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When to Start History?


CrunchyGirl
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I realize WTM specifies 4 History cycles starting in 1st grade but...I’d love to hear from some experienced parents on what age they felt their children actually retained a decent portion of the history they were presented? I’m really rethinking a few things. Such as time spent on history with my 8 year old is completely wasted and we’d be better off with more fabulous literature. If I do that I’m thinking we’d pick history back up next year or the year after.

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We start history in 1st grade, but I feel like my kids have really started to retain what they learn in 3rd grade and up. 

 

We don't follow 4-yr cycles, though. In elementary, we've alternated between 2-yr world history cycles and 2-yr American history cycles. Kids that got world history followed by American retained far more American history. Kids that got American history followed by world history retained far more world history. I don't really worry about retention; it's more about exposure and building positive feelings toward the subject. In elementary, we only spent about 15-20 min on history - twice per week. In contrast, we spent 30 min+ reading literature each day. Our balance has definitely been toward literature.

 

Everyone cycles through world history again in 5th-7th, and then we do a year of American history in 8th. That's a really solid foundation before high school.

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I think it depends on what you're expecting to get out of history. 

 

We started in 1st.  It went well, but I think that's because of two key points. 

 

1. At age 4 we worked on basic geography, starting with personal space (room, family, home, neighborhood, city) and broadening out to world, while covering different cultures.  At age 5 we worked on geography and timelines, learning about age of the earth and dinosaurs, continents and playing more with countries.  By the time we started SotW, the culture and geography was just another extension.

 

2. Much of history in 1st-3rd is activity based.  I introduce the activity as I tell the story so it's worked in.  We start working in things like mapwork and narration over the years, but keep 1st intentionally light in that area.  And we review.  At the end of volume 1 I bought the audio book for the car.  He knew all the stories, he was very familiar with the people, and it was a treat to hear Jim Weiss read as we got to remember the year.

 

I know other people do it differently, but this is how it works best for our family.

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My experience is (with everything, not just history) that if retention for life is your goal, you're better off not teaching anything until kids are 9-10yo.  Seriously.

 

But retention is not the only reason for teaching.  My kids developed a love for history in those early years of cuddling on the couch and reading SOTW and a zillion picture books that I wouldn't trade for all the retention in the world.

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I'm always surprised by what my K'er picks up on from her sister's history lesson. I don't "require" history til 1st grade, and then it's just reading fun stories and coloring pictures and maybe an oral narration until about 3rd grade. As a PP said, it's not necessarily about retention, but exposure.

 

Sent from my Z988 using Tapatalk

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My kids love SOTW. They also have loved many of our history read-alouds.

 

I am not sure if people would consider it "doing" history, since I don't require them to memorize anything, make timelines, color maps, or prove their comprehension to me. But, as with science, I believe in exposing them to it through interesting books. And approached as content knowledge that is continually reinforced by references they get from literature and life, it's definitely not a waste of time. But yes, I'd consider a curriculum (beyond the SOTW books) a waste of money and energy, and I don't do any intentional memorization of names and dates at this age...I just like to give them enough so that they have a few more characters and activities to try on in their pretend games, or to dress up as for Halloween!

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There are lots of ways to go with this -- honestly, I don't think any one way is "the one true way" (lol) to do History. ANY exposure you do with History is building in some "mental hooks" that you build on later on, either going deeper with a second pass, or connecting up with other pieces of History. I was repeatedly surprised by things DSs remembered from our History studies in the first year of homeschooling (grades 1 & 2), that didn't come out until years later. So I'd be hesitant to say that doing History (or Science) in the early grades is a complete waste of time; you never know. ;)

 

On the other hand, the materials you are using for History, or the method, may not be clicking at all for your particular student, so maybe that's what needs to be tweaked -- materials and method -- rather than dumping History entirely until the student is older. But you know your DC and your life circumstances best of what is needed or fits in your schedule -- go with what works for your family. :)

 

 

In case it helps: other options beyond waiting until age 8-10 to start History:

 

If your student does better with hyper focusing on one topic at a time, or loves following bunny trails of interest, unit studies would be a good way to go.

 

Some children do better starting close at hand and working farther out and farther back in time -- so in early elementary grades, the focus may be more general social studies topics like neighborhood and city, and then branch farther out and farther back in time into your country's history and patriotic aspects.

 

Or, in those pre-k and early elementary years, do a big sweep of the world, with the strong connection with the child and what the child knows by going for a focus of "children like me" and how they live all around the world -- enjoy learning about variations on what people eat, wear, do; what games other children play and food they eat. That lays a foundation for later on studying the history of the world.

 

 

As far as what we did:

No, we never used a formal curriculum for History OR Science until high school. We enjoyed exploring, so we did not go with "just facts" or "just literature" for learning History. I had one strongly visual-spatial learner and one strongly auditory-sequential learner, so what worked well for us in retaining information about History was to go for a wide variety of learning style elements:

 

- documentaries and educational videos ("facts and knowledge")

- watch feature films set in the times ("literature")

- non-fiction books ("facts" and knowledge) -- esp. humorous titles, or ones with lots of photos/illustrations

- biographies ("reliving" history through eyes of those experiencing it)

- historical/cultural fiction books ("literature" to see knowledge in context of story)

- myths and folk tales from the times ("literature" to see knowledge in context of culture)

- hands-on activities ("experiential learning" -- cemented knowledge through recreating/doing)

   see/touch the times through: kits; make/eat foods; make crafts; play games/kisten to music/view art of the times; etc.

- visit museums and historic sites ("experiential learning" -- "standing in the shoes of" where History happened)

 

 

We ended up not doing 3 four-year cycles but instead did:

-1 six-year chronological sweep through all of history in when DSs (1 grade apart where grades 1/2 through grades 6/7, which gave us time to explore bunny trails of interest, plus a unit on state history, plus over a year of study on U.S. History

-1 year (grades 7/8) setting aside History to focus on World Cultures & Geography/Comparative Religions

- 1 year Ancients (gr. 8/9)

- 1 year 20th Century World (gr. 9/10)

- 1 year American History (gr. 10/11)

- 0.5 year Church History + 0.25 year Medieval World History

 

Other people take a 1-2 years off of History entirely in elementary/middle grades to focus on things like:

- state History

- Civics, Government, voting, etc.

- Geography focus

 

 

FWIW: By the time you hit high school, there are certain Social Studies credits required for admission to college (1 year American History, 1 year World History/Geography, and 0.5 year each Gov't. and Econ.), so you might look at what you'll NEED to do in high school, and then work backwards from there to make sure you have time to cover what you WANT to cover in middle and elementary grades.

 

Lots of ways to go here, and that's half the fun of homeschooling is "Doing It Yourself". ;) BEST of luck, whatever you decide! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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By the time you hit high school, there are certain Social Studies credits required for admission to college (1 year American History, 1 year World History/Geography, and 0.5 year each Gov't. and Econ.), so you might look at what you'll NEED to do in high school, and then work backwards from there to make sure you have time to cover what you WANT to cover in middle and elementary grades.

 

We didn't find the bolded to be true--the colleges just said they wanted a certain number of credits of social studies without specifying much beyond American and world history (if that).

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We didn't find the bolded to be true--the colleges just said they wanted a certain number of credits of social studies without specifying much beyond American and world history (if that).

 

I meant that as a very broad generalization, trying to list the possible requirements of as many colleges as I could in a single quick statement. My main point was that that parents of elementary-aged students might not be aware that homeschooling high school might require including topics they had not considered before, if college admission was a future goal, which might in turn influence what parents want to do for History or Social Studies in the elementary or middle grades.  :)

 

Absolutely you are right, not all of those are required for admissions by all colleges, or even necessarily by many colleges. :)

 

 

PS -- Total side note:

 

EKS, you may find this article of interest: Colleges Requiring Economics and Government as a college gen. ed. course.

Edited by Lori D.
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I like reading vintage teacher manuals and scope and sequences. In the late 1800s and early 1900's this was a very common sequence.

 

Grades 1 and 2 literature, nature study/seasons, holidays, neighborhood and family, more in-depth and hands-on treatment of the topics summarized and expanded upon at the end of the 3rd grade home geographies.

Grade 3 home geography textbook

Grade 4 elementary geography textbook

Grade 5 history textbook. Usually American history.

Grade 6 world history textbook.

Edited by Hunter
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EKS, you may find this article of interest: Colleges Requiring Economics and Government as a college gen. ed. course.

 

Funny you should mention this--my son is right now taking AP Economics and as I am following along a bit, I find myself thinking that *everyone* should have an economics class!  That and statistics are two courses that are mostly missing from the high school "canon" (for lack of a better term) and shouldn't be.

