Frequently Asked Questions about Connecting with History (CWH):
Q. I want to hand out information about your program at my homeschool group. Do you have a brochure?
A. Yes! For small quantities (10-20) you can download our brochure and print them to hand out to friends and homeschool groups. If you need larger quantities please contact us and we'll be happy to mail them to you!
Q. Why are there so many books suggested in the program?
A. We want to encourage interest in and a sense of curiosity about the history of mankind. We use a variety of genres, each of which has a specific role to play. Textbooks provide a quick overview, a springboard from which to dive into a time period. Non-fiction books provide more in-depth information on particular people and events from history, promoting deeper understanding. Using informational books from a variety of authors provides the student with the opportunity to compare viewpoints and hone research skills. Primary sources bring the student into direct contact with real people who lived in distant times and places. Literature written during the time period allows those who have gone before us to express their thoughts and feelings to us; we discover that people of all eras share the common bonds of humanity - love and hatred, fear and despair, faith and hope. Historical fiction fires our imaginations and takes us back in time to live in a time and place that is very different from our own.
Q. Does RC History carry all of the resources listed in the program?
A. Yes! We want to make your life as simple as possible. By purchasing directly from us you save money through our discounts and free shipping offers, you save time by not having to search all over for the books you need, and you make sure that you have the correct books and editions to match the assignments in Connecting with History.
Q. How can I make this program affordable when I have children at several age levels?
A. First of all, Connecting with History was written to be flexible so that you can adapt it to your family's unique needs. The suggested age ranges for each level are not set it stone. You can combine children within a level so that materials can be shared. For instance, a child in third grade could be placed in the Beginner Level or, if you have a fourth or fifth grader as well, they can both be placed in the Grammar Level. Also, many of the resources in the syllabus can be used with more than one level. Our Economy Booklists include the books that are used many times over the course of the year and can be used by children at multiple levels.
Remember also that nearly all the materials for Connecting with History are non-consumable. That means that you can use them again when you cycle back through history. As an example, if you have a preschooler, a first grader (Beginner Level) and a fourth grader (Grammar Level) the first time you use Volume One, in four years when you repeat the cycle your youngest child will be using the Beginner books you already own, the first grader will now be a fifth grader using the Grammar books you already have so you'll only need to collect the Logic Level books for your oldest child. Meanwhile, you will be investing in a family library of treasured books that your children will return to even outside of "school" hours!
Follow this link for a helpful article on choosing books to be shared among multiple age levels
Q.Do I need to purchase the Bible Timeline program to be able to use Volume One?
A. No. Although Volume One is written to coordinate with the Bible Timeline program by Jeff Cavins it is not necessary to watch the program to use CWH. If your budget allows we highly recommend that you consider using it in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Biblical story.
There are three versions of the Bible Timeline program available for families:
Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible - 8 week course: geared toward adults, but can also be used successfully by high school students.
T3: The Teen Timeline : adapted for 11th-12th grades
Encounter: Experiencing God in the Everyday : the Bible Timeline program specifically adapted for middle school students. Presented by Mark Hart. Mark has a gift for engaging children with humor while presenting a serious and "meaty" course in Biblical history.
For young children, we suggest the Great Adventure Kids Pack . This is not a full program but presents the basic ideas of the chronological story of salvation history found in the Bible. The card game and timeline chart create a fun way to memorize time periods, books of the Bible and main people from each book.
Similarly, Epic: A Journey Through Church History is referred to throughout the Volumes Two and Three Daily Lesson Plans but is not required in order to use the CWH program.
Q. Is this a full unit study program?
There are two basic categories of school subjects: Skill subjects and Content subjects. History is a content subject. Students put their skills to work as they study history.
We refer to Connecting with History as an integrated curriculum; it integrates world history; Bible study & Church history; historical geography; crafts & projects; literature study and practice in composition; and practice in giving oral, written and visual presentations. It also informally incorporates the historical elements of scientific and mathematical development. You will need to study the skill subjects of language arts (phonics, handwriting, spelling), math, and catechism separately. We consider science a content subject. It can be coordinated with Connecting with History but is not included in the program.
Most families structure their school day by working on the skill subjects in the morning and using their afternoons for the content subjects.
Q. Are there daily lesson plans?
A. Yes and No. The Connecting with History Syllabi do not include daily lesson plans. One of the goals of the program is to make it flexible enough so that each family can fit it into their own schedule and teaching style. The syllabus is the main program and can be used on its own as a literature-based unit study. It follows a 6-step structure called the Connect Method™. You can read more about this method in the information section of each syllabus.
For those who desire a more structured approach, we now have daily lesson plans as a supplement to each syllabus. These organize the activities and information in the syllabus into a consistent 4-week per unit, 4-days per week schedule. You will still need the syllabus to use the lesson plans. The syllabus contains the information, the lesson plans contain a structure. The lesson plans also incorporate the Connect Method™ steps.
