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Instilling a Love of History and Bible During the Grammar Years

Instilling a Love of History and Bible During the Grammar Years

A history program was how Veritas began. After reading Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, our interest in classical education from a Christian worldview was piqued. While building a classical school and looking for a curriculum, we realized the value of teaching young children a comprehensive timeline of history, in a way that they would remember and love. We wanted to connect it to learning the content of the Bible as well...but we'll come back to that in a moment.

The Veritas approach to history quickly developed. We quickly realized that children in 2nd grade are ready to start learning a timeline. But, even before that, groundwork can be laid in kindergarten through family histories and holidays which orient children to the basics of chronicling history through timelines. In 1st grade, students are taught a simplified version of American history to take advantage of their growing understanding of place and time

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Beginning in 2nd grade, students are ready for a formal study of history, starting with the very beginning: creation. Each year from 2nd to 6th grades, students will study 32 events. In those five years, they’ll have learned 160 events. Our approach has students regularly reviewing what they’ve learned, too. This works remarkably well because, as classical educators point out, it’s how they are wired. At this time in their development, they love learning through memorization. This can be done by parents using You Teach material, with Online Self-Paced Courses (currently on sale!), or Live Online Courses taught by teachers

The five-year history cycle can be illustrated thus:

Grade  

Series

2nd

Old Testament and Ancient Egypt

3rd

New Testament, Greece, and Rome

4th

Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation

5th

Explorers to 1815

6th

1815 to the Present

After five years, students have discovered crucial dates and facts surrounding 160 key events, or timeline markers. Some programs fail to teach more than key event dates, but learning that Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79AD and buried Pompeii, without greater attention to historical detail and the events surrounding it will leave a student short of understanding its context, or its connection to the New Testament. Similarly, students may learn that World War I raged from 1914 to 1918 and World War II from 1939 to 1945. Without more detail and context, students miss out on the nuanced understanding of how these events came to be, how and why they were fought, and why the dates matter.

It can be great to start students at the beginning and work forward, but this is not always necessary. In a homeschool with two or more children, one might consider teaching everyone at the same level. Integrated learning for art projects, field trips, etc. can often be incredibly effective. If younger children start after the first year, they can simply circle back to the beginning later, and students who have less than five years to complete the cycle can complete it in a condensed form. (One approach is to use the History Transition method that condenses all five years into one.)

We're proud of the Veritas Approach to history, and it has served students around the world well for over a decade—maybe that’s why it’s one of the most awarded classical history programs.

As you've probably noticed already, history starts from the very beginning, which means that students should also study the Bible while studying history. How important is it that your children are biblically literate? Well, the most important thing to teach a child is the Bible, and it is often the most neglected. We know this from more than 20 years of our own experience in education. Parents think that children will learn the Bible at church or from hearing it read on occasion. These things are important, but barely touch the surface of the full immersion in Scripture which children need to understand the biblical narrative.

How well do your children know the stories of Noah, Nehemiah, Esther, Jacob, Paul, and Peter? Do they know them better than Mickey Mouse or SpongeBob? Can they name the Twelve Tribes of Israel? Veritas Bible students can. Imagine a 7-year-old rattling off the Twelve Tribes as easily as naming the four Gospels. When was the Exodus? When did Solomon live? The importance of knowing the biblical stories and when they happened can’t be overstated. When we started our venture in classical education in 1992, we did it to raise the bar of K–12 education, for our children and for yours. Today we have another, more focused, concern—biblical illiteracy in Christian families. 

The development of the Veritas approach to grammar school history was followed by our Bible curriculum. We didn’t want children to see the events of Scripture isolated from history. Knowledge of history and knowledge of scripture should be integrated. When reading the story of Joseph, students should know that he lived just prior to the Hyksos’ invasion of Egypt. When reading about Jesus’ early life, students should understand the Roman world into which He was born.

The Veritas Bible program begins in 2nd grade and coincides neatly with Veritas History. It integrates the first two series of Veritas History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt and New Testament, Greece, and Rome. Children can see how the various timelines fit together. Like Veritas History, Veritas Bible is a five-year program, 2nd–6th grades. Each year covers 32 events, 160 events in all. 

At Veritas, we begin introducing students to the biblical narrative in kindergarten and 1st grade. This jump start has given them a great starting point for the detail they learn:

Grade

Bible Course

Overlap with History

K

Old Testament Overview

NA

1st

New Testament Overview

NA

2nd

Genesis to Joshua

Old Testament and Ancient Egypt

3rd

Judges to Kings

Old Testament and Ancient Egypt

4th

Chronicles to Malachi

Old Testament and Ancient Egypt

5th

The Gospels

New Testament, Greece, and Rome

6th

Acts to Revelation

New Testament, Greece, and Rome

In the grammar stage, students learn the beauty and fullness of the Bible so that they can access it throughout their entire lives. For each of the 160 events, they memorize a date and a Scripture reference so they can find it in the Bible. Memorization isn’t enough, though. We want to bring the word to life so that children embrace what they are learning. God uses stories to tell us about our history and the world He created. We do the same thing in our Bible program. If you're interested in learning more about the Veritas approach to history and Bible, Laurie Detweiler has a helpful forty-minute video on teaching these subjects that you can watch for free here.  

Today, we are seeing daily reminders of the loss of knowledge of history and Bible throughout our culture. At Veritas our mission is to continue in "restoring culture to Christ, one young heart and mind at a time." And we hope you will join us in this as we rebuild a historically and biblically literate generation.


March's feature Epistula article has been adapted from the 2019 Veritas series by Marlin Detweiler on the Veritas Approach to subjects in your child's Classical education.

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