Elementary Years

Everything is new and interesting to young learners, they are gather ing information at very fast paces so that later they can begin to put it all together.  I spend a lot of time reading to them from various children’s books we get at the library and that we have accumulated over the years.  The What Your — Grader Needs to Know Series are helpful, and we read through those to make sure we have something of an outline.

I also like Edna MCGuire’s books.  They are older and written in story format with some pictures to go along with them.  They follow a sequential format so there is not a lot of jumping around.  I read the Story of the World series to my older kids when we first started.  They were great for me to finally put all this history together, somehow that escaped me in high school and college, but once I got a good grasp of history for myself, I think they just jump around too much.  I think it is better to study the Greeks, then the Romans, do the Chinese all together and the Indians, Sumerians, etc.  It gives history a little more cohesion instead of the way the Story of the World books are organized by date- so there’s a lot of jumping- one story of ancient Greece and then the next chapter we are in ancient China, then onto India, then back to Greece.  I like the story concept and sticking with one aspect better than jumping around, but it is still good information.  The important thing is that these stories are being introduced and tucked away for further study as the kids get older and ready for more info.  The good thing about The Story of the World is the activity book with a list of additional picture books, coloring pages and history related activities.  Those were always fun for the kids to do.

After I read a section of whatever to the kids, I have them tell me what they learned.  I ask them questions and try to make sure they got the basics.  They can always draw a picture about what we’re reading while we read, and I to give them coloring pages that go along with the reading as well as looking things up online, visiting the places we can, going to museums, etc.  History is a lot of fun.  Biographies and historical fiction are great ways to increase understanding of history also.

Middle School Years

As the kids get older, they are required to do more reading on their own in addition to the history we do together.  I try to have them complete a book report for each required reading book they have read.  A Little History of the World is excellent for this age as well as many of the books from Yesterday’s Classics.  The kids are supposed to read all the Streams of History series and then whichever other ones catch their interest.  They are then supposed to write a book report when they finish, or if that is too daunting, then I have them write a report about what they read that week.  For my less enthused readers they are required to read 20-30 min of a history book per day.

High School Years

The Great Courses have excellent courses on history.  The ones we hope to finish by the end of high school are:

History of the United States

Foundations of Western Civilization 1 and 2

History of Freedom

History of Ancient Rome

I watch the course with the kids and either come up with questions beforehand from the course guidebook which works best to keep their attention, or have them come up with their own questions as they watch.  We usually spend about 15 minutes after each lecture discussing it.  I can’t recommend these courses enough, they are so good.  It was by listening to these that I myself finally understood history after being top of my class in high school and graduating college.  Things finally make sense!!  This is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling!  The kids also read required reading books which include biographies and historical fiction.  But these lectures are very all inclusive.  I will have the kids write up some reports on various topics that we learned about as we watched the lectures.