By Russell Law
Ask any homeschooling parent why they’re tackling such a challenging task. Somewhere on the list you’ll find the parent’s desire to share their values and world view with the next generation. Educators agree that the best way to do this is by naturally creating teachable moments. The problem is how to do this without seeming heavy-handed. Math, reading and writing are important tools for growth and deserve attention. Unfortunately the teachable moments in these subjects are few and far between. Where are they hiding? In the stories of the past. In history!
In fact, done right, it’s impossible to study history without creating teachable moments. It happens naturally as we read the stories of real people facing the real adventures of life. In studying their lives, challenges, successes and failures we are encouraged to ask ourselves “What would I have done if?” For example, “If I were an Indian what would it have been like to cook with stone, clay or woven pots? What would an iron pot have been worth to me?” Each of these questions is a conversation starter. An opportunity to learn about and better understand other cultures and times. An opportunity to learn about ourselves and consider the consequences of our actions. That’s the hidden value of history.
So why don’t more people in America love history? I believe that somewhere down the line we forgot the story in history and turned it into a boring study of hard to say names and dates. Yes, it may be easier to test that way, but what does it prove. What have we learned about the “story”? All it has done is create a whole lot of people who are convinced that history is boring. Perhaps that includes you. But there’s hope for you and your student. All we need to do is put the story back in history, life into the lives of those who framed our nation.
Teaching History at Home
There is no better place to extract the hidden value of history for young students than at home. Short attention spans and wandering minds are allowed as you let your child’s interests guide you. If in studying ocean explorers you find your child is fascinated by sailing ships, indulge them. Go online, read a Hornblower novel, visit a local maritime museum. Remember, your goal is to expand understanding and encourage conversations, not fill in a list. With that mindset and the right tools you’ll discover that you and your child will find yourselves looking forward to history rather than dreading it.
Our Land Publications history programs are designed with this philosophy in mind. Recognizing that there is nothing more intimidating to a young student than another big textbook, we’ve separated the content into bite sized lesson handouts resembling small newspapers. Each chronological issue presents history in a student-friendly, informal style that does not intimidate or repel young readers. Events are seen as living and potentially life-changing experiences from which we can all learn. The people whose experiences and decisions changed our nation come to life-their stories told as they happen. You can easily customize the lesson to your student’s interests, emphasizing what interests them while touching lightly on the rest.
Each issue includes a versatile collection of student activities, projects, and exercises, eliminating the need for additional expenses. The programs are supported by extensive teacher’s manuals loaded with lesson ideas, activities, maps, copy masters, student responses, and additional testing opportunities. The teacher’s manuals also include a thorough background discussion of each lesson. You can proceed with the study knowing that you’re prepared to answer questions with confidence.
Our Land Publications currently offers five history programs targeted primarily for upper elementary students. Our Land of Liberty covers the history of the United States from before European discovery to the current day. My State history programs currently include:
• My Texas
For more information visit us at www.ourlandpublications.com.
Our Land Publications – Make it an Adventure!