How to Teach Your Boys to Enjoy Studying History

Teach Your Boys How to Enjoy Studying History

Overview: History is one of those subjects that can be dry and boring – or it can come alive and inspire your kids! Learn these 8 tips for creating engaging lessons!

Why is it that some people absolutely LOVE to study history while others hate it?  Is it simply a difference of opinion?  

Or could it have something to do with the way history is often taught?

8 Ways to Teach Your Boys How to Enjoy Studying History

If you talk to students who are learning history by reading a textbook, listening to lectures, taking notes, and memorizing dates for a test, you’ll probably find that a large percentage of them don’t enjoy studying history.

If you talk to students who are learning history by being immersed in the stories, by thinking critically about why things happened the way they did, by actually experiencing the history, you’ll probably find that a large percentage of them do enjoy studying history.

History is one of those magical subjects that homeschool moms can help to come alive for their children. All of our children’s senses can be engaged while learning the history of our world.

Time Capsule: Medieval England Unit Study

Here are 8 ways to teach your boys how to ENJOY studying history:

1. Allow him to select the time period

My boys and I have studied quite a few different periods in history. One year, I planned to focus on American History starting with the American Revolution. We had studied this time before, however, I wanted to do it again once my boys were older.

My sons, however, had slightly different thoughts. They wanted to jump ahead and study from World War I to the present. 

They were more interested in learning about what’s currently going on in our world – and they preferred learning about completely new events versus going back over things they have heard before. Allowing them to choose the time period helped to ensure that my boys would be more interested in what they were learning.

Teach Your Boys How to Enjoy Studying History

2.  Break down the timeline over the school year

After you’ve decided what time period you will focus on, break it down so that you know how long you can spend on each span of years or event.

3.  Have him read novels about the time period

Reading historical fiction is a great way for history to come alive for him. Good historical novels will capture not only what happened but how people felt about what was happening. These books often recount their triumphs and their struggles. They help our kids to feel like they have experienced the time period.

4. Have him read non-fiction books about the time period

Reading non-fiction is a great way to be sure that your son is learning the facts of what actually happened. A great guide to use to find appropriate books is called All Through the Ages by Christine Miller.

→ Related Content: Modern American & World History with Beautiful Feet Books

5. Have him watch movies about the time period

Most boys have at least a somewhat visual learning style. Allowing your son to watch relevant movies is an excellent way for him to enjoy learning about history.

6.  Immerse him in the time period

Time Capsule: Medieval England Unit Study

Hands-on history activities are so much fun! Let your child wear the clothes, listen to the music, try the food, forge the weapons… anything else you can think of that will allow him to experience first-hand what someone from that time period might have experienced. 

If your son is interested in Medieval England and/or wants to know what it would feel like to be a knight in shining armor, consider trying my Time Capsule: Medieval England Unit Study.

7. Take him on field trips

Any time you can take your son somewhere so that he can see first-hand the way the people lived, you should consider doing it. Visit colonial villages, castles, forts, American Indian villages, Civil War battle sites, etc. Let your son watch reenactments. Even better, help him participate! A great place to do this is at Colonial Williamsburg.

Teach Your Boys How to Enjoy Studying History

8. Find a creative way for him to record what he has learned

Have your son create some sort of project which will help him remember what he has learned. If he enjoys writing, have him keep a notebook or write a historical novel. 

If he loves photography, have him create a scrapbook or a photo book. If he’s interested in moviemaking, have him make a movie or a documentary.

If he’s interested in computers or technology, have him create a web page or record a podcast. The possibilities are endless!

I remember being in 8th grade and our teacher had us pretend we were part of a wagon train heading west. He helped us plan what supplies we would need to bring and then we were off.

Our teacher had set it up so that each table of kids was in a separate wagon – and different things would happen to us depending on the choices that we made.

If we encountered a river, we could cross safely if we had brought enough rope with us. If the journey took longer than we had expected and we ran out of food, we could hunt for meat if we had brought along a gun.

Going on the pretend wagon train was one of the biggest adventures I experienced while in school. We all loved it!

