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Building on The Rock, Level 1 - Wisdom Review by Heidi Shaw

Summit Ministries

Summit Ministries has embarked upon a very ambitious and much appreciated journey with the publication of Building On the Rock. I have been previewing and using Volume 1 - Wisdom, and I am overwhelmed. The content is fantastic! A correlated Worldview AND Bible Survey curriculum to help instill in our children the foundational truths they need before they venture out into the secular world. Summit believes that it is essential to teach our children HOW to think with a Christian worldview, and then equip them so that they are capable of doing so. The folks at Summit have obviously been working on this for a long while as it is evident the care that has gone into these lesson plans.

To build a foundation one must begin with a solid footing. The only solid footing for the Christian is God and His Truth, and so the building on this Rock begins. Designed to be taught over the course of five years, each year another tenant of Christian Worldview is introduced and built upon, hopefully enabling students to enter their teen and early adult lives fully equipped to express and share their worldview, and impact others with it, not just hold onto it for their private lives. The program is written in a spiral method and each year either previews or reviews the themes of the years before and after. The children will be saturated with scripture, taught how to depend on it and use it for their personal 'outside' lives as well as their private 'inside' lives. The goals for Building on The Rock is to "help young students begin to develop a cohesive Christian worldview through which they can interpret the world around them and respond Biblically to it in their thinking and doing." How do they achieve this goal you ask? Well, let's take a look because here is where it gets tough for me.

I am a Christian homeschooling mom, so I have always endeavored to incorporate the faith of our family into our daily teachings. My husband and I live what we believe and most days we have many many chances to talk with our children about situations and how and WHY we responded to them as we did. My children have grown up watching their father live out his faith and many times put his beliefs into action as he sacrificed some material things for God's glory. Because of this, and because I know SO many home school families who practice the same worldview, the curriculum Summit Ministries presents here seems a bit redundant. Not that it isn't amazing, and very well presented, I just have to wonder how applicable it is to the average home educating Christian family.

I teach three different grade levels every day, and preparing for them in each subject takes a long time as it is. Now let me say this; Building on The Rock was designed for the Christian SCHOOL environment. As such, it does a phenomenal job. The whole concept of the program is to integrate Worldview studies AND bible studies so that the two become one. This paves the way for most schools to incorporate worldview studies, where otherwise they wouldn't have the timetable space for it. I do strongly agree that the earlier we begin to teach our children the beliefs and values we live by, the easier it will be and the more likely they will be to internalize what they are being taught. As the rationale behind the curriculum states, "These foundational beliefs and values influence how students interpret knowledge and govern how they act." For those who don't have a strong Christian worldview and for those who know what they wish their children to learn but don't know how to teach it, this program is an answer to prayer. We all want our children to be able to react biblically to events that happen to them as adults and starting with them when they are young seems to be the right place to start.

I received a lot of material in the box to review. At first I thought they had sent me the whole 5 year curriculum by mistake. But then as I got into it I realized that all this was just for grade 1. Now, if I was a grade one teacher and I needed to be prepared to teach Worldview/Bible studies, I would feel extremely well equipped. But, as a busy mother, I must admit, I felt scared and overwhelmed. As I began to read and understand the philosophy behind Building on The Rock the one thing that kept occurring to me over and over was, "every homeschool family I know already LIVES this - do we really need all this material in order to TEACH it?" I suppose the only answer is, it depends. If you are in need of a good solid, strong, accurate worldview/bible program and you desire to raise your children to put their faith knowledge into world action, this program will guide you to do that. You will need to put time aside to learn the program and the lesson plan layouts and how to implement it all.

First grade comes with three big Teachers manuals, 2 student workbooks that look really fun, over 30 full size visual aids, plus 2 CD's with all the other visual aids required so that you can print them out yourself. Summit also sent along the Bible they recommend and it is a good one, The International Children's Bible. The translation is the New Century Version which I am not familiar with but reads very nicely. A very cool storybook also came with the materials; 3 in 1 (A Picture of God), by Janne Marxhausen. It was an awesome book! I intend to read it again and again to my kids. The regular program uses a wooden 3-D model of a building to demonstrate the building of our lives on the Rock. For homeschool families they have included a PowerPoint graphic that develops this model's construction sequentially in a 2-D format throughout the curriculum. The visuals will only need to be purchased once, and they are used throughout the five year program. Some teaching instructions have been modified for homeschool teaching as well.

The folks at Summit have prepared and placed stickers in colored type in the margins of the teacher's manuals to draw attention to areas that have been modified. All the materials for teaching each lesson are provided in Power Point format except for the blackline masters and some handmade or purchased items. So it IS possible to implement this program in the home without the bulk of the books you would require in a school setting. This is a positive point but I still feel the overall program is just very cumbersome for the home environment. I am such a HUGE fan of Summit Ministries and I love their world view publications. They are a shining light in a very dark world and I by no means wish to cast a pall on their efforts to help us teach our children foundationally from the start. Really, I just wish, and believe that it can be achieved more simply and with substantially less 'prep' time. We just need to learn to live what we believe and share the 'why' with our children as opportunities arise. I truly believe that the correlation between worldview and Bible studies that Summit is striving for just happens naturally in many Christian homeschools. That being said, I can't wait to see the Junior and Senior High offerings from Summit Ministries. My husband and I fully intend to use them.

I realize that Building on the Rock was designed for a Christian public school setting, and I wanted to make that point one more time. Please look at it carefully for yourselves; it could be just what some of you are looking for.

-- Product Review by Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2006