, studying the hand of God in the lives of men and nations through the Bible.
  • The student develops his reasoning ability, helping him to apply Biblical principles personally.
  • The curriculum helps you shift from rote learning to Biblical reasoning.
  • The student learns the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the personal responsibility of the individual.
  • The student learns the relationship between individual character and national liberty.
I really love all that The Judah Bible aims to provide to a Christian student.  This is exactly the type of curriculum that I want to provide for my children!

The Goal: I love this and decided to include this with my review:
"With the Judah Bible curriculum, your children will be studying the Bible, not just studying about the Bible. They will learn to utilize reference materials and outside resources in their study. They will learn to reason from the Bible basis and apply Biblical principle to every area of life.

It is our desire that Bible class will become the favorite part of your school day, and that the lights will turn on in your students' minds and hearts as they learn about our great God and His ways through the scriptures."
I really want this for our family!
The Product: I received their complete downloadable Bible program, which included online access to my downloads:

    1) Judah Bible Curriculum K-12 Manual, e-book format to download;
    2) Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet to view online or download;
    3) Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminar. listen online or download. 

As a download, the complete package costs $44.00.  A hard copy of the program is $74.00 

A downloadable purchase allows you access to additional information on the Judah website.  There is even a step-by-step guide to help you learn to implement the program.

There are 6 "years" of study in the Judah program.  If you were to start your first grader in the first year program, you would be able to study each of the 6 years twice -- once in first through sixth and again in seventh through twelfth grades.  (The manual suggests ways you can implement the curriculum in a shortened year

Each year is divided into five themes (three Old Testament themes taught in the fall and two New Testament Themes taught in the Spring):

1. Creation
2. The Plan of Redemption Begins
3. Kingdom of Isreal
4. Kingdom of God
5. Early Church

Each year, you study these 5 themes, picking out different "keys." The instructors guide makes suggestions about these keys, how to notebook about them (using charts called Key Sheets), and scripture memorization.  An early elementary guide for creating a notebook about these keys is provided in the both the downloadable and hard copy sets.  As I mentioned earlier, the purpose of the curriculum is to make the Bible the center of your homeschool -- therefore helps are given to encourage writing as a way to synthesize ideas, use careful logic and reasoning, and provide a method of assessment in learning. 

Our Experience:  As I alluded to in the beginning of this review, the Judah Bible Curriculum is a gold mine.  I have had no good mentoring on Bible study in my life, and I think that using this curriculum would really help me to understand God's word for myself and not through someone else's perspective.  I want that for me and for my kids.  

I sat down a number of times to read through the 100-page manual.  I listened to the first few mp3s.  For me (in the busy-busy-busy phase of spring that we are in), it was very hard to focus and concentrate on the mp3s without any sort of written notes or outline of the talk.  As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that these mp3s were recordings of in-person trainings by the author (you could hear pages turning or some sort of background noise), so it wasn't totally high-fidelity audios.  I hate to admit how distracted I've become when listening to audio only on my laptop.  I do so wish there were lecture notes and/ or a video of some sort instead of just audios.  It would help us visual learners!

I also felt like I needed to walk-through the Judah program for myself and teach myself how to use it before starting with my kids.  Not having the time to really do that, made me feel very insecure with my kids.  I do not like that feeling at all!
I hate to admit it, but I need a bit more hand-holding than I am finding in the teacher's guide. 

I really think that using the Judah program over the summer for teacher training would be a fabulous idea. This is not an open-and-go program.  As a matter of fact, I almost think of the manual as a tool to train yourself on how to study the Bible.  After the teacher learns it, then you can use it to teach your children.  I'm perfectly fine learning along side my kids (something we do daily), and I love the idea of training my children (and myself) to be self-educated students of the Word.  But since this is not just open-and-go and requires some additional lesson planning, I think you need to be totally motivated to work through this.

To read what others thought of Judah Bible Curriculum, please visit the Review Crew's blog by clicking below:

Disclaimer: In exchange for a free copy of the product mentioned above, I have provided my honest opinions and thoughts of how it worked for my family and me. These opinions and thoughts are my own.  No compensation was received. 

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