Wednesday, September 7, 2011

History Through the Ages

It's time to answer another reader's question! This question is about history--what we called social studies when we were kids. I don't know what passes for social studies in schools these days; I'm more interested in the actual facts. Classical education, which our family has embraced since we started our homeschooling journey, espouses studying history chronologically from the beginning and studying it all the way through consecutively.

The most popular way to incorporate a linear study of history is to complete three four-year cycles, beginning in first grade: ancient, medieval, early modern, modern. Another popular curriculum does a five-year cycle from second through sixth grades, then two two-year cycles in junior high and high school. The length of time spent in each historical period doesn’t really matter. What matters is covering each major period several times throughout the homeschooling process (assuming you’re homeschooling all the way through). Each time a history period is covered, more details will pop out, more in-depth discussion will occur, and more work will be required of the student. The student will gain a deeper, richer knowledge of history’s parallels and applications each time through each segment.

Since many homeschooling families have more than one child, let’s talk about how to utilize this method without teaching all of the time periods at the same time and without driving yourself crazy. The first child gets to start ancient history in first grade. The next child, when she hits first grade, joins child number one wherever he is in the cycle, and so on. Yes, that means that not all of the children will start with ancient history. But that’s ok—really! Eventually, child number two (and subsequent children who did not start with ancient history) will catch up and travel through history from beginning to end more than once.

As much as I love American history, I don’t want to teach it every year to my kids; furthermore, they don’t want to learn it every year! Chances are, your kids don’t either.

Q4U: What’s your homeschooling or organizing question? What would you like to see answered by me here on my blog?