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Bright Beginnings Curriculum Review by Lisa Barthuly & Family

Tammy Shaw

If you have homeschooled longer than 30 seconds with younger ones in the mix, you know they want to join in the fun. We have always included our youngest child, it's just part of our lifestyle of learning, but this year we were looking for something a little more, just for her. That's when Bright Beginnings came across my desk!

Tammy Shaw has put together an amazingly thorough program, with the foundation built on God's Word. Subjects include Bible; Language Skills; Math; Character Developement; Health, Safety and Manners; Memory Verse; God's World; Physical Education; Art; Music and more! Bright Beginnings covers 36 weeks of complete lesson plans that can really be tailored to each individual family. This two-book set covers it all, only requiring a Bible and some everyday household supplies. One of the beauties of Bright Beginnings is its flexibility, while Tammy has put everything together for us in very complete and thoughtfully planned out lesson plans, it is flexible enough to easily change things around. You can pick and choose the subjects to focus on, the activities you want to do, and include whichever library or supplemental books you want to (or don't want to). The first volume contains an 'orientation', teaching helps, scheduling, supply lists, and all 144 lesson plans for Bible, Language, Math, Character Building, Memory Verses and a list of supplies needed for the lessons. The second volume contains lessons for Science, Physical Education, Art, Music, Snack (or as I like to call it "life skills for little ones"), appendixes and bibliography. ( I like the way Tammy set up the two volumes of the program, the "core" subjects in one, the rest in the other)

A "brief" lesson overview, by subject, is as follows: Bible lessons proceed chronologically, all 124 of them, and include comprehension and understanding questions, along with a memory verse. Additional activities accompany the Bible lesson, with a hands-on craft or themed activity, and of course prayer is offered to complete the Bible lesson.

Language skills lessons focus in on skills needed before learning to read. Letter recognition, letter sounds, listening activities, vocabulary, following directions, visual coordination, left to right progression, sequencing, and more! Math concepts covered include the basics of number recognition, counting, adding, subtracting, shapes, measurement, and money. 36 Character developement lessons are included, one character value per week. A simple activity is included for repeated practice throughout the week, but I honestly think character building is an ever evolving lesson that never ends, and is something that we as parents need to model at all times for our children.

Tammy states it correctly in her book; character building is something that is more "caught than taught". Health, safety and manners lessons are designed to teach the foundation of proper behaviors and an understanding of how to take care of themselves, two lessons are given per week. God's World lessons consist of 36 topical units, which are in the appendix of the second book. This format let's us as a family choose the topic we want to cover each week, and includes four activities to complete, and additional ones as well! A list of supplies and suggested books are included at the end of each God's World lesson. Although Tammy has gone the extra mile and screened all these suggested reads, for appropriate and inoffensive content, the program isn't going to fall apart if you don't use these 'suggested reads', in fact, you are encouraged to choose another title if one doesn't work for your family. Flexible--gotta love that

The Memory verses consist of simple, easy to learn scripture and each included verse also correlates to the character value of that week as well! Art and Music include 72 lessons each, and include a wide range of fun, rewarding activities. These focus on creativity, developing those motor skills and just plain ol' fun. Physical Education lessons encourage whole body movement, coordination, gymnastics, aerobic and large muscle activity. There is an assortment of active, entertaining games and activities.

Also included are 144 simplistic snack ideas, not just 'snacks', food preparation and recipes are included... and what child doesn't like to help in the kitchen? These are life skills, in a format that is engaging and fun for all. Tammy also gives suggested field trip ideas, listed in the appendix that correlate with the study in the God's World lessons. Also included are over 30 worksheets, and A through Z flashcards. Bright Beginnings is child friendly, family friendly, and superior, both academically and spiritually.

Tammy has done all the work for us, and put together a complete (yet so simple to implement), flexible, fun, and biblically sound curriculum for our youngest homeschoolers. Bright Beginnings is fabulous, our four year old loves it, (and her seven year old sister frequently joins in too, on some of the fun activities) it fits perfectly into our family, and it gets our wholehearted endorsement!

--Product Review by: Lisa Barthuly & Family, Product Reviewers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine