How can you teach your child to love history?
How can you get your child to love history? Or, better stated, how can you teach your child to love history? We, as parents, are responsible for instructing our children in what is worthy of love! That, among other reasons, makes the parent the child’s true and best teacher, whether or not you homeschool.
Well, maybe the first question that you’re asking is why should my child love history? What if my child is a math-whiz or a literature fanatic or really into music or sports. History is, after all, in the past. What’s the big deal?
Let’s address this briefly in two ways. First, history is indeed practical for present-day life (not that present-day life, practicality, or occupational preparation should be the aim of education). Second, if you’re a Christian, history should be really important to you. That’s not to say that the other subjects are not important. If your child loves math, great! But, the point is, history provides a framework for all the other subjects. It allows your child to put everything into its proper perspective, and it shows God’s hand in development of all the other disciplines. (The same could be said of the Bible, but I would argue that the Bible and history cannot and should not be studied independently from one another. The Bible is part of history, and history without the Bible is false. That’s not to say that theology is not a separate discipline. But if I separate my theology from history, my theology changes!)
Here’s a list of reasons to study history from Dr. David Fisher, author and history professor extraordinaire. These reasons (and there are many more!) should suffice to show that history is very important for the modern-day Christian and the children of modern-day Christians.
- History demonstrates the greatness and goodness of God.
- History sharpens your ability to discern good and evil, truth and error.
- History illustrates the consequences of sin and the necessity of a righteous life.
- History fosters a sense of gratitude for the contributions of previous generations–an appreciation for your family heritage, your Christian heritage, and your national heritage.
- History encourages a sense of mission and responsibility through acquaintance with different lands and peoples who are in need of the gospel.
- History enriches your understanding of your faith and the role of God’s people in the world.
- History acquaints and challenges you with your God-ordained civic responsibility.
- History imparts a general education in art, music, literature, and science as well as related historical disciplines.
- History teaches valuable lessons from the past.
If I don’t see the scriptural priorities of the church in there, then I don’t know what I see! Ministry to God in worship and love; ministry to God’s people; ministry to the world. And what should we be about as Christian parents? Teaching our children these priorities: to love and worship God, to minister to the brethren, and to reach the world with the gospel. In these things, history is an enabler! Is history alone an enabler? No. But history that is embedded in God’s truth and that acknowledges Jesus as God’s sinless Son in space-time history–that is the enabler. Any other history is a lie. I’ve heard history called “His Story.” That might sound overly simplistic, but the truth is, any history divorced from God is false since no part of history is outside of God’s sovereign plan. History belongs to Him.
I could go on, but I’ve said enough for the moment. Now we must move past the why and on to the how of teaching your child to love history.
In the next several posts, I’m going to establish some criteria for what kind of history book will help children to develop a love for history and then review several children’s history series’. (I hesitate to call them curricula, even though that’s technically what they are, because they aren’t textbookish. But don’t let terminology turn you off. These are usable and enjoyable!)
I want to add an aside here, in case the curricula talk is losing your interest. This series of posts is not just for homeschooling families! Yes, our family does homeschool, and that’s what’s given me a chance to test out all kinds of options for teaching history. But what we’re going to explore in this series of posts are things that could easily be implemented into your child’s independent reading time or your family read-aloud time. These are also important considerations if you’re interested in comparing what your child learns in school to other options out there (and perhaps taking note of some things that might be missing from your child’s education). I’ll explain what you should look for in a good Christian history book, including some aspects you might not think about. I’ll show how history can be integrated into your family Bible study–and enhance it! And by the end of the series, you’ll hopefully have some helpful insight into what it takes to get your child enthusiastically engaged in the story of the ages–His Story.
About Becky Aniol
Becky holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and music, a master's degree in Christian education, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Christian education. She taught classical upper school grammar, literature, and history and lower school composition and grammar for two years, elementary school music for one year, and Kindermusik classes for four years before the birth of her children. She now loves staying home with her four children, Caleb, Kate, Christopher, and Caroline and homeschooling them classically.