What if...my child thinks history is boring?
Part 2 of 3
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Go Beyond the Textbook
Last week, we talked about how the approach we take to history can sometimes be boring...at least to our children! Often, it’s more about memorizing facts than unfolding a living, breathing, tapestry of the people and events that continue to affect us today!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a textbook as your history spine. Textbooks are incredibly useful for finding information in an organized format. We encourage you not to stop there, though. Just consider textbooks a tool that you use to guide your approach to the subject—not a tool that guides you!
Choose to approach history in your homeschool based on what catches your child’s interest. It’s going to feel unfocused and narrow at first, but you’ll soon see that history is interconnected—whatever they choose to study WILL connect to the larger tapestry!
If you like Billy Joel, his song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is the perfect example of how people and events in history don’t really change—the story is fundamentally the same and we’re all part of it. And that’s what makes it so incredibly cool!
Consider Your Child’s Interests…
So…did you spend some time this past week thinking how to change up your history game? Did you think about issues or people or events that your child might find interesting?
One way to get started is to consider what kind of books they enjoy reading or movies they like to watch or games they like to play.
Is there a particular historical period that captures their imagination?
Is there an issue that crops up again and again, such as social justice or poverty?
What about a specific historical figure?
Or maybe they just really like technology or communication or medical history?
Take the aspect your child enjoys and run with it!
…And Start Asking Questions!
By focusing on just that narrow interest, you can cover a lot of history by asking “What?” and “Why” and “How?” and then connecting the dots.
For instance, if you have a fashion-conscious child, start asking “What changes in fashion can we see over these decades?” Follow that with “What events pushed those changes?” and “Who was at the forefront of the changes, and why?”
There’s always a REASON why things change—seeking to uncover those reasons is you helping your child see that history isn’t just a list of dates, after all! And you can do this with any person, event, issue, or technological advance—just ask the questions and go searching for the answers! Go online, use the library, listen to music, watch shows—consider sources beyond the textbook as you go exploring for answers.
Once you’ve considered what and who and why, consider how it continues to affect us today. How did what happened then affect how we live today?
Asking the questions and finding the connections is what makes history fascinating!
Don’t Worry About Chronology—Focus on Creating Interest
All of this is to say: Don’t worry about a chronological approach! What you’re going for right now is developing an interest in the vibrant, messy, sometimes uncomfortable, but always-changing and ever-flowing story of history. Focus less on memorizing “when” and more on understanding “what” and “why”!
If you still want to keep some measure of control over the subject, you can identify a time frame, for instance American history from the Colonial Era to the Civil War or medieval Europe or ancient Greece. Within that span, though, let your kids pick what they want to learn about. I guarantee you will touch on more than just the narrow topic they choose!
We’ll talk next time about how to connect the dots and fill the gaps—it’s easier than you think!