Tuesday, September 17, 2013

History this year: History Odyssey Ancients

History this year was a puzzle for me.  In the past, we have done Sonlight and Tapestry of Grace in different years.  We follow loosely the 4-year history cycle (covering all history every 4 years cyclically).  We actually took a little longer in our first cycle, but I had all young ones so that was a fun thing.  We came back around to ancients this year, starting our second cycle through while homeschooling.  I have a 6th grader, a 3rd grader and a 1st grader this year plus a 3yo.  The gap in ability is pretty wide, as is true for a lot of homeschooling families or "one room schoolhouse" type of setups.  I already knew that more than one core was not my thing (hence, I don't use Sonlight any longer).  Our last history was TOG, but looking carefully at their year 1 (ancients), that isn't the way I wanted to take.  We are Christian (Catholic), but TOG year 1 for us is just too biblically heavy, though they are the best I have found in integrating all levels of kids from youngest to adult learning in the same history cycle.  I definitely interweave all religions into our history studies, feeling that religion of course is one of the most powerful motivators of actions throughout history.  However, the focus on Christian primarily in the ancients isn't what I believe is best for us, leaving too little time on the other fascinating ancient cultures that didn't involve Christianity.  So that left me stumped for history this year.  We could easily just do Story of the World ala The Well Trained Mind, but even with the activity book and some extras, I wanted something "more" for Zach aside from just outlining or whatever.  It just didn't seem to suit my vision for this year for Zach. 

I finally came upon History Odyssey.  After downloading samples and looking at it, that is what we went with for these reasons: 
  • Classically based:  4-year history cycle with a level of difficulty corresponding to the three generally accepted levels of students (though note they are still writing levels!).  I could get guides catering specifically for my kids without a lot of manipulation.
  • I like the publisher.  I have other science products by them, and the writing and content I found to be good though not the perfect fit for our personalities here in my school.
  • Price is reasonable honestly.  TOG is much more robust of course, but I don't use all the components and it is freakishly expensive if you are using it mainly as "history only" in your studies compared to the alternatives.  
  • Ebook format makes it convenient for me to use on the go, or print, and again keeps the cost reasonable.  
  • Book choices use common ones (Story of the World, Children's History of the World, etc), but also give "extras" as well to enhance studies.  Plus, they incorporate hands on ideas, History Pockets and other things appealing to the youngest of mine (TOG is not as good as this, Sonlight is the best though), fiction (again TOG not so much, Sonlight best) and nonfiction choices.  I feel it is a fantastic buffet for my kids.  
  • It is broken into "lessons" for teaching, not days or such as Sonlight but definitely laid out to be easy to teach.  
The only real "problem" if you want to call it that is levels 1 and 2 are not exactly matched up between topics.  I'm teaching sometimes together and some independently (my level 2, Zach).  I have reordered the topics a bit to keep them in the together part, and changed up the pacing of Zach's guide to keep them on track.  That is working great, and Zach is loving listening in to the easier stuff he already heard once pretty much, yet delving much deeper in the more challenging level 2 material.  After doing ancients this year, I will reevaluate if I want to go back to TOG this history cycle or continue with HO from now on.  I really am loving it though, so this might become our permanent main history curriculum, that elusive best fit for our family.  Of course, I am a homeschooler, so I continue to tweak and adjust, add and subtract, from what is in the guide, but what would be the fun otherwise?! 

No comments: