Monday, January 10, 2011

TOS Review: Easy Classical History Schedule

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For many years, I've heard homeschool parents rave about Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well Trained Mind. After reading her materials, I'm quite impressed with the classical model for homeschooling. What I always found missing was something that would hold my hand and schedule everything out for me. Especially when we were just starting down the homeschool road, I really wanted a set schedule so that I could check all the boxes and know that I was covering enough (or covering the right things).

Recently I was introduced to a company that helps make the classical model of homeschooling more parent-friendly. Easy Classical provides schedules that translate the big ideas of the classical model into a day-by-day schedule. They have researched to find the best products, developed some of their own materials, and then integrated it all into daily assignments.

I've been digging into Easy Classical's Early Modern Age History Schedule. Interestingly, this is approximately the same time in history that I've been studying with my two oldest children. The primary resources for this study are Story of the World and Hakim's A History of the US series. The Easy Classical schedule coordinates the readings from these materials with geography assignments, writing assignments, and simple hands-on activities.

The schedule itself lines out all of the resources as daily assignments, but the actual materials must be purchased separately. All of the weeks include a history topic w/ readings from several sources. In addition, the schedule assigns specific lessons from Easy Classical's Writing with History: Early Modern Times curriculum and from their Geography with History: Early Modern Times. Most weeks also include a project suggestion from Evan Moore's History Pockets or a simple drawing activity.

I like the way the schedule is designed to fit everything together to create a well-rounded curriculum. It includes comprehension questions to use with the reading assignments, and I found their suggestions for readers and read-alouds to be quite good. Some of our favorites are listed in this schedule. Unfortunately, the readings are merely assigned; there isn't further information to guide you in digging into the stories to discuss vocabulary, make correlations between the fictional read-aloud and actual historical events, etc.

I suspect that I'd make some minor changes if I used this schedule as the basis for our studies. There is a lot of reading scheduled for Mondays, probably much more than my children could handle. I'd likely have to divide it up over the course of the week. I'm not sure how a slower pace of moving through the history readings would affect the writing and geography assignments.

Early Modern Age History Schedule is suggested as part of Easy Classical's 5th grade Complete Curriculum. In my opinion, it could be used for 4th-7th graders with only minor modifications. You can see a list of required (or suggested) materials here. Note: this page has a really cool feature where you can fairly seemlessly search your local library to find (and even place a hold on) the exact titles you will need.

Bottom line: If you are interested in using the materials from Easy Classical, it's probably money well spent for the schedule. I'm not sure you'd see much benefit from the schedule if you were not also using their writing and geography programs. The notebook (print) version is $35.95, and the digital is $29.95.

As always, you can see what other homeschool parents thought about this schedule by visiting The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog.

I received a digital copy of the Early Modern Age History Schedule as a member of the 2010 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


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