Homeschooling history was one of the tasks I least looked forward to as a homeschool mom. When I was in school, there was nothing more boring, nor useless, than memorizing lists of names and dates.
I fell in love with history as an adult while reading a historical fiction novel. I was drawn to the people behind the dates and events. I wanted to know which details from the story were true and which ones were untrue. I developed a hunger for historical facts.
When homeschooling history, we must find ways to make the subject come alive for our children. Studying history provides our children with a framework for understanding why the world is the way it is. It also encourages critical thinking, builds character, and helps children develop appreciation for diversity.
Here are some tips for choosing a great homeschool history curriculum. The following are ideas for homeschooling history, geography, civics and government in every day life.
Homeschool History Activities
- Celebrate holidays and talk about how they are celebrated in different countries and time periods. Explore the food, dress and customs of the past.
- Talk about your past and that of friends and neighbors. Look at old photos and mementos, interview family members, study your family's homeland or create a family tree.
- Study people and events, not lists of dates. Read biographies and historical fiction that make your children feel like part of the story. Invest in a set of history encyclopedias to fill in the gaps.
- Watch TV dramas and documentaries that relate to subjects you are studying, or produce a documentary of your own. Dress up and videotape your family as you reenact historical events.
- Study your city's past by touring a historical district or visiting a living history museum. As a related homeschool writing activity, write your city's visitors bureau to ask for brochures and travel guides.
Home School Geography Activities
- Purchase an atlas, globe, compass, U.S. map and world map, and teach your child to use them. Look up the locations of places you've read about or heard discussed on the radio or television.
- Make a map of your room, house, street or neighborhood. Plan a scavenger hunt and show the locations of hidden items on your map.
- Hang a map on your wall and mark the locations of places you've visited. Use a road map to mark the route your family will take on road trips. Document historical facts, landmarks, and other details about your travels in a notebook or journal.
- Follow your child's interests. Collect stamps and coins. Locate birth places and residences of role models and heroes. Follow a sports team's travel schedule. Study the places where favorite hobbies and pastimes origninated.
- Cook food or dress in the attire of other cultures. Study stories, customs, flags, dance, art, nature, employment, religion, games and dolls from other countries.
Ideas for Homeschooling Civics and Government
- Help your child understand the political process. Talk about elected officials and the function they serve in society. Follow a bill through the legislative process.
- Watch debates and track political campaigns. Let your child participate in discussions of politics and current events. Tell him or her which candidates you support and why you support them over others.
- Take a homeschooling field trip. Visit the courthouse, or attend a court trial or appellate hearing. Stop by your representative's office, attend city board meetings, and tour local businesses.
- Have your child volunteer or raise money for a cause. Make calls or write letters to politicians. Start a petition or attend a rally. Teach your child to be active in the community.
- Read the newspaper regularly to find information about current events. Teach your child to examine stories for slant or bias. Look for articles that cover the same issues from an alternate viewpoint.
Memorization has its benefits, but your child is more likely to remember information that is learned within a context. When homeschooling history, help your child memorize factual information by using games, puzzles, audio CD's, poems and other techniques that make learning fun.
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