Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Focusing on a Biblical Worldview in History with Pathway to Liberty {A TOS Review}

We had the opportunity to try out a different history curriculum for the past several weeks. As I've mentioned before, one of my biggest things I like about homeschooling is the flexibility. Because we can be flexible, we have the chance to try out new materials through the Homeschool Review Crew. Usually we end up supplementing with these products. or substituting electives or trying out a new math or language arts program; however, this time around, we put our core curriculum on hold for several weeks so we could try out Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum. We were able to choose one of four Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum years . As we were already in the process of working our way through the Middle Ages, I thought it was prudent to stay in the same time frame and use Pathway to Liberty's The Middle Ages, which is Year 2. 

In addition to The Middle Ages, Pathway to Liberty offers the following years:
  • Pathway to Liberty's Universal History
  • Pathway to Liberty's US History
  • Pathway to Liberty's World History. 

All of these years are available at four different levels. 

  • Level 1: K5-3rd Grade
  • Level 2: 4th-6th Grade
  • Level 3: 7th-9th Grade
  • Level 4: 10th-12th Grade
The founder of Pathway to Liberty, Jayme MacCullough, created this comprehensive history curriculum so students could learn from a Biblical worldview. Students (and parents) will learn Christian history within the context of the events going on in the world, and they will be able to understand America's founding principles. Even though we are in the Middle Ages year, we have gotten a glimpse as to how America's founding principles came about as we have been studying the Magna Carta. In addition to the history they will learn, they will be working on vocabulary, writing, and geography.

As I have four children who I need to teach together (for my sanity if nothing else) I chose to review the digital curriculum so I could get the different levels I needed. Pathway to Liberty is also available in a Physical format, if you would prefer to have the books in hand and not use up your ink. We have been using Level 1 and Level 2, for which we received both the Student Guides and the Teacher Guides.  There were also additional books required to complete the readings. Thankfully, we owned a few of them and the library had several others. I only had to purchase one additional book, The Magna Charta by James Daugherty. Additionally, we were given a digital copy of Jayme MacCullough's book titled The Chain of Liberty: Do men have a right to think for themselves?, plus we received the Study Guide.

While studying Year 2, students will follow what Jayme MacCullough calls  the "noble stream of liberty." In the beginning of the year, after a couple of weeks studying "Foundations," students will be learning about the Roman Republic & the Heroic Age of the Church, then they will move on to Canon and Conversion (where they learn about Constantine the Great and the canon of the Bible before moving on to take a brief look at Muhammed, Islam, and the Crusades). After that it moves on to the section titled Transforming Nations where students will learn about St. Patrick, Charlemagne, and King Alfred the Great, before moving on to the Magna Charta. The next section is titled Blood & Ink, and it focuses on John Wycliffe plus other reformers for a few weeks. Year 2 concludes by looking at the Age of Exploration.

Level 1 and Level 2 are actually quite similar when it comes to the material studied. There are 26 weekly lessons and four days worth of work per week. Looking through the required books, the main difference is the addition of a couple of picture books on Leif Erickson and Christopher Columbus for Level 1. When it comes to the actual written work, Level 1 students have less to write, usually filling in blanks instead of completely copying out verses and such, plus they don't have quite as many questions to answer. They also have fewer vocabulary words and do not have to do a word study. Level 1 also includes coloring sheets.

Let's take a look at the Student Guide.

Each week starts with a Unit Overview, a Weekly Overview, and Teaching Objectives. Then there is a listing of the Scripture Memory Verse(s), Principle, and Leading Idea. After that you will find the weekly grid that lays out the lessons for all four levels, making it easy to compare which students have to do what.

On the second page of the grid you will find the week's writing options, expanded history reading selections, and vocabulary lists.

The first lesson page is where the children work on the Scripture, Principle and Leading Idea:

As you can see, the younger students are not required to write near as much. However, my children have been writing out memory verses for years, so I did require Hannah and Harold to write out the memory verses.

After this the children will listen to me read from the reading selection or we would watch one of the videos on Pathway to Liberty's YouTube channel, and we will answer the questions together. Sometimes the older girls may work independently, or even help the younger two. We have found that there are times when the children can not figure out the answer. The problem is, there have also been times when I was not sure what the answer was supposed to be. Thankfully, the Teacher Guide has the answers to most of the questions. I would type our answers in a word processing document in large font and allow the children to copy the answers, as if they were copying from a whiteboard. 

I will just note that I did not require the children to answer in complete sentences all the time as there wasn't always room to fit the information. I would say there were definitely times when there needed to be more lines for writing.

