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Practical Proverbs Review by Cindy West and April Elstrom

Dara Halydier
Abiding Truth Ministry, Inc.
PO Box 62701
San Angelo, TX 76906

I'm pretty picky about Bible curriculum. So much of what I find for kids and teens is way too fluffy or worldly and isn't worth using. There are a few gems I've found, though, and Practical Proverbs by Dara Halydier is one of those.

Written for high school students, Practical Proverbs is a workbook-style Bible study meant to be completed by the student. Mom or Dad is encouraged to go over each lesson's discussion questions with the student to enhance what is gained from the personal study each day. Even though the study follows the typical format of reading from the Bible and answering questions or filling out charts, it's more than just a Bible study! In fact, the author states that upon completion of the workbook and a few of the suggested extra readings, you can assign your child ½ credit of Bible and ½ credit of Life Management on the high school transcript.

Through the study of Proverbs, your teenager will tackle character topics like forgiveness, wisdom, consequences, mercy, pride, and many more. But he or she will also dive into practical life topics like budgets, drugs and alcohol, raising children, and being industrious. Since the book of Proverbs offers so many wonderful truths about living a wise and fruitful life, the 80 lessons in this book strive to cover as many of those truths as possible.

Each lesson is only one or two pages in length, but the lessons are full of "meat" and worthwhile activities. For instance, during a lesson on choices and consequences, your child is expected to examine several Bible verses and complete a chart noting the attitudes and outcomes of the people mentioned. Next, the student is asked to write out a few key verses and consider his own behavior. The author provides plenty of commentary in each lesson without being too wordy or overwhelming.

Since the curriculum is meant for high school students, there are several lessons which touch on mature themes like lust, love, courtship, and marriage. Forms of affection, including sex, are discussed in at least one chapter. I didn't find any of these discussions offensive but rather necessary discussions for the teen years. Because you may or may not agree with the author's thoughts on some of these topics, you will want to preview at least a few of the lessons. A detailed table of contents should alert you to which lessons need to be previewed.

Additionally, depending on your doctrinal beliefs, there may be some lessons you will need to preview or leave out completely if they step on your toes or teach something with which you don't agree. For the most part, however, the book is non-denominational and shouldn't ruffle too many feathers.

To extend the study for a full high school credit, Mrs. Halydier has supplied a list of fantastic reading resources for teens. These are on several of the same topics that have been covered through Proverbs, such as money management, anger, forgiveness, purity, love languages, and marriage. I have appreciated having a list of "important reads" for preparing my children to enter the world.

While I've been using the book with my oldest daughter by herself, it would lend itself well to group lessons within a family, at a co-op, or in a Sunday school class. The class could complete the Bible study together, with the teacher using the discussion questions to spark conversations.

The spiral-bound book is a bit pricey at $49.99. If you're like me, though, and struggle to find worthwhile Bible curriculum, you can overlook the price knowing the material is so good.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2011

Another review:

Dara Halydier is a mother of five boys who has been homeschooling for twenty-one years. She has used that experience to create Bible study and life management courses for middle school through high school students. Practical Proverbs for the Younger Student is a Bible study written for fourth through eighth grade students. Seventh and eighth grade students can use it independently, but the younger students should use it with a parent.

Practical Proverbs for the Younger Student contains thirty-six topical lessons from the book of Proverbs. The lessons cover topics like trust, fear, guarding the heart, contentment, anger, relationships, modesty, respecting authority, and our speech. It is available in two different versions: New American Standard Version and King James Version. Though it is possible to use it with a different Bible version, it is much easier to use if you have the correct Bible version.

Each lesson in the study contains material to read and interact with, an application worksheet, and a Bible memory verse. The lesson can be studied over the course of one week, for a full school-year's study, or, it can be tackled two lessons per week, for a semester's course. My seventh grade daughter actually went through the book one lesson per day, though that pace doesn't allow for proper Bible verse memorization.

The book itself is a spiral bound 8.5 by 11 inch softcover workbook. The book can be used as a consumable workbook, with blanks to fill in, questions to answer, and even puzzles to complete. However, the publisher does give permission to photocopy it for use within a single family unit, so that one book can be used with each of your children. The answers are available in coordinating answer key books, sold separately.

Parents should know that three of the lessons have asterisks beside them in the table of contents, indicating that they contain more mature information. Dara advises parents to preview those chapters before having their student study them. Each parent should decide if their student is ready for that lesson or not.

My 7th grade daughter said she enjoyed the study, but it didn't really feel applicable to her. I asked her if it was because she felt she already knew the material, or if it was because she didn't like its topical format. She said she kind of already knew the information being covered, and she wasn't sure why she didn't like it more. I initially suspected it was because she is an advanced reader who has been through multiple Bible studies already, and this particular one was not as advanced as she needs.

I read through the study myself, in an attempt to determine its theological emphasis, and I was very impressed with its content. Some of the questions that Dara presents to the student tugged at my own conscience. In retrospect, I think my daughter rushed through the study too much. Had she spent more time with each lesson, writing out her answers rather than doing them mentally, and completed the Bible memorization, I think it would have had more spiritual impact on her.

I tried to determine if this study has an Arminian or Calvinist viewpoint. I honestly could not determine a bent toward one doctrine or the other. In other words, this book is actually one that can be used by families from many different denominations. I appreciate the variety of topics that it addresses, which are all extremely important to our growth as Christians, and to our children as they mature and move into their teen years.

Though my daughter didn't give Practical Proverbs for Younger Students a rave review, I highly recommend it. I think it would make an excellent resource for my husband and I to lead all the children in family devotions. The lessons definitely cover many of the issues we see them struggling with. Dara has written an excellent Bible study to help our children grow in their walk with God and their relationships with those around them.

Product Review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2012