Teaching History in Elementary School

The History curriculums used in elementary public schools ensure boredom and an early dislike of the subject. History is a wonderful and entertaining subject. It has been said that the victor writes the history and its unfortunately true. Politically correct, watered down versions of history are boring and inaccurate.

George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree and he never said, “I can not tell a lie.” Christopher Columbus did not discover America and he was not a great and brave explorer. He was certainly not a good or kind man and he did not die forgotten and poor.

Teaching small children to recite The Pledge of Allegiance and other historical documents is ridiculous. They don’t understand what they are saying. They can parrot the words and even parrot the meanings of some of the words but their brains are not developed enough to grasp the full content of the document.

History is a very important subject. We learn from our past and we have thousands of years to learn from. Many great life lessons can be taught from a historical standpoint.
There are many stories in history that are appropriate for younger children. Teaching our children about the real people and their very real struggles allows them to learn how to deal with their own struggles. It presents children with real role models rather than stiff figureheads that are impossible to emulate.

History is nothing more than a timeline of stories. If it were introduced that way in elementary school more students would enjoy it and therefore learn more from it.

I have taught History in home school from kindergarten through high school. I started at the beginning. Dinosaurs and other fossils are the beginning of recorded history. We moved through the timeline up to current by the sixth grade. All in story form and all from scientific record and then primary resources. We also utilized movies that were checked for historical accuracy. In the seventh and eighth grades the timeline was more defined and more detail was filled in. We also studied history from other points of view. It’s interesting how Britain views the Revolutionary War. High school was for in depth study of specific areas of history and for analyzing how it pertained to current events. Reading, writing and critical thinking skills were sharpened all along the way.

Over time some of my students have chosen to enter or re-enter the public school system. All of them have reported back to me that their teachers are amazed with their knowledge and understanding of history. Some of my students have reached college and are shocked at their fellow students’ lack of historical knowledge.

History is only one of the areas in which our public school system is failing. American students are at a huge disadvantage in the global market. They are under educated and undisciplined. It’s no wonder that the number of home school families and home school associations has grown so quickly over the past decade. More parents are realizing that not just the future of their children is at stake; the very future of our country hangs in the balance.