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We started k/1 not because I thought they would retain it all but more to demystify names of people, places, dates and other vocabulary along with having time to look at maps. We did SOTW Ancient in k/1 and now my daughter is doing VP Ancient on the side while we do US History and she is retaining a ton. In part I feel because the terminology isn't scary. She has those words in the recesses of her brain and can use brain power for understanding what they are talking about.

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We started SOTW 1 when my DD was 1st grade, DS was 4 years old. I have zero regrets. He doesn’t remember fine details but he got the big picture and it’s now proving to be immensely valuable to scaffold further learning. They learned about important concepts such as democracy and dictatorships, monarchy, different types of religions. History is so fun - I say go for it!

 

Edited to add:

DS is now in 2nd grade and we are on year 4 of TWTM cycle using SOTW. Next year, we are planning to restart the cycle and return to ancients. For DD, I'll move her to a different text (to be determined) but for DS, I'll likely have him go through SOTW 1 again. Actually, I'll likely have him repeat at least SOTW 1 and 2 before moving to a different text. 

Edited by JHLWTM
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What we did for history is always to mix history with other, like geography, fun outings, food etc.

 

When DD was 5, we use a Usborne sticker book, during night story time, to talk about early explorers. We have a big map on the wall, I told the story while pointing on the map, DD played with the sticker.

 

We also travel to different places as much as we can. The real experience of being in a totally new country is thrilling.

 

This year, we did a year long country theme activity, where DD8 gets to know different countries, their culture and food. Now she is pretty familiar with global map. This really inspires her to be more open minded.

 

Now she is in grade 3, we just started SOTW v3, when the North American was first discovered, which she seems more interested than the ancient civilizations. We are only listening to audio books at this stage. Might do more once she shows more interests.

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I fully intended to do history almost verbatim from TWTM, but it didn't end up working out that way (lol like everything else, even the book says no one uses the book exactly).

 

We spent way longer just doing the 3Rs, and once DS took off reading I tried to incorporate history books on his level as well as read-alouds, but we mostly focused on literature over an actual history curriculum.

 

As far as time period, we've been doing "Ancients" for about three years but mostly focusing on Biblical history up until this year when we started including more of Greece/Egypt/Rome and getting some actual retention.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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My older girls did SOTW a la WTM recommendations in grammar years. They have warm fuzzy memories of it, but recall little before age 8 or 9.

 

I’m starting later with my youngest for a variety of reasons. I think for her, beginning in 4th is about perfect. This year for 3rd grade we’re doing a very solid geography year. She’ll only get two history cycles in during K-12, but that’s okay.

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I realize WTM specifies 4 History cycles starting in 1st grade but...I’d love to hear from some experienced parents on what age they felt their children actually retained a decent portion of the history they were presented? I’m really rethinking a few things. Such as time spent on history with my 8 year old is completely wasted and we’d be better off with more fabulous literature. If I do that I’m thinking we’d pick history back up next year or the year after.

 

From birth. No, really. We go to all the Living History days, and read good historical fiction, and do any and all field trips, and follow rabbit trails. We sort of become more organized as the dc are older (no "grade level," as I don't believe homeschooled children are "in" "grades," and you can't put a grade level on history, anyway). Probably when the dc are 14ish we have a more chronological study. By then, they love history, and have all sorts of wonderful memories and experiences, and lots of minutiae to fill in the background.

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Grade 3 has been the perfect age to start history for both my kids. We go through history chronologically, starting with prehistory (one of the most fun periods, IMO) and move on from there. I'm planning on going through all of history twice before Grade 12.

 

Grade 3-5 SOTW 1-4  with the Usborne Encyclopedia and extra books, videos, etc.

Grade 6-7 Human Odyssey Ancient through Modern inc. extra for U.S. History (Probably Joy Hakim's *condensed* US History books)

Grade 8 History of Science (Build Your Library)

Grade 9 OUP Ancient & Middle Ages (Oxford University Press)

Grade 10-12 probably outsourced, but would like to use the OUP primary reference books for modern history as a resource.

 

I tried using OUP for my sixth grader this year who is a very good reader, but we're finding it a bit dry. I think it will work better for high school. It's also a LOT of material to read. Meanwhile Human Odyssey is the most readable history text I've come across yet, and he's loving it - so that's what we'll use for now. I have all the OUP books so I might add in a few chapters here and there before Grade 9 if they are applicable.

Edited by strawberryjam
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