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Historical Novels for Engaging Thinkers

Tools For Young Historians FAQs

What is Tools for Young Historians?
Tools for Young Historians is a line of teaching products dedicated to developing historical literacy in children. As with learning to read, achieving historical literacy comes through learning the fundamentals. Understanding the fundamentals of history is the springboard from which subject mastery begins, as young historians are equipped to not only mine the treasures of history but also retain them. 

Phonics programs abound for teaching the fundamentals of reading; however, there has been no "phonics" level comparison for learning history. Rather, the assumption is that children will pick up history's fundamentals along the way. We believe this false assumption is the reason why many remember so little from their history education. History curriculums do not offer students a method beyond memorization for mentally retaining historical facts. Additionally, the dating system and the universal ideas that meld people and cultures together are rarely taught to children. In contrast, Tools for Young Historians provides a "phonics-like" toolbox for teaching the fundamentals of history.

What are the "fundamentals of history"?
The fundamentals of history include:

  • Building a mental framework within the child's mind containing a scope and sequence of history
  • Comprehending the dating system and terminology used by historians
  • Understanding the ideas or worldviews that shaped the times in which people live
  • Recognizing the relationship of events to geography

Is this program just one more competing history product?
There are many excellent history programs as well as approaches currently on the market. Our program is not designed to replace any of them. Rather, Tools for Young Historians is a much needed supplement that  addresses the learning gap that we believe exists within them all.  No comparable curriculum exists for learning history's scope and sequence. We are not referring to historical narratives or a particular chronological approach. Tools for Young Historians is a resource that simplifies history's scope and sequence into a single story, making it so memorable that subsequent learning can be easily assimilated and mentally stored within its historical context. This is what we call "building a mental framework".

Teaching your child the "fundamentals of history" will greatly enhance the effectiveness of your present history curriculum or approach, as it will increase the student's ability to absorb and grasp the excellent resources and products already in use.
 
When is the proper time to teach the "fundamentals of history"?
Just as there is an opportune time to teach phonics, the best time to teach these fundamentals of history is in grades five through eight, which classical educators call the logic years. Prior to the fifth grade a child's abilities to think relationally and logically are slowly developing. In order to grasp the fundamentals of history this higher level thinking must be in place. Before this period, tell children the wonderful stories of history and expose them to the cultures they spring from, but these early years focus on exposure and rote memory, not mastery. Generally, by the fifth grade, children have the capacity to acquire the tools they need for historical literacy. 

Who uses Tools for Young Historians?
While Tools for Young Historians was inspired by and caters most to classical home schooling families, its value is not limited to this group. This program is highly beneficial to any family who sees history as a centerpiece of their children's education or believes that equipping children to discern the present requires a solid understanding of the past. Families teaching history through a unit study approach will find Tools for Young Historians is the key that enables children to retain each unit study in its chronological context.

How long does this program take?
This entire product line delivers 10 weeks or 28 multi-sensory lessons about history's fundamentals.  In addition, children acquire valuable tools for use throughout their remaining school years.

By teaching three lessons per week, this course makes an outstanding ten-week summer school program. It also is ideal to use in a co-op setting. To use in the normal school year, reduce your regular history program by ten weeks. Compensation for condensing your current history approach comes through your child's subsequent learning retention and understanding.
 
What do you mean by "hands-on"?
When creating Tools for Young Historians considerable attention was given to all three learning modalities. The visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modes of learning used throughout this product line maximize understanding of the historical fundamentals. Toothpicks, stickers and 3-D glasses are just some of the hands-on tools this supplement employs. Through supplying a few common household items, teaching history to all three modalities greatly enhances your student's learning.
 

Customer Question

"I am interested in your history products, but I have a few questions. I have 2 boys that I'm homeschooling. The oldest will be in 5th grade and the other in 2nd grade. We really have not done much history (this was our first year homeschooling), and I'm really intrigued with your idea of giving them a brief world view and how history fits together before getting into more detailed history. You suggest using your products with 5th - 8th graders. Would it be better for me to wait until my 2nd grader is older, or use your products now for the 5th grader and let the 2nd grader get what he can out of it? Which of your products would you especially recommend if I do use it next year with 5th and 2nd graders?"

Answer - I would recommend that you use Calendar Quest and What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civ(WEC) as a family for this coming school year. If you were half way through another chronological program I would encourage you to finish it first, but given your circumstances I’d jump into this program as your introduction to history with the modifications suggested here. Plan to spread the program out over the first half of the year or longer. WEC works great as a quick sprint through history providing that big picture perspective for children who already have received the good foundation laid by other history programs. But in your case, WEC could be an excellent introduction to history if you slow the program down. Regardless of the type of approach to history you are planning to use in the future, WEC provides an excellent structured chronological overview that can be used as your spring board to delight based learning. Because each lesson provides an overview of a number of historical events and people from the given period, your children could select one of the topics they found most interesting for further study. I would start by covering one lesson a week depending on how many days you allocate to history.

For instance, if you do history 5 days a week I would set up a schedule as follows:
  • Day 1 – cover new lesson material in WEC, read Calendar Quest and have children pick a favorite topic.
  • Day 2 – review all memory work using Hats of History cards that come with the program, then go to library or surf the web to discover more about your children’s chosen topic of further study.
  • Day 3 – Read books or whatever about the chosen topic.
  • Day 4 - further research and some form of project by the child. This could be a paragraph, a short essay, a Historical Fact Sheet, a colored picture, a craft etc. (After each WEC lesson there is a whole section of optional activities which may give you further ideas. Additionally, I just finished teaching this material in a one year one-day a week co-op. I developed some form of craft for every lesson. While I have this in just a rough form, I’d be happy to share the ideas with you.)
  • Day 5 - finish project, file it if applicable and do brief review of Hats of History card.
If you spend fewer days a week, than spread this schedule out over a week and a half or two. Using this schedule along with the reality of life in a home school family, you could easily stretch the material over the course of a semester or even a year. If you do the year program then I would intersperse good literature selection that coincide with the period you study and plan on using the other resources I have like Lessons on Time and A Young Historians Introduction to Worldview. In contrast to Calendar Quest and What Every Child, these programs will be over the head of your 2nd grader from a content perspective; however, as they are very hands on. I would include your second grader as he or she should be engaged by the learning methods. You may wish to purchase the TFYH Complete Kit if you want something for the whole year and beyond, as it also provides tools that you can use with any program you turn to next.

Product Line Summary
As a complete package, Tools for Young Historians has seven major product components.  However, these individual products may be purchased separately to tailor this resource to the unique approach of each home schooling family. The products developed for grades five through eight are as follows:
  • Scroll TimeLine
  • A Young Historians Introduction to Worldview
  • Calendar Quest
  • Hats of History Cards
  • What Every Child Needs to Know About Western Civilization
  • Historical Fact Sheets