In elementary school, it is important to have a basic understanding of the framework of American History. Schools do a wonderful job of teaching the key content, including people, events, ideas, and time periods. You can support that learning at home by sharing experiences about history and putting those experiences in the context of a timeline.
Many children struggle with timelines. It is particularly difficult to deal with how big time is and how it relates to their personal experiences. Explain verbally and visually to best cement the concept.
Some ways to share history at home:
- Look for a local history society. They often have exhibits about local history and you can discuss how it fits into the larger themes your child studies in school.
- Find experienced historians. By this, I mean find people who have lots of life experience in terms of number of years lived. Find them and teach your child how to ask them specific questions about history. Remember, they can often tell wonderful stories from their parents generation as well.
- Visit museums. Search online for museums located near you are where you are traveling. As you walk through, try to connect the learning to what they are doing in school. Place exhibits in a larger timeline. Use “what happened at the same time,” “what happened before that,” and “what happened after that” questions.
- Connect to and research your own family history. Point out that your child has relatives who immigrated from Ireland during the potato famine. Discuss family members who worked in factories or moved North during the Great Migration. Do research to find out about your relatives. Create a family history outline and try to include major American events. Time makes a lot more sense when it is personal.
- Finally, read about history. Find fun historical fiction books and intriguing non-fiction to read and share together.
History is fun to explore as a family. Our “History in a Box” kits have lots of great suggestions for books and activities to introduce and enhance history instruction. Buy one, or create your own, and learn with your child.