Amongst homeschoolers, there is no one “right” way to study history. Some homeschoolers study historical topics based on their child’s interests whereas others, particularly those employing a classical method, survey world history once every four years. Textbooks, primary resources, and living books can all be used to learn about a historical person, time period, or event.
In our homeschool, we attempted to use a classical approach to history in elementary school but ended up abandoning it for several reasons. First, our children hated the history program we were using and weren’t interested in delving further in depth into any of the topics presented. Second, we found the classical approach to history to be somewhat stifling in the sense that there wasn’t time to explore other topics or interests not included in our curriculum without sacrificing part of our history program. In the end, we chose to do a one-year survey of world history and let the children read more in depth on various topics of interest to them. For grades 10-12, however, we plan on covering world history chronologically in an integrated fashion with literature, art and music history, geography, etc.
Update 2014: We have now changed history programs and do cover world history chronologically but at a much more relaxed pace during the elementary years. For upper elementary and high school, we use more condensed courses.
Some history resources we have enjoyed are:
Puritans’ Home School Curriculum — the PHSC has written many history textbooks for elementary and secondary school. At the elementary level, “The Real Story of Mankind” is a one-year survey of world history. Other courses that cover history include “Thy Kingdom Come I” (OT Church History), “Patrick: Apostle to Ireland” (St. Patrick),”The First Thousand Years of Christian Martyrdom: From the Days of the Apostles to 1000 A.D., Adapted from Foxe’s ‘Book of Martyrs'” (Church History), and “A Primary History of the British Isles” (British History). At the secondary level, PHSC offers courses in NT Church History and US History. In addition, many of the PHSC literature selections incorporate history into their subject matter. PHSC’s texts include student tests and assignments, teacher’s instructions, and sometimes teacher’s notes (on the assumption that the course is not being self-taught). Their texts do include an unapologetic strong reformed perspective, which our family has appreciated as it has challenged our faith in many ways.
Robinson Curriculum — this curriculum includes a lot of US history incorporated into its fiction and non-fiction resources. At the upper levels, US history is studied using primary sources. Our family has not used all of the US history resources because we are Canadian but our children have learned a lot about different events and people by just reading the literature selections alone. When Spunky realized that “Up From Slavery” is a true story, for instance, she was horrified at some of the things that had happened in Booker T. Washington’s life.
Streams of Civilization I and II — these are the texts we plan on using as our backbone for our high school history studies in grades 10-12.
Good Books — a lot of history can be learned just by simply reading good books. Even books that were not originally written as historical fiction, such as “Anne of Green Gables,” can give us a glimpse of life in a particular era after that era has passed. Some of the books our children have enjoyed that have taught them things about history include: Madeleine Takes Command, The Root Cellar, the Anne of Green Gables series, the Love Comes Softly series, the Little House on the Prairie series, G.A. Henty books, R.M. Ballantyne books, Pyle’s Robin Hood, the Railway Children, and Black Beauty, etc.
Here are some more history resources to check out:
G.A. Henty books in chronological order
Native American Legends for studying Canadian and American history
Noble Rose Press — Daughters of History paper dolls