I am extremely particular when it comes to choosing a Bible curriculum. In fact, I’m so particular, that we’ve never actually used any Bible curriculum for very long.
There are several things that are absolute musts for me:
I will not use an over-simplified fill-in-the-blank type Bible program. These might be useful for teaching Bible facts, but I’ve found them to be unnecessary busywork in our home. And the very last subject I want my children to associate with boring busywork is the Bible!
It must be doctrinally sound. Obviously there are differences of opinion among Christians about what sound doctrine is. But that’s one of the benefits of homeschooling. We have the freedom to train our children in the Reformed doctrine that we hold to. Other families are free to train their children in their own doctrinal beliefs.
Finally, I want a Bible curriculum that is serious. By serious, I don’t mean it has to somber and boring, but I do not like Bible studies for children that are silly to the point of irreverence. I also don’t want to have much pop culture in our Bible study. My children aren’t very familiar with it anyway so it doesn’t serve the purpose of helping relate the Bible to things that my teens understand.
You can see why our Bible study method has been pretty straightforward. We read, or more often lately, listen to, a passage from the Bible. I often, though not always, ask a question or two, and point out something I noticed from the passage. We are also memorizing (very slowly) the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
When the opportunity to review the Judah Bible Curriculum came up, I knew it was something I wanted to review, even though I am so particular. One of the reasons I wanted to try it is that it uses the Principle Approach. I enjoy learning about the various homeschooling methods and have written articles about Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Study, and other methods. But I didn’t know anything about the Principle Approach and wanted to explore it.
Then I read this description on the Judah Bible Curriculum website:
What is the Judah Bible Curriculum?
A Principle Approach curriculum for Bible class.
Develop a comprehensive knowledge of the Bible.
Build strong, Godly character in your children.
Study the Bible together.
Study the hand of God in the lives of individuals and nations.
For homeschool, Christian school, Sunday school.
Teach your children living Biblical principles to guide their lives.
Apply God’s word personally in every area of life.
The Bible is the textbook.
Wow, that even sounds like it might meet even my criteria for a Bible curriculum!
What does the Judah Bible Curriculum include?
- K-12 Bible Curriculum Manual
- Elementary Notebook Ideas Booklet
- Eight lecture teacher-training seminar
So I started where I always start when I get new curriculum – with the manual. But I have to confess, I was confused. Even being the visual learner that I am, I needed the teacher-training seminar to figure this program out. I completely understand why this curriculum comes with the audio training sessions. They are a vital part of the program, not just a nice bonus.
So after listening to the first training videos, the fog began to lift. The basic premise behind the program is that the Bible is divided into 5 chronological themes for study. These themes are:
- The Plan of Redemption Begins
- Kingdom of Israel
- Kingdom of God
- Early Church
Every year, these same 5 themes are covered. In each of those themes the student will study Bible Keys. Those keys include key individuals, key events, key institutions, and key documents. Older students will perform research on each of these Bible keys while younger students will be more directly taught by the teacher. You can read a much better explanation of the process here on their website.
What I like -
The Bible is the textbook for this curriculum.
There is a strong emphasis on character development.
It encourages independent Bible study habits that will last a lifetime.
What I have problems with -
Note: I didn’t title this What I don’t like. Truthfully, these are issues for implementation in my own family and are therefore very subjective.
There is a lot of teacher preparation. But shouldn’t there be a lot of teacher preparation for a Bible curriculum? I don’t want to put this down as a negative, because it really isn’t. But yet it is for me. Just figuring out how this program works was a challenge. I fear that implementing this long term just would not happen.
But the real problem is that something just doesn’t seem right to me about the underlying assumptions of the program. At first I really didn’t get it at all. The emphasis on the Philosophy of Government is very confusing to me. However, as I listened to the teacher training, I did gain some understanding of what they meant by self-government, and I can sort of understand it now. But something doesn’t seem quite right with the choice of themes and how they relate to government. It seems that they focus more on that than on Christ and his redemptive work.
I’m still undecided about this curriculum. I want to like it, because I want the things that it promises to develop in my children. I want those things in myself! I’m going to listen to the training again and see if I gain more understanding. One thing I want to emphasize is that Judah Bible Curriculum is really more of a Bible method than a Bible curriculum. What it looks like in one home will look very different from another.
The Judah Bible Curriculum is available for purchase from their website. It includes the manual, audio training, and note booking ideas. It is available in both a hard copy version ($74.00 including shipping) and a downloadable version ($44.00).
Disclosure: I received a downloadable version to review as a member of the Homeschool Crew. All opinions expressed are my own.