I often hear people say that they think history is boring or their kids can’t stand it because its’ dry and irrelevant. After years of teaching I am convinced that people often don’t like a subject because of a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the material. In this post I’d like to give you some tips and pointers about how to teach and enjoy history!
One of the most fundamental things you can do to develop an appreciation of the importance of history is to create a timeline. There are many ways to do this- in notebooks, on the wall, creating a foldable file folder. It can be as simple as drawing a horizontal line across your area and then using tick marks vertically by centuries. When an interesting date, person, event comes up, write them in where appropriate. You can use colored pencils or pens to show an event versus a person, print off small pictures, buy beautiful timeline cards, or create your own. We’ve memorized timeline cards from both Veritas Press and Classical Conversations. They are slightly different and don’t include everything, of course, and have 180 cards in their complete decks. We’ve memorized them and I will admit that the first 180 events and people are challenging to nail down. But once you do, you have a great framework to build on and the next 180 people and events are much easier to memorize and before you know it you’ll have literally hundreds of people, places and events memorized. This is a simple but profound thing, because they have immediate recall when conversing about ancient, medieval history as well as current history allows you to move on to the what and why of an event. Check out this article on how and why to memorize a timeline.
Choose an Engaging Program
Choose an engaging history program. We have loved Story of the World, have read the books and listened to the CD’s countless times and have moved on to the History of the World series, all by Susan Wise Bauer. She is a consummate historian and brings in information from around the world. My sons understanding of the Old Testament really blossomed after he read SWB’s History of the Ancient World (though it is definitely high school level material and not for the faint at heart). We’ve also loved the Famous Men series by Memoria Press, History of Mystery, Beautiful Feet, various literature units and have read hundreds of historical fiction books out- loud and in our own personal reading- you can find some amazing history reads through Bethleham Books, books by G.H.Henty, Veritas Press and Sunlight catalogs.
Find some good magazines that you enjoy that will bring history to your home in bite sized pieces every month. Some magazines that we have subscribed to regularly that bring history to life; Biblical Archeology Review (from a secular perspective, but very scholarly and thoughtful discussion) and Artifax (Christian point of view) as well as National Geographic, which we intermittently subscribe too, but we have many, many old copies. Both BAR and Artifax deal with biblical research and archeology, brining Biblical (and by association Ancient history) research to life in a real, scholarly and exciting way.
Check out web-sites that allow you to see what’s happening now in the field of history. Eliat Mezer, in Israel is doing some ground-breaking (literally) work in Israel, as she unearths Kind David’s temple. If you want to learn about history, and the story of Judaism and Christianity at well, follow her blog. She is an amazing women, who uses the Old Testament to inform her professional life as an archeologist!
Speaking of church history (because the point of all history is Truth), Memoria Press’s church history programs for high school are not to be missed. We’ve used their high school program for our Morning Basket time (c’mon, even teens love gathering together to read, discuss and learn!) and we’ve had to really discipline ourselves time-wise or we’ll just spend the day reading, talking, looking up sites on maps and discussing this fascinating, close to our heart subject!
Put on a Show!
Don’t forget about narration, recitation and theatrical performance to really cement history. Our kids have done numerous historical re-enactments, recitations and full-blown plays over from everything from George Washington to Shakespeare. Memorizing information causes you to think really deeply about the information and once memorized, the person owns those words and ideas. Memorizing is highly overlooked and a teaching tool that I cannot say enough great things about.
True North Homeschool Academy Live on-line History Classes!
You might have noticed by now, but history is really important to me and my family and we invest time into learning it. That’s why I am super excited to share with you our amazing team of history teacher at True North Homeschool Academy; Jeff Burdick, Cindy Brumbarger, Gus Henebry. Each of our teachers has a amazing in-depth view of the importance of history. We are offering Constitutional Studies (with a Clep prep component), Western Civilization II, Government & Economics and a Classics Club (Ancient History) Our courses and clubs are designed to impart a love and appreciate for the subject matter, giving students a firm grasp on the time studied and their part in the beautiful historical timeline of humanity.