Why I Teach So Many History Writing Lessons
I think new homeschoolers are often astounded at how many history writing lessons I put into my children’s home school curriculum. Mistakenly they assume I must be skimping on other important subjects in order to teach history because the primary school the NSW Syllabus suggests 6-10% of your time should be spent on history. This equates to 1 to 2.5 hours per week. However since I use a literature based homeschooling history curriculum I can also use much of this suggested curriculum for teaching English as well.
“Why teach history like this? Isn’t history only a minor part of the curriculum?” they wonder.
Although what they don’t realise is that I’m really using historical content for teaching much of my English curriculum, some geography and occasionally science. Over the years I have found this has many benefits.
History Writing Lessons Makes Curriculum Planning Easier
As I begin planning my year I start by deciding what period of history I will study.
I basically work through a four phase history cycle:
- Ancient History and the Bible
- Middle Ages
- European history
- Asian history
- Early Australian History
- Pre Colonization
- The Colonies
- Modern History
- Modern Australian history including wars (in primary)
- General modern history (high school)
I try to keep all my children studying the same period together. Sometimes it may take longer to study a period because there’s lots of interesting stuff to cover. We also repeat some periods over the course of their studies.
When you use Charlotte Mason homeschool history as a guide you can introduce historical fiction, classic literature, poetry, biographies and science discoveries in context with the history period you are studying.
It’s not that hard to include history lessons and still meet the national curriculum requirements.
How We Included History This Term
For example we are studying the Middle Ages this year with my 13 and 15 year old at the moment. There is so much interesting literature available for this period in history. This term our historical content includes:
English Language and Literacy – Writing, Speaking and Viewing
History Writing Lessons Ideas include:
- Reading aloud and narrating from a book on the English Literature for Boys and Girls by H.E. Marshall. We read this two to three times a week and discuss what we read. It includes poetry and prose from the Middle Ages including many details about the authors who wrote them.
- Handwriting includes calligraphy practice with ink and quill and a medieval letters book.
- We’ve also been reading historical non-fiction like Famous Men of the Middle Ages, Athanasius and The Story of Christianity approximately three times a week. From these I require oral narrations and two writing assignments. The historical material has been excellent for narrations.
- Movies and documentaries based in the middle ages add to viewing multimedia resources.
- Quality historical fiction novels like The Eagle of the Ninth, Anna of Byzantium, Adam on the Road, The White Stag, Raiders of the Sea and The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow meet our literature requirements. I read aloud one chapter, five days a week, from one of the books and they read the rest themselves. They are just pleasure reading and I don’t expect them to write anything.
History & Geography
- Using such a great volume of content allows us to dig deeply into our history studies whilst still meeting practically all of our English needs. Our history notebook is also filled with English writing examples.
- Recordings of historical finding are added to the Book of Centuries.
- Map reading skills and learning about physical geography improves our comprehension and understanding of how landforms such as the Danube and Rhine rivers contributed to natural borders and barriers of the Roman Empire.
- Latin copywork of the Latin Vulgate gives my children an appreciation of the language at a very simple level as the learn how to decipher words using the English translation.
It’s Not A Unit Study
Whilst I do use a significant amount of historical content in my children’s studies, I don’t use it exclusively. We have a few non-historical writing assignments from IEW and science notebooking. Their math and science are contemporary resources, as are some of their personal development resources.
Homeschooling This Way Is Interesting For Your Children
Homeschooling can get pretty boring if it’s all textbooks. Using historical content for teaching means you can stretch beyond fact regurgitation and find out the story clothed in the facts as you teach other skills.
The method I describe here is a popular way of homeschooling using ideas based on the Charlotte Mason homeschool history method.
It may sound a little daunting to do but a few good booklists will help you quickly organise yourself to try out this method.
Why not give it a go!