Most of the history we've studied with N. has been through reading aloud, and through travel. Over the past few years, Tim and N. have read together most of Joy Hakim's History of US. They've also read some British history. We talked a lot about French history when we spent a month in Paris. They dip into A History of the World in 100 Objects, with particular focus on prehistoric objects, every so often. Tim has read many many biographies and autobiographies of famous and/or interesting people to N., which always involves history. And of course N. learns history through his passions for trains, old buildings, and music. Other than working through Hakim's set of books chronologically, none of the history studies we've done with N. has been particularly systematic. We explore topics as they arise and arrest our attention, whether they are out of order or jumping from one geographical local to another.
N. has never done any history projects or processed his learning of history formally, other than through extensive conversation with us, as well as through play in his drawings and the stories he tells about his imaginary world. He takes a yearly standardized test, but these Iowa tests seem to focus more on "social studies" skills rather than historical knowledge. So Tim was curious earlier this year to see if N. could put some major historical events in their proper chronological order.
Here are the events Tim asked N. to put in order:
A. French Revolution
B. Rise of domesticated crops and animals
D. American Civil War
E. Columbus finds America
F. Napoleonic Wars
G. Modern humans arrive in Europe from Africa
H. World War I
I. English Civil War
J. Neanderthals settle Europe
We were quite pleased to see that N. correctly put all these events in their proper order (whether he could assign them dates is also an interesting question, but not one we've asked yet). This confirmed for us that our primarily unsystematic approach to history is nonetheless working; through all our reading and talking and traveling N. is constructing an accurate mental history timeline that he will continually add to as he learns. I think the recursive nature of homeschooling is especially conducive to building historical knowledge. We circle back around topics and historical events from different angles over the years of reading and talking together. We remind each other of what we've learned and make connections.