It should not be a surprise that one of the foundational aspects of our homeschool journey is character development and knowing God. Most believing families would agree with this priority. These are the most important parts of child-training, in my opinion, because my children’s eternal destiny is what matters the most.
To that end, whatever we are using for Bible has to be up to the task of “forever training.” Sonlight provided the book Leading Little Ones to God in our Core B Bible package for the year. It is thorough and yet simple. The layout includes a small excerpt/story, several short Scripture passages, questions/answers, and usually a few hymns or poems to coincide with the lesson. A child will go through the year first discovering who God is, then various other topics such as how sin came into the world, what we need to do to come back to God, and finally how God’s children function in the body of believers. While I liked the simplicity of the material, I realized early on that it was not nearly meaty enough for the girls. This book would be better-suited to my toddler twins and my kindergartner as a read-aloud. For my older two, we used the topics as jumping-off points for deeper discussion. Almost daily, they needed more information, more Scripture, and had more questions than were addressed here. For a complete Bible curriculum, this book was not sufficient. It would be great for a dinner-table discussion book, which is what this ended up being for our family dinners every night. When I first looked through this book at the beginning of the year, I saw clearly that there would not be enough Scripture reading, so I added in the Greenleaf Guide to Old Testament History. That book was almost too deep, but I purchased it because it can be used several times over and in deepening succession as students get older (we’ll do this one again in middle school when I can require them to do all the included assignments). This year, we were just reading through the Old Testament. The girls received their first real Bibles (NIRV) last Passover as they were ready for the reading level, and though they might not be absorbing the subtle details of the rise and fall of Israel and Judah’s kings, they are reading God’s Word and getting familiar with the order of its history. Their reading skills have skyrocketed through being required to read aloud a couple of chapters each day. This year, Sonlight’s provided Bible curriculum The Awesome Book of Bible Facts is a main source text, along with several Scripture passages scheduled each week. This will be great for the girls to get a visual context of the verses they are reading, and I see that a little more Bible-reading is required in Core C so I like that aspect.
With a basic Bible system set out for us, I also have desired to start systematically helping the girls understand a biblical worldview. Not just reading the Scriptures, but seeing clearly how they apply to our lives, and how each of them can know and follow God in a personal relationship. For the past couple of years, as I’ve looked through Apologia’s catalog, I’ve seen that they have a worldview curriculum. There are four volumes, which can easily span four years of homeschooling. The books go in depth to address the fundamentals of our faith. Apologia has developed a reputation of creating beautiful notebooking journals. We use them for science and the girls LOVE them, so I was thrilled to see that they are included with this curriculum as well. I went ahead and ordered Volume 1 for this year. Looking through it, I am happy to say that it is very in-depth. We will use it as a family Bible study in the evenings with Pete leading our discussions. They even include coloring books that correspond to the lessons so the youngest ones can follow along.
Being a Messianic family, there are going to be several things offered in mainstream Christian school books that directly oppose what we’re teaching our children. This is a little frustrating for me as a teacher because I want to find good material for our children, yet our perspectives are often considered so “fringe” that those homeschool books simply haven’t been written yet! Usually, I can just skip over statements that we do not agree with, however, it is hard to gloss over the fact that Old Testament passages are usually very lacking in any books related to Scripture. Apologia’s materials are not an exception, yet in looking through them, I am impressed thus far with a pretty fair representation they have made to all of Scripture being inspired – not just the words of Yeshua and the apostles (both of whom were constantly quoting and interpreting Torah). Torah does not really hold a place of honor in most Christian book circles and that saddens me. The children are simply not ready for any of the in-depth theological books that Pete and I have studied in forming our Messianic faith. Until such time as they are ready, we will just have to use what is offered and continue to talk about everything with them. I am very much looking forward to a faith-building year for our whole family, filled to the brim with questions and discussion.