Homeschool History For The Struggling Learner
I have spent years trying to find the best homeschool history program for my boys. Here is what I recommend.
My absolute favorite subject in school was history.
I loved reading about ancient times and imagining what it must have been liked. I used to make my little sister pretend play with me that we were pioneers or living on a pirate ship. I even read historical fiction for fun in elementary school.
History has always been my jam. But my children? They do not like “studying history.” Not all.
At first I was discouraged. Then, as time went on, I realized they actually love history as much as I do – but they struggle with a traditional history study.
I have come to understand that in order to really learn history, my boys need to explore it.
A few years ago, I tossed the textbooks and workbooks and instead decided to use only what I knew worked for their natural interests and curiosity.
This looked like a ton of stories about people and places, lots of map work and even a few YouTube videos thrown in for good measure.
It worked well. They resisted less and began to ask for more.
Moreover, I wanted more. History became a way for my dyslexic son to practice reading – he was so interested in the historic stories, he wanted to try. History also allowed my boys to connect with one another. It’s one of the only interests they share and boy do they.
(Totally a mom story, but it applies – Years ago, I walked into the living room and found my boys throwing items from the freezer at one another. I was taken aback and exclaimed “What are you doing??!!” My oldest looked at me, plain as day and said, “We are having a Cold War.” To this day, they are both fascinated by this timeframe, but with a more abstract grasp on what a “cold war” actually is.)
Because history a natural fit for my family in terms of interest, but a struggle in actually finding out of the box ways to learn and connect with the learning, I have been searching for more and more ways to incorporate history into our everyday homeschooling.
Then I discovered You ARE and ARTiST!, our favorite, meltdown free art program, also has history lessons available.
It has been a game changer for my youngest son.
Please know, although You Are An Artist gifted me access to their lessons, I was not paid for my time in writing this post. I am sharing this with you because we love it!
You Are An Artist has an entire collection of courses specifically for science and history. These “I drew it then I knew it” courses give a quick, few minute introduction to the topic in a very conversational and engaging way. Then, Nana encourages the learner to draw what they have learned so much about.
Throughout the art lesson, she weaves in little details about the historic place, person or event and asks the learner to consider their own knowledge as they create. This has been absolutely perfect for my son.
Homeschool History For The Struggling Learner
These are just a few of the reasons I think this program works so well for my struggling learner.
Reading Not Required
My son is profoundly dyslexic. At 13 years old, he has made a ton of progress and I am grateful to say that his years of hard work are starting to pay-off. Now, having said that, reading tires him out completely. Having a history option that does not require any reading at all means he stays engaged longer and ultimately learns more.
Hands-On And Multi-Sensory
Like many children with learning differences, my son needs a multi-sensory approach to learning in order to retain the information. We supplement every single subject with hands-on activities to help him. What is wonderful about You Are An Artist is that they do it for me, in a way that he enjoys.
Nana is so warm and encouraging, my son relaxes just hearing her voice. She reminds the learner that mistakes are not really mistakes in art, and even shows herself making a few along the way. The result is my son is focused, relaxed and engaged.
This approach is a huge benefit when your child is prone to perfectionism and rigid thinking.
Seriously, my son does not really consider this “school.” It’s something fun that we do together once we complete a history book. Our most recent unit study on The Middle Ages paired perfectly with the “I Drew It Then I Knew It” lessons and he really enjoyed both the process and the result.
We are beginning an astronomy unit next month, so I plan to incorporate You Are An Artist into our science as well. In the meantime, I had to share this resource. I think it’s genius and perfect for children with learning differences.
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Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned educational consultant, and mom of two brilliant boys who have learning differences and special needs.
Shawna has also written four books: Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos, and Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. A passionate advocate for individualized education, Shawna is frequently featured on Today.com, Simple Homeschool, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Mighty. She can also be found supporting parents online at her own site, DifferentByDesignLearning.com.