History gets a bad rep for being one of the more boring subjects for kids. Memorizing the names of presidents or the dates of battles has a way of feeling boring at best and pointless at worse, leading to groans of, “Why should I even care?”
This can be pretty discouraging for the history buff parents of the world. But just as you fell in love with the subject when you were young, you can help find plenty of ways to cultivate a love of history in your kids.
Humanize Your History
Human beings are naturally drawn to stories. It’s why we enjoy books, movies, and TV shows so much. And when you think of history as the story of people’s lives instead of just a list of facts and events to memorize, everyone usually enjoys it a lot more.
For example, the name “Napoleon” isn’t particularly interesting; however, the story of a boy kids picked on in school who inspired his men, rose through the ranks, and eventually became a military and political leader European monarchs feared so much they banished him to an island 7,000 miles away has a different impact. The action and drama will draw kids in.
Pro Tip: Personal Connections
An easy way to humanize history is by tying it to your own family’s heritage. For example, if your family immigrated through Ellis Island, you can use their story to teach about the history of immigration in America.
Make It Come to Life
It’s hard to humanize history when you only learn about it in a book. A great way to help kids truly connect with history lessons is by allowing them to experience what happened in real life as much as possible. A few easy ways to do that without dusting off your time machine include:
- Attending reenactments
- Going to living history museums
- Visiting historical sites
Even if you don’t have access to these sorts of places, there are other ways to help kids love history by making it come to life. For example, you can go on a nature hike with kids to help them imagine what it would have been like for them to travel on the Oregon trail.
Go Beyond the Study Guide
While we all want our kids to remember names like George Washington and the Berlin Wall, they aren’t the only things that happened in history. And sometimes, going beyond the vocab list at the end of the textbook chapter is the key to get kids interested in history.
Instead of just teaching about “mass extinction events”, let kids’ imaginations go wild learning about the most dangerous dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period. Teaching about WWII? Tell them about the most Polish bear that fought on the allies’ side.
History is only as boring as we make it. With a little fun and creativity, your kids will start to love it almost as much as you do.