History From The Start

History from the Start

Our Sponsor: K12.COM
K12 offers a world-class homeschool curriculum that was developed by some of the nation’s most respected scholars and visionaries.

* The pharaohs of ancient Egypt
* The Great Wall of China
* Chariot races in the Roman Forum
* Medieval knights in shining armor
* The code of the Japanese samurai
* Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
* Washington crossing the Delaware

Each of these is a fascinating topic with a compelling story behind it.  Unfortunately in schools children rarely encounter these topics until middle or high school. Typically, the elementary grades pass over the study of History in favor of Social Studies–lessons that, more often than not, focus only on the family, the neighborhood, the community.

While there is value to learning about local focuses, the Social Studies approach sells children short.  It fails to acknowledge a child’s natural curiosity about the world beyond the self and its surroundings.

There is another way.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to teach History from the start, from Kindergarten on.  History is a gateway that opens young minds and imaginations to far-off lands, distant times and diverse peoples.  The stories of the past should be an integral part of every child’s curriculum.  Knowledge of the past prepares us to understand the present and shape the future.  By knowing the main lines of human endeavor, and by exploring how people have lived and how civilizations have developed, young people are better prepared to do everything from reading a newspaper to appreciating a painting and casting an informed vote.

For young children, we should emphasize the story in history.  Stories help children understand and retain basic ideas about distant people and times, about how diverse peoples and civilizations have changed over time and how some have stayed the same.  These stories include great men and women as well as common folk. They are stories of high deals, enduring achievements, tragic failures and ongoing struggles.

What should we include in the story of the past that we tell to young children?  Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer offer a thoughtful outline in The Well-Trained Mind and E. D. Hirsch, Jr.’s Core Knowledge Foundation has proposed a detailed sequence of topics.

While guiding children through an exploration of our rich human past, we should focus on aspects that are key to understanding human civilization.  Civilization, as distinct from prehistory, begins with the building of cities and the development of writing. Civilization around the world has taken many different forms over the past several thousand years.

To understand these variations, one needs to understand certain major themes including the following:

  • How geography influences settlement;
  • How human beings have ruled and organized themselves;
  • What people have believed about the divine;
  • What stories they tell in literature and myth; and
  • What has been accomplished in science and technology.

There are many ways that we can bring the past to life for our children–through picture books, historical fiction, primary sources, creative projects and more.

Children are fascinated by stories.  Use the power of stories to help your child understand her world’s past and its connection to her future.

Our Sponsor: K12.COM

K12 offers a world-class homeschool curriculum that was developed by some of the nation’s most respected scholars and visionaries.  Combine the strength of your commitment to your child’s education with K12’s superior program to ensure your child’s future success.

In the K12 History program, children in grades 1-4 receive an overview of world history from the Stone Age to the Space Age. Because most good stories begin at the beginning, the program is organized chronologically as well as geographically.

In grade 1, K12 introduces the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Near East, China, India and Greece.  In grade 2, children turn to the study of Rome, the Byzantine Empire and the Middle Ages around the world.  In grade 3, K12 takes children from the Renaissance to the American Revolution. In grade 4, children explore the modern world from the Scientific Revolution to recent times.

For examples of how K12 tells the story of history, see the sample lessons at: http://www.k12.com/using/sample_lessons.html

Click here for more information on K12’s world-class program