We finished weeks 1-18 of RTR this year and I wanted to share our wonderful experience with those considering RTR for next year.
I was committed to study history chronologically, but I must admit -- Roman gladiators, knights with swords -- I didn't expect it to be a lady's cup of tea. But of course I knew that my 5th grade ds would enjoy it!
My oldest daughter had previously studied middle history and I had spent mountains of time researching -- I so wanted to add in some of the events of the Bible and the amazing early Christians (now that excites me!). With her, it took me days to locate all the Roman leaders mentioned in the Bible and identify who each of them was. But it was worth it to see how the Bible history was an accurate telling of world history at the time.
Imagine my delight to find that RTR ties in all the Biblical history right where it belongs. You study How the Bible Came to Us (a book I've had for a long time but never known how to use), the conversion and travels of Paul (right from the Bible, not a retelling), the early Christian martyrs & heroes (Trial & Triumph), alongside a look at the world leaders and culture that Jesus lived in. So much of this history is often just erased from history books today.
RTR also covers the rest of the world very thoroughly, including detailing how Islam developed and what Muslim beliefs are, all the while praying specifically for their needs (using Voices of the Martyrs materials). What an essential study for the world ds is growing up in! As I look ahead in my teacher's manual, I see that later in RTR, we will re-visit other major world religions and how they existed alongside a growing Christianity -- resolving any questions about other religions before they are even asked.
We always enjoy the variety of books in MFW, ranging from textbook to Usborne book, and RTR has been no exception. The Genevieve Foster books, taking a sweeping look all around the world, have always seemed a good idea. The first chapters of The World of Augustus Caesar I admit we did skim a bit (battle details), but after that we were fully into the life of Octavian. Ds now knows the history of the Roman empire inside & out, and lately notices things in our modern culture which have roots in the past. After Caesar, we found Story of the World a breezy change of pace. Galen was a very *readable* biography of a scientist, which even mother-in-law enjoyed reading :o) And as someone else already mentioned, God and the History of Art gave a lot of cultural detail to flesh out our "picture" of history.
Ds loves the RTR read-alouds so far -- Bronze Bow, set at the time of Jesus, and Twice Freed, at the time of Paul. At the end of Twice Freed, we took the extra step & read the complete (short) book of Philemon in the Bible; we will never overlook the book of Philemon again!
Our science study of the human body was something that *mom* felt was very educational & important, especially with medical issues in the family this year. And the "facts of life" portion at the end was perfect. What a thorough and well-rounded science study using all the different books! We look forward to starting the Astronomy study next.
Finally, I wanted to mention that this year I realized how much hands-on makes a difference in retention. As I posted earlier, we made the little matchbox bookshelf ( viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2280&p=12364#p12364
) and ds totally changed from never remembering the sections of the Bible, to knowing them out-of-hand. He enjoyed easy, little things like the arch experiment with pennies and the Roman feast (which we did in an absolutely simple, basic fashion). And it has all been totally do-able even during a hectic year for our family. I love how the teacher's manual always has ideas for simplifying, if need be. And the grid points out each segment necessary in a well-rounded education, so I don't neglect pieces here or there.
I will have to add more when we are finished with RTR, but the first 18 weeks have been rich!