Sunday, June 29, 2014

Veritas Press {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

I recently heard a homeschooler speaker say that the important thing isn't asking fellow homeschoolers what program they are using but rather why that curriculum is working for them. I recently found a History program for Lauren that I love. Instead of just telling you how awesome it is, I'll tell you why it works so well for her. Maybe it's the perfect program for one of your students.

Veritas Press Review

Veritas Press specializes in Classical Christian Education and offers curriculum for all grades and subjects. We've been using (and loving) their Self-Paced History: Explorers to 1815 program.

Each Self-Paced History course covers 32 important historical events with 5 individual lessons per event. In addition to the online coursework, we used the Explorers to 1815 Flashcards set to complete some of the activities and to review the material. Each online lesson takes about 45 minutes to complete, and every fifth lesson is a multiple choice test covering both the current historical event and a review of previous events.

Why this program works for Lauren:

1. Each lesson has multiple short segments. Most of the information is presented by enthusiastic narrators in short bite-sized chunks. In addition to the two people in colonial dress, the totem pole often shares facts and stories.

2. Constant feedback ensures that Lauren is paying attention. There are questions and activities spread throughout the lesson, not just at the very end.

3. Lauren is actively learning, not just listening or watching. Geography is taught by interacting with maps and putting labels in the correct location. She retains much more by completing this activity than she would by just looking at a map, especially when these map exercises are repeated throughout the lessons.

In another lesson, a selection from Columbus's journal was introduced. Not only did Lauren hear the text being read, she also needed to answer a series of questions afterwards (either by remembering from the passage being read or by looking back at the text itself).

4. The activities vary enough to hold Lauren's interest. In addition to multiple-choice questions and map work, Lauren has done spelling, matching, sorting, and several other activities that I can't remember.

5. Each lesson builds upon previous lessons. Key facts from previous lessons are referred to throughout the activities so that the individual events are seen as part of a continuous big picture view of history.

6. Music makes memorization fun! Lauren's favorite part of each day's lesson is the Memory Song which covers all 32 of the history events in one song. The tune is so catchy that I've often overheard her singing about "Cortez, de Soto, de Leon, and Coronado -- Spanish Explorers, all four." From a parent standpoint, I appreciate that the music includes traditional patriotic songs and marches which seem appropriate for studying early American History.

7. Lauren is building a solid foundation of historical knowledge. The key events in early American History are presented both on the flashcards and in the online lessons. All of the most important facts, dates, and concepts are presented multiple times in multiple lessons so that Lauren learns them so well that she'll remember them for years to come.

Veritas Press Self-Paced History presents the material clearly and in a way that holds Lauren's interest. The variety of online activities ensures that she learns the key facts, and frequent review help hers retain this knowledge. I cannot think of a program that is better suited for her learning needs.

Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Explorers to 1815 is recommended for grades 2-6. The student should be at least 7 years old when the class begins. Depending on the child's reading ability, a parent may be needed to help with reading the text on some of the questions. I typically sit beside Lauren during her lessons to help read some of the longer questions and answers. (If I'm not nearby to help, she has a habit of just guessing until she gets the correct answer.)

Tuition for each of the Self-Paced History courses is $199, and the student has one year to complete the materials. The corresponding flashcards for each course costs $19.95. The cards are essential for the course because at least one graded activity for each lesson requires the student to refer to information presented on the card. Veritas Press also offers historical fiction packages that correspond to each online course.

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