It's important for kids to learn history because it's impossible to understand the events happening in our world without an understanding of the context in which they're taking place. And don't forget that famous quote from philosopher George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." However, because of the dry way in which history has sometimes been taught, getting kids interesting in history can be a challenge. Here are four excellent ways to spark the desire to learn.
It's easier to connect to characters from our past if we have some way to visualize them. That's why films can be such an effective way for kids to learn about historical people and events. If they can identify an actor as a person from the past, then it's easier for them to relate to that person as a human being. A poll of history teachers revealed that films are one of the best ways to motivate kids to get interested in history. Think back to your own past and I bet you can remember watching a historical film in school that stuck with you.
One downside to learning history through film is that the film can't answer the questions that arise as the child watches. That's where a historical impersonator can be beneficial in teaching history. With an impersonator, a child gets all the benefits of watching a film: an actor portraying a historical figure and making it easier for the child to relate. But the child will also have an interactive aspect that's unparalleled because they'll have the ability to ask questions and get real answers.
Although historical fiction has the label "fiction," there is a huge amount of historical fiction that is based heavily on fact and accuracy. However, because it's impossible to know every aspect of what someone did in the past without having a camera on them at all times, historical fiction writers have to fill in some details from their own imagination, like what Abe Lincoln might have eaten for breakfast. However, learning through stories is one of the best ways to capture the imagination of a child and pique their interest. Just make sure to vet the historical fiction you allow to ensure it's as accurate as possible.
Another great way to make history come alive for kids is to take them to visit the places where historical events transpired. Kids crave hands-on aspects to learning because it helps them ground historical events in the reality they live in so they can relate on a human level.