Two Levels from which to Choose | How to Place Multiple Children | Common Placement Questions | Long Range Planning
(To see larger cover photos, sample pages, Table of Contents, and descriptions of any of these guides, just click on the small cover photo of choice.)
The main TruthQuest History series (eight guides which begin with Creation/ancient history and fully cover European and American history to just after the year 2000) are designed for Grades 5-12. These guides will take you deeper than you ever dreamed you'd go, but the learning is so lively, so personal, and so incremental that the students hardly realize all they've absorbed until the truths begin to meld in their hearts. The depth of commentary and topics increasingly advances as the series progresses, so your graduating seniors are fully prepared to understand and minister to the needy world they are inheriting. Younger siblings can often tag along (see further discussion of this below), and though the commentary and ThinkWrite exercises are deeper in these upper guides, the reading lists include all the book titles for the younger set as well. These upper TruthQuest History guides can be used by non-Americans as well, for all are interested in ancient and medieval/Renaissance history…and the three final guides (Age of Revolution I, II, and III) on the years 1600-2000+, cover both American and European history (60-40 split, usually). We try to mention a couple key events in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand when possible, as well.
This is a question we're often asked, so we'll put sample answers right here. There are many factors to consider, but the most important step is to seek God's will for your family! He knows each of your children, their unique needs now, and the learning required for their future.
Many families find that their younger children tag along quite well with their older siblings in our world history guides (for Grades 5-12). It is always amazing how much young children can pick up as they follow along with older siblings who need to study world history before graduating. Just be certain your younger children have the spiritual maturity to handle the more complex and sometimes darker topics covered by the older students, which often yield lessons on what not to do! Let's get more specific however….
"Can my younger children use your ancient history guides? If I have older children in these upper guides, can my young ones tag along?"
Of course, everyone can do our Beginnings guide together, for Creation and the Old Testament can be understood by all. After that, it is important to consider at what age your young child should first learn about the pagan cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, and at what depth. Please remember that the focus of TruthQuest History is the spiritual root of each era. The pagan cultures elected to create their own spiritual belief system, which we call their mythology. We do address this mythology in our guides, but not as an entertaining, academic, or "famous" story collection. Rather, our probing is for an uncovering of the culture's Big 2 Beliefs: what did the ancient Greeks, let's say, believe true about God, and what, as a result, did they believe true about mankind? Their government, art, science, literature, social structure, and philosophy all grew out of those Big 2 Beliefs, out of their worldview. The question, then, may be whether your young child is capable of this analytical look at Greek beliefs, or will he be spiritually confused if he hears mythology only as adventurous stories? Families with both older and younger children can, of course, feel free to cautiously include the youngsters in studying ancient history as God directs, and many, many families have successfully and enjoyably done so. Other families decide to have their younger children wait to study the ancients until they are older, and instead put their (American) children into our special "American History for Young Students" series.
"My children are widely spaced in Grades 2, 4, and 8. Should I keep them together, and if so what guides should I use? If I put them into two groups, is it difficult?"
Let us first say again that it is the direction of the Lord which should decide this question! Families have done every possible combination. We will simply add a few thoughts to consider. The overall history plan for most families is to get the eldest student through world history before graduation, and the younger ones tag along just fine. On the other hand, if there is a very large age gap, if the eldest student must move quickly through history in order to complete his studies, or if the topics being studied by the eldest student are consistently too difficult/mature for younger siblings, it may be easier and wiser to let the older student study world history more independently and put the younger children in the "American History for Young Students" guides. This often works well for three reasons: 1) older students often need the opportunity to practice self-directed study before college and/or adulthood, especially if Mom realizes she has been afraid to let them go; 2) older students are often held back in depth and pace unnecessarily while Mom juggles the needs of both older and younger siblings; and, 3) it can often be 'time' for the younger students to get the same focused attention their elder siblings received when young, and to have their chance to enjoy the fun topics, books, and activities of American history best suited to their precious young age. Surely, some families do not want two topics being studied by two groups of children, but it may help to realize that even this is easier than the traditional textbook method, which has each child in his own era. If the older student is quite independent, the parent's time investment is almost exclusively in the younger set.
Keep in mind, though, that our "American History for Young Students" guides are designed to run parallel with the "Age of Revolution" guides that cover American (and European history) at the upper level. If your elder student is in the Age of Revolution guides, then, you can either have the young ones tag along directly in those "Age of Rev" guides (you would need to re-phrase some of the commentary and omit certain topics), or you can have your young'uns working in parallel fashion (with commentary suited to their young age) in the companion "American History for Young Student" guides. This brings us to our next question…
"My older students are doing the 'Age of Revolution' guides. Should I include my younger children as well, or put them in the parallel 'American History for Young Students' guides?"
