I is for…Individuality

The next letter in our alphabet is fundamental, not just to biblical principles or to home education, but to all of life.

Individuality is where it’s at. It’s our relationship with God. It’s the biblical principle from which at the others spring. It is what gives us liberty in home education and in life. Independently dependent upon God. As we understand individuality as God intends it our relationships flourish, our liberty grows and our faith deepens.

Once we are able to truly be what God designed all the masks come off. Once we shake off conformity to the world and embrace independence in Christ we can enjoy life as God intended. It is not easy but it is immensely rewarding.

This doesn’t mean we don’t lean on others or seek relationships or guidance. Far from it! God’s Principle of Individuality helps us form tight bonds. Embracing others in their uniqueness and pulling on their strengths only serves to benefit a relationship. We add to one another and we celebrate the differences.

G is for…GACE

I’m so happy to come to this letter! GACE, or the Guide to American Christian Education by James Rose is my favorite go-to reference for BPA. It is chock full of almost everything you need to get started and stay going. I can hardly begin to list all of what’s in it. It addresses BPA in the home and in home education. There is help planning lessons, basic 4R’ing and other foundational concepts and disciplines. He addresses core subjects, enrichment and some subjects that are hard to come by in any other BPA materials–namely Kindergarten year full lesson outlines, economics and Anatomy/physiology. There are contributions from Katherine Dang and Mrs Ruth Smith, among others. (Did I mention how much I adore this book?)

It is inspirational and challenging, practical and comprehensive. We have a GACE study group on Yahoo! that goes through Mr. Rose’s study that is comparable to the Self-directed Study from FACE.

E is for…excellence

I have covered this topic in the past but it is so good we can bring it up again. BPA brings out the excellence in your children, yourself and your family. The notebook and map standards, research projects and 4Ring are but some of the tools to promote excellence in your home education (and your every day life).

The Bible emphasizes the importance of excellence and when you base your subjects on God’s word you will discover many scriptures, stories and individuals that bring this into focus.

How do you think excellence has become a part of your home education and your life with the use of BPA?

D is for…Dang

Katherine Dang is one of my favorite BPA teachers. She is so knowledgeable and gentle and kind and, well, wonderful. Her organization is Philomath Foundation and she is available for consultations, conferences and the like. Ms. Dang has been in BPA education for over 30 years. Her wisdom is inspiring and her materials are top-notch. I hope you’ll take time to listen some of her conference audio (her Series on the Introduction to American Christian Education is wonderful. I’ve probably listened to each session a dozen times!) Material from the Wednesday Night Salons she holds in California is also great for sparking discussions in your own small group setting.

Her materials are available here. Dang’s Universal History volumes are excellent texts for high school and beyond. She also offers others materials such as a science project guide and several literature guides on this page.

 

A is for…acronyms

This is the start of a new week and a new series. In case you can’t tell, this is a series going through the alphabet the BPA way!

For those new to BPA I decided to make A for Acronyms. Here’s a list of basic terms

  • BPA : Biblical Principle Approach
  • C&P: Christian History of the American Revolution–Consider and Ponder (book)
  • FACE: Foundation for American Christian Education (organization)
  • GACE: Guide to American Christian Education (book)
  • PI: Pilgrim Institute (organization)
  • T&L: Teaching & Learning America’s Christian History (book)
  • CHOC I: Christian History of the Constitution I (book)
  • CHOC II: Christian History of the Constitution II–Christian Self-Government with Union (book)
  • MWOG: Mighty Works of God (HisStory curriculum)
  • Rudiments: (training and education)
  • SDS: Self-Directed Study (training)
  • Webster’s 1828: American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster 1828

Am I missing anything? Leave a comment below and I’ll add it!

Word Study Wednesday: train

Word studies are fun (really!) and they aren’t hard. You learn so much that after you get into the habit they can be addicting and a little like a tessellation, going on to seeming infinity. I’m joining in with some other BPA bloggers for Word Study Wednesdays, doing short and sweet word studies. There are four basic steps.

1. Define the word from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Underline the key words.

Train–To train or train up, to educate; to teach; to form by instruction or practice; to bring up.

2. Define those Key words

Educate–To bring up, as a child; to instruct; to inform and enlighten the understanding; to instill into the mind principles of arts, science, morals, religion and behavior. To educate children well is one of the most important duties of parents and guardians.

Teach–To instruct; to inform; to communicate to another the knowledge of that of which he was before ignorant.

Instruction–The act of teaching or informing the understanding in that of which it was before ignorant; information.

 

3. Look up scriptures regarding the key words

Train up a child in the way he should go,and when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov.22 NIV

Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. Ps. 86:11 MSG
Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do. Ex. 18:20 MSG
Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Deut. 11:19 MSG
4. Form a Personal Application
Train: I am to diligently perform the action (not passive) of teaching my children everywhere, at all times. I am to provide an alternative to ignorance, illuminating their minds to God’s word and world. What they learn is to be both enlightening and practical, applicable to every area of life.

