History For Kids
Ideas for parents trying to help their kids learn and understand history.
1. Awaken your children's expectations of what they will see and what to look for. Write or call the museum ahead of time to obtain information brochures and a map. Living history museums are located in Williamsburg, VA and Old Sturbridge Village, MA, among other places.
2. Plan how to actually "visit history." Pretend to be a family living in the historical place. What would it be like to be a family living in the place you choose to go?
3. When you visit the museum, ask your child what his favorite object or activity is, and why.
4. Help your children sketch something in the museum, and put it in the history log. Tell your children that this is the way history was visually recorded before there were cameras.
Your child is born into history. She has no memory of it, yet she finds herself in the middle of a story that began before she became one of its characters. She also wants to have a place in it.
As parents we can prepare our children to achieve the lifelong task of finding their place in history by helping them to learn what shaped the world into which they were born. Without information about their history, children don't "get" a lot of what they hear and see around them.
Your attitude about history can also make a difference for your child. Showing your interest in history--your belief that knowing history makes a difference for your life--encourages your child's own interest.
Many parents say they love history. If you are one of them you can share your particular interests in history with your children as well as help them develop their own.
Many other parents say they find history boring. If you are among these, try one of the following: start writing your own life story; read the diary of Anne Frank, or the autobiography of Frederick Douglass; read the Declaration of Independence, or rent a video about the Civil War. As you rediscover history your children may be inspired by your
History Is a Habit
You can develop some of the following "history habits" that make history important not only during an activity but every day.
History Habits for Parents
Habits are activities we do on a regular basis. We acquire habits by choosing to make them a part of our life. It is worth the time and effort to develop good habits because they enhance our well-being. We suggest the following history habits to enrich your life experience and your children's.
Share family history with your children, particularly your memories. Help your own parents and other relatives know your children and talk with them about family stories.
Participate in your community by voting and helping to make changes in areas that interest you. Encourage your children to vote in school elections, to present themselves as candidates, and gain knowledge of history and the values and behaviors that are the basis of their citizenship.
Read newspapers and news magazines, and watch television news programs to maintain an informed judgment about the world. Talk about current events and your ideas about them with your children and other adults, and explore different points of view. Check the encyclopedia or your local library for additional historical information.
Watch television programs about important historical topics with your family, and encourage conversation about the program as you watch. Get library books on the same topic and learn more about it. Check to see if the books and television programs agree on significant issues, and discuss their differences.
Read with your children about people and events that have made a difference in the world, and discuss the readings together. Help children know that the makers of history are real people like themselves, who have ideas, work hard, and experience failure and success. Introduce them to local community leaders in person if possible, and national and world leaders via the media and biographies.
Make globes, maps, and encyclopedias available and use every opportunity to refer to them. A reference to Africa in a child's favorite story, or the red, white, and green stripes on a box of spaghetti can be opportunities to learn more about the world.
Have a collection of great speeches and written documents to read from time to time with your child. Your own involvement in history, in any of the forms referred to, is a good habit you can pass on to your children.