I didn’t enjoy history at all when I was in school. But I love history with my homeschool kids.
The way we do history is really simple, and easy for a homeschooling mom. Instead of each individual kid doing their own history curriculum, we all sit down together and learn history – including me! One reason I do this is because when you’re homeschooling multiple children, you don’t have time for everyone to do their own thing all the time. Math they obviously have to do alone because they are at very different skill levels, but some subjects (like science and history) lend themselves well to group study.
We use Susan Wise Bauer‘s Story of the World books. Susan Wise Bauer has written several excellent books about education and even has a couple of books on history for adults. She is a proponent of the Classical homeschool. While I’m not following a Classical style curriculum, I still like these books for a number of reasons.
One, they teach history chronologically.
That is the only way to do history that makes any sense at all to me. Why do kids in public school learn about United States history first? As if the U.S.A. is the center of the universe? How do they understand the people and the situations that led to the “founding” of this country if they don’t understand all the stuff that came before?
Second, the books are written from a Christian perspective which I consider a plus, but doesn’t teach doctrine. Teaching doctrine is my job.
Third, I find the books are written in simple, clear language so that I can teach history to the 6 year old, 8 year old and 10 year old without anyone getting bored or it being too difficult.
I figure that traditionally, history was taught orally, passed down from one generation to the other. So when we sit down to do history, we read a section of the book together, then discuss it.
I highlight any vocabulary words and ask the kids what the meaning is, which they’re almost always able to tell me, from the context of the story.
The Story of the World series also has activity books available that you can use if you wish. These would be great for older kids who might want more challenge. I think it would be very easy to supplement the books with extra activities of your own design.
For example when doing the chapter on the First Nomads from Volume One, you could check out books from the library and read more about nomads. You could eat a paleo diet for a week, relying on foods that are in season or that you can kill locally. (Hey why not?!)
My oldest has already completed the first book: The Story of the World: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor and has started on Volume Two: The Middle Ages. But he sits in on the lessons in Volume 1 with his siblings for a review.
He really enjoys these books and will sit and read them for bedtime stories without any prompting from me. That is a good sign, no?
How do you do homeschool history?
::Updated August 2011::
We still use Story of the World and love it. My oldest doesn’t do history with us, however, as his comprehension level is so far ahead of the two middle kids.
After reading the lesson by himself, I give him the test out of the Text and Answer Key. The younger kids go through the activities and questions from the Activity Book with me after we read the lesson aloud together.