Scheduling and Review
Some families prefer a structured, orderly curriculum with fixed reading assignments, weekly milestones, and comprehensive review. Others are comfortable with loosely defined goals, lots of flexibility, and intermittent review. The Heritage History Academy can be used with either approach. This page provides guidelines for using our core reading recommendations to make a preliminary preliminary schedule. It uses examples from the British Middle Ages Academy course, but the concepts apply to all our civilization specific courses as well.
Before discussing strategies for designing student schedules we will introduce Reading Credits and Historical Eras and show how they provide structure for a flexible but comprehensive reading program.
Reading credits are assigned to each book in the Heritage History library. Reading Credits correspond to a set length of text and are intended to help estimate how long a student will take to complete assigned reading. They are based on the length of our reformatted PDF version of each book and are usually less than half the original page count. In the example below, "In the Days of Alfred the Great" has been assigned 94 reading credits.
There is a wide variation in how quickly students read but most can earn 10 to 20 credits per hour. For the scheduling examples on this page we assume a student earns fifteen reading credits per hour. Given these assumptions, a student could be expected to take six hours to complete "In the Days of Alfred the Great" but this is only a guideline. The actual variation among individual students could be anywhere from four to nine hours.
In order to set up effective milestones for comprehensive study each Heritage History Academy course has been subdivided into eight or more historical eras. The reading assignments, timelines, character lists, and study questions associated with each course are organized into study units. We recommend that students who are following a regular study program focus on one of these historical eras at a time. This means completing the core reading assignment, reviewing the associated timeline and character list, answering study questions, and selecting a supplemental reading assignment for more in depth study.
Most historical divisions have approximately the same amount of "core" reading associated with them, but some have many more supplemental texts to choose from than others. On average, each division can be expected to take between two and four weeks to complete.
The divisions of the British Middle Ages course are shown below, and historical subdivision of all of our courses can be found on the Civilization Libraries page.
Of the eight divisions into which most courses are divided, there are usually one or two that are designated as "optional". In the case of the British Middle Ages, the first five units (Early Britain to Stuarts) form the core of a comprehensive study of English history. The final three units (Scotland, Ireland, and European Middle Ages) are of interest to many students but not essential. This distinction gives students who would like to work through the course material quickly an indication of which units are of greatest importance.
In order to estimate how quickly your student should be progressing through each study unit, default reading assignments for both Level I and Level II Academy Courses have been provided. While we encourage students to customize their own reading list, these schedules can be a helpful starting point.
In our example program, Unit 2 covers the history of Britain from the rise of the kingdom of Wessex in 800 to the death of Stephen, the last Norman king in 1154. Alfred the Great is one of the key characters of this period so the suggested supplemental reading for this period is a children's biography. Core reading selections from two short English histories are given because students who are unfamiliar with a period usually need to read over the material twice in order to retain details.
According to the above information, the total reading credits for both core selections is 36. A student who is able to earn 12-15 reading credits per hour should be able to get through both core assignments in about 3 hours. The supplemental reading assignment is 94 reading credits, or about six hours worth of reading. The entire unit, therefore, can be estimated to take about three weeks to complete (assuming three hours of reading per week).
In practice, most students read comprehensive histories more slowly than they read history stories but in any case, three weeks is a good working estimate for an average student. There is, of course a great deal of variation in reading fluency among students but once you have determined your student's pace, the reading credits will help you estimate expected progress with reasonable accuracy.
Most of the time a student schedules for each unit should be spent reading. However, there is also value in reviewing essential facts of history. We recommend at least an hour should be reserved during every study unit for updating Reading Progress, reviewing study aids, and answering Study Review questions. Students who printed their study resources beforehand will have a history notebook on hand and can easily review the essentials at any time.
In addition to printable study aids, a question bank of about 50 multiple choice questions is are associated with every study unit. The review questions offer students the opportunity to improve their retention of specific facts and essential knowledge. Twelve questions are selected at random from the question bank and students who answer at least 65% correct can win Bronze, Silver, Gold or even Diamond medals.
Most students should be able to win Level I Medals after reviewing the study questions a few times. Some students, however, have better memories than others and younger students are not likely to be able to do as well as older students even if they succeed in completing the reading. For this reason we do not recommend that students younger than fifth grade attempt to review study questions unless they are highly motivated. As long as students are reading at an age-appropriate level it is not essential to take knowledge tests, but students who enjoy the challenge will greatly improve their retention of historical facts.
Once a student has completed the required reading, they should be able to complete a twelve question review session in about ten minutes. Most Level I students attempt between five and ten review sessions, so one to two hours per unit should be sufficient. Level II review questions are considerably more challenging than Level I and are only recommended for older students. Mastery of Level I Study Questions is adequate for basic competency in each historical period.
The Heritage Curriculum can be easily adapted to meet both family and individual needs. Students that are new to the program may want to start with our recommended core program, but we encourage families to be open to alterations. Some frequently adopted modifications include:
No matter what approach works for your family, remember that the best way to master history is to make reading history a regular part of your student's weekly routine. A slow and steady approach is more helpful, rewarding, and interesting, than the modern approach of ignoring world history for twelve years and then trying to cram 2000 years into a single, "Western Civilization" course during Freshman year.
Using the Heritage History program and reading at a rate of only three hours per week, a typical student will spend over 100 hours per year reading history. Extended over an eight year period (fifth to twelfth grade), students will have had an opportunity to read 80 to 200 history-related books by their high school years—an excellent foundation for future learning.