Dayspring Christian Academy is a Christian school in Pennsylvania. Dayspring Christian Academy utilizes the Principle Approach to education to teach children about the biblical Christian values which shaped this nation and to train them to be great citizens and leaders with Christian values. They have several programs including an on-campus K-12 school, support for homeschoolers, and online classes. The Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to review one of their three online self-paced courses. The course we reviewed is The Pilgrim Story. Purchasing The Pilgrim Story for $99.00 allows the family access to the program for six months. Classes don’t meet at any specific time because they are always ready and available and are self-paced.
The Pilgrim Story is geared for grades 3-6 and focuses on telling the true story of the pilgrims using primary sources where possible. The course was written by Mary Stauffer, a third grade teacher at the Dayspring Academy. The class consists of five units, each with three to four lessons and a test. Following the five units there is a virtual field trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts. Each lesson is an interactive slide show with various activities, notes to take, quotes to add to a notebook, and reflection questions which are often focused on Christian character. Each lesson begins with a review of the previous lesson in a multiple choice interactive quiz and then continues where the previous lesson left off. The units start with the establishment of the Church of England, Geneva Bible, and the splintering groups who wanted to return to more biblical teachings than those of the Anglican church. It then progresses through emigration to Holland and the trials faced there, eventual emigration to the New World, Mayflower compact, and trials and experiences the first three years. Before beginning a lesson, the student is instructed to download and print pages with quotes, vocabulary, note taking guides, and other resources needed for the activities. They are full color but we printed them in black and white without any problems.
One of my frustrations with modern accounts of the pilgrims has been the politically correct tendencies to paint the pilgrims as evil. While I will freely admit there were many atrocities committed by various people who settled in the New World, there were also many atrocities committed by the natives. The truth is that people came from Europe seeking a better life with freedom of religion, freedom from classes, and freedom from tyranny. They did not set out on an errand of oppression. I feel it is important to teach my children the truth- that there was providential assistance in the settling of America and the people who came here in the early 1600s suffered much, worked hard, and had incredible faith. The Pilgrim Story teaches not only the story of the pilgrims, but also the incredible faith and Christian character they exhibited as they settled in the colonies.
I have been using The Pilgrim Story with all of my children. We gather around the computer with the two littler ones on my lap and work through each lesson as a family. Tiger is in 5/6 or whatever grade he is in, Butterfly would be in 3rd this year, Pumpkin Pie would be in 1st, and of course my preschooler Strawberry. Although each lesson is designed to take 30-45 minutes, my children and I found it took much longer. As a result, we are crawling along at a snails pace. Each time we sit down to study, we are at the computer for at least an hour and might not finish the lesson. This is probably due to the fact that we pause often and talk, clarify meanings, discuss the story, or gain consensus from all children before answering a question. (You will have to imagine me sitting under the girls in the desk chair and Butterfly on the other side of Pumpkin Pie like below.)
Butterfly, almost 9, found it difficult to write the sentences and listen at the same time on the note sheet. Allowing enough time for Butterfly to write the fill-in words resulted in spending twice as much time on the lessons. After about three lessons like this, we decided to skip the note taking guides and do a narration at the end. She still wanted to record all her notes though so she went back through and recorded notes later during individual work time. Tiger greatly disliked the notes and was happy to give them up for a narration.
Overall I think that The Pilgrim Story is a quality course. I appreciated that when complex ideas are being taught, like the difference between union and unity, the explanation is given in a way that it is relative to the child. As as a result, it is very detailed yet understandable enough that even my 1st grader understood what was being taught. For an adult, at times it seemed to repeat points multiple times, but the children thrive on the repetition and really begin to understand not only what happened but why it happened. Because The Pilgrim Story started with King Henry VIII, the children were able to see why the pilgrims were seeking a different life in order to worship according to what they read in the Bible.
At times The Pilgrim Story did seem a little dry. Most of the activities that we encountered were writing assignments or reflection questions. While there were some interactive aspects to the program, like unscrambling the order of events, I would have liked to see a little more hands-on activities off the computer. I did look ahead at the downloadable and printable resources and saw that there is at least one craft in one of the later units which we haven’t gotten to yet.
We are grateful for the opportunity to review The Pilgrim Story and for the chance to dig deep into the topic. I have never done an online course with my children, but I am glad we are doing this one and wholly recommend it. Many other crewmembers also got the chance to use The Pilgrim Story with their children. Be sure to check out what they thought by clicking the banner below.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.