Helping Your Child Learn History - Working With Teachers and Schools
Research has shown that children at all grade levels do better in school, feel more confident about themselves as learners and have higher expectations for themselves when their parents are supportive of and involved with their education[ 2 ] . Here are some ways that you can stay involved in your child's school life and support his learning of history:
Become familiar with your child's school. During your visit, look for clues as to whether the school values history. For example, ask yourself:
- What do I see in my child's school and classroom to show that history is valued? For example, are maps, globes, atlases, and history-related student work visible?
- Are newspapers, news magazines and other current events publications part of the history curriculum? Are videos, computer programs and collections of original source materials included in the study of history? Are textbooks and other resources up to date and accurate?
- Does the school library contain a range of history-related materials, including biographies and historical fiction as well as information about local, state, national and world history, culture, societies and geography? If so, are they recent publications?
Find out about the school's history curriculum. Ask for a school handbook. If none is available, meet with the school's principal and ask questions such as the following:
- What methods and materials does the school use for history instruction? Are these methods based on sound research evidence about what works best? Are the materials up to date? Can students do hands-on projects? Is the curriculum well coordinated across grades, from elementary school through middle school? Does the curriculum include both world history and American history?
- Are the history teachers highly qualified? Do they meet state certification and subject-area knowledge requirements?
- How much instructional time is spent on history?
- How does the school measure student progress in history? What tests does it use? Do the tests assess what students are actually taught in their classes?
- How do the students at the school score on state assessments of history?
- Are activities available that parents can use at home to supplement and support instruction?
- If you feel dissatisfied with the history curriculum, talk to your child's teacher first, and then to the principal, the head of the history curriculum division, the school superintendent and, finally, members of the school board. Also ask other parents for their opinions and suggestions.
- If you have not seen it, ask to look at the No Child Left Behind report card for your school. These report cards show how your school compares to others in the district and indicate how well it is succeeding.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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