We actually had the most difficulty trying to answer the questions in the first section on Foundations. In fact, even though I had wanted to start at the beginning to get this "foundational" material on liberty, after the first week taking so long, I decided we would skip the second week and move on to the period in history closest to what we had been learning about previously in our core curriculum. The pages above are from the study of three important historical figures who went out and transformed nations: St. Patrick, Charlemagne, and King Alfred the Great. We focused on the Seed Principle which talks about a man reaping what he sows, and learned that "God uses men and nations to advance his kingdom." Prior to reading about these men, we had read the picture book, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney and talked about how she went out to make the world more beautiful. 

She scatters lupine seeds, which leads into our lessons on sowing, reaping, and spreading God's Word.

I think we enjoyed what we were learning a lot more when we started learning about these important men, and using the question sheets to make sure we were getting the most out of the stories as we could. Though the children weren't thrilled with having to write out answers to questions, I appreciated knowing they were actually having to pay attention to the story, and by writing the answers they were helping to get that information into their brains.

There were also map pages which the children were supposed to color, but for some reason they were already colored in. However, we still used the maps to learn about such things as the extent of Charlemagne's empire and where the Vikings settled. 

Throughout the week the children also worked on their vocabulary. I would look up the definitions on the online dictionary and we would discuss the meaning, then I would print them out for the children to copy. 

The older children also had the word studies to do. This is where they really dug into a word. I admit, they were not fond of this activity.

And there were also writing exercises related to what we were learning.

When we watched videos, the older children had questions to answer while the younger children sometimes had coloring sheets.

As I have mentioned, along with the Student Guide, we received the Teacher's Guides for both Levels 1 and 2. The overview and weekly grid information are the same as are found in the Student Guides. I have to say, the instructions and answer key information are extremely helpful, especially ensure that we have the answers that the curriculum is looking for. 

Here is a look at the answer key information for the page about Charlemagne that I shared above:

Level 1

Level 2

I admit, I wish there were answers for the tables we are supposed to be filling out while reading The Magna Charta by James Daugherty, because we are all having trouble locating the information we are supposed to be filling in. 

As I mentioned toward the beginning of this review, I also received the PDF download for both The Chain of Liberty written by Jayme MacCullough and the Study Guide that goes along with it. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the email with the links honestly, seeing as this book is used with Level 3 and Level 4, so I didn't think we were supposed to get it. So, while I will not be using it with the children, I hope to find some time to sit down and read it thoroughly myself, perhaps during the summer when I don't have so many other obligations. 

I did want to share a bit about the book. 

After the Introduction, there are two sections to this book. 
  • Language, Principles & Links Pertaining to Liberty
  • The Chain of Liberty
The Chain of Liberty stretches way back to the beginning of time:
  • Creation Link
  • Dawn of Nations Link
  • Moses and the Law Link
  • Church Link
  • Reformation Link
  • First Colonies Link
  • First Constitutional Republic Link
  • Expansion and Erosion Link
  • Restoration Link
This book shows how the links in this chain are connected when it comes to the people, ideas, and events. 

I do wonder if we missed something by skipping ahead in the curriculum to the middle of the Middle Ages. Perhaps, if we had started this curriculum from the beginning of Year 1: Universal History, we would have a clearer view of the way the links all fit together. 

All-in-all, I do like the way this curriculum is arranged. It is so important that children have a clear view of God's hand in history. I love that Pathway to Liberty has a Biblical worldview. I appreciate that we are able to dig deep into the people and events we are learning about, instead of just reading a bit about them and moving on. That said, I am a bit ambivalent when it comes to how I feel about the curriculum. While we spend a week on one person at a time, we then have to sacrifice learning about others who may have also made an impact during these timeframes. I completely understand that there is only so much information you can learn and while one curriculum may teach more in quantity, others may have fewer people and events learned about while going into more detail. 

The children actually did enjoy Pathway to Liberty, though they felt it had a bit more work than they are used to. They were also frustrated when we couldn't figure out the answers to the questions, and Amelia stated she really didn't like having to do the word studies as they were just "too difficult." I know Harold was not fond of having to answer all the questions and would get frustrated. I would say, even though Level 1 is recommended for children in K5 through 3rd grade, it may not be suitable for some kindergartners or first graders. I have mentioned during these past few weeks, to the children and my husband, if I can't figure out the answer to some of these questions, I can't really expect the children to be able to figure them out.

So, while I do feel Pathway to Liberty is a great curriculum, we are returning to the familiarity of our core curriculum. Sadly, Pathway to Liberty just isn't quite the right fit for our family. 

You can find Pathway to Liberty on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about the different Levels and Years of Pathway to Liberty that they reviewed. 

Universal History,  The Middle Ages,  US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews}
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