~New Users~
Introduction Getting Started Recommendations

By Subject By Genre Summaries Series

~Study Aids~
Overview Characters Events Images Teacher's Guide

User Guide FAQs

E-Readers Self-Publishing Copyright Terms FAQs

Using the Young Readers
Classical Curriculum

Read User Guides     Review Teacher's Guide     Prepare Notebook     Select Books     Read and Enjoy    

The Heritage Classical Curriculum was designed to foster an interest in history among students of all ages and to encourage independent learning, especially among older students. It is assumed, however, that parents of younger students will be involved in the supervision of their children's history program. Much of the material in the Young Readers Compact Library is therefore directed towards parents or instructors rather than students themselves.

Although the Young Readers Curriculum can be used to supplement other history programs created for elementary aged students, it was designed to be the introductory course to the Heritage Classical Curriculum. We therefore recommend that families who are using the Young Readers Curriculum spend some time becoming familiar with the entire Heritage program before beginning a course of study. In order to help those unfamiliar with the program get started we've prepared the following step-by-step guideline.

Step 1: Read User Guides

Heritage History provides two user guides that should be read by instructors who are unfamiliar with the Heritage Classical Curriculum. The Curriculum User Guide provides a complete introduction to the Heritage method of learning. It explains the "living books" approach and how it differs from more conventional textbook based curricula. It also provides practical advice for keeping students on track learning the essentials while maintaining enough flexibility to allow them to pursue their own interests.

Topics covered in the Heritage Classical Curriculum User Guide include:—

  • The "Living Books" approach to history.
  • List of available Heritage Curriculums and Libraries.
  • Heritage History's recommended sequence of instruction.
  • How to use the learning resources available in the Study Guide.
  • Guidelines for scheduling your students reading assignments.
  • Guidelines for selecting supplementary reading.
  • Suggestions for improving retention, including oral and written review.
  • Suggestions for using Heritage resources with other curricula.

The other User Guide that is of general interest is our Electronic Text User Guide. The Heritage History library contains both printable and e-reader, versions of all of its books. The e-reader books can be downloaded directly from your computer to any iPad, Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader and the PDF can be republished on any printer. Using electronic rather than conventional publishing methods, Heritage History can make an entire library available for less than the cost of a standard textbook.

Topics covered in the Electronic Text User Guide include:—

  • Instructions for copying Heritage e-books directly from your computer to your iPad or Kindle.
  • How to download and use free e-reader software on your home computer.
  • How to keep printing and binding costs low.
  • Considerations for purchasing an e-reader.
  • Considerations for purchasing a high performance printer.
  • Copyright status of Heritage History books and images.

Both guides should be read before using the Heritage Classical Curriculum. Many questions about the curriculum itself and the options for using electronic texts are answered in these documents.

Step 2: Review Teacher's Guide

The two User's Guides discussed previously are applicable to all Heritage Curriculum programs, from beginner to advanced. The Young Readers Teacher's Guide, on the other hand, was written especially for those charged with guiding the instruction of younger children using books from the Young Readers library. It focuses on topics of particular concern to parents and teachers of grammar school students who are just beginning the Heritage Classical Curriculum program.

There are three main sections of the Teacher's Guide. The first lists all of the books in the Young Readers collection and recommends a few from each category that should be read by all students for breadth. These do not necessarily need to be the first books that a student reads, but each child should eventually read several books from each major era in western history.

The second section of the Teachers Guide provides simplified timelines and character lists for each of the major historical divisions. These resources are intended for review after students have read a number of books from each division rather than as original learning materials. They can also be used to help students place the characters and events that they have read about in context.

The final section of the Teacher's Guide is a series of short essays intended to help parents and instructors of younger children select appropriate material for them. The essays are entitled How Children Learn History, How Children Differ, and What Parents Can Do. Each provides some insight into how parents can best use the Heritage program to accomplish their own goals for learning.

Step 3: Prepare a History Notebook

Middle School and High School students who use the Heritage Classical Curriculum are expected to create a history notebook that corresponds to the civilization they are studying. The Study Guide for civilization-specific curriculums include maps, timelines, era summaries and other information that is useful for review. For older students, we recommend that each student print the study guide associated with their curriculum and use it as a study aid.

