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
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
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
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
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
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
Recommendations page lists three
or four general interest books in each of the following divisions:
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
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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