Thursday, May 10, 2012

Judah Bible Curriculum: A TOS Review

As a Christian, I have always sought to make study of the Bible a priority in our day, and sought to teach our other subjects in ways that interweave the information with Biblical truth. This past year my son has really taken personal responsibility, through his AWANAs materials, for his studies, his Bible memory, etc., and he has done well. 

As our AWANA's year was nearing its end, I was offered the opportunity to review the Judah Bible Curriculum. I thought, "Great timing!" I was at a pivotal point where I could either go back to my previous format (daily hymn, Bible reading, and memory work), or switch to something else. I was very pleased that I was chosen to be on the review crew for Judah Bible Curriculum.  On reviewing their website, I found a wealth of information. Particularly helpful was "Why JBC is Unique".

Judah Bible Curriculum (JBC) is, quoting from their website:

  • 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.

 Judah Bible Curriculum is available as an immediate download for $44, and it includes:

Click Here To Purchase Judah Bible Curriculum delivered online

Click Here To Purchase Judah Bible Curriculum Pack Hard Copy
  • Positive #1 Judah Bible Curriculum is a K-12 program! It's all there! For one price, you have it all for all of your children for their entire school career. For the very youngest students, you work through it with them, and as they mature you teach them to study independently, setting them up to know how to study and learn from the Bible for their entire lives.
 Well, the day it arrived was exciting! I immediately downloaded everything, and then began to peruse the materials. Well, that was hard for me. I couldn't quite grasp the content while reading it from my computer screen, so I started printing stuff out.
  • Negative #1I know there are benefits in having materials in PDF format, but I much prefer when a provider sells a printed book or notebook, and includes the PDF materials either as a CD, or as an accessible file on line. JBC is available as either a PDF/MP3 download (which I received), or a hard copy with audio CDs (which still doesn't have the JBC backed up on the CDs as PDFs, which is how I would have preferred it). It really causes problems in my household harmony when I start using all the printer ink to print out school materials, while my college daughter is printing out college research papers, and hubby is trying to figure out why we keep running out if ink....
As I began reading, it quickly became apparent how very little I know about "The Principle Approach". I thought I knew more than I did. I've been homeschooling for 21 years. I first heard about The Principle Approach about 19 years ago, when a friend told me about Dorothy Sayers and The Lost Tools of Learning. At that time I was a fairly new home- schooler, with very little college under my belt, and was still dealing with confidence issues. I wasn't ready to learn what The Principle Approach was all about, let alone ready to implement it. Now I am at a place where I can consider it, but am finding myself a slow learner, and am finding it difficult to carve out time needed for the learning.

  • Positive #2: I really like the curriculum's plan. The Bible is broken down on a six-year rotating plan, where each year has its own plan that covers highlighted sections from the Old and New Testament on a series of rotating themes: Creation, Plan of Redemption Begins; Kingdom of Israel (those three are Old Testament); Kingdom of God, and Early Church (those two are New Testament). 
Now, all of this is exciting, and deep, and meaty, and good... But I was sort of hoping that on Monday morning I would be able to open the curriculum, read today's instructions, do "A", "B", and "C", and be done and move on to the next subject. You can't do that with Judah Bible Curriculum.  Did you see where I said that it was "deep" and "meaty"? By very nature, materials that are deep and meaty require more initial teacher preparation than materials that you open, follow the instructions for the day, and move on. Oh, and by the way, students get more out of those deep, meaty curricula as well. ::sigh:: so this next bullet is a positive, too, but initially it is/was a negative:
  • Negative #2: To properly get started with this curriculum the teacher really needs to plan time to work their way through the manual, the audio files, and the notebooking pages in order to be adequately prepared and able to implement the plan. I have had this material five weeks now, and because I did not know to allow this time, I still have a lot of audio that I haven't yet listened to. But I'll get there. Summer's coming -- I know I can launch this program well right out of the gate when I start my next school year!...
There are actually 17 Bible Keys that are spread out through the five above-mentioned themes (see "Positive #2"), spread out through K through 6th, and then repeated for 7th through 12th grades. The 12-year Scope and Sequence can be viewed HERE.  Scripture memory is also an important part of the plan. Notebooking is also part of the plan. I had already been covering these three, in my own haphazard way, but this plan will take what I had been presenting previously, and clarify it for my young scholar, to help him make sense of it in ways that will better help him to develop a Biblical world view.

  •  Positive #3: The curriculum contains an explanation of The Principle Approach to American Education that I found extremely helpful and inspiring, with additional listed resources.

  •  Negative #3: Back to the topic of Notebooking -- I was disappointed in two ways with the  Judah Bible Curriculum Notebook Ideas: 1) It is only ideas for Elementary. I think notebooking can be just as helpful right up through high school, so I wished it has contained upper grades as well; and, 2) The Notebook Ideas pages contain photocopies of ideas that have been implemented in classrooms, but it only shows them filled in -- it does not provide the blank forms to use. So to implement those notebooking ideas, the teacher needs to recreate the notebook page blanks. ::sigh:: I want as much provided for me as possible -- you know, make it easy for me please!
  • Positive #4: The appendices at the back of the manual are amazing! Part of the materials are charts that you look at that correspond to the audio lectures. Part of the materials are a Biblical timeline from the Garden of Eden to the year 400 BC. It is fabulous!
So, overall, I am at the front end of using this material and am telling you that at the front end it entails a lot of work.  I believe that ultimately the work will be worth it, but if you are considering this curriculum, please know the time involved at the front end so that you are not shocked.

Somewhere in here I am supposed to tell you how JD likes it. Well... let's not ask. JD doesn't like much. In my situation, asking how he liked it isn't usually very relevant to the question of how good the product is...
Cost-wise, if you calculate this even for one child (which is what I have), even if you aren't starting until 7th grade (which is our grade next year), at a cost of $44/six years of usage, that comes to $7.33/year, which is a great price. But, if you are using it for 12 years, it is $3.67/year. If you are using it for two students, that comes to $1.83 per student per year. The more students you have, the less it costs per student per year. It is very economical! 

So, overall, other than the fact that I didn't know I would need to set aside so much time to implement this, and other than the fact that I wasn't in a mood to work hard on curriculum implementation right now, I really recommend this material, especially if you are looking for some fresh assistance, and if you already like the concept of notebooking. 

So, if you wish to order JBC by phone or by mail, you can contact them here:
  •     217-344-5672
        Judah Bible Curriculum
        P.O. Box 122
        Urbana, Illinois, 61803.

I received a download set of Judah Bible Curriculum  in exchange for my honest review. I was not paid for my review, and this is my personal opinion of the product. I tell my own opinion, whether it is good or bad.

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review.

Go to the TOS Homeschool Review page to see more reviews of Judah Bible Curriculum.

Let me know what you think. Throw me a comment. Thanks!

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