The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXIV
No. 3
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May/June
2008

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by MaryAnn Gaver
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Note That Date!
Column Host
MaryAnn Gaver

Okay, I admit it. I struggle with memorizing dates when it comes to history. So, if you want the exact dates of the French and Indian War—well, I’ll have to look it up.

What is history, anyway? If it’s just two dates with a dash in between—something with a beginning and an end—then all that’s necessary is rote memorization. But I think it’s more about truly understanding the time period which you’re studying and less about being able to parrot back dates.

For instance, if Pearl Harbor intrigues a student, you better believe that he or she will naturally delve into all the details of what happened on “a date which will live in infamy,” and will have December 7, 1941, permanently etched in his or her mind. So, whether you're studying ancient Greece, American colonial life, or 20th-century Europe, perhaps it’s good to find the angle that interests the student, and start there. Some children like studying the architecture and housing of a particular period, whereas some prefer exploring occupations, home life, or what people ate and wore.

To generate interest in a historical period, remember that “reading chapter 17 in the textbook” might not sound as appealing as learning about “the shot heard round the world,” or the “spark that set Europe aflame.” It’s like the difference in being served curried beets versus hot fudge sundaes.

And if you can take field trips—do it!

A great starting point in studying history is the beginning. And I mean in principio as they say in Latin. The very beginning. Genesis 1:1—In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the rest is history!

MaryAnn Gaver and her husband, Jay, have been homeschooling their twin sons for seven years.

Playing out History

Minuteman
Dover Publications Inc.

Since I teach one child now (our oldest are graduated and in college), I worry less over time constraints and have more time for creative learning.

I choose a history theme each year—this year it is the Oregon Trail. I collected a list of both good historical fiction and factual material for my 10-year-old son’s “reading” time, and we read together from other sources that I’ve chosen to tie it all together.

Recently, my son made a covered wagon, using my garden cart and scrap all-thread rods he bent for the wagon’s ribs. He covered it with a sheet, set a wide board on the front for a driver’s seat, and led an imaginary wagon train West! He even consulted pictures in a book for authentic apparel to wear.

What better way for a mother to know her child has learned something than to see him applying his learning to his play? I praise God for allowing me to teach my children at home, where they were able to incorporate what they learned in the classroom into carefree hours of innocent play!

by Adethia R. / Tyler, TX

Make History Memorable

My children have such an unquenchable thirst for history. But we don’t shove large, dusty, old history books in front of them. We take field trips!

If I brought books home from the library on Thomas Edison, my 9- and 6-year-old would probably not care. But when we toured Edison’s home in Milan, Ohio, the children’s interest was piqued and they wanted to learn more. We have taken trips to Washington, D.C., local factories, historical sites, museums, and many more places.

After the trip, the children’s interest is kindled and that is when we pick up books and informational DVDs at our local library. Make history memorable. Make history fun! In doing so, you are making history!

by Jillian M. / Norwalk, OH