Gentle BPA

With all the trappings of Biblical Principle Approach–word studies, 4-Ring, notebooks, the Red Books, Rudiments, etc., you can easily get overwhelmed and frustrated. Your idea of home education is not caught up in books and all that research, but in being with your children, learning alongside them. There is a way to do both.

  • Ease into the whole BPA mindset. It takes time and effort to reformulate your ideas of American Christian education, to get a handle on the terminology and to reflect on what you are learning. Give yourself time. How much time? As much as it takes.
  • Take one subject and deal with that. Don’t take the whole homeschooling elephant in one bite. You’ll just pull something and you’ll still be hungry.
  • Don’t make everything formal. You can ease into word studies and literature studies without making a big announcement. It’s okay to just fold these things into your homeschooling day. Pull out the Bible and the 1828 dictionary and just ask a few questions. The children will do the work for you.
  • Lower your expectations. That seems counter-intuitive to BPA philosophy, at least at first blush. But we are home educators, not classroom Master Teachers. We [probably] teach multiple grades with many subjects and to expect to become a Master Teacher in every subject is asking for a breakdown. Just keep ahead of your students. Learn alongside them. Discover things together as you dig into the Word. It’s amazing how lowered expectations can set you free and actually produce better results in the long run.
  • Think of teaching deep, not broad. The principles expand through the grades, so you get deeper and deeper, as Ms. Dang says, going 20 years deep. It’s not a smattering of learning but more like digging a well. A well your children can draw from as they learn to teach themselves.
  • Take one principle per subject per day. No need to overwhelm baby birds with too much food. It will just fall to the ground. One idea to reflect on and discuss will lead to exciting results.

What challenges do you encounter with the Biblical Principle Approach? If you are new to this methodology, what questions do you have?

5 myths of Biblical Principle Approach home education

  1. It is too labor-intensive. Yes, it does require much from the teacher. Everything in life that is worth anything has come about through struggle and toil and patience and diligence. You must internalize the principles in order to teach them. And that takes time. Too much time, it seems sometimes. But in the end the price is small compared to the rewards of seeing your children maturing in the Lord, reasoning effectively form God’s Word and exhibiting Christian character.
  2. It is too expensive. Actually the Biblical Principle Approach is economical. Real literature and other resources can be reused and enjoyed. Compared to consumable programs, BPA is affordable.
  3. It is only focused on American history. It is not. We study the whole chain of Christianity, that is, the whole timeline. Nothing in His Story happens in a vacuum. Since we study from cause to effect, we study all of history all around the world.
  4. It is classical education. BPA is not classical education after the Greek model. It is considered Biblical classical, after the Hebrew model.
  5. I can pick it up and use it right away. While the Noah Plan from the Foundation for American Christian Education has lesson plans for grades K-3, but is difficult and burnout-inducing to jump in before you have renewed your mind and formed your philosophy of education and at least gotten the basics of a BPA education under your belt. It’s not a race or a canned curriculum. It is something that takes time and effort to implement.

Transitioning to Biblical Principle Approach

butterflyBPA is so exciting, so life changing, so excellent that those new to this approach can, in their zeal, overdo things and burnout quickly. It can leave you feeling like you have failed or that BPA is not a fit for you. Because it requires more on the part of the parent-teacher, it takes more time to make the changes you desire to see in your homeschool.

It is not a matter of simply tossing out the old and starting fresh Monday morning. There is a process that will keep you growing, learning, and on track. I cannot stress strongly enough the word transition. It is a process, not a box you open and use right away.

First you must renew your own mind. You cannot teach it until it has been made light to you. Take time to internalize scripture, principles and the ideas of America’s Christian history before you even begin to add it to your lessons.

Then you choose one subject and 4-R that. Leave all your other materials as they are and teach only that one subject BPA. Introduce this new way of learning in history, literature or whatever subject you feel led to choose.

Add one subject each year that you teach from a BPA perspective. Baby steps will prevent burnout. Jumping in and trying to teach every subject this way from the start will leave you exhausted and frustrated.

Keep your standards high and your expectations low. Your children may struggle with ideas and producing their own work. Present one idea per lesson per day. Don’t overfeed and be patient. Let them sit with ideas and wrestle for their own education. They will own it and real learning will happen.

Making small changes over the years will get you where you want to go. Displacing ideas, Biblical reasoning and producing your own work all take time, effort and patience. As long as you understand it’s not a race but a journey, your transition can be a happy and painless one (but not without struggle!).

We have a winner!

And the Freedom & Simplicity on the R Road to Biblical Wisdom ebook goes to…

TRICIA!

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Thanks to everyone for playing. I love giveaways and hope to have another one soon. Tricia let me know where to email your book!