Logo Homeschool World ® Official Web Site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine Practical Homeschooling Magazine
Practical Homeschooling® :

Preschool History

By Melissa Morgan
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #88, 2009.

   Pin It

Melissa Morgan

Preschoolers think it is “all about me,” so why care about history? Your little one will care very much about “his story”—the story of where he or she came from, and by extension, family genealogy!

In order to comprehend genealogy, kids need to understand time concepts. Look for opportunities to talk with your children about past, present, future, yesterday, today, weeks, months, years, recently, long ago, real and pretend. For instance, you could say, “Last week, we went to the store and bought bread and milk. Tomorrow, we will need to go back to the store. What will we need?”

Small children love hearing stories about themselves. Look at pictures and family movies from your child’s babyhood and beyond. After your youngster knows a little of his or her personal history, in your child’s own words, make a History of Me book. Include details such as birthday, place of birth, siblings, favorite toys, pets, and favorite colors. Your child may enjoy drawing pictures to illustrate his or her very own birth and babyhood story.

Talk about parts of your personal history that are different, and other things that are the same. For instance, perhaps you went to church as a child, but you lived in a different state. You could share recollections of how you and your spouse met, and about early jobs, education, and the birth of siblings.

Be ready to answer questions that may crop up, such as “Where did I come from?” Usually, when a very young child asks this question, they are not looking for a complicated answer involving biology or marital relations. It is usually best to answer as simply as possible and elaborate if the child asks more complex questions. If you wish, you could share a child-friendly book, such as The Story of Me by Stan Jones and Brenna Jones.

As your child learns family history, “it’s all about me” can shift into a curiosity about and concern for others. Most little kids want to know about the people they care about and extended family, both living and past. Your child might enjoy playing reporter and interviewing parents, grandparents, and family elders. In most cases, family patriarchs will be flattered and honored to share experiences with the younger generation. However, you may encounter an unusual reticence regarding sharing war or other traumatic experiences. If so, you might want to use this opportunity to train your child in respectfulness, kindness, and understanding.

Older kids, even teens, usually enjoy getting involved in family history investigation. Perhaps an older sibling will work together with your preschooler in exploring and recording family history. If so, an older sibling could help your child write and read a list of ten open-ended questions to ask, such as:

  • “Tell me about your school.”
  • “What games did you play when you were little?”
  • “What was different when you were a child—cars, phones, television, radio, recipes, cooking, work, money, stamps?”

Choose interesting questions that can’t be answered with just a yes or no. Open-ended questions will be more likely to encourage conversations and stories. You could also ask about family, jobs, pets, favorite songs, foods, clothing, cultural differences, geographical locations, and homesteads. Perhaps relatives can show you family heirlooms such as quilts, clothing, letters, and personal items. Inquire about ways to label, care for, and preserve family mementos. Relatives who live in far away place may consent to sharing details through letters or Internet phone conversations, such as Skype.com.

The whole Morgan family!
Dig deep enough, and every family has a few skeletons in the closet. For instance, one homeschool family interviewed relatives on tape, and got an earful about family drinking, strictly for “medicinal purposes, of course.” Ouch!

As parents, we can seek God’s wisdom to be honest, yet age-appropriate, in our response to family issues. When we look to the Bible we can find examples of family trouble, and share with our children how God offers solutions in His word.

As your child grows, help him or her make sense of your family tree with a genealogical chart. You can buy an ancestry chart to fill in together, download a free chart from the Internet from sources such as ancestry.com, or make your own. Help your child draw a large family tree on poster board; record the oldest known relatives in your family at the base of the tree and list family members on the branches, extending upward through the generations. If you choose, and if you have enough room on your chart, include photographs, dates, locations, marriages, trades, and associations. If you’d like to find out more, search for photographs and historical information from free public records such as familysearch.org and the Library of Congress, catalog.loc.gov. Preview information first; however, as you may encounter materials which you feel are inappropriate.

Once your child has a good understanding of your family, begin to study distant ancestors, countries and cultures. What cultures and languages can you explore? For instance, our family tree includes ancestors from England, Wales, France, Germany, and the Cherokee Nation. What did the area where your ancestors lived look like ten years ago or one hundred years ago? Study maps, both old and new. Through genealogical studies, your child can learn real-world math, map skills, geography, foreign languages, and history, all in a fun, natural way. For more about uncovering and recording family history, visit “My History is American History” savvyconsumer.org/help/misc/ my-history-p/my-hist.htm.

Holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas bring memories close to mind and heart. How did our ancestors celebrate holidays? Family vacations offer an opportunity to explore family homesteads and historical sites. We can use birthdays to honor our family patriarchs, as well as learn more about family history. We can do more than simply send a card to our family member; we can celebrate a life. If you wish, create a video history or birthday scrapbook, and include the person’s life story and other mementos.

When we share family stories, pictures, and lore with our little ones, we pass on a legacy and a dream—a dream that our children will live lives that share God’s love with others in caring ways, learn from mistakes and successes of the past, and make a difference in the world.

Melissa L. Morgan is the co-author of Educational Travel on a Shoestring and Homeschooling on a Shoestring. With her husband, Hugh, she has homeschooled their three children from birth, taking advantage of many educational opportunities in the real world. She invites you to visit her website at www.eaglesnesthome.com.

Was this article helpful to you?
Subscribe to Practical Homeschooling today, and you'll get this quality of information and encouragement five times per year, delivered to your door. To start, click on the link below that describes you:

USA Individual
USA Librarian (purchasing for a library)
Outside USA Individual
Outside USA Library

University of Nebraska High School University of Nebraska High School
Free Email Newsletter!
Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, and up to three special offers from homeschool providers every week.

Articles by Melissa Morgan

How to Avoid the 12 Most Common Curriculum Money Traps

Real World Learning for Less

Worldview on a Shoestring

Social Studies: Fun, Free, or Cheap

Mighty Math for Pennies

Superior Science on a Shoestring

Organize Your Homeschool On a Budget

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

Preschool for Pennies

Special Needs Preschool

Getting Ready to Write

Science for Tots

Music for Tots

History for Preschoolers

Arts & Crafts

Geography for Little Ones

Nursery Rhymes and "Tot Lit"

Getting Ready to Read

Preschool Prep for Pennies

Every Day a Holiday

First Grade on a Shoestring

Hands-On Second Grade on a Shoestring

Exploring Interests in the Real World: Third Grade Tips

Testing Tips For Little Ones

Physical Education on a Shoestring

Group Activities

Character Matters for Kids

The Joy of Chores

Education Vacations

Nature Study

Parent-Led Bible Education

Church-Based Christian Education

Safety Smart

Toddlercizing at Home

Happiness Is . . . Holidays

Overworked, Underpaid, and Overjoyed

Investing in Eternity with the National Bible Bee

Types of Tykes: Enjoying Your Little Learner’s Style

Toddler Travel: Top Ten Tipe for Enjoying—Not Just Surviving—Educational Trips

Make Mom Play Ball: Physical Education for Tots

Team Teaching: Older Kids Save the Day!

Preschool thinking Skills

20 Chores Your Toddler Will Love

Popular Articles

Start a Nature Notebook

Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way

Montessori Math

Don't Give Up on Your Late Bloomers

Top Tips for Teaching Toddlers

Laptop Homeschool

A Homeschooler Wins the Heisman

The Gift of a Mentor

Saxon Math: Facts vs. Rumors

Interview with John Taylor Gatto

Teaching Blends

Who Needs the Prom?

Getting Organized Part 3

Top Jobs for the College Graduate

Myth of the Teenager

AP Courses At Home

Montessori Language Arts at Home, Part 1

Whole-Language Boondoggle

I Was an Accelerated Child

What We Can Learn from the Homeschooled 2002 National Geography Bee Winners

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

Getting Organized Part 1 - Tips & Tricks

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

Narration Beats Tests

Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

Columbus and the Flat Earth...

The Charlotte Mason Approach to Poetry

Give Yourself a "CLEP Scholarship"

Bears in the House

Phonics the Montessori Way

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

Discover Your Child's Learning Style

How to Win the Geography Bee

A Reason for Reading

Character Matters for Kids

The History of Public Education

Critical Thinking and Logic

The Charlotte Mason Method

Joyce Swann's Homeschool Tips

How to "Bee" a Spelling Success

The Benefits of Debate

Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

Shakespeare Camp

The Equal Sign - Symbol, Name, Meaning

University Model Schools

Teach Your Children to Work

Classical Education

Combining Work and Homeschool

Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1993-2021 Home Life, Inc.