Friday, April 25, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Home School Adventure Company

It will likely be no surprise that we have around 2,000+ books in our home. Every room has a bookcase filled to overflowing (and often two or three bookcases!) in addition to the full library room and storage-turned-school room! The library has a fairly comprehensive, though not complete, set of C.S. Lewis' books, which led me to request the opportunity to review Home School Adventure Co.'s Mere Christianity Journal.

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal
I enjoy Lewis' fictional works and gain a great deal from them as spiritual allegory, but must confess that when it comes to his more "scholarly" texts, short though they are, I struggle. So I requested this review as much for 14-year-old Maestro, and 12-year-old Chef, as I did for my own edification. I also thought that working through the book (which we own, of course) together could provide some good discussion moments between the boys and the White Knight and I. The White Knight has read the book many times, so he served as a guide to our discussions within the confines of the Home School Adventure Journal.
Home School Adventure Co.
The Journal is in e-book format and can be filled in by computer. I decided (silly me) that Maestro does quite enough on-screen learning so I printed it out in "booklet" format. Even with four typed pages per piece of paper, this "booklet" was not light work on my printer. There is a lot of white space to allow the student to fill answers in after each question, and about three questions per page; however, the Journal itself is easily as thick as our little paperback copy of the original Mere Christianity book! I am still glad I printed it out but it is something to be aware of before hitting .
I was raised in a Christian (though not Orthodox) home, and am Orthodox Christian now. I had never even heard of C.S. Lewis before I met TKW (The White Knight). What I have read of his work strikes me even now as very close to a lot of my (flawed) understanding of Orthodox theology, even though Lewis himself was part of the Anglican church. 
I mention this in my review here because so many Christian works are hard to use in a practicing Orthodox home school setting because so many religious home school resources have to be "tweaked" (a lot!) to line up with an Orthodox understanding of biblical lessons. Orthodox teachings are a little different than Protestant ideas. I want our children to understand both for education and discussion sake, but it is important to understand why we believe and practice as we do. This journal, lines up well with Orthodox understanding, especially since it can all be discussed aloud. 
We used the Critical Analysis Journal primarily as a discussion-starter at the dinner table. The idea was that the boys and I would read portions of the chapter of the week, and then we would discuss the questions pertaining to that chapter over dinner when TWK was around to help give perspective and an Orthodox understanding (as we are Orthodox Christians) to the answers, if needed. 
While the youngest children often ended up leaving the table during the discussion, there were many evenings where the conversation would continue on longer than "regular" chit chat would, and even 9-year-old Bruiser would make an effort to join in. This is the sign of a good homeschool resource! 
I must confess that for all my printer's ink spilled on the "booklet", many of the answers did not get written down on paper after all, and I did not print out the answer book that we were given as part of the review, though I did look through it for comparison's sake and to help add more depth to the discussion each evening. In the end, the discussion was enough for our family. And as we drove around town to various errands, field trips, other classes or club events, the boys went back over prior discussions to ask about aspects that they had pondered further. Again: a sign of a really good resource. 
Home School Adventure Co.

Home School Adventure Company has four e-books of this type to choose from - and have offered a great discount to readers of Schoolhouse Review Crew blogs (for the e-book only)! Check the link below to get yours! Full price is $18.95 for the downloadable e-book, and $28.95 if you're a printed type o' reader!
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