Homeschool History How-to

homeschooling historyHistory is definitely one of those subjects that I love to teach. In fact, we love it so much in our homeschool that we usually do a family trip around what we study for history. I believe history is a subject that shows forth the amazing grace of God throughout the ages. To me history is just that… HIS story! Even though we see man fail, triumph, win, and lose… throughout it all we can see God’s hand.

As we look at learning history in the homeschool, however, there are many great ways to teach this subject and instill a love of history into your children. Here are just a few methods that work great for teaching homeschool history.

1) Literature study – this method involves getting as many good books as you can on the subject that you are studying and read this books together, or separately if your student is in highschool

2) Time Line – this method is great if you are wanting to study the history of the world since the beginning. Using a master time line – one that you can put up around your school room or your child’s room is very effective!

3) Using a pre-made history curriculum. You can find these in a variety of methods. This is often the easiest to begin with. You can use this to “get your feet wet” and then jump into your own ideas as you feel more confident.

4) Notebooking is probably my very favorite method to teach/learn history. We use this in conjunction with other methods, but it is very effective in helping the student remember what they have learned!

5) Unit Study is a great way to learn about history while incorporating all your favorite learning methods into one. You can use literature study in your unit study while you base it all on a notebooking approach. The unit study simply means that you are studying one section of history in depth for a set amount of time.

There are, in fact, a few really great free homeschool history curriculum offerings out there. One I just recently found is the Guesthollow American History. If you have older students, there are several great free history curriculum offerings for High Schoolers.

US History – free textbook online

A Biography of America – free online at Annenburg Media

Hippocampus Selection of History Courses for Free – online

FREE MIT History Courses

Below is a graphic categorizing some really great homeschool history curriculum. All of these courses can be purchased through various homeschool book retailers.

homeschool history

Transform Homeschool History from Dusty to Awesome…

Yes, we’ve struggled with history time being a boring subject that the kids asked to skip every day. I love history, and that really drove me crazy. Last year,  I finally sat down and made it a point to find a  curriculum and method that would change that way of thinking.

First, I realized that I had to model good behavior and show my kids that history was and really could be fun. I began by thinking of ways that I could add field trips to our history lessons to bring them to life. I also began using a curriculum that was based on projects. This was a huge success with the kids, because they enjoyed the practical side of making relevant things from history.

Second, I realized that I had to find a fun and engaging way to help them practice their history facts. I started using online history games as well as online geography games. Both of these are pretty fun and enabled the kids to stay interested while learning.

Since we have instituted these new methods of learning history… It has been a whole new ball game! My son even asks to do history!

Using the World As Your Classroom

Taking advantage of the world around us is not something new for homeschoolers. We use our backyards for nature studies and our kitchens as science labs. How about our travels as history lessons? Sure, the best way to learn history is to live or re-enact it. This past week we spent several days reliving what we’ve been studying all year… Colonial History.

We took an opportunity to visit family and turned it into a history field trip. We spent several days in the Williamsburg, VA area putting meat on the bones of the history facts we’ve studied all year. The fact that we did this off season really enabled our children to get hands on quality instruction from the very knowledgeable guides. It was probably one of the best trips we’ve ever taken. In fact, one of my son’s favorite colonial heroes was Patrick Henry. He was enthralled to learn that Patrick Henry was the governor of Virginia and lived there in the governor’s palace in Williamsburg. Later, as we toured the Williamsburg capitol the guide took us to the high court and explained that the governor presided over this court. It was my son’s priveledge to be able to sit in the governor’s chair (Patrick Henry’s at one time…) while the guide presented her history lesson.

What an awesome way to remember history and make it come alive. Making connections to the past enables us to make connections in the application of our knowledge. Use the world as your classroom to make history live… it really works!

It’s a piece of History…

Homeschooling history can be either exciting or the most boring subject you’ve ever studied. Making it exciting is so simple when you find a great curriculum. We have used the Time Travelers curriculum off and on over the years, and since I found one that we hadn’t used on our shelf… we are using it again this year.

We’re studying the American Revolution. The cool thing about it, is that it is all on CD, I simply print the lessons that I am ready to use, and go from there. It also has really awesome projects that correspond to the lessons, and a penmanship or copywork that continues the thought. We do a whole lesson each week, on one single day.

Last week was our first go at it, and it was fun. We were able to study about the origins of our country. The first 13 colonies and the very first colony and capitol of those colonies. We also learned that our own Georgia was the last colony to be established. We learned that the pilgrims came to America solely for religious freedom. They were so dedicated to making sure that they raised their children in a manner that glorified God, that they traveled at peril to their very lives to the New World. Amazing.