I’ll be honest with you. History isn’t one of my strong points. Actually, any study requiring the piecing together of events and examining how they’re interconnected is not my strong point. I stink at the “bigger picture”, as it were.
Instead, I’m a fact person, a logic person, and a detail person. (I also have what I refer to as a ‘semi-photographic’ memory, though I’m not sure if that’s even a real thing.) I can easily remember facts, minutia, and random trivia; and as a bonus, I easily remember what things looked like the moment I first saw them, making it that much easier.
Ask me the phone number and address of someone I met years ago, and I’ve got it. Ask me the score of the ball game on TV – even if I’m not watching, just happened to see the screen – and I’ll know it. But ask me to examine themes as they result from events and artifacts in history, and I’m left sorting through a database of mental facts to recreate the pieces and answer your question. The way my brain works served me well growing up, because memorizing facts is what schools were after at the time.
But, fast forward to becoming a homeschool mom, and though I remembered zillions of random things about history, I felt I actually knew very little about history at all.
How was I gonna teach it?
Though I could perform parlor tricks all day long, certainly long enough to do history lessons with my kids, I was afraid I couldn’t help them connect the dots for the long term. I worried I could only remember facts yet not get the significance. I needed my kids to remember both.
So, how is a mom who is pitifully unable to “do” history herself able to teach history to her kids?
I had several things going for me as I homeschooled history. The first was my amazing husband, a history buff if I ever met one. Though he wasn’t around during the day when we did our lessons, he could always scoop up the pieces in the evenings and on weekends. I’d clue him in on what we were up to, and he could discuss what they’d learned, ask questions, review projects or spark the kinds of discussions I just wasn’t capable of having. Between the kids’ assignments and watching them interact with him, I could gauge if anything actually sank in.
Another resource I heavily exploited were history courses, books and lesson plans. Those were great, as all I had to do was follow along with the kids, monitor the lessons, grade the papers, then fetch more courses, books and lesson plans. There were gads of great products to teach history when we first started — even more now – so I just chose the ones I thought my kids would like the best. Sometimes, I let them choose, too.
In addition to those, I bought every kid’s history book and biography I could get my hands on — encyclopedias, too (Usborne and Kingfisher becoming favorites). I filled our shelves with something about everything. Plus, I took full advantage of television programming, and series after series of DVDs I ordered from a variety of teaching services and web sites. Oh, and I bought project books so we could create scenes, dioramas, lap-books, foldable cities, and all the rest.
Turns out, history in our home was an absolute blast! Most every lesson was successful, and my boys thoroughly enjoyed everything we did. And though I can’t remember the upshot of lots of our lessons to save my own life, it’s okay. Because they do. Phew.
As my kids got older, they began taking history classes outside the home the way some kids take math. (Math is easy for me, and I teach most levels myself.) In high school, virtual programs, co-op classes, online college classes, and history courses on DVD were our friends.
I’m happy to report my kids continue to enjoy reading and learning about history all the time, both on their own, and as a shared activity with my husband. I don’t know many people who know as much about World War II, the Vietnam War, or ancient civilizations than my boys. Again, phew.
In my defense, I really do love history and I love learning it beside my kids. And relationships in science and other areas come easily to me, for some reason. But, I am not embarrassed to say I could not have been nearly as successful in history without the many, many resources I brought into our home to help me. And because my kids move on to college, graduate with top honors, and are functioning well in life, I am fully convinced we did something right.
So, now, do you see how homeschool parents don’t always need to know everything?
Told you so.
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