Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who Is God? from Apologia, a TOS Crew Review

Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? Volume 1, Biblical Worldview of God and Truth, by John Hay and David Webb from the What We Believe Series is new from Apologia.

Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? is designed to be a family inclusive study for children in the 6-14 age range.

Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? is a beautiful book. List price is $39. It is a big, sturdy hardback with large print. It's a book you want to pick up and look at, linger over. The pages are not overwhelmingly crowded with information, the photos and illustrations are attractive and inviting, something that is very important for a child who can become anxious by too much text or something that looks too difficult.

The book contains 10 lessons meant to be completed in order at the child's pace, with a suggestion that the lessons can be covered in two-week segments with what I assume are typically developing children in that 6-14 year old age range.

Within each chapter is a preview box called, "What You Will Do" (which is really helpful for me in the situation with my homeschooler w/ special needs); narrative with facts and information that incorporates vocabulary "The Big Idea"; vocabulary words are listed for us in "Words You Need to Know" boxes. There are memory verses in "Hide It In Your Heart" boxes in each chapter; and a"What Should I Do?" section and a "Make A Note Of It" box, that asks the student questions about concepts he/she has learned. (Be sure to take a peek at the sample chapter so that you can visualize all of these chapter pieces.)

I thought we'd be ready for more of this study. My homeschooler is working at a K/1 level. She is on the autism spectrum with developmental delays in processing information. I am not sure that the recommended age-range (6-14) is accurate. (I could be wrong.) Writing a text for a 6-14 year old age range is a challenge, because comprehension at six is in a completely different place than comprehension at 14.

(Sidebar: Interestingly, the book gives readers a 2/3 page answer to the question, "Where was the Garden of Eden?", a question my son (a school-building-schooler) asks sometimes.)

This is a study of the concept of "worldview". That requires a certain level of joint attention, perspective taking, what we often refer to as "theory of mind" in the autism world. I found that the majority of the concepts in this book/study are well beyond the perspective-taking and joint attention level of my homeschooler and possibly that of an average six year old. For this particular study, I found that using the story that illustrates the concepts along with some of the vocabulary words is enough for her the first time through the book. And that's good enough for now. The stories are entertaining and my girl is beginning to be able to sit next to me and follow along as I read. If I pause and allow her to read occasionally, her attention on the story stretches a bit longer. Sometimes, her attention is short, and we have to stop part-way through and finish a story another time. I use the "What You Will Do" preview box to guide me, to help me wrap my mind around what I need to work on with her, as I figure out how to present it to her in a way she can understand and build on.

I know she is not understanding a lot of the concepts. Even the story illustrations contain abstract concepts for a child who by nature of all things autism is very literal and concrete. I try to use the vocab and concepts from the story during the next few days, spotlighting them, reviewing parts of the story, trying to grow concept development.

(Sidebar: This book has given me a bigger window into why Sunday School and church have not been positive experiences for her.)

Developmentally, we tend to understand concepts before we have a label for them. We understand the "a" sound long before we learn there is a letter symbol for it. We understand the concept of 1, or 2, or 3 before we learn that there is a symbol, a numeral, to go with it. I can try to get her to memorize vocabulary, but without the conceptual understanding behind it, we are not building meaning. (Rote memorization does not equal understanding.) She needs to be able to relate a new vocabulary word or a new concept to something in her experience, something she knows. Concepts like "worldview" and other abstract ideas are a challenge for me to define in a way that make sense to a child who needs to see and feel and experience very concretely.

As I look ahead, as we move through the stories and I think about finishing this book and beginning it again, I see that we have work to do, concepts to experience, before we begin the book again and include more than the story and some vocab. At this point, Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him? is an outline for me to use as I consider what concepts I can teach at this point in my daughter's development / understanding. Realizing that my thoughts were not exactly the same as her thoughts took a while for her. She had to learn that my thoughts, my perspective, is different from hers. (Reminds me of Isaiah 55:8.) At some point, she'll learn about the perspectives of those with other worldviews, when she's developmentally ready.We still have some work (experience, practice) to do before all of the abstract concepts will make sense as a whole for her.

Apologia gives book purchasers access to a password protected web site of book extras that includes a set of Teacher Helps for each lesson and 50+ notebooking activities (and answer keys) that accompany the 10 lessons. Additionally, a"House of Truth" to accompany the lessons can be printed from the extras site. Finally, Apologia's extras page is a wealth of links to other information that may be helpful for families.

Here are the ten lessons:

Lesson 1: Where Am I Building My Life?
Lesson 2: How Can I Know What's True?
Lesson 3: What is God Like? (Part 1)
Lesson 4: What is God Like? (Part 2)
Lesson 5: Who Are The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit?
Lesson 6: If God Created the World, Why Isn't the World Perfect?
Lesson 7: Why Did God Create Me?
Lesson 8: Will God Meet All My Needs?
Lesson 9: Why Does Sin Keep Me From Knowing God?
Lesson 10: Is Jesus The Only Way to God?

I really like the progression of topics through the chapters.

If you are looking for some guidance on how (in what order) to teach a child with special needs about God, I think that Apologia's, "Who Is God? And How Can I Really Know Him?" is a solid resource to use as an outline. Know that you may have to read the lessons to yourself and do some prep work before you actually use the lessons with your child (and that's okay; a lot of us use some materials that way with a child who needs the extra prep). It may be a book that you complete more than once; the first time through on a "lite" mode as you fill in gaps in understanding of concepts; the second time more thoroughly. That's what I've got in my mind, anyway.

If you are teaching multiple (typically developing) children across an age range, the younger children will relate to the stories and absorb the material at their level while the older sibs are diving deeper into the material and concepts.

If you're looking for something to use with a developmentally delayed child, this may not be your first choice. While it is quite good, and a beautiful book, there are other studies that are better suited for this particular situation, in my opinion. (I would like to see Apologia develop a set of the stories as separate children's books with some guidance for mom or teacher for using with children with special needs or who are younger and not ready for this book.)

For reviews of Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him? by my Crewmates, please go here.

I was given a copy of Who Is God for review purposes. I was not paid for this review, do not benefit if you purchase the product, and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

1 comment:

Rodna Allman said...

This book looks great. Can't wait to get it.

I am stopping by from the Blog Walk.

I know I am behind, but I am catching up.

I am now following you.

Would love a follow back.



Thanks. Have a great day.

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