Visit any homeschooling conference and the curriculum options are downright overwhelming. Classical, traditional textbook, unschooling, Montessori—how do you choose? The Principle Approach is an ideal philosophy for those seeking a back-to-basics, Bible-based program steeped in early American history. The approach seeks to adapt the educational methods used by the Founding Fathers—that is, an education based primarily on Bible teachings.
History Of The Principle Approach
In 1947, Verna M. Hall organized a study group to research the U.S. Constitution. She reviewed many early source documents and came to the conclusion that the American government had fundamentally shifted from the goals of the original Founding Fathers. In particular, she believed that America was founded as a Christian nation, but the government—and the country in general—had become increasingly secular.
Verna organized the Foundation for American Christian Education (FACE), which published reference books containing her research and findings. Verna’s colleague, Rosalie J. Slater, became interested in discovering how early Americans were educated. Through this process, she developed the “4R’s” and the “Seven Principles,” which are outlined in her book, Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle Approach. The Noah Plan, published by FACE, is an entire K-12 curriculum based on Slater’s findings.
Basic Tenets Of The Approach
The Principle Approach is guided by seven principles gleaned from the writings of early American leaders, including William Bradford, John Locke, William Penn, Samuel Adams, and others. These principles are:
- Individuality. As a child of God, each person is unique. This varies from the secular view that each person is special and deserves praise, regardless of actual efforts. Parents are encouraged to observe their children to learn how to reach and inspire each one individually.
- Self Government. For true happiness and liberty, man must learn to be governed by the Spirit of God, rather than by external forces. That is, our children should learn to do the right thing, even when no one is looking, simply because it’s the right thing to do.
- America’s Heritage of Christian Character. This principle explores the characteristics of the Pilgrims and seeks to emulate these qualities: brotherly love, Christian care, diligence and industry, liberty of conscience and faith, and steadfastness.
- Conscience as Sacred Property. The ability to be led by the Holy Spirit and recognize right from wrong is the most valuable of all gifts.
- Christian Government. The system of separation of powers, checks and balances, and reservation of most power to the individual is ordained of God and Biblical-based.
- Local Government. All happiness and liberty is dependent upon our belief in God as the author of all things. Students learn the “Chain of Christianity,” which follows the spread of Christianity from Palestine to the Roman Empire to Britain, where the sparks of modern Christianity and Biblical-based government were born. The study of local government seeks to restore a Biblical-based government, law, and lifestyle in America.
- American Political Union. As the Founding Fathers were united in their purpose, modern Christians must become united to form a more perfect union, with self government at its core.
Students study a rigorous classical education, which includes classic literary works, language, history, social studies, the arts, math, and science. Students learn to analyze and evaluate information through research, writing, and discussion. There are no workbooks or tests.
Work is saved in a notebook for later reflection. This notebook also serves as a form of assessment. The Notebook Method includes the 4R’s, which stands for research, reasoning, relating, and recording. Initially, a student looks up word meanings in the 1828 Webster dictionary. The student consults the Bible and other texts to learn the Bible principles attached to any subject. The student then relates the subject and its Biblical meaning to his own life and current circumstances. Finally, the student records his findings in a notebook through essays and illustrations.
Basic skills are taught as they were 300 years ago. Young students use a Biblical-based phonics program. Math skills are also related to the Bible.
Potential Benefits And Drawbacks
Many parents love the character-building aspects of the Principle Approach and its complete immersion in Biblical teachings. It’s not just a secular curriculum with a few Bible verses thrown in. FACE also offers substantial teacher training programs to help you get started.
The program includes a lot of reading and writing. Students enjoy classic literature such as “The Little House on the Prairie” series and biographies of famous American heroes. Students learn to think logically and to work diligently and systematically. The program is reasonably priced and can be adapted to all age levels.
On the other hand, some parents and children may find this program too regimented for their tastes. Wiggly young children may struggle to stay focused.
Resources For The Principle Approach
Visit FACE to find the Noah Curriculum, as well as many reference books you’ll need to understand and implement the program. Titles to consider: The Christian History of the American Revolution, Rudiments of America’s Christian History and Government, Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, and The Christian History of the Constitution, Volume 1.
Even if you decide not to use the Principle Approach in its entirety, you might appreciate the resources offered here for teaching history and social studies. FACE also includes a book list of classical children’s literature worth noting.
Homeschool World offers many articles on the Principle Approach, from basic tenets to ideas for research and more.
In addition to the patented products and services offered by FACE, several other companies offer similar curriculum. To search for additional curricula, look for products described as Biblical based or using the Seven Principles or 4R’s of learning.
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