Living History for Homeschoolers

This is a guest blog post written by Michael J. McHugh.

One of the most common complaints of home school students is that the study of history is boring and tedious. For many students, history study involves little more than a process of becoming acquainted with a mass of irrelevant facts and dates for the express purpose of obtaining a passing grade. Although such students obviously do learn some useful information about the past while they wade through a sea of historical facts, much of what they learn ultimately goes down the memory hole.

In addition to utilizing well-written and historically accurate textbooks, home school instructors should also incorporate the following practices into their weekly routine.

1. Discuss each major topic from the student’s text with your child to ensure proper comprehension and application. As a home school teacher, I am continually amazed at how often my children fail to grasp the true significance or relevance of a particular historical event. I have learned the importance of taking the time to explain to my children why a lesson from history is important and how that lesson fits into the bigger picture of God’s providential purposes. The primary goal of such discussion should be to awaken students to the fact that history records the personal acts of real people in connection to the sovereign acts of God who is personally involved in the world He has made.

2. Take more frequent field trips to historical sites and museums. Home educators can help to bring history to life as they get their children in touch with living history displays and demonstrations. The fact that you are home schooling should give you a greater measure of freedom and flexibility in your schedule to permit more frequent trips to local or regional historical sites. You can lecture your students regarding the Battle of Gettysburg, for example, but there is nothing quite like letting them see and touch the actual battlefield.

3. Incorporate historical artifacts in your teaching routine to help spark interest in and discussion regarding the lesson you are covering. Such visual aids need not be elaborate or costly. Something as simple as an old oil lamp or a button made out of whale bone, can help you to jump start valuable discussions with your students about how people lived long ago. If you can not locate or borrow a desired artifact that pertains to the historical period you are studying, then it may be worth doing a search on the internet to try to locate a suitable reproduction.

4. Teach your children how to interpret current events in light of past history as well as biblical principles. Home educators should get into the habit of bringing timely news articles to the attention of their children so they can comprehend the relevance of history study to events that are happening all around them. Students need to be reminded that they are part of history, and that everything that happens has historical significance to some degree. Too often, Christian home school students fall into the mindset that they are just observing history. When such students finally learn that they, by God’s grace, have been called to make history then their view of history study as dry and irrelevant will be a thing of the past!

I am confident that if home educators incorporate the teaching suggestions listed above, they will soon discover that the study of history will soon become more beneficial for their students. The study of history is, after all, a glorious time to contemplate and explore the lives and works of human beings in relation to the living God who made them.

Copyright 2015 Michael J. McHugh

Michael McHugh is a homeschool father who has written or edited several history books over the last twenty-five years for Christian Liberty Press. During this same period, Mike has worked as a teacher, curriculum director, and conference speaker.


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