Monday, October 15, 2012

Review of Dayspring Christian Academy's Pilgrim's Story

Dayspring Christian Academy is a Christian school founded on the Principle approach to education. The Principle approach is explained in detail on Dayspring Christian's website, but it essentially takes as its philosophy that the Bible is a central educational resource, and that history should be taught as a series of causes and effects from God's perspective, rather than from man's.  Most importantly, the history of America is seen as inseparable from the history of Christianity.

Dayspring Christian Academy is a real school, located in PA, and has been featured on the Glenn Beck Program.  That makes its online curriculum, The Pilgrim Story, different from other history curricula we have reviewed.  For one thing, the curriculum concludes with a virtual field trip of Plymouth, MA, in which the teacher, Mary Stauffer, who has taught at Dayspring Christian Academy since 1994, takes her actual 3rd graders to Plymouth.  She has led over 20 such field trips.

Essentially,The Pilgrim Story is a self-paced course for 3rd-6th grades. Once you register online, you will have access to the course within 48 hours.  You then have the course available to you for six months from the date of registration.  You can work through it completely at your own pace, repeating what you find necessary or, as we did, skipping around at will.

This course is full of great information.  Because we studied the Pilgrims in-depth one year ago, we did not do the course systematically, apart from the first two (out of five) units.  After that, we just kind of looked around the course.  The course covers the following topics:

  • King Henry
  • Geneva Bible
  • Life in Scrooby
  • Liberty of Conscience
  • Leaving England
  • The Second Escape
  • Leiden
  • Preparing to Go
  • Leaving Leiden
  • Conditions on the Mayflower
  • Building Christian Character
  • The Mayflower Compact
  • Exploration
  • The First Winter
  • Spring, 1621
  • The Wampanoag People
  • The Rest of the Story

One of the best features of this program is how very thorough it is.  It goes all the way back to King Henry VIII's break with Rome in order to explain the Pilgrims' entire "backstory." Thus, even though the course is, essentially, American history, it situates itself in world history quite well.  It makes it easy to jump into it from any point.

The course is very easy to navigate once you figure it out, and figuring it out is easy, as that is the very first lesson! End of unit tests are provided, and are quite good at assessing the assimilation of information.  It is entirely possible for a student to do the course on his own with no parental oversight.

I really liked this course.  I was curious to see what a Principle Approach course looked like as I have never seen one before.  I can't honestly say that it differs all that much from how I usually teach my own children, especially with regard to this particular topic.  Our country was founded on Christian principles, and our very first founding document was as well.  One cannot understand America without understanding the Pilgrims (and their passion, dedication, and work ethic).  As a Catholic, I find it fascinating to contemplate the extent to which the Pilgrims' brand-new (comparatively) religion and dedication fueled everything they did - and it was so fundamental to what our country became.  This course captures all of that very well.  Also, as a Catholic, I was fully prepared to be offended by something, anything, in this course...but I wasn't! Naturally, things like the Reformation and all related topics are presented from a Protestant perspective, but no Catholics were harmed in the presentation of this material!

To find out more about The Pilgrim Story, watch the video below or visit Dayspring's elearning website. You can purchase this self-paced course for $99.

My kids and I really liked this course, and we will continue to work our way through it, although not as formally as we would if we had not just "done" the Pilgrims.  There is a lot of great information in it, and I have kids just the right ages! At 7, 7, 9, and 11, they fit the 3-6 grade profile perfectly. Unlike some courses, I find this grade range dead on.

Like all self-paced courses, this one can be used in many different ways.  To see how other Crew members used it, read the Crew blog.

Disclaimer: I received online access to Dayspring Christian Academy's Pilgrim's Story free in exchange for my honest review.  I received no other compensation.

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