We have used Apologia Educational Ministries‘ science courses since we first started teaching science to our now 21-year-old way back in the day. Yeah, we’ve been homeschooling for a while. Recently Apologia came out with Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition by Dr. Laura Chase. We’ve been using the Health and Nutrition Basic Set which includes a textbook and the Student Notebook. When I say “we,” I mean Elisabeth (17) and Emily Rose (15).
When we were first offered this opportunity, I reverted to my 17-year-old self from the 90s and was all, like, totally, “Pshaw! As if! Gag me with a spoon! I have a daughter with an auto-immune disorder and have studied enough about health and nutrition to knock a nutritionist out of the water. Duh. Don’t have a cow, man. ” But my mature daughters responded with, “Mother, dahling, this sounds intriguing and beneficial. We would enjoy applying our mental and physical faculties to this course.” And guess who was right. (I don’t have to admit it publicly, do I? Fine. They were right.)
Despite having gone through the private Christian school system, I have never seen the topics of health and nutrition taught like this, but I sure wish I had! The premise behind this student-directed course is arming the high school student with enough modern scientific knowledge and Biblical principle so that she can become a good steward of the only body gave her. I basically see it as a look at the intricate and unique creation that each individual’s body is, and how to care for it to the best of her ability.
(Her? Only her? No. It’s excellent for boys as well, but I’m going to say “she” because my two high school students are girls, and I have yet to comfortably adapt the singular “they” in my writing. Sorry. Actually, I’m not sorry. But just know that this is vitally important for boys as well!)
I’m going to give you an overview of the text contents, so you can see a basic outline of what the students learn, but stay tuned after the overview for some very important details. Very important! Don’t leave…or no cookies for you.
- Nature and Nurture
- Nervous and Endocrine Systems
- Mental and Emotional Stability
- Interpersonal Relationships
- The Five Senses
- Respiration and Cardiovascular Systems
- Skeletal System
- Muscular System
- Immune and Lymphatic Systems
- Peace in Difficult Times
- Reproductive System
You can see from the outline that, from a scientific and educational perspective, the Apologia Health and Nutrition course is extremely thorough. Each of the fifteen modules delves very deeply into the topic–there are so many thoughts and concepts taught in each module, that it’s impossible to truly give you the depth of each one unless you explore it yourself. For that reason, I strongly encourage you to download this. It is Apologia’s ebook Whole Health–God’s Design for Your Body, Mind, and Soul. It also comes with a chapter sample of Health and Nutrition and some FAQs. The sample chapter will give you a really solid feel for the book, so hurry scurry and download that valuable freebie!
The truths taught in Health and Nutrition are up-to-date, scientifically accurate, and very detailed. (Of course, science changes regularly, and opinions vary, so guess what. The author does not acknowledge herself as “the truth” in all matter health and nutrition. She also readily admits that the book does not attempt to be a comprehensive explanation of all diseases, etc. I appreciate sincere humility.)
The complex concepts are not, however, complicated. Whoa–did you just detect an oxymoron? Indeed you did not! Due to its very nature, the human body is a complex design at any level. The author breaks it down and presents it in a manner that enables high school students (and their 45-year-old mothers) to wrap their brains around each topic.
That sounds like a great course if I stop right there! But there’s more.
When I was in school, Bible was a subject. One thing I love about Apologia is the way Scripture and God are entwined in every aspect of His creation, in this case, our bodies. Throughout the text are Scriptural references, moral encouragement (such as modesty), Creation proofs (including the evolutionary view and why it’s full of holes, so your student is well-armed), and personal anecdotes, either the author’s (she lost a child to cancer) or other people’s (children who experienced disease, divorce, death of a sibling or parent, etc.).
My girls mentioned that “Scripture and Creation fit nicely. To someone who is not a Christian, it would seem really Christian…but it’s supposed to be. It did not feel forced.” And I agree with them. That’s a compliment in a world of Christian materials that simply insert a Bible verse and call it Christian.
While we are not necessarily textbook people, Apologia is the science curriculum we use from the beginning of our formal science studies through college (Marissa CLEPed for six college credits using Apologia high school courses–yup.) Yet, they don’t feel textbooky, if you know what I mean, and if you had to suffer through traditional textbooks, you know what I mean. Blah. Gag. Snore.
Some texts spend too much time trying to not be textbooky and end up not really teaching anything, or making it so disjointed that the kids are left wondering what carnival ride they just got off of. A quote from one of my girls on the Health and Nutrition text: “I think it’s well-written and it explains all the concepts well. It’s teaching.” There you have it: it’s teaching. Grin.
There are pauses in the highly readable text for “on your own” questions to encourage the child to think about what she has learned and to apply it to her life. My girls said, “Most of the projects involve either talking to your parents or writing your thoughts in your notebook.” There are also many personal assessments, personal evaluations, and personal challenges, such as keeping a sleep record and an exercise record and practicing something for five hours. (I should really do that. Thanks for the kick in the bum, Apologia.)
Other projects have you supporting a family who has experienced a difficult diagnosis (as one of those families, I appreciate that the author addresses this), discussing career options, and practicing things like electrical safety. I know! I’ve never seen some of these topics addressed in a health course before! It’s incredible!
What topics? I’ll give you a handful off the top of my head, and they’re all taught from a Christian worldview. Drug abuse, mental illness, diets, personality issues, peace (in your life and head), modesty, gender issues, sexual purity–this is most likely not a course for your 12-year-old.
The student notebook, while not absolutely totally completely necessary to benefit from the course, is something I highly recommend! In fact, let’s just say you need it. Not only does the student have an easy way to record and review what she has learned (especially useful for the tests), but she has places to record her thoughts. There are also additional activities that are only available in the notebook. These activities help to gently “drive” the concepts home and help the student truly embrace a concept or a commitment to her health. It also helps her think deeply about herself and her own health choices, personality, and behavior.
One of my girls doesn’t necessarily enjoy the notebook assignments, because she prefers to work alone and not involve her parents. (One of the downsides of teaching independent learning when they’re little.) I enjoy the notebook assignments, because it forces her to involve her parents. Ha! Many of the assignments push the child away from the textbook to delve into their family, their own brains, their community, and even online. Here is Emily taking an online eye assessment from module 5.
The student notebooks are consumable, so each child will need her own. The health journey through the Apologia course is a very personal journey, and each child definitely needs her own. I said that twice–it’s important. You all know I’m a cheapskate, but an Apologia notebook is always worth the expense! Always. (Sign up for their newsletter to hear about deals and sales. The cheapskate in me just had to say that.)
The assignments and readings aren’t super lengthy and time-consuming, which we appreciate since real life occupies so much of our real life. But they still don’t skimp on details.
I want to talk a little bit about module 15–the reproductive system–because this is the chapter that will sway parents for or against buying the set. Like the other modules, it contains scientific information about the body’s development. It also explains what physically happens to a man and woman during intercourse. It isn’t explicit, but you need to determine if your child is mature enough for this information.
As with the rest of the course, the Scriptural path is encouraged. It also explains some of the ramifications of not following God’s plans, including disease and unplanned pregnancy. Abortion and pro-life issues are discussed, again with God’s purpose taught. It addresses our responsibility to dress modestly (but attractively) and the effect immodesty has on a Christian attempting to maintain purity. It addresses “gender issues.” There is also a mention of the fallibility of a common teen birth control and disease prevention method, as well as the importance of telling a trusted adult if you’ve fallen into sexual sin. There is much, much more in this chapter. It is loaded.
Check this out. It’s a page from the notebook in an assignment specifically directed toward your young man, and I personally think it’s excellent!
I have heard many parents say they aren’t ready to discuss these issues with their kids–get over yourself. I mean, I understand. Some topics can be difficult. But you are intentionally harming your child and putting your own comfort above their well-being if you don’t take this topic seriously. Personally, I call that neglect. This course is an excellent introduction to this important topic. Also, because so much of the course requires the students to talk to others about XYZ, you will hopefully be accustomed to chatting about what they’re learning in science by the time they reach module 15, and this won’t be as awkward. Eh? Good plan? I thought so.
All the modules are equally loaded. I want to be able to explain the depth and breadth of information you’ll receive in each subject, but I simply cannot! Let me share a few pictures and explanations instead of some of the topics my girls have studied or begun to study, as well as some they haven’t yet reached.
I love love love this personality assessment my girls did right away in module 1. (It’s easier for you to turn your head sideways than for me to try to figure out why my computer won’t obey me and roll this over. My dog always obeyed me and rolled over. Dogs are better than computers.)
Okay, this “assignment” was just fun, but for some families it’s more important than just fun. It’s what Emily Rose is currently studying in module 5.
She went all out on that answer. Ha! (She’s still working on this module.)
Here’s an example of some of the information the girls can put to use immediately from the upcoming module 7, and also an example of a three-year-old foot and my shadow. (I too wish I were a better indoor photographer or could get the editing software to work on this borrowed computer. Sorry!)
I saw information in every module that the students can apply to their lives right now as they start to steward their own bodies and make wise choices that they can carry with them into their own homes someday. I love the practical application that is riddled throughout the text and student notebook.
Also, as your students are now high schoolers, this is a great note-taking experience. The notebook guides them along on their note-taking journey, but the students are still taking the notes. They can then use them to study for the exams. Great practice for college, if that’s your goal.
Oh, I’m sorry, I have to go now. I just overheard a conversation about genomes and I want to eavesdrop. Since I’m out of here, I strongly encourage you to get other parents’ opinions. There are 25 of us from the Review Crew who used the course over the past several weeks, and we all have different experiences and opinions.
Some used it at the recommended yearly speed of three lessons per week, others at the single-semester speed of five lessons a week. They will be able to share more specifically how that worked for them. We did the comfortable three lessons per week speed, but because my girls work independently and our lives are so wonky, that meant some weeks they did one lesson and some weeks they did five. It’s how we roadschoolers roll down the road of life and education, and, hey, you other roadschoolers out there will appreciate knowing that Apologia rolls totally fine with how we roll. It’s nice when your curriculum fits your life instead of trying to make your life fit your curriculum, isn’t it?
Some of the other parents might also give you more information about credit hours. Our approach to high school science credits is this: you finish an Apologia course, you get a credit. Easy peasy pudding and pie. Other parents keep really good records though. We call them “the good parents.” But isn’t it nice to know that your kids will learn bucketloads of amazing things that they can actually apply to their life and get a legitimately solid high school credit even if you aren’t one of the good parents? Yes. Yes, it is.
Also, some of the other parents will be more hands on. I’m hands on in many areas of life, like when we have thumb wars or arm wrestling, but on many levels I teach my children to be as independent as possible, while still coming to us for guidance. This works differently for different personalities, but my two high school girls are very independent with their studies. Apologia intends for their high school courses to be independent. Brilliant! As it should be! Young adults doing the adulting thing. Hooray! The girls come to me for some of the Apologia projects that say, “Discuss with a parent…,” but if they have an actual science question, they research it themselves, talk to each other, ask Daddy (who has a BS in biology), or ask their sister Marissa who has never forgotten a science fact since she was three. But again, isn’t it nice to know that your kids can and will learn a depth of material while you are crocheting doilies?
The other parents may also be grading their kids. I don’t grade, because I always have them do things over if it isn’t their best work. After hearing “Do it nice or do it twice” enough to make them gag, they just do it nice…ly Nicely. I haven’t said those words to these two girls for years, and now they do their best for the sake of doing their best. Anyway, there is, in the front of the student notebook, a grading guideline and record for the projects and the tests. Tests show up after most modules, although some have more extensive projects instead of tests. The tests are all located in the back of the student notebook, and the answers are located online. You’ll need the super secret password, which is in the front of the student notebook also. You’ll also find study guide answers and other great links there. Isn’t that just plain nice to know?
So, a brief summary: Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition is Scripturally-based, scientifically sound, well-researched, readable, “learnable,” self-guided, deep, interactive, and motivating. I am glad that my inner immature teen listened to my actual mature teens and let them launch on this learning journey. I can only see it benefitting us…except I’m a hypochondriac, so there’s that little rub. Ha!
On to the genome conversation. I hope it’s still going! Don’t forget to check out the other reviewers by clicking on the banner below.
And don’t forget to follow Apologia on social media. It’s worth your time…unlike most everything else on social media, but that’s a topic for another day.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/apologiaworld Tag: @apologiaworld
Twitter: www.twitter.com/apologiaworld Tag: @apologiaworld
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/apologia/ Tag: @apologia
Instagram: www.instagram.com/apologiaworld Tag: @apologiaworld
To your health!