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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Veritas Press

Veritas Press Review
Veritas Press began as two parents trying to provide the best education possible for their children.  They desired to teach a classical education, teaching history chronologically and integrating Biblical history and events with history not found in Scripture.  Their curriculum began with Bible Flashcards and Veritas Press History and now with changes in technology has grown to include online self paced history courses.  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we have recently had an opportunity to use and review Veritas Press Self Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation along with the Middle Ages, Ren, and Ref Flashcards.

Veritas Press Grammar School Self Paced History Courses are designed to allow students to complete the lessons at their own pace.  When you purchase a course, you are given a full year to complete it.  How many days per week or lessons per day is completely up to you.  You can schedule vacations and start back up on the course when you return.  The courses are online so they can be accessed by any computer.  You do need to have Flash installed on your computer (it is free), pop ups allowed on the site, and a minimum internet speed of 768 kbps is recommended.  You can read more about these requirements here.
The Grammar School Self Paced History courses are recommended for students in grades 2-6th.  There are 32 historical events studied in each course over 160 class periods.  Lessons last from 30-60 minutes.  Every 5th lesson is a test.  The lessons are taught by interactive videos, games, quizzes, mapping questions, video footage, and even talking historical characters.  There are 5 different courses available: 

Old Testament and Egypt
New Testament, Greece and Rome
Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation
Explorers to 1815
1815 to Present

Each course costs $199 to register one child and they offer a sibling discount of $100 off.

To compliment the course and help students learn the different events in their course, Veritas Press offers flashcards to go with each of their courses.  Each set of  flashcards can be purchased for $19.95.

I chose the Self Paced Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation course because that is the period of time we were planning on studying this next school year.  My 7,8, 10, and 12 year olds have been using the course.  They all watch the videos together and take turns playing the different games and answering the questions.  My 12 year old has been taking the tests.  We completed 3 lessons per week.  

Our lessons began with St. Augustine converting to Christianity.  There are 31 other important historical events covered in this course including:

Barbarian Invasion and Vikings
St. Jerome Completes the Vulgate
The Council of Chalcedon
St. Benedict and Monasticism
Justinian the Great
Mohammed and Islam
Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, and Charlemagne
Alfred the Great
Otto the 1st and the Holy Roman Empire
The East-West Schism
The Feudal System
William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings
Cathedrals in Europe
The Crusades
St. Francis of Assisi
The Magna Carta
St. Thomas Aquinas
Marco Polo
The Hundred Years War, The Black Death, and Joan of Arc
The Great Papal Schism
John Wycliffe and John Huss
Fall of Constantinople to Mohammed II
Gutenberg Prints the Bible
The Renaissance
The Inquisition
Martin Luther Begins the Reformation
Ulrich Zwingli and the Anabaptists
The Act of Supremacy
The Council of Trent
John Calvin and the Institutes
John Knox, the Scottish Reformer

When the possibility for this review came up, I ran the computer test on the course website (you can find it here) and as expected my speed came back under the recommended numbers.  We live in the country and have VERY slow internet.  I was very interested in this review however and tried to watch some of the samples.  They loaded a little bit slow but after that ran fine.  I was so excited!  During the weeks that we have been working on it, we have had times that we had to pause the videos and let the load for a few minutes before starting them, but other than that have had no problems.  I am sharing this in case there are others out there like me who do not have access to high speed internet and may be interested in these courses.  Play the samples and see how it works for you.

I  love that the Self Paced History Courses can be used completely by the children without any needed help or teaching  from me!  Since it is a review, I did watch many of the lessons with the children but they could do everything on their own including logging in and starting the lesson.  They cannot skip any of the slides unless they have seen them already so there are no worries that your child is rushing through the lesson and missing anything important.  They have to complete the whole course.  If they want to repeat a lesson or activity they can do that without going through the whole lesson again.  They love the interactive format of the lessons, especially the characters.  The games and puzzles are a lot of fun.  My boys especially liked Augustine soccer and the Viking boat game. I like that there is review from previous lessons woven throughout the course.  We enjoy seeing photos of real places that we are learning about in the course such as the picture of a cave when we were learning about Jerome translating the Vulgate in a cave near Bethlehem.  We love the mapping exercises. 

The flashcards are beautiful and a great resource for the children to look over during the lessons and to use as a refresher before they take the tests.  Each of the flashcards has a picture on the front with the key terms for that event and the dates and important information taught about that even in the lessons on the back along with the resources the information was obtained from.

The only thing the boys have not liked is the review song.  There is a song that is played in every lesson that goes over each of the important events that you learn throughout the course.  I think that it is a useful memory tool (I know it gets stuck in my head!) but they really do not like it at all.  Since they cannot skip any part of the lessons they do have to deal with it and listen to it anyway and hopefully it will serve its purpose.
Parents can see at a glance how their children are doing and how many lessons they have completed.  We are not a family that puts any emphasis on tests or grades, but I know that some families do.  If a child gets a low score on a test, they can retake it, but it does not change their score if they do better.  That may make a difference to those out there who give their children opportunities to improve their grades be redoing the work.  In these self paced courses, whatever the test score is the first time they take it, it sticks.

In addition to the Grammar School Self Paced courses, Veritas Press also offers Self Paced Omnibus I for ages 12 and up.

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