Homeschool history has reached new heights in our home over the past few weeks, as we’ve had the privilege of reviewing the ‘Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation’, one of the online courses on offer from Veritas Press. This program has energised our learning more than anything else for a long time, and I’m excited to tell you all about it!
The online program is complete in itself, with no supplementary material required, besides a stunning set of the 32 Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards that correspond with the lessons and are intended for the purpose of reviewing the course content. We also used them to order the 32 significant events chronologically for the time period.
About ‘Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation’ Self-Paced History
Veritas Press follows a classical Christian approach in that it teaches history chronologically, and aims to keep Christ at the centre of your child’s learning.
Here are some of the main features of the program:
- The age range is intended for Grades 2nd-6th.
- The self-paced program is designed to do over a full year at the student’s own pace and contains 160 lessons, with 5 lessons for each of the 32 important historical events
- The 32 flashcards cover the period from St Augustine to John Knox and are used along with the memory song within the course and for the purpose of review.
- The program mainly uses actors to present history with realistic backdrops that are relevant to the time period.
To give you a sampling of what is covered, here are the first 8 of 32 significant historical events (40 lessons) that we have managed to complete so far:
- Augustine Converts to Christianity
- Barbarians and Vikings
- St Jerome Completes the Vulgate
- The Council of Chalcedon
- St Benedict and Monasticism
- Justinian the Great
- Mohammed and Islam
- Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, and Charlemagne
We’ve looked ahead on the lesson list and are especially looking forward to learning about William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings, St Francis of Assisi, and the Renaissance. To be honest, I can hardly wait myself!
There is an optional literature component, with historical fiction titles to include in your history studies (two different levels). We did not complete this component for the purpose of this review. But as we have many of the titles listed, we took the opportunity to enhance the learning experience and bring these books out off our shelves. Adding in the historical literature would be a great way of furthering your child’s learning of the time period.
How the Program Works
This online program utilises a number of different ways of presenting the course content:
- Actors dressed in period costumes present most of the course content with realistic backdrops in a style that is engaging and informative, and although the content is fairly in-depth, it’s also age appropriately presented.
- A memory song is used to cover the chronological component, as well as reinforcing the key dates, people and events of the 32 main historical events (lyrics can be viewed and/or printed).
- Games and activities are dispersed through the lessons, often using multi-choice questions to review material.
- Other activities are used at different times, such as word searches, mapping, spelling, timelines activities and others.
- There are end of lesson tutorial quizzes every 5 lessons (graded) and a shorter assignment/quiz at the beginning at the next group of 5 lessons (ungraded).
- There are 8 supplementary activities (completed offline) over the full course, the first of which my daughter completed on ‘monastic manuscript’.
In true Classical style, the course is heavy on memorising important dates, which was sometimes a stretch for my 3rd Grader (particularly in the beginning). But gladly she didn’t find the memorising monotonous or too overwhelming. The great thing was that every lesson and quiz reviewed previous lesson content and reinforced what my daughter had already learned.
Functionality and Ease of Use
The program is very easy to navigate with only a few buttons or options to click. Each lesson needs to be completed before the next slide is unlocked, and you can pause at any time. If needed, there is an option for further help and support, but we didn’t need to use this.
Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards
The flashcards have all 32 historical events covered in the course, with a summary on each side containing the key information and dates for each – from ‘St Augustine Converts to Christianity’ through to ‘John Knox in Scotland’. The flashcards are not absolutely necessary to have, but are certainly a great option to add to the enjoyment of learning, as well as being useful to review the lesson content before the graded tests (resulting in a better grade).
They’ll also be great to have in future when we’ve finished the online component of the course and just want to review this period of history. The flashcards are sold separately.
How We Used It
We aimed to use the course 4 times a week, but because my daughter enjoyed it so much, we did 1-2 lessons a day, 4-5 times a week. Each lesson took about 20 minutes (less time for the quiz lessons).
As my daughter was initially not used to online learning, or to tests and grades, she needed some supervision to start with, but quickly picked up how it works and what to expect each lesson.
There was no option to skip ahead of the current lesson, as they can only be unlocked once the previous lesson is completed. So my daughter simply worked through each slide within each lesson, with little supervision from me.
My Thoughts on ‘Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation’
This really is an outstanding online history program. I was impressed at how history was presented age-appropriately, despite there being some fairly graphic events that occurred during the time of the Middle Ages. I especially liked the consistent connections made between historical events and Church history.
The music accompanying the slides throughout the course follows the theme of the Middle Ages, or is suited to the place of interest for each lesson (eg. Arabia).
A Note on the Age Level:
I’m of the opinion that the content itself is better pitched at an Advanced 3rd Grade student, or 4th Grade up, as it covers history at a depth that may be beyond younger students and some of the activities (eg. spelling longer words) could be a stretch. To complete the course for 2nd and 3rd Grade students, a parent could possibly sit through the lessons and explain some of the more difficult concepts and help with date and event memorising. But to really get the most out of it, I would recommend waiting until your child is just that little bit older. You may also like to view the sample lessons to determine whether or not your child is ready.
I can see how this self-paced history course would be a popular choice for Classical homeschooling families. But I believe this would also be a great fit for homeschooing families of all educational philosophies and methods.
I highly recommend this comprehensive, engaging, and enjoyable course to all homeschooling families who love history and want to take their learning experience to a new level.
Pricing and Links
- Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation (Self-Paced): $199 (US) for a full year’s online access.
- Middle Ages, Ren & Ref FLASHCARDS: $19.95 (US) (sold separately)
- Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation LESSON SAMPLES
- Veritas Press – website homepage, including ALL courses
- Vertias Press – all SELF-PACED courses
- Veritas Press on Facebook
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