This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Get Teens Interested in History. This post is running concurrently at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
It is not unusual for teens to feel like History is a dull and boring subject. After all, it is difficult for textbooks to be fun to read! However, when you homeschool high school, textbooks are not the only choice for earning those necessary History credits! That is what we are discussing in How to Get Teens Interested in History (on the Homeschool Highschool Podcastl
Vicki shares the some ways to get teens’ buy-in and interest on their History credits in this episode. In her work with her own teens, co-ops and homeschool umbrella school group classes, she has found several ways to make History more meaningful and interesting!
How Vicki’s teens found interesting History studies
One of Vicki’s teens was really interested in History. He did not love History textbooks but he would use them as a jumping-off place for his own independent studies. He could read a bit of the text until he found something that sparked his curiosity, then he would jump off the text and find his own books and websites to explore.
Several of her teens liked to work from a syllabus. They could take the topics on a syllabus (or the table of contents in a textbook), then read real books on those topics.
Some of the ways to “sparkle up” a History credit
There are lots of ways to add interest to History topics. Here are a few:
Go on field trips
Homeschoolers never outgrow field trips! The nice thing about History field trips is that you can often take the entire family! Some History field trips we have enjoyed include:
- National and State Historical Sites
- These can be moving experiences. When teens see actual battlefields or places where momentous occasions happened, they learn and remember.
- Local history interpretive centers
- These can be especially helpful in learning local history and culture. Not only that but they often learn about actual events that happened locally.
Going on field trips helps teens learn that history is a real thing: real people who did real things!
Watch documentaries and movies
Watch history-based movies and documentaries on the topic.
Movies are helpful because narrative helps an event come to life. Teens learn perspective taking and get more of the “feel” of an event or era. However, it is wise to do some critical thinking along with the movie. We suggest:
- Having discussions about what was accurate or not in the movie
- Practice some fact checking with reliable sources
Documentaries are nice because they present information in a visual format, often interestingly written.
Remember to log those hours! Use them for a Carnegie Unit History credit or leveling up to Honors for the homeschool transcript.
Give them books to read
They can count books for History credits can be also counted for their book list in English/Language Arts.
- Historical Fiction
Here is a post on favorite American History books.
Learn family history together
Get the family together and tell the stories about family members from the past. Any little snippet of information is helpful. Family stories give History context and makes it come to life! Not only that, but family stories help teens understand their own roots. (They can also be used as the basis for a fun Family Narrative Short Story for English/Language Arts class.)
Let teens do some creative writing or research-paper writing
Teens can write a Family Narrative Short Story or come up with their own historical fiction story. They can use this as History hours as well as logged hours towards a Carnegie Unit History credit or leveling up to Honors for the homeschool transcript.
On the other hand, they might be more interested in writing their annual research paper on a History topic (that way they get credit for both ELA and History). They could choose a topic that has caught their interest and write an:
Don’t forget to log those hours! Use them for a Carnegie Unit History credit or leveling up to Honors for the homeschool transcript!
Study current events in context of the History
Why do people today feel the way they do? What influences people today that is rooted in the past? Do some google searches on the historical context of current events. Remember to stick to reliable sources!
Find an interesting textbook
This is a favorite (because our teens said so): History and Philosophy of the Western World. It teaches the history of the Western World through the philosophers who influenced the cultures of each time period. It may sound boring but it is actually a light-hearted text that helps teens learn to think philosophically while they learn history. You can also get a free suggested syllabus for the text. Not only that but there are rubrics to help you grade your teens’ History and Philosophy of the Western World.
For more ideas, check out this post on five ways to earn American History credits.
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