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How do I Choose the Best History Curriculum?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 June 2018
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Choosing the best history curriculum really depends on the student/s for which it is being designed. Clearly curriculum chosen for a homeschooled child will be different than that chosen for an individual grade school, middle school, high school or college class. In all circumstances though, the best guide to choice is determining what a student should reasonably be expected to know after studying a subject. When books fail to teach the basics, the student is disabled in future studies.

One of the best ways to determine history curriculum for either the homeschool student or any K-12 grade student is the state standards for a particular grade. While state standards may be augmented if needed, it’s reasonable to assume that any student progressing on to the next grade and ultimately to college is going to need meet certain minimum requirements. History is often lumped in with geography and therefore, classes or material that emphasize learning country and world maps can be of use. Geography is often taught in context of the history taught in a given year, and thus a US history course might also emphasize learning US geography.

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Typically, in the US, from about seventh or eighth grade on, students will be expected to learn world history to present, and US history to present. These courses are often split into two separate years of study each, and they may be separated by a year, so that from eight grade on there is a skip; the schedule is US/World/US/World. The logic behind splitting the history curriculum in this manner is that it allows discussion of US history that pairs up with world history, but it’s not necessarily vital to follow this schedule. All of the US history could be the subject of two years, and this could be follow by two years of world history (or the other way around). The main point is that a history curriculum teaches these subjects so that students have a good broad-based knowledge of both topics prior to entering college.

As for choosing history curriculum materials, the homeschooling parent has the advantage. They could choose from a wide array of books and study materials that help teach subjects. Usually junior high and high school teachers will have less choice, and may need to use books chosen by their school district or at least those that meet whatever education standards are required. It helps when both types of teachers can choose up to date books and materials, but this isn’t always optional. However, when books are a few years behind, the web is a great resource for catching up on more current events.

At the college level, history curriculum varies significantly. Individual teachers may use different books and materials to teach the same classes. Any teacher at this level is often welcome to order sample textbooks to decide which ones would be most appropriate. Again, goal of the teacher is to teach at least what should be reasonably known before a student moves onto other courses. However, unless a student is a history major, they may only take one or two more history courses at the college level. Choosing engaging texts and materials is a good idea to encourage retention of things learned.

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