Dynamic Reader Question – Beginning to Teach History with a Secular Curriculum
Answering your questions means a lot to me. So today I wanted to share a question that I think you may be wondering about too.
“Hi my name is Heather, I have been following you guys for awhile now and I have been planning on homeschooling for awhile but as it draws closer to the start line I realized I can not find a social studies and history curriculum that I like. I trying to be as secular as possible with the main curriculum and then teach many different religions later on. Do you have any curriculum you favor or any hints and tips for picking social studies and history curriculum ? My daughter will be doing Prek/K work and I am seven months pregnant with my next child.”
Deciding whether or not to include “religion” can be a touchy subject for most homeschoolers because I think every homeschooler views the term “teaching religions” differently.
I certainly think children that age are capable of understanding more than we give them credit for at times. Shying away from teaching them values early on when their hearts are malleable can make it harder to teach later. Right away principles can be involved that include your view on religion and Bible.
However, because we have the inherent right to teach our children, homeschooling is about you as the parent deciding when and how to teach your values to your children.
Too, all the complexities of history do not need to be taught at this age. Along with learning how to read and write, children are learning at every moment. It really is the time to be teaching them about the story of history.
When my boys were that age, I had stumbled upon The Story of the World. When it first came out, it sparked controversy because some homeschoolers felt it was too secular. Others homeschoolers understood what Susan Wise Bauer was doing, which was allowing the parents to be the ones to decide when and how to teach the Bible.
I happened to be in the second camp but probably for a slightly different reason too. I wanted my husband and I to be the ones responsible for their education on the Bible and religion.
Through the years, I have found The Story of the World to be more about history than a Bible study. It really allowed me the chance to add Bible content and teach history as I wanted to.
Look at my post When We Used Story of the World as our History Spine because I talk about it briefly there too.
Here are some other things to think about and that I loved too about Story of the World.
- The Story of the World is for ages 6 and up or starting in first grade, but easily adaptable for a slower pace or age.
- As a new homeschooling teacher, regardless of grade level, it made teaching easy because I could learn right alongside my children. Using something laid out, though engaging, makes it easier on you so that you understand the story of history.
- The reader is written in a story format to engage early learners. Too, I always purchased each of my sons their own reader. I had one and they had one too. I felt this promoted a love of books and history though it cost a bit more, I would be using it for several years.
- The questions and answers are on the same page in the Activity Guide which is like the Teacher’s Manual and Activities all together. It is a must-have.
- Other books or suggested reading are listed in the Activity Guide so that as your child learns to read, you can look for other books to add to her everyday reading.
- There are a variety of hands-on projects to choose from, including map work. From coloring, to crafting, to building, I had plenty to choose from to make our day fun.
However, because your daughter is so young, I would suggest doing a bit of tweaking to this curriculum or any curriculum you use at this age. It is more about enjoying the learning process too while she is taking in the story.
- Do not follow the schedule of the first grader, which is about 6 years of age. Since your daughter is younger, go slower.
(Mr. Senior 2013, Tiny and Mr. Awesome. Sorry for the quality of the picture, but I was a new homeschooling momma proud of the fact that when we started Story of the World, I did some things right. I immediately added more hands-on when we started Story of World like “digging for artifacts” instead of pushing through the curriculum. I get a few sniffles looking at this picture.)
For example, we did one lesson and spent a few days on it or a week instead of the time suggested by the schedule. Covering less and explaining it more is the secret tool to teaching well. More does not mean better. I think about my sons’ eating habits when they were that age. They needed less food more often throughout the day. Teaching is similar and not to be gulped down or forced in one sit down feeding time.
- Look ahead and see what the topic is going to be about and then find extra hands-on projects to go along with it.
- Add in museum quality coloring books that are both fun and teach history. Coloring books like Dover History Coloring Book and Edupress COLOR & LEARN series make beautiful portfolios to save and review later.
- Remember teaching at this age should be about fun and introducing the intriguing lives of people from both the past and present. Reading aloud a book about George Washington, Pocahontas or about Columbus along with a coloring page are sufficient when you are sleep deprived.
Look at the books below that I have listed.
Also be sure to follow me on Pinterest. In addition to having boards where history is divided by topics, I have a general board named Toddler/Prek/K which probably has more Kindergarten ideas than anything. Mixed in will be several ideas to spark expanding a topic about history.
But that is not all. Using all of your daughter’s senses, mix in fun things like drawing and playing to strengthen fine motor skills and learn about history.
Look at some of these other resources I have used and loved because there is an abundance of material that can make your job easier.
We love the Draw and Write Through History series. Though these books have some cursive copy work in them, the focus for now can be on following the easy step by step drawings and you writing what your daughter dictates to you about the picture or what she has learned. This technique is called narration.
Too, by purchasing resources like this you can get several grade levels out of them and can still use them with your next child. They are timeless tools for teaching young kids regardless of how many years go by.
I often call teaching at this age horizontal teaching. Don’t worry about going up so much in grade level as you do about expanding, broadening and deepening her understanding on the topic you are on through enrichment.
Picking up books at the library about the way people dress and preparing snacks together from different countries whets her appetite for appreciating the customs and culture of others.
Look at some of these ideas for hands-on history that we have done recently.
Make chili when learning about Texas. Free Copywork– “Cattle” A Texas Poem
Make chocolate chip cookies. Learn About the Geography of France by Creating A Solar Oven
Make negrinho. A dessert from Brazil. Negrinho From Brazil–South America Unit Study
Though there are a wealth of wonderful history providers at this age, a lot of them do start with some kind of Bible or religion teaching. As the parent, you decide if and when you want to incorporate it.
Teaching your daughter through some of the products and ideas I listed above, you can stay as secular as possible and add in your world view as you decide.
Living books, hands-on learning, dance, crafts and cooking are a huge part of learning at any age, but especially at PreK/K age. I think Story of the World would give you the comfort of something planned, but enough flexibility to move away when you want to. It is a multi-age history curriculum, which means it can take you all the way to 6th grade and a bit beyond. I think it would make a nice addition to your growing family. (okay, I’m such a geek at time, couldn’t resist.)
I will be sharing more helps, tips and lists for this age too in some upcoming posts.
Hugs and love ya,
And oh good grief, I only wish at times I could write with more brevity instead of a “book” post. But I prefer you have way more details than not get enough because YOU CAN DO THIS!