Learning Focus

April 2021 | Focus: History is Everywhere

The Importance of History

Think about it. We are born into history and it is made everyday. While our children have no memory of the past events, their lives are fundamentally shaped and impacted by historical events. By helping our children become knowledgeable of personal, national, and global history, we can help them understand how identity is formed and how society can change and develop.

As the Spanish philosopher George Santayana said: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” History provides examples of both good and irresponsible behaviour. In considering these behaviors, children can learn from the mistakes of others as well as how not to repeat past mistakes. Moreover, the more children know about the past the better prepared they are to navigate the present world as well as develop the tools needed to handle future circumstances.

This month's Learning Focus is about providing families with ways to help children explore, engage, and enjoy history.

History Habits

Exploring and thinking about history as a family helps to bring history alive and allows children to engage in conversations about current events. The following US Department of Education's recommended "history habits" can show your child that history is important not only as a school subject but in everyday life.

  1. Share family history with your child, particularly your own memories of the people and places of your childhood. Encourage your parents and other relatives to talk with your child about family history.
  2. Read with your child about people and events that have made a difference in the world and discuss the readings together. (The list of publications in the Resources section at the end of this booklet can serve as a starting point for choosing materials.)
  3. Help your child know that the people who make history are real people just like her, and that they have ideas and dreams, work hard and experience failure and success. Introduce your child to local community leaders in person if possible and to national and world leaders (both current and those of the past) by means of newspapers, books, TV and the Internet.
  4. Watch videos and TV programs about important historical topics with your family and encourage discussion about the program as you watch. Check out library books on the same topic and learn more about it. See if the books and the videos/programs agree on significant issues and discuss any differences.
  5. Check out from your library or buy a collection of great speeches and other written documents to read with your child from time to time. As you read, pause frequently and try to restate the key points in these documents in language that your child can understand.

Hometown History: Lumberton, New Jersey