We have used a LOT of history programs over the past 15 years. I have never found anything I am completely satisfied with. When we learned about Pathway to Liberty’s History Curriculum from Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy to review!
We selected Year 3 – Pathway to Liberty’s US History and were sent digital downloads of both the student and teacher’s guides for both Level 2 and Level 3, as well as The Chain of Liberty book and study guide.
On Overview of the Structure of Pathway to Liberty History Curriculum
Pathway to Liberty History (PTLH) is a complete history program for K-12 that also includes worldview, geography, Bible, copywork, vocabulary and word studies, writing, literature and more. The material is multi-age and multi-sensory, making it easy to teach multiple children at the same time. I’ve always tried to choose history and Bible programs that my kiddos can do together, but at their appropriate levels. The intent is that each child will study each year multiple times at different levels – going through the cycle 3 times over the course of their school years.
The four year cycle includes:
- Year 1 – Universal history
- Year 2 – Middle Ages
- Year 3 – US History
- Year 4 – World History
The four levels are:
- Level 1 – K-3
- Level 2 – 4-6
- Level 3 – 7-9
- Level 4 – 10-12
Each year consists of 26 weekly lessons taking 4 days each to complete. There are schedules for all 4 levels laid out for each weekly lesson on the first page of both the student and teacher books, as well as a weekly overview and teaching objectives. The teaching objectives give you the main ideas and principles most important to each lesson. Each lesson also includes a scripture passage, the main principle, and a leading idea for the week. These main ideas from each week of study are the same across all levels.
As you can see from the screenshots below, how the material is presented at levels 2 and 3 is slightly different. I have highlighted each day of activities for Level 2 then Level 3 to make it easier for you to compare. There is a seperate chart on the next page for writing, vocabulary, an optional “History Expanded” activities.
Once you get into the material for each level, you will sometimes see a differences in the types of questions asked and the written work assigned. Level 3 questions serve to get the student to dig a bit deeper into what is being learned.
The Principle Approach – some background
A very unique aspect of Pathway to Liberty is that the curriculum takes a principle approach to learning. This is an approach that is not talked about or used very often in homeschool curriculum, which I think is a shame. I learned about the principle approach about ten years ago and really love the ideas behind it, but never really was able to institute this method of learning in a practical way with my children. According to the Foundation for Christian American Education, the principle approach to education is essentially “teaching and learning embedded in and flowing from the knowledge of God through His Word—as opposed to education based in man’s subjective and limited achievements”.
What I really love about this approach to learning is how it is based on seeing a child differently than the world sees him. According to the principle approach:
You can read more about the Principle Approach on the FACE website. I did feel it was important to give you a bit of background so that you would have a better understanding of how this curriculum is structured and the driving force behind it.
Unique Aspects of Pathway to Liberty History
With that little background blurb out of the way, we can dig in to what really makes this program tick and why I was immediately giddy at the prospect of teaching my children US History with PTLH. I want to expand a bit on some of my favorite elements included in the curriculum, rather than just giving you an overview of the program in its entirety, YES PTLH covers all the major historical content. Year 3 – US History covers from the early colonization of North America through the Civil War. Your children will learn about important people in early American history – especially the founding fathers – and how the Bible influenced our constitution in addition to important milestones and events. But PTLH digs deeper, viewing history through the lens of Biblical principles.
The first and, I believe, the most important way this is undertaken is by starting with a strong foundation. The first two weeks of lessons are focused on learning what history really is, what self-government is, and how to complete a word study.
Word studies are a HUGE part of the Principle Approach and I have been doing them for YEARS! I really enjoyed sharing this experience with my kiddos, as it has been a great source of encouragement and understanding for me personally.
Doing a in depth word study as laid out in PTLH is no simple feat, and I wanted the focus to be more on what we could learn from this practice, rather than the amount of work it required from my 11 and 17 year old boys. So we decided to complete our word studies together on the board. I then typed them up and gave them a copy to keep in their history notebooks. I have done word studies that took up several pages of a college-ruled notebook, so I knew the writing part would be an immediate source of panic for them. They got so much more out of it by taking that element out of the picture.
A Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is required for these word studies in addition to a Bible. However, the printed volumes are expensive – around $50 give or take – so we used the online free version. They used their tablets to search the online dictionary and a Bible app to find the scriptures. This method worked out wonderfully! Here is a model and example of how these kinds of word studies are done:
The Spine – The Chain of Liberty
This was the first component of PTLH I read upon receiving my downloads and can I just say WOW!! The purpose of this book and its accompanying study guide is to give a deeper understanding of the founding principles of the United States. As a parent who is extremely patriotic and believes in the preservation of and a return to the America our founding fathers desired to create, I could NOT put this book down.
As the author explains in the introduction, this book contains what Jayme taught in many seminars, with the purpose of helping others to understand the principles of liberty and learn the unrevised history of our nation. In this book, the Chain of Liberty is explained in depth, fostering an understanding of man’s journey from slavery to liberty. Each chapter explores a link of that chain, culminating in a big picture understanding of the meaning behind the events of history.
The ten links in the Chain of Liberty connect subjects, individuals, events, and nations. The links in the chain of history, which are discussed in depth in this book (and in the PTLH curriculum) are as follows…
The Creation Link — Dawn of Nations Link — Moses and the Law link — The Church link — The Reformation link — First Colonies link — First Constitutional Republic link — The Expansion & Erosion link — The World at War link — The Restoration link
You can read more in depth explanations of each of the links on the PTL website here. This book is the backbone for the principles taught throughout the 4 year cycle, and is used for every level and year plan. It is written in a way that simplifies concepts, making them easy to grasp without dumbing them down.
Living Books based yet budget friendly
I absolutely HATE history textbooks. While there are a few engaging history textbooks out there written from a Christian worldview, I have found the majority of these texts to be dry and boring for students (and sometimes even parents)! I prefer to study history from engaging living books that draw you in and keep you interested. There are quite a few wonderful literature/living books based curriculums out there, but in my experience they can be expensive.
Some require you to buy 15-20 books or more just for one level of a year of study. While the book selections are usually awesome and thoroughly enjoyed by my family, buying that many books times two or three children at different learning levels can really kill our homeschool budget.
As you can see from the screenshot above, for levels 2 and 3 I only need to purchase 10 books (not counting The Chain of Liberty book and study guide) for an entire year of study for two children! There is a huge emphasis on using resources that give an age-appropriate summary of primary source documents, which is so important when studying history. Your children are not getting a watered down version of history written with a personal agenda in mind. How many of us grew up thinking the US was a democracy, only to learn as an adult that we are actually a democratic republic (or at least we are supposed to be)?! But I digress…
Survey of Activities and Assignments in PTLH
In addition to word studies and readings from the required resources, your children will reinforce what they are learning with a wide variety of written assignments and projects throughout the year. Included in each student book are discussion questions with space to answer, charts to fill out, drawing/coloring, fill-in-the-blank exercises, map work, writing and research papers, outlining exercises, and notebooking.
In addition to reading assignments, your child will watch YouTube videos almost every week that Pathway to Liberty has gathered and seperated by lesson. These vary in length with some being around an hour long. We chose to sometimes break these longer videos up, taking a little break halfway through.
Our Experience and Final Thoughts
If I could give this awesome curriculum ten stars, I totally would. I am a dedicated “tweaker of curriculum” and I found that this program had everything I wanted in a history study without having to make a lot of adjustments. Our one complaint was the amount of writing required, but this was easily remedied by doing our word studies together and typing them up, and answering some questions orally instead of requiring written work. In our four weeks using PTLH we learned more than we have our entire homeschool career! I am not exaggerating, we discussed concepts, principles and material we have only ever breifly skimmed over before, if at all.
We all agree that PTLH is a great fit for our family and does an excellent job of aiding us in fufilling our homeschool and family mission statements. We WILL continue using PTLH, hopefully for years to come!
Make sure you head on over to the Crew blog to read what other families have to say about this and the other years/levels of Pathway to Liberty History Curriculum!