DIY Homeschooler

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The Principle Approach

The Principle Approach

The Principle Approach

The Principle Approach to homeschooling looks at each subject from a Christian worldview. It is often referred to as “American Classical Education.”

The Origins

First a little history. The Principle Approach began with Verna M. Hall and Rosalie J. Slater, whose copious research led to the big “Red Books” on which the approach is based. Rosalie Slater coined the phrase “The Principle Approach” and drew from the methods of education used by our founding fathers.

While FACE began publishing a curriculum developed through StoneBridge School (The Noah Plan) based on these principles, there were also other groups across the country developing their own approaches. In the end FACE was able to trademark the phrase “The Principle Approach.” But for our purposes, we will deal with the approach itself, not the curriculum.

“The reason the Principle Approach develops Biblical worldview thinking is that children learn to search the Bible for answers in all areas of life. ‘The effect is a self-governed, free and independent man among men, who reasons from God’s Word rather than adapts to his environment or acts without reflection.’”

Kris Scribante Bayer (quoting James B. Rose), Come, Let Us Reason

The Principles

The Principle Approach seeks to teach by using the Bible as the textbook and relating and applying Biblical principles to all areas of education.

The seven principles associated with this approach include:

  • Individuality.
  • Self-government.
  • Christian character.
  • Conscience.
  • Government.
  • Local self-government.
  • Political union.

You may come across different labels for these principles depending on the source.

Lest you think this is merely a study of American history, these principles are applied to ALL subjects — even math. This includes seeing God’s providence in world history. The idea is to ground students in the Truth so that they will become discerning leaders of character.

Pulling the Best

The Principle Approach is a meaty approach with elements that can be applied within any educational framework. Here are outstanding ideas that can be used no matter what method of education you settle on:

Biblical Foundation

Those of us who attended public schools may have grown up with a separation of the sacred and the secular.  We have to remember that we are teaching a whole person.  Everything we need to know about how to live is contained within the pages of Scripture.  We don’t want our children to be blown about by every wind that passes their way.  We want our children to be able to take every thought captive, and to understand that God is active in each area of life today.

Further Reading
A Biblical Home Education by Ruth Beechick ~ Review

Notebook Development

Generally speaking, you won’t find “fill-in-the-blank”-type work in the Principle Approach. Each student develops his own textbook by completing a notebook. The notebook includes vocabulary and applicable Biblical principles along with the student’s thoughts and meditations. This is truly individualized learning!

Further Reading
  • Notebooking
    From a scrapbook to save those precious homeschooling moments to a personalized “textbook,” there are many ways to incorporate this unique method of making lasting impressions into your homeschool days.
  • 10 Ways to Use Notebooking {Complete Series}
    Practical help for each subject … and more!


The Principle Approach uses the 4-R method of study — research, reason, relate, and record:

  • Researching God’s Word to identify His principles on a topic.
  • Reasoning from cause to effect in applying the principles to the subject at hand.
  • Relating the applications to the student.
  • Recording the individual applications.

The 4-R method of study is not just for children, but also for adults desiring a more in-depth study of any topic and how it relates to God’s Word.

Further Reading

Additional  Resources

American Classical Education
Dr. Carole Adams explains why the “Lost Tools of Learning” were never really lost.

The Classic Curriculum Guide of the Principle Approach
Developed by James B. Rose at the America Christian History Institute.

The Mighty Works of God
Review by Cathy Duffy of a newer Principle Approach based offering from Pilgrim Institute.

The Principle Approach
“It is America’s historic method of Biblical reasoning which places the Truths (or principles) of God’s Word at the heart of education.” An explanation of the approach from The Foundation for American Christian Education (FACE).

Principled Mom
This site is no longer up and running, however, we think you’ll find lots to chew on in the archived pages.

Research Tips Using the Principle Approach
Notebooking and “4-R”-ing explained by Lori Harris.

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