You may have heard recent reports of the high percentage of students from Christian families who walk away from their faith once in college. College may be the first time students ever encounter many with differing beliefs, or have their beliefs challenged. Without any training in the essentials of the Christian faith prior to leaving home, students have no firm foundation on which to stand during such challenges.
How can we better prepare our children and give them a strong foundation? Do your children understand why they believe what they believe and how it impacts their thinking and actions? Do they understand their worldview?
Apologia’s What We Believe series, targeted to ages 6-14, teaches the foundational truths of the Christian faith and the concepts of worldview through a three-volume series. The second volume of the series, Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?), explores the Biblical worldview of self-image. Introducing the attributes of God and our creation in God’s image, the text begins with the broad question of “What are we doing here?” The following chapters explore creative gifts and talents, thinking and renewing the mind, emotions and feelings, making wise decisions, discernment, fruitful living, and what it means to be a child of God. Each lesson’s theme is covered in a variety of ways. For example, Lesson 3, titled What’s on Your Mind?, includes a story of a boy’s lesson from a woodcarver, an article on Mount Rushmore, discussion of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, and the profile of Kiet, a twelve-year-old boy who lives in Thailand and practices Buddhism, all intertwined with the main lesson and discussion questions. There is even a recipe for blini, Russian pancakes, with explanation of their significance.
Who Am I? is a very visually appealing text with full-color pictures and illustrations throughout its 262 pages. It contains eight hefty lessons, intended to take two to three weeks each. The lessons are written directly to the student in a conversational tone. This style makes independent learning feasible for older students while providing approachable material when read to younger students.
Each lesson has a similar structure, starting with The Big Idea section, which clearly identifies the theme of each lesson. The content and theme is presented through short stories, numerous comprehension and discussion questions, introduction of differing worldviews concepts, related articles, vocabulary studies, Bible verse memorization, and hands-on activities. A prayer concludes each lesson.
There are several supplemental products available for the text, including the Who Am I? Notebooking Journal and the Who Am I? Coloring Book. However, definitely worth mentioning are the free resources on the course website accessible through a password given in the text’s introduction section. Teacher helps, several formatted notebooking pages, House of Truth (a text activity) graphics, and coloring page guides are all readily available. The Teacher Helps section includes 10-18 pages of additional information for each lesson, including lesson overviews, key themes, story summaries, extra discussion questions, suggested related activities, supplemental reading, and more. While not as extensive as the Who Am I? Notebooking Journal available for purchase, the notebooking pages on the course website are a nice bonus to the notebooking activities listed in the text. The course website provides many supplemental resources for those wanting to expand even more on the lessons.
The Apologia website has samples available of the text and supplemental materials for each volume if you would like to see if this worldview curriculum may be a fit for your family. Who Am I? Lesson 5, titled "Will You Choose Wisely?," is available in its entirety for viewing. One section that parents of younger children may want to preview in the sample is "Worldviews in Focus," where a child of differing beliefs, lifestyle, or worldview is introduced followed by discussion questions comparing and contrasting to Christianity. While this is one of my favorite sections, parents may want to make sure their younger students are ready to be introduced to differing concepts and prepared to answer any questions at the discovery that others have differing beliefs. The Chapter 5 sample of the section introduces Dev’s Hindu family and is a good representation of how this section is handled in each lesson.
Overall, this is a very user-friendly, flexible, and thorough worldview curriculum. Most students will be engaged by the conversational tone, stories, activities and discussion questions in the lessons. The text provides a sample lesson plan covering a lesson in three weeks at two days per week, but the curriculum is flexible and can be completed at the student’s own pace and at the level desired. For example, while many students (and parents) enjoy notebooking, there is still plenty of substance to the lesson if you would prefer to omit the notebooking activities. Of course, the many supplemental resources for going deeper have already been discussed. Also, I felt that the accessibility to multiple grade levels was definitely achieved, making this curriculum ideal for group learning.
What I like best about this curriculum is that it does not wait until students are in high school – or college – to teach worldview. It gives younger kids the credit to be able to both ask and understand the big questions and provides the opportunity to build a strong foundation in the Christian faith at an early age.