Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Apologia - Who Is My Neighbor

As Christians we know there is a constant struggle and battle for the minds of our children.  Every day they are bombarded with the world's philosophy of truth, faith, morality, beauty and so on from television, music, movies, games, the internet, and many other influences that surround them.  While as parents we strive to protect our children from those outside influences (as we should) our most important job is to teach them what the proper definition of truth, faith, and morality is.  We do that by teaching them God's Word and then helping them to gain all of their insights and beliefs from within it.  There is no other task as important as this one.  In fact, it is one that God himself gave to us.
Deut 11:18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (NIV)
 While doing this can seem like a daunting task, it is not really that difficult and Apologia has made it even easier. The What We Believe series is a Bible-based curriculum in which your children will learn how to use the Scripture as the lens through which to see the world around them. You might remember that last year I reviewed the second part of the series, Who Am I?.   This time I had the pleasure of reviewing part three, Who Is My Neighbor?  Let me tell you, I am even more convinced that this is something that every Christian family should study.

For the purpose of my review I received the Who Is My Neighbor? Texbook, Notebooking Journal and Coloring Book.  It also comes with Teacher Helps which offers the themes, objectives, vocabulary words, memory verses, discussion questions and suggested activities for each lesson.  The first lesson in the book provides the foundation for the study which is biblical servanthood.  Lesson 1 stresses that God made people to love and serve one another. 

Now these studies are not made for one specific grade, rather they are family centered and geared for any child ages 6-14 (though depending on the student even that can vary).  This makes it really nice to use with your whole family as part of your homeschool or just during your family devotional time.  Since Gess is 10 and has special needs we are sort of skimming the surface.  We are focusing on the vocabulary words, reading the lessons and stories and then discussing the main point.  We don't delve heavily into the discussion questions or go as deep as you could.  It is my hope that after completing all 4 units we can do them again and maybe go deeper the second time through.

The texbook offers an outline and suggested study guide that has you doing parts of each lesson 2 days a week for three weeks.  We usually do take three weeks to get through it but we do shorter lessons so we study it each school day instead of just two times each week.  Each lesson begins with "The Big Idea" which shares the main point of the lesson.  We begin by reading this together. (While the books are nicely formatted and the font is readable for Gess the lessons and stories are still a bit long so we mostly read together by taking turns.)  We then practice the memory verse and write that down in our journal.  Then we usually have a story that will focus on our theme for the lesson.  I generally read this aloud while Gess colors the corresponding pictures in her coloring book.

Next we focus on the vocabulary words for the lesson.  The Notebooking journal has a page for you to write these down.  Gess is still struggling with her writing skills so after struggling through making the long definition fit in the space, I decided to just add my own lines.  It certainly helped.

Then we really get into the heart of lesson by reading it together and discussing as much as she can comprehend.  While Gess generally understands the basics of Scripture pretty well, there are still many abstract concepts that are hard for her to grasp.  At the end of each unit the Notebooking Journal has a mini book that you can make to help you remember the theme and vocabulary words from the lesson.  Here is Gess' completed book - Two are Better Than One.

I really love how this unit emphasizes servanthood.  We live in such a me, me, me society that serving others is something we really have to be diligent to teach and emphasize.  Gess really has a hard time with it. Between being the only young child left at home and having special needs, she really has this thing about always wanting to be first.  She wants to be the first one to open the gate when we get out of the car and the first in line wherever we go, and don't even get me started about how much she likes winning. I am hoping that these lessons will help her see the importance of placing our selfish interests aside and instead strive to put others first.

I really love how the What We Believe series teaches children to look at everything through the lens of Scripture.  While the the material is written for kids, it is not presented in a childish manner.  Each chapter has a story to emphasize the focal point of the lesson.  In chapter 1 of Who Is My Neighbor? the story is about a family that escapes communist China during the Mao Tse-tung revolution and how they are aided by Christians during their escape.  Each chapter also ends with "Encounters with Jesus" which are adapted from Scripture but told through the eyes of a person who actually encountered Him.  These stories focus on how Jesus showed love and served others and should be an example for us to follow and do the same.

In the introduction it says:
"We think you will find this to be an important course of study.  Many external truths are presented that can change the way students look at the world every day.  Minor points of doctrinal difference have been avoided in order to focus on the larger issues that make up our faith. As Christians we are asked to be ready to give an account of the hope that is in us.  We hope this book brings your faith into clearer focus and your family ever closer to the Lord."
I believe that is exactly what this unit does and therefore it is an extremely important course of study.  While each part of the series can be taught alone, they are meant to be tied together.  As you study each unit you begin to build what they call "The House of Truth."  The foundation of that house is the The Rock (God and His Word).  Each unit of the What We Believe series builds a wall upon that foundation.  This Who Is My Neighbor? series focuses on the servanthood wall. 

The Who Is My Neighbor? Texbook is $39.00 the Notebooking Journal is $24.00 and the Coloring Book is $8.00.  While I wish there was some sort of discount for buying the entire set I think each component of this study is beneficial and well worth the cost.  I have to admit I usually look for curriculum that is a little less expensive, but believe me when I say this is absolutely worth the cost. The materials are of a high quality, the teaching is Scripturally sound and it is presented in a very clear, but engaging way.  Whenever I tell Gess we are going to do our Apologia lesson, she gets excited.  She loves it as much as I do and that makes it all worthwhile.

To learn more about Who Is My Neighbor? visit their website or why not see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of it by clicking on the banner below.


Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received The Who Is My Neighbor? Textbook, Notebooking Journal, and Coloring Book for giving my honest opinion and assessment of the product in my review.
Note: All pricing is current at the time of posting and is subject to change

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