Welcome, friends. I missed last week’s Q&A edition of the 4 Moms series – my favorite theme for our posts – but I’m back this week to tell you how we teach history.
You have to promise not to gasp in audible shock, but for the last several years we have had no prefabricated history curriculum. We do often focus on a particular area or period in history, but we do it with a variety of materials rather than one text or program.
We used Sonlight in the past and loved the concept but weren’t always thrilled with the titles used. We used Mystery of History and the kids still talk about the fun they had, but it was just a skeleton and required a lot of extra materials.
Since then, we have used the principles we learned from those 2 programs to do our own thing. We have an extensive library in our home including a wide array of history books for both children and adults, historical fiction, philosophy (which is important for interpreting and understanding history), audio and video lectures, and much more. These materials have taught our children far more than I ever learned from my history textbooks in the highly structured Christian homeschool program from which I graduated.
While I learned history as a list of names and dates to be memorized and then forgotten, my children really feel as if they know the people whose biographies they have read, and they are beginning to understand how people and events worked together in history as God’s plan for mankind unfolded and continues to unfold. They have a big picture view that I never grasped when I was younger, and they tend to remember all the details that I so quickly forgot because they understand the significance of those details and they have a context in which to place them.
I believe that learning this way has many advantages over a textbook, but there is another very important element to the way our children learn history: their dad. He was a history buff from a very young age, and has confessed to sneakily reading Schaff’s 8 volume History of the Christian Church when he should have been studying other subjects. He was that kind of a rebel. If you’re going to be a rebel, there are worse ways to go.
He has collected these resources for our family, using them himself and demonstrating a genuine, infectious love and interest for history that has been picked up by our children. Through his own use, he has exposed the rest of us to these materials. He sometimes has all of us listen to a series of lectures together. He leads and sparks many discussions on the topic, teaching the children to interpret the events of history through the lens of scripture.
A few of our favorite resources:
- Bible. Need I even say it? The ultimate source for accurate history and a worldview to help understand the events you learn about elsewhere.
- Childhood of Famous Americans (series for young children)
- Sower Series biographies, also for children
- Joe Morecraft’s sermons on the Protestant Reformation (many other wonderful audio lectures available on SermonAudio.com)
- History of the Reformation by D’aubigne
- The Great Christian Revolution by Otto Scott
- Historical fiction by G.A. Henty
- Vision Forum’s History of the World and other resources published by VF (check out Building a Winning Curriculum for tips on using these items)
This is just a starting point. Thanks to Ebay, Paperback Swap (not just for paperbacks), AddAll (search every major seller at once to find the best price on the internet), Christian Book Distributors (big discounts), Amazon, and Vision Forum, we have many hundreds or even thousands of books covering a variety of times, places, people and events.
The study of history in our home has largely been voluntary, because this is one area in which we love to learn. It is so easy to see God’s hand in the larger affairs of men and nations over the millennia, and this is an important reminder to us in how we live our everyday lives: if our God controls kings and nations, what do we have to fear?
The other moms:
- April 14 – Eating inexpensively on the road. Just in time for summer!
- April 21 - Large family & church, part 2: Being still and quiet during worship
- April 28 – Q and A: leave your question here.