This Often Neglected Subject Is Vital To Connecting With Our Kids

There has been much debate in recent years about why public schools are failing, and why children are struggling more than ever before to be successful students.

Along with the liberal indoctrination that seems to override academics in schools today, kids are being taught dry and boring facts they must memorize and then forget in a vicious cycle of “teaching to the test.”

These factors have caused the number of homeschooling families to significantly rise in America, and statistics show that homeschooled students are set up for success because they are able to learn for the love of learning.

While homeschooled students typically excel in every area, there is one subject that many families enjoy above all others – history.

Homeschool families are notorious (in the best possible way) for putting history at the top of the priority list in their studies — perhaps because tradition and values are so important to many homeschool families or they have more quality time to focus on making connections and strengthening bonds.

The Washington Post reported:

Stories of a shared past create and reinforce an essential sense of community and strengthen supportive values and beliefs. Remembered heroes tell the young what traits of character are admired. Remembered difficulties, hardships, and crises tell citizens about potential problems and dangers that can’t be adequately dealt with except by collective action.

Student surveys [have] almost always put it at the top of the list of boring, irrelevant subjects, and most students would have a hard time putting together a convincing argument in its defense. Few parents know much history, display an interest in it, or communicate to their kids a sense of its importance.

Sadly, the study of history seems to have fallen by the wayside for many American students.  With schools pushing science, math, and technology over all else, history classes often play second-fiddle.

But the study of history is of monumental importance to our youth.  We cannot learn about who we are and how we connect with others unless we understand where we came from.

Homeschooling families, with traditional values and academic studies working hand-in-hand, understand that our connection to the past is vital to who we are and who we are becoming.

And homeschooling families don’t just study history – they often live it through historical reenactments, trips to battlefields, museums, and other historical sites.

Why is the teaching of history failing in our public schools when most children enjoy these interactive experiences?  Well, with test scores and government “standards” taking precedence over the love of learning, history has taken a backseat.

Edutopia reported:

Herein lies the problem. History is not taught to foster knowledge and the love of history.  We mandate that kids must learn about this or that “important event” and then bore them to death with something that 90 percent of students will forget once the test is over. In the era where continuing education is an important lifetime endeavor, we should instead develop a love for studying the past by allowing students themselves to decide what they love about it.

Are homeschooling families the only ones interested in teaching their children about the importance of history?  Of course not – but they are able to explore and study without the mandates and time constraints imposed by public education.

Edutopia continued:

Everyone is naturally interested in history. How could they not be? Oral historians for thousands of years have held audiences in the palm of their hands with this material. History is full of all the elements that make great entertainment: drama, romance, war, crime, and fascinating characters. Truth really is stranger than fiction. If the only goal were instilling a love of history in students, then teachers would be out of a job if they couldn’t accomplish that with the raw material the past supplies — provided that they (or better yet, the students) got to choose the material.

The study of history is also inherently more hands-on than subjects like math or language arts.  And there are many activities that families can do together to foster a love for learning about history.

Whether you are a homeschooling parent or not, you can instill a love of history with your children.  Apart from the obvious trips to museums and historical sites in your area, try some of these fun activities to foster the connection between present and past in your family:

  • Look at old family photos from a bygone era and talk about the culture of the time period. Do you have any old family clothing, uniforms, or other mementos in the attic?  Let your child dress up in clothing or jewelry and reenact those old photos.  Or find an old family recipe and talk about the memories and traditions involved.
  • On holidays like the Fourth of July, Presidents’ Day, or Memorial Day, discuss the history behind the day. There are many crafts and activity ideas online to make as a family, and valuable online archives that allow kids to view images of real historical artifacts and documents like the Declaration of Independence or Constitution.
  • Let your child be an archaeologist for a day! Bury some interesting items in the sandbox and let the kids dig for them.  They can dust them off with small paintbrushes and draw pictures of their finds in a small journal.  Let them take measurements and think about what kind of information the object might provide to someone in the future.
  • Put together a family time capsule. Cut out ads from newspapers or magazines, have kids write a “letter to the future,” and let everyone use their creativity to give some insight into your family’s daily life.

History is such an essential subject to teach our children.  Sadly, our public schools have limited the ability of children to explore history in a hands-on way, or to fully understand what our past can teach us.

Studying history can be one of the best adventures your family can take.  Whether you are able to devote time to exploring history while homeschooling, or are just looking for some fun ways to connect with your kids, history is the answer!

Do you homeschool and have great ideas for fostering the love of history in your curriculum? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

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