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History Education Begins at Home

As parents we are in the best position to encourage our children's natural interest in history. It is to us they address their first historical questions: "Where did I come from?" and "Was I always here?" These two questions contain the two main meanings of "history": it is the story of people and events, and it is the record of times past.

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Now is the time to bring out the historical evidence and to share family stories with your child. Birth and adoption certificates, immunization records, first pieces of your child's writing and art, as well as photographs all count as historical sources that tell the story of your child.

The stories you tell and read to your children, or make up with them, are part of their cultural heritage and reinforce the two basic parts of history: "Once upon a time, and long ago."

Parents Make a Difference
Your child is born into history. She has no memory of it, yet she finds herself in the middle of a story that began before she became one of its characters. She also wants to have a place in it.

As parents we can prepare our children to achieve the lifelong task of finding their place in history by helping them to learn what shaped the world into which they were born. Without information about their history, children don't "get" a lot of what they hear and see around them.

Your attitude about history can also make a difference for your child. Showing your interest in history--your belief that knowing history makes a difference for your life--encourages your child's own interest.

Many parents say they love history. If you are one of them you can share your particular interests in history with your children as well as help them develop their own.

Many other parents say they find history boring. If you are among these, try one of the following: start writing your own life story; read the diary of Anne Frank, or the autobiography of Frederick Douglass; read the Declaration of Independence, or rent a video about the Civil War. As you rediscover history your children may be inspired your interest.

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