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Teaching History Stage by Stage

With all of the options available to homeschool parents these days, it can be difficult to know what the best curriculum avenue is for teaching history in each stage and grade. Here are some tips to help you determine the best choices for your child.

Starting Out

Preschool - 1st Grade

These years are perfectly suited to a social studies approach, learning about people groups, cultures, and the idea that the way people live changes over the course of time.

  • Introduce the concept of a timeline, and begin writing events from read-alouds on your timeline.
  • Read books that explore how people lived across various stages of history and in various cultures both past and present. Discuss how that compares to how we live today.
  • Learn basic map skills, including the continents and oceans.
  • Teach your child to identify your own city or town, state/province/region, and country.
  • Play games from different countries.
  • Try foods from different countries.
  • Read favorite folktales from various cultures.
  • Learn how other cultures celebrate familiar holidays. Also, learn about some of the holidays other nations celebrate that we do not.
  • Read, read, and read some more! Explore a wide variety of picture books introducing children to various stages of history, from ancient Egypt and biblical times to modern day.

Getting Excited

2nd - 4th Grade

In this stage, move from a wide open introduction to a more focused approach to history.

  • Explore cultures through missions support. Learn about current missionaries. Read missionary biographies. Pray through updates from various missionary organizations or use books that guide you through praying for unreached people groups or cultures.
  • Continue age-appropriate map studies.
  • Continue adding to your timeline, using information from your history, reader, and read-aloud books.
  • Instead of learning facts and dates, continue the cultural focus begun in the early learning years. Explore how people lived, their religious beliefs, inventions and discoveries from each group, building styles, and how these cultures interacted with one another.
  • This is a great time to explore how biblical history fits in with extra-biblical world history.

Beginning to Understand

5th - 8th Grade

During this stage, children naturally begin to make connections between what they learned through games, projects, and picture books in the Getting Excited stage and specific dates and prominent events scattered throughout history. This stage also serves as a bridge between the general learning style of the early learning and elementary years and the more focused, reasoning-centered learning of the high school years.

  • Continue utilizing maps and your timeline in all studies to reinforce time frames, locations, and the ways events overlap and interconnect.
  • Be more intentional about focusing on one region or portion of history. For instance, spend one year each focusing on ancient history, general world history after ancient times, American history, and recent history.
  • Continue with age-appropriate map skills, learning the states and capitals, major geographic landmarks, and major regions of the world.
  • Continue to explore missions efforts around the world and pray for missionaries.
  • Use biographies to learn about prominent people from history, recording their names and dates in the timeline. Make sure to know when and how they fit into the overall scope of history being studied.
  • Intersperse nonfiction accounts of history with living books such as biographies and historical novels.
  • Teach the basics of research by encouraging your student to dig more deeply into areas of particular interest.
  • Begin to teach your student how to process current event stories and articles.

Learning to Reason

9th - 12th Grade

In this stage, your student will transition from accumulating knowledge and understanding its significance to processing a personal response to information. This is the time when your student will explore how history has formed the world in which he now lives and formulate how his beliefs and responses to history, culture, and current events help him fit into and interact with society.

  • Continue to actively utilize your timeline.
  • Continue to pursue age-appropriate map skills, including world nations and capitals, major landforms, and other major physical features.
  • Explore how geography has affected and continues to affect the establishment and advancement of cultures.
  • Dig into the factors leading up to various major wars throughout history.
  • Study church history from the time of Christ through modern day.
  • Study the founding of the US government and explore how the implementation of that government has changed over the course of US history.
  • Study the evolution of economics and its impact on culture and society.
  • Discuss major events and important people of the Renaissance.
  • Explore how philosophical thought has impacted cultural shifts throughout the various cycles of history.

With five kids in their teen and early adult years, Rebecca shares the many ups and downs of parenting, homeschooling, and keeping it all together. As the Well Planned Gal she mentors women towards the goal of discovering the uniqueness Christ has created in them and their family and how to best organize and plan for the journey they will travel.

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