What is your experience with history?
Did you enjoy it in school?
Did it evade your understanding?
Do you understand history as a sequence of events?
I have a confession. I honestly didn’t think I could teach history because I had such a segmented understanding of only basic events. Often times I would recall them in the wrong order as well.
Basically, I hated history because I struggled with it.
I have only come across a handful of people that love history and feel they can adequately inform their kids on it. This topic seems to be one of the most difficult ones to teach, only second to writing. Over the years, I have tried a number of programs and a number of techniques to teach history but really, the one you use depends on your family but the way you approach the subject you struggle with can make a difference on how well a program works for you.
The biggest thing you can do to help yourself, and in connection your kids, with history is to read ahead in the lessons. This works if you are doing a unit study approach and have library books on it, if you are doing a classical approach and have a spine history book with supplemental reads, or if you are an unschooler and have found some fun and engaging content you will introduce to your kids to explore. Having read the information once through already, when your kids bring up the historical event and want to discuss it with you, you will remember and it will solidify your ability to not only understand the event but to recall the it later.
Do the hands on activities
This may seem like a waste of time to some of you but quite honestly, doing the hands on creative activity with the history lesson will greatly help your understanding and solidify the knowledge in your long term memory. We do our best to make sure that our kids are actually learning history and not just memorizing to brain dump later, why not do the same for ourselves. We read about the event first, then do the hands on activity, then move on to discussing it with our kids. This repeated activation of our knowledge will help us remember better and give us confidence to help our kids.
Reenact the events
With kiddos or with teens this works well for not only their understanding but yours. Children play out what they are trying to understand, whether it’s toddlers playing at cooking, young kids playing at being parents or school aged kids playing out battle scenes. This method does not stop working because we graduate high school. When we play out certain events, our minds are able to wrap around the sequence of events better and how the circumstances may have lead to the event as well. Reenacting a historical event can be as simple or as extravagant as you want it to be. You could just read lines with your kids and be dramatic or you can go the whole nine yards and borrow sheets or what not for costumes. This will help you learn the history as much as it will help your kids.
Finally, remember to bring up what has already been learned repeatedly. Discuss events that had lead up or occurred previously to what you are currently learning about with your kids. Remind them how one kingdom’s fall or success lead to what is happening in the lesson. Discuss how previous cultures of the area affected the outcomes of certain empires or trades. What ever you have learned or remember as being relevant bring up in discussion and refresh yours and your kids’ memories.
It’s ok if you have trouble with history
No matter what you experience has been with history, whether you had a good teacher, curriculum that jumped around too much or not enough review, you can still teach your children history in a way that they can understand. One of my favorite things about homeschooling my kids is that I get to learn along side of them sometimes. Things I struggled with or, in some cases, never learned, become something we can learn about and bond with each other over. History can be a daunting subject. The number of years that have to be covered. The number of battles and empires to know about. The effects of all of these on how our world grew and became what it is today. This is quite intimidating if you do not feel you were properly prepared but don’t worry about it. There is a way to work around this and make History a trouble no more.
Enjoy the journey
Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we’ve been doing this for 9 years now. I am also a military spouse, so we have the added joys and some of the complications that come with it. As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs, or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.