April 5, 2010

Learning History....One Option

Scope and Sequence

In our home we’ve chosen to do history chronologically, beginning in Kindergarten. Our schedule looks something like this:
  • Kindergarten: Old Testament/ Ancient Egypt
  • First Grade: Ancient Greece
  • Second Grade: Ancient Rome
  • Third Grade: Middle Ages and Reformation
  • Fourth Grade: Explorers to 1815
  • Fifth Grade: 1815 to present

Then we start all over, getting more detailed and going faster. By the time they graduate high school they’ll have covered the entire scope of history three times.

What are the benefits to this approach? First, things are linear and children have a better understanding of where things belong in history. Traditional schools tend to have almost every year of American History with a couple of World History courses thrown in the mix. Which brings me to a second benefit; they have a larger world view. Everything is not all about the United States. In the scope of the world, we are a young country, barely over two hundred years old. It is good for them to know there is a whole other world out there with different cultures and thoughts. Thirdly, Studying Greece and Rome gives a great foundation for understanding the debate that led to our constitution.

One benefit I do not want to fail to mention is getting to add in church history. When we begin history in Kindergarten, we begin with Genesis. I use the book Stories from the Old Testament which you can locate at the LDS distribution center. We discuss how the cultures and languages developed through the Tower of Babel. We learn about the Jaredites migrating to the Americas at that time. There is nothing like showing them where their Scriptures fit in the world’s story.
Notice, however, that even going through history chronologically like this, the focus is still on western thought and culture. They could go through three cycles of history and barely know China exists. Because of this, every summer my children read A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer. It is easy, fun reading and takes them back through the scope of history, including Asian Cultures. One side note, we are not evolutionists, so we begin that book in Chapter five, entitled “Real History Begins”.

The elementary texts I’ve chosen are a combination of Greenleaf Press’s Famous Men Series, and Veritas Academy’s History Series. I combine them because Greenleaf focuses on people, while Veritas focuses on events. I think both are important. You can purchase both series at Veritas Press’s website: http://www.veritaspress.com/


In our history lessons, I’ve tried to incorporate three ideas: textual analysis, cultural analysis, and scriptural analysis. That sounds a lot harder than it really is. Textual analysis is nothing more than discussing the facts of the lesson. Who did we learn about? What did they do? Who won the war? It is all parroting back the facts. In contrast, during the cultural analysis we engage our mind a little more and talk about what their culture valued. For instance, were Viking men praised for being thoughtful, gentle, and romantic? Not at all. It was all about power and conquest. Once we’ve looked at the histories culture, we compare that with our culture. What does our culture value in men? Why? But to me, the most important part comes in the Scriptural analysis. What does God say men should be? What can we do to more line up with what our Heavenly Father values?

Do I think this is the only correct way to teach history? Of course not! But, it has worked well for us. I love teaching my children about those that have come before us. It is fun for us to learn from them. I love getting to show my dear children how Scriptures fit in the world’s story. Some of our favorite “theological” conversations began with a discussion about our history lesson. Those are the discussions that will help them grow to be worthy men and women.

Annmarie is a single homeschooling mother of four children. You can learn more about Annmarie on her blog annmarieathome.blogspot.com, or find her on facebook.

4 comments - Add a comment below -:

Suzuki Mom said...

I have just been discussing what to do for history for our kids tonight. Do you have more information somewhere on exactly what resources and books you use and timings? What we used last year did NOT work well for us.

Dana ♥ said...

History is one of my favorite things to teach. I had a very pitiful history education growing up, but through homeschooling my children, I have developed a love for it. I especially love living history books, journals, diaries etc. I also love using timelines. We have tried multiple ways to timeline and have been using a history notebook timeline this past year and love it.

I really like how you described your methodology, using the 3 ideas to learn through your studies. Thanks.

Deila said...

I have used Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World series for grades 1-8 and now her book, The History of the Ancient World. We cover world history in four years, repeating it with more advanced books. I love her texts and activity books. The one we are using now is very readable, even my husband is reading it. She has a religious background which she includes as part of history, all the biblical stuff without being overbearing. We also use a time line which she recommends. Our best one is a computer software program, I think it is called TimeLiner by Scholastic. This is my 12th year of homeschooling. love it.

Evenspor said...

Very interesting. I espeically likes how it puts the scriptures into context. Does having all your kids working on different eras make it tricky at all?