Monday, March 14, 2011

Who is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?) ~ A Book Review

Apologia Education
The other night I was watching an educational, family oriented show with my sons.  During a commercial break, the highlights for that night's news came on.   I couldn't believe what the network deemed appropriate as their teaser story.   I was a little bit sickened, but I feel that way fairly often.  I feel it when I hear the lyrics to some songs, or when child actors in TV shows are talking down to the adults playing the part of  their parents.  I feel it when I find out that movies that have licensed toys for five year olds and are also full of profanity and innuendo.  It's even there when I drive past some  billboards.  We know kids that are the same age as our boys who play M rated video games and see R rated movies.

Should we lock our children in a bubble?    As appealing as it would seem on some days, it's not going to help them.  They need to learn to make good choices.  They need to know why we don't do things other people do.   That takes a lot of parenting, and whatever help we can get along the way.

A couple of months ago, I received a book that could definitely qualify as that sort of "help".  Apologia Press has a Worldview Curriculum series titled What We Believe. The first book is Who is God (And Can I really know Him?) It was written by John Hay and David Webb  to help children understand God and the Christian worldview versus the secular worldview.  The hope is that with this knowledge, they will make educated decisions when they feel confused about what is true.

Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?

This 252 page hardcover book is broken down into ten chapters.  There is an introduction which helps parents prepare to navigate the book.  It includes the web address and password to a website specifically for this book, which also includes notebooking pages.  You'll also find the contact information to use if you have any questions or difficulty along the way.   There is also an index in the back to help look up specific subjects.

The authors suggest taking two weeks per chapter, using three days each week.  The chapters do have a lot of different things to study and discuss, and it's not all laid out in chapters and rows.  It's colorful, with sidebars and boxes, and it could be easy to miss things.   They provide a map but as with most homeschool curriculum, each family will find what works for them as they go along.

It is best to begin with what they call "The Big Idea" and "What You Will Do".  These discuss what the chapter is specifically about.  We always started there, but then skipped around.  There are vocabulary words to learn, verses to memorize, articles to read, prayers to be said and activities to do.  The notebooking pages can be used, or you can make your own notebooks or lapbooks to go along with each unit.

There are also two ongoing stories; one in the first part of the book, and another in the later chapters.  Both have children as the main characters.  This is a nice idea, because we look forward to seeing what our fictional friends will do next.  The stories tie in to the lessons and help show the principles put to practice in situations kids might encounter.

At the end of each chapter, the students add a piece on to the "House of Truth".  This can be an actual model, something fashioned from cardstock or construction paper, or even a drawing.  It starts with a "Foundation of Wisdom" and is built up from there.  I believe the construction of the house will span all four books of the series.

What I liked about this book is that it takes very big ideas, and conveys them with kid friendly examples and conversational language.  For example, one chapter talks about Star Wars.  In another, they use optical illusion pictures to show us that what we see might not always be true.  I also appreciate that the book is read in pieces and then discussed together so it keeps the students engaged.

This is definitely Evangelical Christian Biblical Worldview, so the discussion oriented style of teaching also allows me to add to the lessons.  I can include things that might be relevant to our family such as our Sacraments, or other beliefs we hold that might not be included.

The authors suggest that Who is God (And Can I Really Know Him?) be used with children aged 6-14.  Currently, the textbook is the only available item for sale, but very soon there will also be a matching notebooking journal for older children, and a coloring book for little ones.  The book is $39.00 and is available from Apologia Press by clicking this link.

The ten Lessons are as follows:
  1. Where Am I Building My Life?
  2. How Can  I Know What is True?
  3. What is God Like? (part 1)
  4. What is God Like? (part 2)
  5. Who Are The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit?
  6. If God Created The World Why Isn't it Perfect?
  7. Why Did God Create Me?
  8. Will God Meet All My Needs?
  9. Why Does Sin Keep Me From Knowing God?
  10. Is Jesus the Only Way to God?
This is definitely a Protestant worldview, but with some tweaking I was able to make the lessons useful for my sons.

To learn more about this book, or the rest of the What We Believe series, (book two is available now, book three is due in the fall, and book four after that) visit apologia.com or call 1(888)524.4724 . The email address is mailbag@apologia.com. You may also get a peek at the first lesson when you visit the website.

Quite a few of my TOS Crewmates also used this book with their families and will be posting their reviews today.  You can read their thoughts at the TOS Crew Website.

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**I was given a copy of this book in order to provide an informed review.  I was not compensated monetarily and my opinions are genuine.