Written by Simple Homeschool contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling
Ages of my children: 12, 9, 4, and 5 months
Educational Philosophies I Pull From: Unschooling, Eclectic
History was never my strong point. I blame it on all the instructors who pretty much killed the subject for me, like elementary school teachers who had us read and respond to the social studies textbook questions without a single explanation on how it related to the rest of world chronology.
Plus the grad-school student-teacher who had us studying Machiavelli’s The Prince for a whole semester in high school because that was her dissertation work. And although she was totally enamored with the subject, it just didn’t rub off on me.
On days when we probably should have been reviewing declensions, our Latin teacher, egged on by students who knew his weakness, would spend the entire period telling us stories from Roman history.
Another instructor acted as our tour guide to all the must see Wonders of the World — from Pyramids to the Taj Mahal, he shared with us the stories behind all these architectural marvels as we zipped through different time periods in history.
For my own part, I avoid history textbooks like the plague and try to engage my children in ways that they will respond to through books, games, and projects.
I credit series like Horrible Histories and You Wouldn’t Want To Be for my son’s love of the subject. I wish someone had pointed out these books to me, that made history fun and engaging. I never would have sought them on my own, crippled, as I was from history-phobia.
In their younger years, my chidren made Cartoon History Books in which I read Story of the World aloud and they illustrated their favorite parts. We’ve filled out accordion-style time-lines, which could be unfolded for a “walk through history.”
During their Spy-phase, they wrote up Profile Pages on historical figures, events, or inventions. I find unit studies to be helpful in studying history, especially when tied together with a historical fiction and final art project.
As they get older, their studies also intensify. For my middle-schooler, we raid the library for inviting books on a subject, fill out an outline on the specific period, do a write-up on one key topic, draw symbols representing the period, and scour the Internet for pertinent games.
I once received a message from a reader suggesting that, because I “unschool,” I couldn’t use curriculum of any sort. I disagree.
While I do avoid packaged complete curricula, I think we should be open to all options and pick the ones that work best for our family at any given time. If there was a history curriculum that my children worked well with, I’d definitely use it.
Fortunately, instead of fitting them into a generic history curriculum, we have found our own ways to design a curriculum around them.
Hopefully this will give my children a more positive experience than I had, and leave them with fond memories of their travels back in time.
What have been your favorite history resources?