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History Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

History Doesn’t Have to Be Boring


As a history buff, does it pain you to see how disinterested your kids are in history?

However, their indifference may be due to how history is presented in class. In their minds, it’s about reading books they find boring, memorizing things they don’t understand and doing homework assignments to get a good grade.

How can you make history come alive for your kids?

How do you get them to see that history is much more than just names and places and dates?

You could lecture on the value of history. You could tell them how history helps us understand how dramatic events have created the rise and fall of civilizations. You could tell them how history gives us a sense of perspective. You could tell them how if we don’t learn from the past we may be condemned to repeat it.

However, despite your enthusiasm, they might just tune you out.

Here are 7 ways to get their attention:

1. Introduce historical autographs. 

Holding a historical document in your hands can make history come alive! Historical autographs create immediate excitement. You can even buy one to frame in your living room. Your kids will proudly show visitors a historical paper signed by a famous president. Where do you get genuine historical autographs? The Raab Collection is one proprietor that sells presidential autographs and more.

2. Discuss history when you travel.

Help your kids learn about a famous place before, during and after the trip. If you were visiting London, you could take a trip to Trafalgar Square to show them the 18-foot statue built to honor Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. This could then lead to a discussion about how Britannica once ruled the waves.

3. Relate to their interests.

Imagine how excited your kid will be if you researched the history of their favorite interests. Suppose your child loves superheroes from Marvel comics. Did you know that many of the INVADERS stories, spun over a period of four years, were based on a background of real World War II historical events? What a great opportunity for you to get your child interested in learning about the two world wars.

4. Teach with technology. 

One reason why your kid may not be interested in history is that he or she thinks of it as reading musty old books and poring over spinning globes. Meanwhile, your child may be spending much of their time texting and tweeting and surfing the net. Just use their favorite medium to communicate with them. You can find a lot of great biographies on YouTube, as well as innumerable websites that teach children fascinating facts about history. For a guide to where to look for history-related websites check out besthistorysites.net.

5. Make studying fun.

Turn facts and figures into games borrowing techniques from accelerated learning methods. For instance, you can get apps for speed-reading and apps for creating Tony Buzan’s mind maps. You can also introduce your child to the memory technique called mnemonics, which links up ideas to each other in a fun way. Here, for example, is a tip from 8-time World Memory Champion Dominic O’Brien: “A collection of numbers means nothing and will just blur together in your mind unless you can find a way to attach significance to them. If you want to remember the Battle of Trafalgar was in 1805 you could picture an 18-year-old holding his hands up saying give me five, for example.”

6. Create rewards for research papers.

If you’re visiting a historical site, challenge your kids to develop their own research essays based on Internet research. They will eagerly look up facts and figures if they know that there is a good chance of getting something that they really want if they meet your criteria. Rewards could be anything that excites your child, from getting pizza to a visit to a popular water park.

7. Make history relevant.

Show your child how history is alive and well today. You can do this by reading with your kid about people who have made a difference to the world. Collect stories of some of the most interesting people in history. Make history come alive by personalizing it. For example, if it weren’t for Benjamin Franklin’s incredible diplomatic skills, the French would never have funded the American revolution. In fact, America might still be a British colony. Nobody else could have taken Franklin’s place. The French despised all the other American delegates, thinking them crass, rude and demanding. However, when Franklin was a young man, he had a difficult time getting along with people because of his exceptional intelligence and he had to train himself how to get along with others. Your child will start to see history as a collection of interesting stories.

Take the Right Approach

History is not boring if you use the right approach. If it is approached as a catalog of facts and figures, it is not stimulating. However, you can make history come alive by making it relevant. Talk about how contemporary events relate to the past. Talk about people who changed the world. Talk about what would have happened if certain pivotal points in history, like World War II or the Cuban Missile Crisis, had turned out in a completely different way. In addition, make studying itself fun by using creative learning techniques like mnemonics.

Becky Wilcox is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about beauty, fashion, technology and more.  She writes for Life with Lisa as well as several other blogs and websites.  Check back soon for more from Becky.