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Are you intimidated by the thought of teaching high school history?
You worry about doing too little and failing your children. And you worry about doing too much and burning your teens out.
Homeschooling high school history should be fun! Just use my ten easy tips to plan an awesome year of high school history!
1. Keep Going with your History Rotation
Don’t need to make major changes to your homeschool just because you find yourself teaching high school history.
So if you’ve been following a history rotation, don’t change! A
nd it doesn’t matter if the history rotation is a four-year rotation or a six-year rotation.
Just continue with the plan you’ve been following and do the next level in your rotation. All you need to change is the difficulty of the work.
Switch out the middle school history books for high school history books and keep moving forward.
Your teen will be just fine!
2. Let Teens Make Reasonable Decisions
High school teenagers have definite opinions on how they prefer to study. Some teenagers prefer to answer a list of questions.
Others love to write papers.
So as you think about homeschooling high school history, keep these preferences in mind.
For instance, many high school textbooks and high school curricula include a list of questions for high school students to answer from their weekly readings.
So if your teenager enjoys answering questions, encourage them to answer the questions.
Your child will quickly learn to recognize important information in their readings.
But some teens loathe answering questions. Instead, I gave my teenager the assignment of writing a paper about one topic from their reading.
When we were reading about the influenza deaths of the early 1900s, I had a child choose to write a paper about influenza instead of answering the textbook’s questions.
In this case, I did not allow my child to write one paragraph and call it good. No, it needed to be at least a 5 paragraph essay on the topic.
Let your teens choose how they prefer to study as long as it’s at a high school level.
3. Choose a Spine
Use a spine to provide continuity to your high school history studies. The ideal spine will be able to be used for all 4 years of high school history.
The spine will also give you a launching point for rabbit trails.
History textbooks work well for spines. And you’ll find a list of high school history spines here.
Essentially, you assign your teen to read a few pages of the spine each week and answer any questions the spine asks.
If you’re studying Julius Caesar, one child may prefer to follow a rabbit trail into Gaul and research Julius Caesar’s military campaigns.
Another child may choose to research why the Roman Senate feared Julius Caesar so much they assassinated him.
The goal is for your teen to complete additional research on interesting topics once they’ve read the assignment.
Hence the term rabbit trails. Your teen will follow rabbit trails of interest and you never know what they’ll learn before they come to the end of the trail.
4. Add Primary sources
High school teens are ready to study primary sources from the time period being studied.
Not only do the primary sources shed light on what is happening in history, but they show how history affects the writers.
Again, tie these primary sources into the spines you’re studying.
When you’re reading about Julius Caesar, read Caesar’s Gallic Wars. If you’re studying the American Revolution, read documents written by the Founding Fathers.
Slowly work through various historical documents together and discuss the material together.
5. Watch Documentaries and Movies
Documentaries and movies are a fun way to round out your high school history course.
They give a view of the historical times and culture that is impossible to replicate. You see the clothing, houses, and culture of the period.
And you get a visual image of the time period that no book can give. Seeing a blacksmith hammering a sword carries an emphasis that no amount of books can give.
It’s a case of one picture equals a thousand words.
Keep in mind that documentaries and movies are truly useful during those weeks everyone is sick.
6. Use the Library
The library is an awesome tool to expand your child’s high school history studies without breaking the bank. Wander the shelves and pull out books you’d like your teen to read.
You can also bring home a stack of books and let your teenagers choose the ones they’d enjoy reading.
Remember to encourage your teenagers to use the library when they’re researching rabbit trails. They never know what they may discover!
The best part of homeschooling high-school-age kids is the long, in-depth discussions.
You don’t need to hold formal discussions around the kitchen table. Sometimes the best discussions occur while washing dishes, driving in the car, or cooking dinner.
If all else fails, head out to a coffee shop once a week to catch up and discuss history together.
8. Let Kids Spend Extra Time on Areas of Interest
The battles and wars in history fascinate some teens. Others adore the myths and stories.
So while you’re homeschooling high school history, give your teens enough time to delve into the areas that fascinate them.
Let them explore the myths, the legends, and the stories.
Encourage them to explore the fashions, the architecture, and the artwork.
And don’t forget to explore the battles, generals, and weapons of history.
Your teens will love pursuing the rabbit trails.
And keep in mind, teenagers learn a lot about the general history of the period while pursuing their personal interests.
You’ll be amazed at what they learn when you sit down for history discussions.
9. Assign Papers
History gives a lot of fodder for writing.
Have your children write essays, thesis papers, stories, and novels about what they’re studying.
Your kids can work together to write and produce a play about your history topic for family and friends.
They can write short stories, essays, and do fictional interviews with famous men and women of the past.
You can even stage a debate for your kids to argue two sides of an issue. Use your imagination and don’t get stuck in a rut.
Alternate between the various genres as you teach high school history.
10. Age-appropriate projects
Projects aren’t just for little kids.
There are many elaborate projects that are more suitable for high school teenagers than they are for kindergartners.
If you’re hoping to mummify a chicken, remember that teenagers can actually mummify the chicken whereas kindergartners watch YOU mummify the chicken.
Take your pick. As for me, I’ll let my teenagers do all the gory work for me any day of the week!
So choose a few appropriate projects that interest your teenagers and let them go.
They can mummify chickens, craft Greek Urns, or create a copy of the Statue of Liberty.
So include age-appropriate projects into your high school history lessons!
Teaching high school history should not be all work and no play.
Use these ten amazing and easy tips to customize your high school student’s history subjects and have some fun while you learn!