Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What is SOW?

SOW stands for Student Of the Word. It is a bible-based curriculum that is unit study based. It includes every subject, except math and is meant to be used for all 12 years of your schooling. It has assignments for a full 6 years and is meant to be repeated after the first 6 years are done. This means that the whole family is working together on the same lessons at the same time, regardless of what age they are or what school year they are in.

The language arts section of the curriculum is essentially an inductive bible study. After reading the Bible passage the children do an outline, draw a setting, learn about a bible character, explore a specific topic on the subjects read, learn the Hebrew or Greek word for vocabulary and finally design their own commentary on what was read. This is used as your family devotional so everyone is digging into God’s word together. It is designed that each week is approximately 10 chapters, some shorter and some longer. Many people use an audio bible for the reading. Throughout the first 6 years you will read through the entire bible, which is repeated again for the last 6 years.

Penmanship, Spelling and English also are Bible based. You will use the key scripture verse for the week as the spelling assignment, penmanship lesson, English lesson and of course as a memory verse for that week.

There are creative writing lessons each week that are meant to draw out the heart of the child on specific topics such as – the existence of God, dangers of astrology, and even writing their own personal testimony!

Each week the children also have a literature assignment. These vary from book reports, short stories, poem studies and biographies. The Author was careful in choosing the books, as many of them will be used throughout the entire 12 years.

Science, Geography and History alternate as approximately 4-week unit studies throughout the year. For the first 5 weeks the units are on the study of creation science. This means their foundation for their schooling is built on the understanding of Who really did make all that they will be studying for their entire schooling. This is an invaluable lesson that is rightly put in the very beginning. The next 3 lessons deal with geology. Following that you study astronomy, weather, water and finally there is an overview of the world. As you can see, the first year is mostly Earth Science. Continuing on you will study each of the continents individually, an overview of world history chronologically based on time periods, life sciences, physical sciences, chemical sciences, Economics. (I think I’m including everything…) Usually a typical assignment for the week will be to read about a topic, draw a diagram of some type and then write a report on what you learned. There are usually some projects or activities to do as well. The author recommends using Christian text books as the resource used. The resources are meant only to be used as reference books, as the main key to the curriculum is to teach the child how to research on their own.

Within the SOW curriculum there are ideas for an elective each week, which is typically some type of art, field trip, project, etc. There are also suggestions for music study, and physical education.

The curriculum also includes a phonics program. There is a list of phonemes and creative ideas to do with each level your child is at. You will need to purchase a reader, skills book and phonics workbook. There are also some preschool skill ideas as well – cutting and pasting, etc.

The overall theme is the discipleship of your children. You will use prayer letters to encourage time with Jesus alone. There are various charts included to help your child grow into a self-reliant individual. Those include a daily schedule, money ledger, time management page, and a reward / consequence chart. Of course, your example is key.

SOW curriculum divides students into two categories: instructional & independent. This is sometimes referred to as K-5 and 6-12, but the author mentions that children don’t always fall into those categories. When you are first beginning the curriculum, expect that regardless of the age of your child you should begin them as instructional. Show them by example how to research the topics & how to do a through report, etc. It may help to use the instructional worksheets as well. They will begin to show you when they are ready to move on by themselves. This may be weeks if your child is older and picks up quickly.

Because SOW is a full curriculum going all the way up until 12th grade, it may be difficult to find where your child is at in the spectrum. Since high school aged children will obviously be working at a higher level than a kindergartener or 1st grader, expect to have the challenge of presenting the material within their level. For instance, with younger elementary children, your main focus will be helping them to learn the bible stories, learning to read, write and pick up some fun understanding of God’s world. Remember to keep it fun for this age! You do NOT have to cover everything this time around!

SOW has 24 weeks scheduled for each year, divided into two 12 week parts. Because a typical school year usually is 36 weeks, you will have 12 extra weeks per year. You will need to plan what you’d like to do with those “light weeks.” Some use them to catch up with reading, writing and arithmetic. Others use that time to make up some of the work that was missed during the SOW weeks. Still others will take the time to do some fun activities such as art, music, etc.

I’ve done my best to describe this curriculum, but there are still many faucets I am missing. It is a FULL curriculum, meant to disciple the whole child – not just academically, but spiritually and even physically as well.

If you purchase this curriculum, please ask as many questions as you need. I thank God often for the Yahoo group! The author is full of wisdom and is available for counsel via email whenever needed. I recommend skimming through the manuals one time through (with a pen & paper in hand), then re-reading them once again to fully understand how the curriculum works. I think many times the answer is written if we take time to find it. Personally I have notes written all over the margins of mine!

Finally and most importantly – PRAY! The enemy is not happy when we’ve placed the word of God as the focus of our home. Homeschooling alone is a fight, add to that the battle of using God’s word as the main text and you should expect some doubts and struggles. Pray, pray and pray!!

May God bless you on your endeavor to place His name high within your home.

In Christ’s love,


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