We can and should help history to come alive for our kids. It takes more effort than simply having them read a textbook… but as that famous quote by Winston Churchill says, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

It’s worth taking the time to expose our kids to the dry facts of history but for us to help them love it enough to really want to dig into it!

Question:  Do your kids enjoy studying history? Do you have any other ideas more making history an exciting subject to learn? Please leave a comment below.

Teach Your Boys How to Enjoy Studying History

19 thoughts on “Teach Your Boys How to Enjoy Studying History”

  1. One of the things that truly surprised me in homeschooling my children was their love of history! Public-schooled myself, I honestly found history utterly boring. As you said; textbooks, facts, tests. Nothing seemed relevant to my own life. But my children have the privilege and opportunity of studying history from a different angle; via people’s lives and discovering how and why it all matters now. I love this post and am pinning it on my homeschooling board. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes, yes and YES! I love all of these ideas. I’ve just wrapped up my first year of homeschooling my son and I never thought he’d love History as much as he does at such an early age. I didn’t really start to enjoy it until we moved to a small school in Vermont that focused on unit studies for the whole campus. In highschool it was back to the boring fact finding, but I was blessed in college to have a professor who placed more emphasis on the SIGNIFICANCE of the events over the exact dates. So most questions were posed like “how did x affect the average citizen?”….”how did war z influence daily life in y, a far away country”. The facts, dates and names are important but unless we have the something relevant or significant to anchor them to, they usually go in one ear and out the other. Thank you so much for sharing these great ideas!

  3. Great thoughts, Michelle. I graduated from homeschooling in 1997, and I still love to read about history and share history by dressing in costume to tell stories about real people!

    I’ve created a free WWII field trip guide to 450 sites in all 50 states that might be useful to your readers…

    1. Michelle Caskey

      That’s great, John. Feel free to leave a link to it in a comment so that people can find it. I’ll have to check it out for my boys as well!

  4. I was one of those kids that HATED history in school – boring! But yes, I’m sure the way we were taught using textbooks and memorizing dates was probably the reason for my dislike. My daughter is only 5, so I haven’t had to start history with her yet. I was sort of dreading trying to figure out how to teach her history, in a way that my dislike doesn’t rub off on her. I actually learned a lot from this post, and am pinning it so I can return and reread it when I am ready to start history in our homeschooling. Thanks for linking this up at the Learning Kids Link-Up.

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Oh, I’m so glad to hear that, Melanie. Yes, we can certainly push our kids toward enjoying or disliking various subjects. Glad you found this post helpful! 🙂

  5. Great ideas!! My son just got to go to Washington DC with his 8th grade class. Said it was a lot of fun to see the things from the books in person! 🙂

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Oh, yes, I remember my trips to Washington DC well. That trip is definitely on the bucket list to do with my boys in the next few years as well. So much to see and do. I’m especially wanting to take them to the Holocaust Museum… but that’s also why we’re waiting until they’re just a bit older to go…

  6. My son just passed his CLEP (a test to place out of a college course) because we basically did the things mentioned in your article. He has a love for learning. I never gave him a “test.” It was apparent he didn’t need one. 😉

    1. That’s wonderful to hear. And very encouraging because we don’t do lots of tests around here, either. I’ve never needed to because I always knew whether or not they understood what they were learning. 🙂

  7. Great ideas! We are so lucky that in homeschooling we can make subjects come alive! My son loves history, and I credit much of it to using many of the ideas you’ve written about. It’s funny that when he gets it in his head that he doesn’t want to “do school” he grabs a history book and hunkers down with it.

  8. I like that you said that allowing your child to choose the historical topic they want to study helps make them more interested in learning about it. I am trying to teach my son more about history because I think it’s something really important for him to know well. He is really interested in airplanes, so maybe we can start by going over the history of aircrafts since he will probably love that.

    1. Exactly!!! Yes, I’m sure he will. Deep dives about topics they love are one of the best ways to get our kids excited about learning. You can do the same thing with science as well. There’s a TON of science he can learn by studying aircraft as well!!! Math, too, for that matter. And engineering. And design. And on and on… 🙂

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