Tuesday 1 July 2014

Veritas Self Paced History: New Testament, Greeks and Romans-a review

My seven year old daughter loves history. When we knew that there was a possibility of reviewing the Self Paced History course, I showed her the sample videos and we both decided that this course is a winner.

The Veritas Press Self Paced History programme comes from the classical Home Education providers, Veritas Press.

 Veritas produce Self Paced History programmes

Veritas Press Review
 covering five different periods in history

  • Old Testament and Ancient Egypt
  • New Testament, Greece and Rome
  • Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation
  • Explorers to 1815
  • 1815 to Present

So what is Self Paced History? Essentially, this is an on-line, interactive teaching programme designed for children from age 7 to 12 which corresponds to US grades 2 to 6 or UK years 3 to 7. Children need to be at least aged 7 when the course is started. The course is from a site with a Classical home education model. This stage up to about age 12 is called the Grammar stage so these lessons are described as Grammar School history. For UK readers, please note that this is not the same as UK Grammar School ages.

The only essential buy, apart from the actual course, is the set of flash cards.

Veritas Press Review

Each course also comes with recommended literature kit. This is optional but recommended. The literature part of the course varies according to the age of the child with Level One being for grades 2-3 and Level Two for grades 4-6.

At the start of the course, the parent has to sign that they will allow the child to take the tests independently and that they understand that the course is for one child only.

The student has a log-in

and then is able to access sequential lessons. The lessons include a history song for each time period, teaching with characters, quizzes,questions,

 games linked to quizzes, map time,

 spelling, quotes from the Bible and classical literature,

 review of history cards, a timeline and an optional introduction to literature about the period. Every five days, there is a test. Used for five days a week, there is work to cover 32 weeks or a school year. Each lesson takes about 50 minutes.

In terms of equipment, a computer is necessary as is a fast broadband connection. Full details are given in the frequently answered questions section of the website. At the start of the course, Veritas recommends that the course is used with headphones.

How did we use the course?
My seven year old used the course each morning. She usually went through a lesson per day. Younger Daughter finds reading difficult and so she didn't use headphones but I sat with her to read, if necessary. We also used the optional literature portion of the course and discovered that Youngest Son aged five loved to listen to the read aloud along with his sister.

 The flash cards are beautifully presented and putting them on the floor in the correct order became a game.

How did we find Veritas Self-Paced?
This is a course that we loved. Just sitting with Younger Daughter, as her reader, I learnt so much. Younger Daughter has developed a wish to visit some of the ancient sites around the Mediterranean.
What did we particularly like?

  • Well presented with actors telling the story.
  • Academically rigourous.
  • Learning about cultures about which we previously knew little.
  • Map work and labeling practice. 
  • The song. This really aided memorisation. Both my younger children now sing this.
  • The way that secular and Biblical history are linked.
  • Learning the dates for Biblical events such as the division of the Kingdom of Israel.
  • Working on the historical and geographical context of Biblical events. It is easy to hear the names of cities and not really be aware of where they are and how they related to the location of other places.
  • The games to help memory and the way that a game from a previous week seems to be in each lesson.
  • My daughter wouldn't agree but having a test every five lessons does keep focus. 
  • No preparation for me beyond collecting the literature books together and even this is optional.
  • Much of the reading was auditory and visual which is helpful for early readers.
Things that we weren't so sure about
  • We prefer to use the Authorised Version of the Bible whereas the New King James is used in the course. This caused a bit of confusion for my daughter when filling in the blanks for the Ten Commandments.
  • The spelling was hard. My daughter finds spelling difficult but managing to spell omniscient or Rehoboam in 40 seconds was challenging. Thankfully, the agreement on the course is that the child isn't to have help with end of section tests which don't include these spellings. Yes, I did help with the spelling and yes, I had to have two attempts at some words but otherwise, my daughter would still be spelling away now. I wonder whether a two level spelling section would be helpful? The literature section is divided into two different groups for older and younger children.
  • There were one or two theological statements that we weren't completely happy with e.g. In one comprehension there is a question
What is God's Overall plan in Scripture?

The correct answer on the course is 
To create a special community on earth.

This doesn't appear to quite fit with the Westminster Confession answer about the chief end of man being to Glorify God and enjoy Him for ever.

Overall, despite these caveats, we loved this course. My children are already planning which course they would like to do next!  The website has five sample lessons from each course. My youngest child, who is currently too young for the course has taken a liking to these samples and likes to have them played each day and I know that my seven year old loves looking at the pictures from the Middle Ages course.

How much does the course cost?
A year's access to a Self-Paced History course costs $199 (about £116.30). Siblings have a $100 (about £58.44) discount. The flashcards cost $19.95 (about £11.66). Yes, the course isn't cheap but it is well produced and is a year's worth of history with no parental preparation.


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  1. The community comment caught me off guard as well but like you I still enjoyed the program I reviewed! I plan on continuing! Great, detailed post!!!

    1. Heather, thank you. Yes, these programmes are fun to use.