Q. Where can I see sample pages from the program?
A. There are samples in the description of each Syllabus and Daily Lesson Plan.
Q. What subjects are covered in Connecting with History?
A. You can think of Connecting with History as a Humanities course. This includes Bible study (Volume One), Church History (Volumes Two & Three), World History, Literature, and Geography. Composition and Creative Writing opportunities are also incorporated in the program as well as Arts and Crafts. Some suggested resources also include science activities, however, these would be supplemental to a complete science course. The skill subjects such as math, spelling, grammar, phonics and the mechanics of writing are not included in the program.
Q. Does Connecting with History cover non-Western history?
A. The focus of CWH is on Western Civilization which is the basis of Christian culture. We try to keep the program as chronological as possible without being a slave to chronology and hopping all over the globe. Yet we don't want to give the impression that the rest of the world isn't important. In Volume One the central focus is on the Israelites and the ancient Middle Eastern and North African cultures which were in direct contact with them. Volume Two shows the transformation from the Old Covenant to the New with the development of the Church. As Christianity spreads from Rome into other areas, we look at the other cultures through the eyes of the missionaries as they begin interacting with the world beyond Europe. So as they set out to interact with these cultures, for example, in Volume 3 there is a quick history of China as the missionaries would have had to learn about the culture in order to be able to understand the people they came to live with and teach. In this way we make brief, but important forays into the pre-Christian history of non-Western cultures.
Q. Is this a World history program or a Church history program?
A. It's both. Thanks to modern schooling we've become accustomed to thinking in compartments. History is divided up into separate "boxes." Even in good schools, you find classes on Bible History, Church History, Geopolitical History, American History, Art History, History of the Saints, History of Science, etc. There is a time to specialize, but it should come after learning to understand the Big Picture of history.
To connect with history means de-compartmentalizing all of these areas and putting them back together; integrating them so that everything connects and makes sense. Nothing in history happens in a vacuum. The church doesn't exist in its own little universe separate from governments and politics. Artists and scientists don't live in their own realm apart from popes and saints. St. Paul visited the same Greece that Aristotle lived in; Moses' Egypt is the same Egypt as King Tut's. Actually, the most integrated books on history tend to be the ones on Church history because you can't talk about the Church apart from secular events - it's all interconnected. Most of our core texts are Catholic, but we include some secular history books as well so that your students are learning from a variety of sources and viewpoints.
Q. Are all of the books in your program Catholic?
A. We pick and choose which books we include in CWH very carefully. Nothing used in the program conflicts with our faith and beliefs. Many of the books are Catholic in both content and author. We do also include non-Catholic and secular books but we screen them for any problematic material. If a book doesn't pass muster we don't include it. We recommend books that contain truth, historical accuracy, and that are just plain good, interesting reading. You as the parent are always the final decision-maker in what you choose for your family.
Q. My Grammar Level child is an advanced reader for his/her age. Can I use Logic Level books instead of the Grammar Level recommendations?
The Grammar Level is very much an in-between age. Some children have moved beyond the learning-to-read stage and advance quickly in their reading fluency. The books recommended in the Grammar Level range from informational picture books to full novels written for this age group. There are plenty of choices for all reading abilities as well as good family read-alouds.
Our criteria for placing books in a particular age level, however, goes beyond reading ability to content, as well. Children who are advanced readers are still at the emotional and intellectual level of the Grammar stage. Our reading assignments indicate books that can be used with both Logic and Grammar Level students. Books that are listed in only the Logic Level or above may include elements that are not necessarily appropriate for an elementary-aged child. For example, some may include battle scenes which are a bit more graphic than those included in a Grammar level book. A book like Mara, Daughter of the Nile contains emotional content that, although not graphic or inappropriate, is not suited developmentally for a Grammar level student. Of course, in the final analysis, we are making suggestions, you are the parent and responsible for making the decisions about what is best for your individual child.
Follow this link to a help article on choosing books to be shared among multiple age levels.
Q. If I begin our four-year cycle with Ancient History, do I have to wait until we come back to Volume One before my younger children can join in?
A. No. Just incorporate the younger children into your history studies as they enter the school-aged years. Because CWH is a family-centered program, chances are your young ones have already been hearing your discussions and listening in on your read-aloud times. But even if they haven't, it's better to join in the middle than wait it out. Always remember that you'll be cycling back to the beginning in a couple of years so the story will begin again and everyone will benefit from what they've learned already.
Q. Do I have to begin with Volume One?
A. Similar to the question above. We strongly recommend that if you're new to Connecting with History that you begin at the beginning. History progresses from a starting point (Creation) and moves toward the Parousia (Christ's Second Coming). It is a story that makes the most sense if read from the beginning, not started somewhere in the middle.
However, there are times when it makes sense to begin with a different volume.
