Notebooks Vs. Workbooks: Which One Unlocks Biblical Scholarship?

It can be easy to give in to. Especially if you’re feeling tired, rushed, uninspired, or plain unorganized. Namely, it’s the average workbook that infiltrates all too many homeschools that I’m referring to. Even as a Principle Approach® mom, it happens to me. And each time I hand a worksheet to one of my children, I cringe inside. Because that worksheet is adding very little to our children’s learning. That is to say, at least in the direction I know that I desire for our children. Notably, Principle Approach® notebooks end up being the best Bible study and reasoning books for our children. In a moment, you’ll see why workbooks no longer enter our home.

notebooks, homeschooling, christian education, Principle Approach, Bible Principles,

How Notebooks and Workbooks are Similar

On the surface, they may not seem much different from each other. Obviously, both are sheets of paper that our children write or mark upon. Either may be placed in a 3-ring binder. And by the end of our “schooling hours” we can check off that they have accomplished learning. Thereupon we can move on to other matters in our day.

Or is there more to it than that? Which is really better? Which way really unlocks Biblical scholarship?

The Anatomy of a Workbook

To begin with, consider the design of a workbook page. For instance, often times there are colored graphics on the pages; these may range from a few to several. In addition, there are fill-in-the-blanks, word searches, crossword puzzles, etc. And that’s pretty much what our children get.

The Anatomy of a Notebook

Not all notebooks are the same. With this in mind, I’m referring to notebooks that are compilations of a Principle Approach® method education. And this is because they’re engaging.

They’re given valuable resources from which to do their research—especially and mainly the Bible. In addition, they’re given room for original thought and are guided in how to journal their original thoughts in an organized manner. As a result, our children learn how to ask questions and to research. And the greatest gift out of all of these… is that they learn to reason and relate from Scripture.

Certainly, it’s a learning process. But not only is it enjoyable to walk our children through this approach to learning, it’s also somewhat humorous at times.

Whenever our children write a book report, we have them choose one positive and one negative example on which to focus. Then we have them use Webster’s 1828 Dictionary to look up a word relating to each example. After that, we have them look up those words in a concordance to help them learn a Biblical Principle that applies.

For instance, our daughter, Dreamer is in the third grade at this time. As an illustration, with her permission, I’m sharing the following portion from her rough draft:

Principled Academy, Principle Approach

An Example of Reasoning and Relating

Laura and Mary brought in the whole wood pile.  They were being smart. Another word for smart is affliction…


Whenever we revisit this, it has us laughing ourselves in stitches! By all means, to her credit, Dreamer here is paying close attention to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definitions. Truly, in our day and age, many of us misuse the word smart.

Because it’s her first attempt to go solo with applying the 4R-Method (Research, Reason, Relate, and Record), I think she is doing a remarkable job.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary Defines Smart

SM’ART, noun [This word is probably formed on the root of Latin amarus, bitter, that is, sharp.]

1. Quick, pungent, lively pain; a pricking local pain, as the pain from puncture by nettles; as the smart of bodily punishment.

2. Severe pungent pain of mind; pungent grief; as the smart of affliction.

SM’ART, verb intransitive

1. To feel a lively pungent pain, particularly a pungent local pain from some piercing or irritating application. Thus Cayeene pepper applied to the tongue makes it smart

2. To feel a pungent pain of mind; to feel sharp pain; as, to smart under sufferings.

3. To be punished; to bear penalties or the evil consequences of any thing. He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it. Proverbs 11:15.

SM’ART, adjective

1. Pungent; pricking; causing a keen local pain; as a smart lash or stroke; a smart quality or taste.

2. Keen; severe; poignant; as smart pain or sufferings.

3. Quick; vigorous; sharp; severe; as a smart skirmish.

4. Brisk; fresh; as a smart breeze.

5. Acute and pertinent; witty; as a smart reply; a smart saying.

6. Brisk; vivacious; as a smart rhetorician. Who, for the poor renown of being smart would leave a sting within a brother’s heart?

SM’ART, noun A cant word for a fellow that affects briskness and vivacity.

Recognizing Dreamer’s Effort

Consequently, you can see where she tries to tie in the current use of smart found in the modern context use of the word. With this in mind, she’s doing her own thinking and is working through the processes of reasoning and relating. And I have to say, I had no idea that the words intelligence or wisdom are not one of the definitions. See there, I learned something, too!

All this to say, when sitting down with our daughter to go over her rough draft, I’m able to guide her and encourage her in the learning process. Plus,  sharing in laughter as we talk about the definition of smart and how people misuse it today is a bonus. Not to mention how people try to redefine it by its modern day use.

Currently in her book report revision, the word wise is in place of the word smart. In addition to that, she’s going to the Word of God to dig for a corresponding Bible principle regarding being wise. As she does this, the Word of God is written on her heart.

Truly, learning is taking place with the Principle Approach® method. For it’s by going to the Bible in every subject and learning to reason and relate that unlocks true Biblical scholarship. And notebooks are a part of the journey. Indeed, how can I ever allow myself again to rob any of my children of this by settling for workbooks?

Do you have a similar experience? Share with us in the comments below.

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