Reading and Study Review Levels
Study Review Levels
Advice for Making Reading Selections
The books in the Heritage History library are divided into three categories based on difficulty,
roughly corresponding to upper grammar school, middle school, and high school reading abilities.
However, there are only two "Study Review" levels associated with Academy courses and they
each encompass two reading levels. Our Introductory, Level I courses are intended for
fifth through seventh grade students so their recommended reading lists include both 'Elementary'
and 'Intermediate' books. Level II courses were designed for slightly more advanced students
so their default reading assignments include both 'Intermediate' and 'Advanced' books. The
following diagram illustrates this relationship.
Green links indicate books written
at a 'chapter-book' reading level. Most are short (less than 100 pages) and cover a single topic.
Elementary books include a higher percentage of folk tales, legends, simplified literature
and historical fiction than other categories. ~3rd-5th grade.
Brown links indicate books written for
a middle school audience. Most are significantly longer than elementary books, but not overly detailed.
Many comprehensive histories, short biographies, and military histories are written for intermediate readers.
Red links indicate books written for a college
prep high school or young adult audience. Most 'advanced' books assume the reader is already
familiar with the subject civilization so they include more details than introductory histories.
A high school level vocabulary is expected
and most books are over 200 pages. ~10th grade and above.
It is important to remember there are wide variations in reading ability among
students and the grade levels listed above are only guidelines. It is also
true that students read fiction more proficiently than they
do non-fiction and that many will retain information much
better if they are interested in the topic.
More factors to consider when making reading
selections for students are listed below.
|Study Review Levels|
Each academy course is associated with a set of multiple choice study questions based on 'core' reading
assignments. Study Questions are organized by historical era
so that students can review questions for each unit as they complete the assigned reading.
Level I (Introductory)
Level I study questions cover the most fundamental facts associated with
each historical division. Most of the questions are derived from intermediate-level 'core' histories
and are intended for introductory students.
There are 250-350 Level I study questions for each academy course, divided into eight to ten study units.
Level I is recommended for
5th through 7th grade students, but provides a good introduction at any age.
Level II (Challenge)
Level II study questions are also derived from the intermediate comprehensive histories,
but they are likely to require a closer reading of the material with more attention to detail. They are
intended for motivated students who find Level I testing too easy. Level II study questions are more
challenging than the Level I and they reference the entire bank of over 500 study questions. Recommended
for motivated students, middle school or above.
Academy courses default to Level I, but students can upgrade at any time if they would
prefer more challenging questions. We expect most active users of the Heritage Academy to
be studying at either Level I or Level II but
Core Reading recommendations
for young readers (Y) and college prep (C) students are also provided.
|Advice for Making Reading Selections|
Some students take a real interest in history at a young age and read far beyond their
expected grade level. For such students, Heritage History’s vast collection of
Advanced histories is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.
Others students take longer to mature and do better with less challenging fare. The
Heritage History library has plenty of
books that are appealing to students of all abilities and many of our
are enjoyable for students who are well beyond their grammar school years. But all students
learn best from books that engage their interest and suit their abilities.
So instead of following a grade-level program we recommend that students
select books that they can read and comprehend easily regardless of their
age or grade level.
We have been learning along with our own children for seventeen years and
teaching history to homeschoolers for eleven years. Heritage History was created
for our own students and we are hopeful that our experience can be useful
to other families who are dedicated to independent learning. The following
points may be helpful in helping to decide how to get the most out of
Heritage History resources.
- History should not be a difficult subject
Many parents want to challenge their children and make sure they "get ahead" or don't "fall behind".
The problem with encouraging students to read difficult non-fiction is that most students fail to retain
information that is beyond their grasp. They may read "challenging" histories but will neither
remember nor understand them. There are plenty of excellent histories at every ability level and
students retain more information when they read histories that hold their interest.
- Comprehensive histories are not the whole story
Comprehensive 'core' histories provide an important overview of a time period
or civilization, but it is essential that students read biographies, folklore, hero stories,
and adapted literature as well. These supplementary texts often provide a much more vivid
insight into a time period because they delve into details and personalities that are left out
of more comprehensive histories.
- Some students are late-bloomers
Children develop key facilities including reading, memorization, and analytical ability
at very different ages. If your student is not reading fluently, you can read-aloud or
delay history altogether until they are ready. If your student can read but not master
details, be patient and continue to expose them to our easiest texts until they
are ready to move on without a struggle. Many late readers become good students in their
own time and there is no reason to rush history before a student is ready to enjoy it.
- Study Questions are Optional
Students vary in how fluently they read, but also in how much information they retain. Some
students have excellent memories at a young age while others have difficulty recalling details well
into their middle school years. The study questions are intended to be a useful tool for
students who enjoy review or are competitive about acquiring knowledge. But if your child
struggles with review sessions or is not able to earn at least 'bronze' medals (65%) after
making a serious effort he is probably not ready for study questions. You may want to simplify his reading
assignments or delay online review for a year. We generally don't recommend study questions for
students younger than 5th grade and putting off comprehension testing until middle school is
not a problem.
- Individual interests should be indulged
All students need to be assigned 'core' reading, but it is worth the effort to customize
supplemental assignments in order to appeal to students' natural interests. Many boys, for example,
are especially interested in warfare and will willingly read military histories that are far
above grade level without special prodding. In situations where students are individually motivated to
pursue special interests or favorite authors, concerns about "reading level" are secondary.
- Diversions and sideroads can be delightful
Systematic history has always been an important part of our curriculum, but ad hoc history is
just as worthwhile.
We often pursue historical topics that come up by way of literature, activities, or other subjects.
It is perfectly commendable to read a few books about Peter the Great or the Civil War during "Roman Year"
or African exploration during "British Middle Ages".
Don't try too hard to keep history reading 'on task' — it's everywhere.
- Abiding Interest is more important than achievement
History is not rocket science. It can be studied at many levels and it was never intended to become
the exclusive domain of eggheads or intellectuals.
The best measure of a successful history eduction is not how much history a student learns during their school years,
but rather how much they desire to continue learning. The ultimate goal of a great history education
is the capacity to enjoy the subject and no list of facts learned or names memorized is worth making history a drudge.
We try to encourage families to approach history
as an enjoyable adventure rather than a perfunctory checklist. Unfortunately many parents
who slogged through twelve years of "social studies" in public schools (as we did)
have a very limited view of history and have difficulty seeing it as anything other than
a chore. Our best advice for parents who disliked
history is to give it another chance. It is never
too late to study history and learning along with one's children (as we have) can
open up fascinating new perspectives on all things.