Homeschooling History – What To Teach in Primary

Homeschool history

In the primary years history is a sub-strand of the Australian Curriculum’s Humanities and Social Science subject which also includes geography and civics and citizenship. In high school it becomes a subject on its own.

Approximately 6 -10% of school hours are allocated to Humanities and Social Science which works out to be around 1.5 – 2.5 hours per week.

During the year this subject is often rotated between the sub strands of history and geography or taught in blocks – a year of history or a year of geography. Civics is included from Year Three when symbols and emblems are discussed.

I think new homeschoolers are often astounded at how much history I put into my children’s home school curriculum. Mistakenly they assume I must be skimping on other important subjects. However since I use a literature based curriculum I can also use my historical literature for teaching English as well.

Why teach so much history? Read More…

The Australian National History Curriculum divides the topic of history into:

  • historical understanding and knowledge
  • historical skills.

To understand the different way the Australian National Curriculum History Syllabus and the Charlotte Mason way of teaching history match up. I strongly suggest you read this article.

To see some high school suggests look here.

Elements of A History Curriculum

Australian History Foundation To Year 3

The early school years the Australian Curriculum history studies are really Australian Social Studies only. Lessons include family histories, celebrations, flags and emblems and significant people in Australia’s history.

Australian History Year 4 to 6

The National Curriculum splits Australian history into three time periods to be studied over three years.

You can do these time periods in one year using an Australian history book and then include some Australian historical fiction.

  • First Contacts Before 1800,
  • The Colonies 1800 to 1900
  • After Federation

You might like to make your first history notebooks pictorial with oral narrations that you can transcribe into your children’s notebooks.

You can begin a timeline book or wall chart that the children help create. Later on when they are about ten you could also start a Book of Centuries. (This is a Charlotte Mason idea which has children record history chronologically in one notebook that they use through-out the rest of their school days).

Chronological World History

I suggest that while you meet the requirements of the curriculum you also begin studying world history in chronological order, as this is never done in the current Australian National Curriculum.

You can use historical readers and record them as part of your English, Science and Geography subjects depending on what historical book you are using.

If you have a few children who homeschool, you will probably find it best to slot your new homeschool child into the history that matches the others so you don’t have too much reading aloud. You can still teach the ANC requirements but teach chronological history as well.

Use A History Spine

“As I have said elsewhere, the ideas required for the sustenance of children are to be found mainly in books of literary quality; given these the mind does for itself the sorting, arranging, selecting, rejecting, classifying…it seems to be necessary to present ideas with a great deal of padding, as they reach us in a novel or poem or history book written with literary power.” Charlotte Mason

You can begin with a general world history book which is often called a spine. The Story of The World series are popular history spines. You can also get it as an audio, that is the way my family have listened to it.

The Bible – The Ultimate Ancient History Book

Ancient history is the logical place to begin your study of the history of the world.

Choose a history guide that will take you through ancient history and the Bible Learn about the first men, Babylonians, Egyptians, Jews, Greeks and Roman. You can read through the Bible as your main source of literature and add some historical fiction and creation science materials.

Add Some Historical Fiction

In addition to a history spine I have found that you can add historical fiction from that history period to read aloud. This brings much more life to that period of history. Below is a suggested chronological history cycle which links to booklists on that time period. Don’t feel that you need to read them all. Just start with one from that time to read aloud. It usually took me at least a term to get through one historical novel.

*The ANC also places a large emphasis on learning about Asia. In high school Asian history is taught. Look herefor books on Asia and Asian history.

Historical Skills


Worldview is a subject that is first brought up at this age. This is a good place to discuss that history is approached from different ideologies. You might also want to talk about having a Biblical worldview or a Secular worldview. An obvious conflict is between the Biblical worldview of creation and the secular worldview of evolution.

Museum visits will help your child identify things from the past. While covering your chronological history you can have your children draw artefacts from the past. Discuss how we get information from the past.