1. a 200+ page, 7 x 9 inch softcover student book with illustrations...
and places for students to answer questions which challenge them to explore God's word and places to fill in blank outlines based on teaching.
2. a sturdy, 300+-page, 3-ring binder teacher manual that contains outlines for three- four- and five-day-a-week lessons...
core learning objectives, notes on presenting lessons effectively, optional plans for verse memorization...
weekly quizzes, answer keys...
and answer keys, and facsimiles of the student book with answers filled in, plus tabs to put testing materials and answer keys under.
Together, the student book and teacher manual offer a full 35-week curriculum that aims to edify middle-schoolers (and older students) with the wisdom of God as explored in Proverbs as they navigate the new freedoms, higher expectations, and greater responsibilities that go along with growing up.
Because my oldest child is above the suggested age-range for the curriculum and my next child down was busy studying and memorizing things for her Confirmation when this product came in for us to review, I thought I might try the curriculum with my 10 year old.
However, once I really sat down, looked at the materials, and thought about things, I knew the timing for introducing Wise Up to my son was wrong.
All of my children are in wind-down-to-summer mode and the materials just seemed too "schooly" to draw them in at this time of year. So, I decided to us the materials myself, with an aim for deepening my own understanding of wisdom, peppering conversations with my kids with things I gleaned from Wise Up, and discerning how the curriculum might fit into our fall.
Here are some of the things I noted in going through the first five lessons and browsing the rest:
1. It is unabashedly a Bible curriculum.
The materials are written in a direct, logical way to get students to read parts of the Bible, note what these portions teach, and relate concepts to their own lives. For someone who is "all in" with Christ, this is wonderful and helps make connections and recognize applications. Material is presented at a level tweens on up can understand and learn from.
2. The curriculum can be used subtly, too.
For someone who is sadly questioning faith (like one of my children), the curriculum might be too much and be rejected. Thus, for use with children like this, it might be best to do as I am currently doing - go through the curriculum yourself to strengthen your own knowledge, find fresh ways to look at different Bible verses and teaching, then present the material to your child conversationally when different situations arise. Doing so will give you fresh ideas and connections to keep "in your back pocket" and to guide your child with.
3. It is flexible.
The curriculum is written to be used over a full school year and follows a typical curriculum approach - read, discuss, reflect, write, etc. There are suggested outlines for 3-, 4-, and 5-day scheduling, but, honestly, the curriculum can be approached on an open-and-go basis. as long as you have a Bible and a pencil on hand, you can just open it up, start doing the next portion, then stop as you need and start again the next time you have time.
4. Discussion is good.
The curriculum is written with the intent of the teacher presenting small lessons to the student at times and with teacher and student discussing things. Thus, it is not one where students can just open the student book, read, think, respond, and complete it. Students will need a parent to present the small lessons orally or give access to the teacher manual so students can read those lessons themselves. Truly, though, discussion is good, so even if doing the latter (which is an approach I have thought about for my independent learner not one suggested in the teacher manual) make time to periodically discuss ideas.
5. If you are Catholic, like us, think about unity, not division.
This curriculum has SO MUCH GOOD in it - so much that helps you to examine Proverbs, unpack Scripture, think about life applications, etc. But, inevitably, because it is a Christian, not Catholic-Christian resource, it also has some parts that I, as a Catholic paused at.
During my pauses I reflected on unity.
As with so many Christian, but not Catholic resources I have been blessed to dive into, with this one, I find some rich kernels of thought and truth expressed well.
Wise Up truly does what it sets out to do - provides an understandable study of the wisdom of God through Proverbs.
That said, it also has some portions which do not reflect the fullness of the Catholic faith and its teaching. In turn, that means I sometimes think more deeply about the precepts of my faith and find myself preparing for illuminating discussions in using the curriculum with my children
Such discussion and thought are good things, I believe.
As Christians, we are called to be one with Christ.
Our humanness sometimes focuses us more on division than unity and, when it comes to curriculum choices, this can cause some folks to discard curriculum that might bring to mind a few differences.
I don't think this is necessary. I think, instead, those differences can be discussed, that discussion can be illuminating, and, overall, we Christians can choose to focus more on what brings us together to live as believers who seek to follow Christ.
Look for what makes us the same. Appreciate differences. Live with a heart for Christ. Doing so, I believe, is a wise choice.
Wise Up has some wonderful Scripture study in it and speaks at the level it aims to about things such as discernment. I appreciate that and am glad to have this resource to dive more deeply into proverbs and practical applications of wisdom for tweens on up.
So far, I have appreciated its approach to teaching about wisdom vs. foolishness...
...and applying Bible truths to our home life, a parent's responsibility to children's and a child's responsibility to a parent.
I have also paged forward to chapters on attitudes, friendship, character, love, integrity, humility, hard-work, self-control, courage, success, and more, seeing some wonderful and clear teaching as I browsed and looking forward to diving into it more deeply.
I would recommend Wise Up for families or even co-op classes - that have students that would benefit from a Bible-based, straightforward, accessible and flexible curriculum that uses Proverbs to teach about God's wisdom and how to apply the Bible to living. I also am finding it is a good, straightforward study for me - a mom - to make some connections myself and "back pocket" specific Proverbs, Bible stories, etc. to weave into conversations with my children as I continue to try to meet each one where he or she is at.
To see how others have used this curriculum more directly with their children and to see what they thought about another Positive Action for Christ curriculum for 5th graders called Possessing the Land, head on over to the Homeschool Review Crew where you will find links to video and blog reviews. It is always good to glean ideas from how different real life families use resources!