There are many differing opinions when it comes to teaching history in homeschool. I have not yet defined “the best” one for our family, but I like some of what I have found so far. I want to teach history chronologically, because I believe that is the best way to explain the timeline to children. Jumping around too much, or starting in at one point in history without context can be confusing.
We like Sonlight’s history approach. First grade was an introduction to the world’s cultures. It was not necessarily chronological as it was a basic overview of the world – it’s a big place, there are lots of different people, and learning about all of them is going to be fun! Second grade will start with Creation and go through the fall of Rome. Third grade will follow Rome through the 20th century. We are not doing Sonlight’s one-year condensed history options because I plan to spread out the history over two years (possibly three). To do this, we are going to supplement with Greenleaf Press history resources as well. Greenleaf also has a chronological history approach, though theirs is MUCH slower than Sonlight. It spends the first year on Israel and Ancient Egypt, followed by a full year of each of these: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, 17th and 18th centuries, and finally the 19th and 20th centuries in year 7. Whereas Greenleaf teaches history in its truest chronological sense, Sonlight will switch over to American History for two years (4th and 5th grade), then spend a full year on the Eastern Hemisphere before delving back in to world history for the second time, though more in depth, in 7th and 8th grade. I like Greenleaf’s approach, but I have two concerns. First, it is slight overkill to spend an entire year on each of the ancient societies. I can just see the girls’ faces when I bring out Tut’s Mummy again. “Aww, Mom, we know all about mummies! Can’t we learn about John Smith already?” Second, the ability of the girls to retain important facts related to Ancient Greece is vastly different in 2nd grade than it is in 6th or 7th grade. This is why Sonlight’s “once through and then repeat” approach will fit nicely here. We’ll be using Greenleaf’s “Famous Men” series throughout our historical studies as I believe the girls should be very familiar with the most influential people in history and why they were influential – not just memorizing lists of dates and map points.
I have no idea where our journey will take us in the high school years, but we have plenty of time to consider it as we approach that season. At this point, the most important thing I can do for the children is give them a solid foundation and perspective. As my knowledge of history is painfully lacking, I look forward to journeying with all of the kids through time. Bon voyage!