You're right, the three "American History for Young Students" guides do cover the same time periods as the three "Age of Revolution" guides, only the latter is for older students and thus also includes European history (about a 60/40 mix). All we can say is that there are TruthQuest History families doing it both ways. Since the "Age of Revolution I, II, and III" guides include all the book recommendations listed in the "American History for Young Students" series, we've tried to help you work out of one guide. The "Age of Revolution" commentary and topic coverage is much more advanced, however. Some families find it easy to rephrase this advanced commentary for their younger students, and they simply skip or simplify the complex issues of European topics. Others families, though, find this difficult to do since the commentary these younger students hear is then less connected. These families put their elementary children in the "American History for Young Students" guides and let our commentary do the work of explaining history's issues to the youngsters at their own level, and with smooth connections. Just remember that your young children will have a chance to do the "Age of Revolution" guides at the end of their own high school career. The choice is yours! To help you decide, you may wish to purchase both guides, and return the young student guide if you deem it unnecessary. (Returns are allowed for a full refund, less shipping, within 30 days of purchase if the guide is in mint, resaleable condition.)
"I have two children, ages 11 and 13. We want to study American history. Since both your 'American History for Young Students' series (Grades 1-5) and 'Age of Revolution' series (Grades 5-12) cover American history, which should I use? One of my children is on the grade-level cusp, this is our first time visiting the topic, and I'm not sure what depth I'd like to pursue."
Because both our "American History for Young Students" series and our "Age of Revolution" series (the deeper guides designed for older students covering both American and European history in an approximately 60/40 mix) cover American history, we are often asked this question. Here is a sample answer:
"Your question is a good one, and we pray God guides you clearly. That said (and meant!), we throw out some points for your prayerful consideration.
It can be helpful in such situations to step back a bit, and get a sense of the overall plan, especially for the eldest child who will be graduating in just five short years. He will then be head-to-head with the issues, challenges, and needs of the greater world. What do you think God would have you do to prepare him through history studies?
As far as TruthQuest History is concerned, our final guide in the upper world history series−Age of Revolution III: America/Europe, 1865-2000−purposely pursues that entering-the-world-so-be-ready-to-understand-and-minister goal. It is a great place to end one's history career. Backing up from that point, then, it would be ideal to spend the last five years of your student's history studies preparing for that grand finale, because it is when a student runs the course of history from the early stages to the latter stages that he can most clearly see the continued hand of God, and see the tremendous cause-and-effect nature of a culture's spiritual beliefs as they play out in that nation's government, art, science, economy, literature, etc. Furthermore, your student will then see how the actions of both God and man have built toward the present day.
The schedule would look something like this:
Your 11-year-old could run this course with the elder sibling. In fact, many students purposely begin their world history run right at that age. When your elder student graduates, your younger child would have two more years to revisit the earliest epochs of history while at a more mature age. This, also, is excellent preparation.
However, you said that your plan is to study American history at this time. To offer input on your question−whether to use the "American History for Young Students" (AHYS) or "Age of Revolution" (REV) series−brings us again to the question of long-range plans. If your elder student will not have time to cover American history again before graduation, he/she should probably do the REV guides now. They are critical for adult preparation, as stated earlier. If you intend to begin your run of chronological world history next year, ending with the REV guides at the end, then you would first have one year of lighter history time which could be enjoyably spent in the AHYS guides. While the commentary in these guides is written for elementary students (Grades 1-5), the commentary does gradually get meatier as the AHYS series progresses, and we include in our booklists anything that can be read by a fifth grader. There are, therefore, oodles of books appropriate for Grades 5-12!
You're welcome to purchase both guides, and return which ever you'd rather not use (Return Policy). That way, you can pore over both while making your decision. We hope that helps!"
"How do I talk with my teenagers about switching to TruthQuest History? I let them decide which curriculum they use because I hated having material shoved down my throat in school. But they oppose almost all of my suggestions!"
In answer, we share from a letter written by Michelle Miller Howard to a dear mom with just that question...
Establish an Overall Plan —
Especially if beginning TruthQuest History with older students, it is ideal to seek the Lord for His overall long-range plan for your children's history studies. How many years do you have left with your child (see sample schedules further below), and how many historical eras is he/she to study before graduation? It is usually ideal to complete a full run of ancient and western civilization, from Creation to the present day. Furthermore, we urge you to make the completion of the final guide in the series (Age of Revolution III: America/Europe, 1865-2000) an achievable reality, because it provides crucial preparation for students about to enter the adult world. It readies them to fully understand the thinking of their future neighbors and co-workers, and to respond effectively with ministering truth.
Of course, most families have multiple children, but even then, most plan around the needs of the first child to graduate, while the younger siblings follow along. This usually works well since the younger students can−after the eldest's graduation−revisit the first eras studied when young. If there is a large gap between the children, however, we do make particular suggestions: How to place multiple children.
Determine a Yearly Pace —
Once you know how many years you have left, and what historical periods you need to cover, you can determine your yearly pace. Once you know your yearly pace, you can divide by the number of topics in the guide (numbered in the guide's Table of Contents) to determine your weekly/daily pace. Most families−at least those with plenty of time left in their children's school careers−spend a full year doing each TruthQuest History guide, but you may need a quicker pace. It has been done many, many times. In fact, some families like to rotate through all of history in a four-year cycle, so they move through the TruthQuest History guides quite quickly. For a glimpse at the many ways real TruthQuest History families schedule their days and years, see: TruthQuest History families share.
You may wish to look at the sample long-range plans (just below) which are based on a varying number of years to finish the full history cycle. You can customize these schedules as needed if you've already covered particular eras of history.
Multi-Year Planning: "American History for Young Students" series (Elementary)
If you have elementary students doing the "American History for Young Students" series, planning is a snap! Since the three guides in this series are designed for Grades 1-5 (actually, "American History for Young Students III: 1865-2000" is best for Grades 1-6), simply finish the three volumes by the end of Grade 5 or 6. This is true whether you start at Grade 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5! If starting in the later elementary grades, though, you will probably want to do just the first one or two "American History for Young Students" guides to get a sense of the essence of America's founding and growth. When your student is finishing his high school career, he/she will again be revisiting American history (only at a much deeper level), and can then learn anything in regard to modern American history missed earlier.
Remember, the "American History for Young Students" series is designed for gentle, relational learning. Feel free to set a leisurely pace. Follow some 'bunny trails' of interest within reason. Take advantage of special seasons or events. Plan family vacations, if you can, to visit topics of study. Above all, do not stress. Our warm commentary and yummy book recommendations will lead to memorable hours of reading, talking, discovery, and play, so we certainly hope you parents can participate to some degree in this foundational history experience with your children!
Just one word of caution. Do keep moving along in the "American History for Young Students" series. Completing the series by Grade 5ish means your child's time in our main world history guides (ideally beginning in Grades 6ish through Gr. 12) will not be rushed. Dawdling too much now−because you're having such fun−could create problems if your student is later forced to hurry through the crucial upper levels of history. You'll want to enjoy them all in peace! (If you do begin later, just choose one of our more concentrated sample schedules below.)
New to homeschooling? Don't fret! Some of this discussion is far beyond the planning scope of a young mother just beginning to teach her first little student. For those of you in that dear season of life, simply jump into "American History for Young Students I" and enjoy! Leave this planning talk for later years when you have many children and many schedules to consider! You'll be a seasoned veteran by then, and will actually enjoy this chatter!
Multi-Year Planning: Junior High and Senior High —
Be sure to move at a pace which guarantees your children time to finish the series. That way, they're sure to cover recent history (probed in our final guide, "Age of Revolution III"), which is essential to their preparation for the adult world and the issues they'll face therein. As mentioned above, younger siblings can often progress with the oldest child through the plan. They can then cycle back to the beginning of history for their last high school years, learning at a much deeper level the material they first covered when so much younger. Please feel free to review our detailed discussion of this topic at: How to place multiple children.
While it is good to have a long-range plan, don't agonize over what your five-year-old will be doing twelve years from now. God will guide, you will gain experience, and your child will grow and mature. These are just supportive guidelines, not binding protocols!
Option 1 (focus on history from "crossroads" forward, plus foundation of Beginnings)
Option 1 (focus on history from "crossroads" forward, plus foundation of Beginnings)
It is rarely feasible to cover several epochs in one year using TruthQuest History, though we have seen it done at a very rapid pace (with the TQH commentary and one spine being read from each TQH guide). We recommend that you do Beginnings during "Bible time," as a crucial foundation, if possible, and then either, for "history time," select one TQH guide, especially "Age of Revolution III," or that you simply read four intensely insightful books (available through most homeschool suppliers, Christian bookstores, and church libraries):
*(When planning for students with just one, two, or even three years available to study history, parents will need to confidently decide which topics to study and which to omit. Please note that you can move through the guides more quickly by relying most heavily on "spine" books, rather than a multiplicity of topic-specific books.)