4 Moms Teach History

moms of many manageWelcome to this weeks edition of 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage.  This week we’re talking homeschooling and how we teach history.

History is the story of God’s hand in time and space, it’s the best story ever told and who doesn’t love a good story?

Although there may be those who disagree, I do not think that there is one ‘best’ way to teach history. God has given parents the responsibility for telling children the story of God (Psalm 78) and with the responsibility He gives the ability. You can teach your children what they need to know about God’s story.

So how do we tell our children the story of God that we call history? Here are some general principles that can be used in many different situations to teach history to children.

Focus first on the only infallible history book available. The Bible is full of history that is God-breathed important for us and our children.

Keep it real. With hundreds of thousands of stories to be told, history is our entertainment. We try to focus our reading, watching and talking on the true story. Don’t get me wrong we enjoy an occasional journey into the realm of imagination and use  historical fiction, but our children are most interested and inspired by true stories of people and events.

Read, read, read and read some more. Quality, living books that tell the story can not only fascinate, but educate better than a book full of dry facts and dates. Read books that changed the course of history, books that convey the mindset of the times and books written by and about important figures. As soon and as much as possible read the original sources.

Be educated. Read along side your children. Read ahead of your children. Take the time to learn the story because after all it is His story and as such it must be important to His children.

Make history a family discussion. Talk about the story at the dinner table, during family worship and during free time. To facilitate making history a family discussion we study history together as a family.

Use a curriculum or not. If you’re more comfortable with having a history program to help guide your studies, there are several good ones available (I’ve written about about several specific programs and how we’ve used them), but telling the story to your children doesn’t require buying a curriculum.

Let your children have fun. Our children have dug the Panama Canal, crossed the Red Sea, eaten hardtack and coffee by an open fire, worn the double crown of a united Egypt,  visited the USS Constitution, written in cuneiform on clay tablets, battled cannibals as John Paton, eaten rye n’ injun bread and honey cakes like Farmer Boy and lots, lots more. The beautiful thing about all of this? For the most part they do it on their own. Just last week Colby (4) asked me to help him make honey cakes so he could eat them after planting the garden, ‘just like Almonzo’.

The story is amazing, unexpected, death defying and miraculous, it’s God’s story and sharing it with our children is a beautiful privilege.

Visit the other 4 Moms to read how they teach history:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room

For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

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10 Responses to 4 Moms Teach History
  1. Taryn
    April 7, 2011 | 10:50 am

    I enjoyed this post. We’ve been home educating since 1985. This is our last year and then the granddaughters! We tried everything. Our favorite biographies(William Wilberforce),memoirs(Evidence Not Seen-Darlene Deibler Rose),and autobiographies are at keepersofthefaith.com. Rod and Staff has a timeline. Christian Liberty Press has a great biography about Jedidiah Smith and a George Washington bio. Abeka has Booker T. Washington’s autobiography. We liked Christian Light Education’s 7th grade world history hardcover text. My son(18) liked the high school Landmark Freedom’s history workbooks(always read ahead-I did cross out a line about Marie Antoinette in the world history). I have given away biographies with my critique on the inside cover but a few I threw out after seeing there was author bias and just some strange things I would have edited out. We did NOT like the Joy Hakim American history books. Movies I liked better than the books-The Hiding Place and Ben Hur(Roman history- it includes our Lord Jesus without showing a close-up of the actor’s face).

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  2. History Buff
    April 7, 2011 | 11:33 am

    As someone who takes the study of history very seriously, I think you’re doing your kids a great disservice by using the Bible as a history text. Biblical infallibility isn’t a can of worms that I want to open, and regardless of what we think on that topic, it’s clear that the Bible was not written by historians! It is simply not a historical text!

    Elsewhere in the post, you talk about trying to understand the mindset of historical figures–if you’re going to use the Bible as a text, then you should at least apply this principle!

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    The Pauper @ apauper.com Reply:

    As both a history and biblical scholar, I must say your point of view seems to lack insights into either discipline. Every historical document is of historical significance and informs our understanding of God’s work through space and time. So to exclude the Bible from the study of history is to actually do a disservice to everyone. (This is to say nothing of the deep conviction that both I and many others have that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God which makes it the perfect textbook) As an aside, there has not been one instance in which archeology has contradicted the text of scripture. As a matter of fact it has fallen in line time and again with the literal reading of the text. This means in fact, that to date, the Bible is the single most trustworthy ancient history text extant today.

