How To: Teach Social Science, Part 2 (History)

I love history.  As a matter of fact, I am working on (finally!) finishing my Bachelor’s degree and while I am majoring in English Literature, I am minoring in History.

Going through school I was fortunate enough to have some great history teachers.  However, when I first attended college over 30 years ago (ouch!), I found the basic World History classes I had to take in order to get my A.A. were incredibly boring.  I’m pretty sure it was the teachers.  This go-round I have been fortunate to have some really good history teachers.  There is no reason for history to be boring, and if you find that your history curriculum is even remotely boring your kids, you need to get a new curriculum.

I realize that there are several excellent history programs out there that are targeted at home-schoolers, but while there may be programs that are comparable to Greenleaf Press I don’t think you’ll find one better.  Greenleaf Press is what I have used for history for at least the last 17 years.  I love this program and highly recommend it!

Before I get into the nuts-and-bolts of the Greenleaf Press curriculum I do want to point out that they do not, as of now, have an American History program.  My 17-year old son finished Greenleaf’s “Famous Men of the Renaissance and the Reformation” in 9th grade and I wanted him to do an American History program in 10th grade (he is now in 11th grade and dual-enrolled at the local community college).  I decided to put together my own American History program.  My “program” consisted of assigning him a list of books to read that gave a broad overview of American history.  I also assigned a few papers to write on those books.   He really liked this program and so at the end of this post I am going to list the books that I assigned for my son’s high school American History program and I encourage you to give it a try for your own home-schooled high schooler.

Back to Greenleaf Press: GP’s program is based around their “Famous Men” book series.  The program actually begins with a study of Old Testament History and then the “Famous Men” program begins with Ancient Egypt.  From there it goes on to cover: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, The Middle Ages, and The Renaissance and the Reformation.

One of the things I love about Greenleaf Press’ program is that it is chronologically based.  The way I look at it, that is how history happened so why not study it that way?  Now keep in mind, you can jump in anywhere you want and, in fact, with the wide disparity in my kids’ ages they each had more emphasis on certain periods than others.  I never really got around to reviewing “Ancient Egypt” and “Ancient Greece” with my now 17-year old son, but by the same token he got a lot more background on “The Middle Ages” and “The Renaissance and the Reformation.”  As a matter of fact, by the time I got around to teaching “The Renaissance and the Reformation” my two older children had already graduated our home-school high school program and one had even graduated college.  And in the great “circle of home-schooling life” that happens when you have a large family, I have now started all over again with my youngest in the “Old Testament History” program.  So we’ll see how far I get with him.

Another thing I love about Greenleaf Press is their emphasis on “living books.”  If you are a devotee of Charlotte Mason you already know what I mean by that, but if you haven’t heard that term, what it means is that as part of Greenleaf’s program they recommend a lot of “real” books.  Not textbooks but the kind of books you can find at your local library or bookstore (or at Amazon.com for that matter).  The fact is that once you buy the “Famous Men” and “Greenleaf Guide to Famous Men” books for the particular time period you are studying, you can get pretty much everything else you need at the library for free.  They do offer some great home study packages though, so you may want to opt for one of those.

One thing I want to emphasize is that you can use these studies with all your children no matter what their ages.  You simply read the material and then give assignments based on your children’s ages.  For instance, you might have your 7-year old draw a picture of the Pyramids while you have your 14-year old write an essay on the Pharoahs.  The guides are just that: they are guides, and they give you tons of ideas that you can adapt for use for your family.  Given that you can use this program for all your kids and you can get so many resources right from your library, it makes Greenleaf Press a very affordable option for your family.  And one last thing, Greenleaf Press doesn’t have an affiliate program so I don’t make a dime from recommending them, but if you do order their products I would love it if you would leave them a note letting them know that you heard about them from me!

The last thing I am going to do here is, as promised, list the books I assigned my son for his high school American History program.  I guarantee you most adults in this country do not have the background in American history that these books, CD’s, and DVD’s give!  If you decide to use this program, let me know!

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  • Rcscont

    You Are Awesome!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks! Now get back to work! (For everyone else’s info, this is my husband.)