Our American history courses were designed for children in grades K – 8 to learn the major people, places, and concepts in United States history. The kits were designed using the Virginia Standards of Learning and the United States Common Core Standards. They include the major information that kids should know for each grade level. Our kits come to your child in a box full of fiction, non-fiction, games, puzzles, and an activity book. The curriculum was designed to cover a variety of learning styles and to get kids excited about the themes through hands-on learning. While the kits count as “schooling” we hope that kids won’t see it that way and will instead see the course as something they do for fun because they are interested in the topic. Here are our tips for helping your kids complete the course at home.
1.) No pressure! We encourage kids to do the boxes because they are interested in learning more about their country and their history! Make the books and games available but present it as a fun project, not required work.
2.) Find a fun space! Allow kids to find a space to read the books and do the activities. Maybe they would like to read the books while sitting in a tree? Complete the puzzle in a fort under the dining room table? Play America-opoly while eating pizza on family night? While the content is in the box, you can think outside of the box for where you complete the activities!
3.) Snacks are awesome! We strongly feel that kids learn history best while snacking on brownies, cookies, and ice cream. Healthier families might provide peanut butter and apples or rice cakes and almond butter. Totally up to you!
4.) Share with your siblings! Many of the games need more than one player. We encourage kids to work with their siblings and to play the games, complete the puzzles, and read the books with friends, parents, and siblings.
5.) Spend fifteen minutes a day! Don’t overdo it! Let your children read and complete activities when they have time, are well-rested, and they are interested in learning. Don’t force them and they will enjoy it!
6.) Do it over and over! Each time a child plays one of the games or reads one of the books they will learn new things and become even more familiar with the topics.
7.) Family time. We read our history books to our kids before going to bed. For younger kids, it is a quick read with the easier books but we read a chapter a night for our older kids. Everyone listens and we talk about what we learned afterwards. It is fun for kids and for adults and a good refresher for everyone.
8.) Apply your learning. If you can, watch videos, research topics online, and visit historical sites while you are in the U.S. Extend the learning in every way you can! (More suggestions on this topic soon!)
9.) Dinnertime conversation. Adults can share what they learned about our history and connect it to family history.
10.) Tell the truth. Schools in the U.S. have traditionally celebrated Christopher Columbus for discovering America. There are many issues with this that we won’t get into here. We think it is important to know about Columbus because he is a part of our American “story.” Tell your child the truth (as appropriate for their age) and use that discussion as a jumping point for discussing your family values. More importantly, tell your truth. Your family and your history probably mean you have a certain way you would like to teach history. The history boxes provide a framework for you to extend the learning in any way you see fit. You might connect the learning to your religion, to your personal experiences, to your own education, or your own learning outside of school.
In elementary school, kids are just starting to learn the stories and histories that we take for granted. The boxes (like any classes) are a starting point for deeper and more relevant conversations that you can have at home. Your children will be learning their history in your home and you can help them and guide them as much as you like.