    The challenge many modern historians have with the Bible as history (aside from their rejection of the Bible as holy writ thus relegating it to the category of a nice fable) is that it does not provide all of the details that they would like. It does not answer all of their modern questions. In other words, instead of bowing the knee to the leadership of a holy God and his purposes for HIS book, they insist that He conform to their norms. This is the primordial sin, the desire to be God and the modern confidence in and worship of human reason has made the minds of scholars the final authority/god.

    The second issue that modern historians create with the Bible is that they do not treat it with the same respect they do other ancient documents. For many other ancient texts when archeology has not revealed evidence of a mentioned people group or nation judgment is withheld by acknowledging that we simply don’t have evidence of this group but may in the future. With the Bible many scholars rush to judgment and when there is not yet evidence of a group or location they cry that it is proof that the text is in error and cannot be trusted. This attitude has caused more than a little egg to appear on the face of historians and archeologists as the physical evidence has eventually confirmed the text.

    Then on the biblical scholarship side, this assertion that the Bible is not “a historical text” shows a lack of familiarity of the biblical documents (or English for that matter since the biblical documents ARE historical even if you maintain they are not history). They are NOT written as modern history documents but those written as history are very fine examples of history done by ancients. You must understand ancient genres of writing before you can dismiss or even correctly identify ancient documents. This type of scholarship is what separates the “buffs” from the scholars.

    All of that said, I strongly suspect that your worldview is somewhat different than mine which will make common ground tough to find so in the end we may have to agree to disagree.

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    History Buff Reply:

    I misspoke, but I still do differentiate between a history text and a historical document. I’m fine with the Bible being used as a historical document– I think that’s great and fine and dandy. But a history text it is not. Yes, I do understand that the ancients may have viewed it differently, but I cannot fathom presenting the Bible as a history text in a classroom and expecting students to gather very much about it.

    I suppose this is because I don’t believe that everything in the Bible is absolute truth. Your mileage may vary.

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    PopPop220 Reply:

    History Buff,

    Apart from a Biblical worldview history has no meaning. It is just a series of random unrelated events. I recall a report from a former elder in our congregation (a PhD history professor)from a professional conference he attended where a prominent historian asserted that the study of history is meaningless. He understood the implications of his worldview as it applied to the discipline he pursued as his life work.

    In the Christian worldview all of history is significant because it is the outworking of the sovereign God who created everything for a purpose, directs all things by his providence, restores all things in principle by the work of His Son, Jesus Christ, and works out His purpose of salvation throughout the course of history. History then has a beginning, progresses toward a goal, and has a destination toward which it is moving.

    As for the Bible not qualifying as a historical document I would just ask what it takes to qualify as a historical document? Even if you don’t believe in Divine authorship, to say that a book of such antiquity is of no historical value seems to undercut the possibility of historical inquiry using any ancient document. One who is not familiar with the text of Scripture can’t really be serious about ancient history.

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    History Buff Reply:

    I can assure you that history does make sense without a Biblical worldview. I was raised as a Muslim and I’ve always loved history and spent a great deal of time and effort studying it, and it always made sense to it. Moreover, while I am now a Christian, I wouldn’t say that my understanding of history has really changed.

    I was in a hurry (and completely horrified) this morning when I posted– the Bible is, of course, a historical text or a historical document. What I do not think is that the Bible is a history book in the sense that we think of history books in the classroom context, and especially for younger learners.

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  3. Taryn
    April 7, 2011 | 1:28 pm

    We cannot teach about archaeology and the Hittites without the Bible. That is just one example. The Christian textbooks we use mention several views on subjects(such as the Hittites). In fact, the science books we use teach a creationist view and the evolutionist theory view.

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  4. Marilyn Brauer
    April 7, 2011 | 2:38 pm

    I love reading good books and related hands on projects too! Reading and experiencing really seems to cement the concept in their minds!

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  5. Kat
    April 7, 2011 | 5:53 pm

    those are great ideas! Our approach for homeschooling is a unit study approach where studying history is the main focus of our curriculum! I love your ideas of reading the true story over fiction…great! :)

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  6. Twila
    August 25, 2011 | 6:35 pm

    what are living books?

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