No Two Students are Alike: How to Teach History in YOUR Home School
The decision to homeschool our kids is one fraught with challenges and perils, both seen and unforeseen.
If your head isn’t already spinning with grammar rules and math concepts, just give it some time. You’ll get there…And that overwhelmed feeling only tends to get worse when the subject of history is dumped onto the pile.
It doesn’t scream with rhyme or reason. It isn’t organized. What’s the point of the subject in the first place? And how do you teach it to 2, 3, 5, 7 kids at the same time?
That’s what I wanted to talk about here. How to teach history in YOUR homeschool setting.
This Strange Subject Called History...
It’s no secret that individual interest in history (from both the educators and the educated alike) is one of the most hotly debated topics in the academic world.
It seems like everyone loves it or hates it.
And I get it. As a history lover, I look at the subject and think to myself, “If the goal here is to memorize names and dates, then I would be out in a second. All done. No thank you!”
The good news I have for you today is that IT’S NOT!
History as a subject is extremely unique. It possesses invaluable teaching tools like moral lessons and consequences for actions. It also shows God’s hand at work from one end of the timeline to the other!
But while I love the subject of why we teach history, I’m here to talk about how we teach it.
Before we move on, though, here’s an article I wrote a while back for Hip Homeschool Moms about what we’re trying to accomplish when we teach history.
How to Teach History to Different Students
Let’s start off by defining “different students.” Some of the differences we can find in a typical homeschool setting include:
From kindergarten to 12th grade, homeschool parents are constantly juggling those age differences as we teach.
Johnny likes to play outside, Jimmy likes to read books about space, Molly likes to dress up and play make-believe, etc…
From kinesthetic to auditory and visual learners, few kids naturally enjoy textbooks.
I work for the educational publisher Home School in the Woods, and we’ve gotten tons of feedback on how difficult it can be to seamlessly teach a student struggling with autism or dyslexia along with everyone else.
There’s a good sampling. There are other factors at work as well. You’ve probably got a few in mind even as you’re reading this!
So, the big question: How do we teach such a diverse group of students a subject as “nuanc-y” as history?
One option is to go out and get a history curriculum for each student. You can even tailor it to their learning styles and ages. The problem? Where on earth are you going to find the time (or money!) to understand and then teach several different curriculums just to cover your history studies?
It’s just not a practical solution for a busy homeschool parent.
Find a History Curriculum that Adapts to YOU
That’s where I’ve found getting a curriculum that has been built with diversity in mind can be invaluable.
Take, for example, Home School in the Woods’ Project Passport world history series or their Time Travelers American history series.
Note: Of course, I’m going to use an example that I’m used to, but all you have to do is apply these concepts to whatever curriculum you choose to go with!
Both of these history series are designed to meet the needs of ALL of your students at once, incorporating kinesthetic, auditory, and visual elements like timelines, notebooking pages, lap books, maps, recipes, and other projects right in along with the spine of text.
It also comes in digital form, enabling you to pick and choose exactly what parts each student should be doing and not forcing them to go through the whole study regardless of their interest in a particular craft or project.
It literally allows you to do history all together, enabling you to tailor the study to each student’s strengths and meeting them where they are in their learning journey.
And that’s exactly the kind of attitude we need to keep in mind when teaching history in a homeschool setting. We can’t get lost in forcing memorization work or become overwhelmed by too many curriculum options.
Whether you use Home School in the Woods or someone else, please, Please, PLEASE look for a curriculum that enables you to teach history to your children’s strengths while at the same time not overwhelming you as the teacher.
Teach History Together but Separately
So, remember, the goal here is to simplify your workload by learning history as a group, while simultaneously tailoring it to each of your kids (er, I mean students…) in a style that helps them thrive.
Trust me, if the observations I’ve made during my time at Home School in the Woods mean anything, the first time you sit down to teach all of your kids at once with this kind of an approach, you’ll be blown away by the results!
Learn More About Our History Series
Leave text books and workbooks aside and bring your child right into the adventure of U.S. history with hands-on projects in every lesson!
Pack your bags and grab your passport – take a trip through world history and discover cultures at another era of time!
About the Author
Jaron Pak is a Christian, a freelance writer (who loves his Oxford commas), and the chief marketing manager for Home School in the Woods, a publishing company that focuses on providing hands-on history resources for educators teaching students of all ages. Jaron is a very happy husband to Jenessa and a father to Esther, Jedediah, and Rebekah. He lives in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse in Upstate NY that he and his wife restored, where he likes to read and write about history, education, coffee, marketing, philosophy, and anything else that’s worth knowing. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.