Our culture does a terrible job teaching our children history. Even before our attempts to change it or erase the achievements of our heroes, we left children adrift, scrambling for some land they could stand on to view the big picture.
Sometimes we have done well with particular eras or moments. But even then, these have been divorced from the wider context of history. Without that context, children will have a hard time discerning wisdom from their ancestors and recognizing the returning patterns as they loop back at us.
It’s like reading them a few paragraphs of A Tale of Two Cities and expecting them to internalize the wider work of Charles Dickens.
Or playing them few seconds of Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major and expecting them to know the significance of Bach.
The result: people who are rootless and destined to be tossed to and fro by the waves of modernity. A freight train could be barreling toward them and they wouldn’t know to jump out of the way.
Our children are forgetting the past, and so they will be susceptible to manipulation by nefarious actors who seek to rewrite the past.
What to do?
One thing you should do, starting from an early age, is to saturate them in a timeline of the history of the world. One that takes them from Creation to the modern era. Have them memorize the timeline.
Whenever they study history, they can slot new knowledge within this timeline, giving them a broader context. When they learn about Alexander the Great, they will know what led up to him and what happened after him. They will also know if something else was happening in China around that same time.
This gives them firm anchor points. They can explore and think with more confidence.
It matters, for example, whether the Spanish-American War happened before or after the American Civil War. It matters that Andrew Jackson was president before Abraham Lincoln. The order and flow of history are just as important as the historical fact itself.
An added benefit: you, as the parent, will learn a lot as well.
There are already historical timelines made for you, ready to go. You don’t even have to use the full curriculum to get a benefit out of a particular timeline.
- Classical Conversations – These come in four bundles, and each card has a picture with a summary on the back. Ancient World, Medieval World, New World, Modern World. A song is available to aid in memorization.
- Veritas Press – Six bundles. Old Testament and Ancient Egypt, New Testament, Greece, and Rome, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation, Explorers to 1815, 1815-Present. A song is also available for these sets.
- Memoria Press – A single bundle, but the cards do not have pictures or descriptions. More weighted toward the Greek and Roman periods. This one requires more writing and reading for the student.
Alternatively, you can make your own. I wouldn’t recommend that unless you have a deep love and knowledge of history yourself.