If you have recently studied ancient history and want/need to move on to the next time period.
You are beginning with a Logic or Rhetoric student who needs to study a particular time period for graduation requirements
Your child (or you) are absolutely not interested in studying ancient history right now. Some children have definite preferences or interests in a particular time period. It's better to use that interest as a starting point to encourage a love of history than to force something upon them that will just turn them off or turn it into a power struggle.
In whatever time period you begin, go from there into the next one in the cycle. You do want to instill the concept of orderliness - that history has a sequence and a meaning. God is a God of order, and history - His Plan for salvation - is not random.
Q. How much time does this take each day/each week?
A. That depends on how you decide to use the program. Will you be reading all of the books or just a few? Will you be doing lots of hands-on projects, only one, or just stick to reading and writing assignments? Will you be following the daily lesson plans or using the syllabus to create your own schedule?
Most families study their skills subjects, such a math, phonics, spelling, and grammar, in the mornings. After a break for snack or lunch they move on to the content subjects of science and history. These can be done consecutively on a daily basis or rotated, for instance, Monday, Wednesday, Friday for history and Tuesdays and Thursdays for science. If you're following the Daily Lesson Plans you'll be doing history four afternoons a week.
Breaking down the history lessons each day we suggest that you begin as a group. Gather around the school table or on the floor or couch to do the family activities. That might be the family read-aloud, working on a group project, or discussing what you've been studying together. After this, you can have each child work on that day's reading assignment(s) from the core and base books or on any independent projects they might be working on. You will be doing this together with the Beginner level children while older students will be able to work independently. Generally, plan to spend about an hour.
There are a lot of independent and read-aloud books suggested for each unit. These do not need to be read during "school" hours. They are the sort of books that children love to curl up and read on the couch or in bed for fun and personal enjoyment. They don't have to feel like assignments. If your family has an evening read-aloud time, use your history book selection for that unit.
We encourage families to do plenty of informal discussion of what they are learning in history. This doesn't need to be in the form of quizzes. It's much more enjoyable to ask a child about what they learned today in their studies or tell you about the book they're reading as a starting point for good dinner conversation or during a ride in the car. That way Dad can get in on the fun too! History becomes a way of life, not just another subject to get through.
Q. Does Connecting with History have tests and quizzes?
A. The goal of Connecting with History is to engage the student through all of the senses, learning styles, and personal interests. We believe that this encourages fuller comprehension, rather than just studying for a test, which generally engages short-term memory.
History is a content subject and although there are specific facts to learn, such as people, places, events, and dates, the set of concrete facts considered important to know vary depending on the teacher, textbook, test writer, or state curriculum developers. In other words, there is no universal set of concrete facts such as are found in skill subjects like math or spelling.
That doesn't mean that there are no learning goals, they're just more fluid. We emphasize learning chronology, cause and effect, the surface events of historical events as well as the deeper meaning of history and how it affects our lives today - and how we affect future history. Rather than formal tests. What we use instead are a combination of group discussion (whether you have one child or ten, we encourage parents and children to engage in discussion), reading, writing, projects, memory work, and notebook portfolios, all culminating in formal presentations at the end of each unit. These activities take the place of tests. As you work with your child you will know what they understand and what they don't. If you need to grade their work, this can be done by assessing their writing assignments, portfolios, and presentations. You can also quiz them on vocabulary, their knowledge of events, and dates from each unit. There are also quizzes in most of the Core Texts, which could be used for formal testing if you so wish. But, the main goal is to encourage their comprehension, which is what we consider true education.
Combining Multiple Age Levels
We want to make Connecting with History as do-able as possible. It does no good to love the program but find yourself overwhelmed.
Many of the suggested resources in our program, although listed for a particular age group, can be used by more than one level. When planning your program we offer these suggestions.
1. If you have a wide age spread, focus first on the older student(s). Particularly if they're starting out in the Logic or Rhetoric levels, they have less time before they graduate and may only get through one full four-year cycle. Also, their younger siblings can learn more informally through being a part of discussions, activities and family read-alouds, as well as listening in on lessons with the older child(ren).
2. Start with the most important books, those from the Core lists of the program. These set the foundation of the program. The books from these lists are used throughout the year, thus are most important to own. Remember that the books you purchase for the older students will be used in the future by your younger children when you cycle back through history.
3, From the optional independent and read-aloud book lists we suggest that if possible you choose at least one book from each unit to use for independent reading (fiction or non-fiction) and one book as a family read-aloud. If you can only manage one book per unit, make it a read-aloud that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Read-aloud suggestions are indicated in the Daily Lesson Plans. We have tried to select at least one book for each unit.
4. When choosing resources for a larger family, do as much combining as possible. The syllabi and lesson plans indicate many resources that can be shared between more than one age level.
5. Contact us for a one-on-one consultation to create a program that fits your family's needs and budget.