This article covers steps for planning your homeschool history curriculum, national standards for homeschool history curriculum, homeschool history for K-4, homeschool history for grades 5-12, U.S. history eras, and world history eras.
If you have questions about how to get started teaching history in your homeschool, read this article for hints and tips on getting organized.
First Steps for Planning Your Homeschool History Curriculum
When you begin planning your homeschool curriculum, start by looking for any mandatory requirements posed in your area - your state, if you’re in the United States. This list can help you locate the homepage for your state’s department of education: nces.ed.gov/CCD/ccseas
After you establish the courses you will be teaching, your can look for state guidelines, such as standards and curriculum frameworks, but note that sometimes history standards are called “social studies standards.” Your state likely has a social studies or history consultant who, along with the homeschool consultant, can help you to gain an understanding of how social studies and history fit together and what it might mean for your homeschool history course.
As you consider your state’s history or social studies standards, and look at the materials that your state offers to assist you, don’t hesitate to look at what is offered on other state department of education websites. Particularly because of the overlap between social studies and history, you may also with to consult the national history standards.
Using the National Standards for Planning Homeschool History Curriculum
The National Standards for history are found at the National Center for History in the Schools website, sponsored by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) website. nchs.ucla.edu/standards There are a number of important points to notice in the construction of the National History Standards.
First, notice that the standards are divided into two grade bands: K-4 and 5-12. All grades share the five Historical Thinking Standards:
- Chronological Thinking
- Historical Comprehension
- Historical Analysis and Interpretation
- Historical Research Capabilities
- Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making
Homeschool History for K-4
In addition to the Historical Thinking Standards, the K-4 grade range has a set of 4 topics, each of which has at least one content standard. As you look at the material below, you will see that Topic 1 deals with small groups, such as families and neighborhoods; Topic 2 deals with the student’s own larger community, either the region or the state; Topic 3 deals with the entire United States, and Topic 4 deals with the greater world.
• Topic 1 - Living and Working Together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago
Standard 1: Family Life Now and in the Recent Past; Family Life in Various Places Long Ago
Standard 2: History of Students’ Local Community and How Communities in North America Varied Long Ago
• Topic 2 - The History of the Students’ Own State or Region
Standard 3 : The People, Events, Problems, and Ideas that Created the History of Their State
• Topic 3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the Peoples from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic and Political Heritage
Standard 4 : How Democratic Values Came to Be, and How They Have Been Exemplified by People, Events, and Symbols
Standard 5: The Causes and Nature of Various Movements of Large Groups of People into and within the United States, Now and Long Ago
Standard 6: Regional Folklore and Cultural Contributions That Helped to Form Our National Heritage
• Topic 4 The History of Peoples of Many Cultures around the World
Standard 7 : Selected Attributes and Historical Developments of Various Societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe
Standard 8 : Major Discoveries in Science and Technology, Their Social and Economic Effects, and the Scientists and Inventors Responsible for Them
Homeschool History for Grades 5-12
Whereas in K-4, the content about which the students learn historical thinking is in topics, in Grades 5-12, it is in two broad categories - United States History and World History - each divided into eras. So in K-4, the student starts with the parts of the world that he or she knows best - those close to home - and works out to the wider world; while in Grades 5-12, a chronological approach is taken:
United States History Eras
- Era 1: Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)
- Era 2: Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)
- Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1800s)
- Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
- Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
- Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
- Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
- Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
- Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
- Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)
World History Eras
- Era 1: The Beginnings of Human Society
- Era 2: Early Civilizations and the Emergence of Pastoral Peoples, 4000-1000 BCE
- Era 3 Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires, 1000 BCE-300 CE
- Era 4: Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter, 300-1000 CE
- Era 5: Intensified Hemispheric Interactions, 1000-1500 CE
- Era 6: The Emergence of the First Global Age, 1450-1770
- Era 7: An Age of Revolutions, 1750-1914
- Era 8: A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945
- Era 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes
- World History Across the Eras
Notice that the eras are not the same in US and World History, but are chosen for each area to represent important sequences of events, movements, and developments in human history. Like the topics, each era has standards associated with it, and these, as well as overviews of the eras, are available on the NCHS website.
US Department of Education - nces.ed.gov/CCD/ccseas
EdStandards.org Social Studies - edstandards.org/StSu/Social
National Center for History in the Schools - nchs.ucla.edu/standards