The Young Reader's Curriculum has a "Teacher's Guide" rather than a "Study Guide" associated with it. Because the range of historical topics in the Young Readers collection is very broad, the introductory curriculum does not include detailed review material. Therefore, it is not strictly necessary that younger children maintain a history notebook. Although such notebooks can be helpful to some students, their utility depends on the teaching style of their instructor. Families who enjoy combining activities with history lessons—such as doing written review, drawing pictures with captions, filling in outline maps, collecting images off the internet, or making personalized timelines—will certainly benefit from keeping a history notebook. Families that take a "reading only" approach will have less use for one.

If a student does decide to keep a history notebook, we recommend printing the first two sections of the Young Readers Teacher's Guide to serve as an outline. The Historical Divisions section is divided into sections including American, European, Ancient and Biblical history. Since these divisions are very broad, almost any history-related activity a student does during the year—even if it doesn't pertain directly to a book he has read from the Young Readers collection—could be categorized as belonging to one of these divisions.

Families that keep a history notebook can also use it to keep track of a student's reading progress. Older students are expected to keep track of their own reading assignments, but younger students are likely to need help from parents. The Heritage Curriculum provides a number of reproducible forms for keeping track of each student's Book Selections and Weekly Reading assignments. The Preparation and Scheduling section of the Curriculum User Guide discusses how to use these forms to keep account of student progress. Families who keep other records of children's daily progress can, of course, use their familiar methods, but it is important to keep an account of each student's accomplishments.

Step 4: Make Books Selections

The Heritage Classical Curriculum encourages as much independence in reading selections as possible, while making sure all students cover the fundamentals. Older students are expected to use the information provided on the Compact Library to make their own reading selections, but younger students will undoubtedly benefit from having a parent or teacher's input.

The Young Readers curriculum requires that all students read at least a few books from each of the major categories identified in the Young Readers collection. The Recommendations page lists three or four general interest books in each of the following divisions: American History, European History, Ancient History, Biblical History, and Legends and Folklore. Some families will prefer to spend extra time on American history; some students will prefer legends and folklore to regular history stories; but all students should read at least a few books from each division.

The Recommendations page provides short summaries of about fifteen core books, but there are several other resources available to help parents and students select appropriate books. The Books Summaries page provides a brief synopsis of every book in the Young Readers Library, while the Series Descriptions page provides information about the author and other available volumes for each book that is part of a larger series. Anyone directing a student's reading should use these resources to familiarize themselves with the entire Young Readers collection.

It is important to remember that children vary widely in their receptivity to outside suggestions in reading materials. Some students have strong opinions about which books they prefer to read while other are nearly indifferent. Likewise, some parents have a definite agenda and others are happy with whatever their student prefers. With over eighty high-quality, classical histories, the selection of reading materials in the Young Readers Library is large enough to accommodate the learning preferences of a wide range of families. We do believe, however, that all students should have some choice in their reading selections. Even when an instructor does most of the work to narrow a student's reading selections, we suggest allowing all students to have some say in the matter. It is important even for young students to see history as a field of opportunity rather than a narrow assignment.

Step 5: Read and Enjoy

The final step in using the Heritage curriculum is simply to make sure that students read their assigned history books on a regular basis. Many students enjoy reading history, but even the best readers are likely to neglect reading if it is not part of their regular study schedule.

In the Heritage Curriculum guide we recommend that every student read history for three hours per week, and we encourage parents to use incentives to increase history reading beyond that minimum. Although this is a good guideline for middle school aged children, it may be too ambitious for early readers. Parents should decide how much history reading their student is capable of on a regular basis and work it into a regular program of study.

Since most of the books in the Young Readers collection are short as well as simple, it is not unusual for avid readers to complete several dozen books per year. The fact that many of the books are part of a series also helps to encourage reading, since children are frequently motivated to read a complete series that they enjoy. Reading many history books instead of focusing on a single text gives students a sense of accomplishment and mastery, and provides a very strong foundation for future learning.

The object of the Heritage program of study is to make the process of learning history as stress free and enjoyable as possible. Some subjects, such as math and foreign languages, cannot possibly be mastered without rigorous effort and written work, but history can be learned very well simply by reading high quality books. Even students who dislike writing and rote memorization are able to absorb a great deal of historical information simply by reading.

We believe that reading history can be a favorite pastime for almost anyone. History programs that fail to teach a love for history miss the most important lesson of all.

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