Human beings are experiential learners; we learn by doing and we learn (hopefully) from our mistakes. History, while it may seem boring to some, is a record of successes and failures, of past mistakes and lessons learned.
As parents, we not only hope that our children will learn from our mistakes and successes, but that they will also take away some of these lessons from the history they learn about our country. To know what the future holds, our children need to know some key events that have already taken place; things that define who we are today. Some of these include:
Children understand from an early age what a leader is. They recognize that someone is in charge at home and in the classroom. It is important that they also learn about key leaders in history.
Depending upon his or her age and curriculum, your child will learn about the important leaders of our country as well as leaders who played significant roles in the development, maintaining and protection of our country.
Some categories of historic figures that children should learn, in addition to leaders like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, include inventors, like Thomas Edison or the Wright Brothers. They should know about people who advocated for religious freedom and civil rights.
Our children need to learn about great men and women in science, many of them who came to the United States from other countries, like Marie Curie and Albert Einstein.
Battles and Wars
Children should know about the wars that forged, shaped and defined us as a country, including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It is also important that our children understand how we have protected ourselves as a country, and other countries, fighting alongside allies in World Wars I and II, in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.
At the appropriate ages, they should learn of key battles – turning points in time – including the Battle of Gettysburg, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battles of the Bulge and Normandy. It is important to understand why we chose to fight, what we sacrificed and what was gained and learned from these battles.
Children today enjoy many rights and privileges awarded to them through laws that were hard fought through our history. Everyone, regardless of gender or race, for example, can vote, but this was not always the case. It is important for them to know the history of some of these laws; why we have them, how they came about, the battles to get them passed.
Land and Country
Our borders, the states, and the lands that make up our nation are relatively new. It is important that children understand how the country began, that they learn about the 13 colonies, Lewis and Clarke and the Louisiana Purchase, the additions of Alaska and Hawaii and the battles fought over land throughout our history.
There are many important lessons to be learned – lessons we are still learning – from how our country developed and changed, of the people who were already here and the people who came, and continue to come, to this country, this “Land of Opportunity.”
“We the people” come from many backgrounds and heritages. People came here from all over the world, for many reasons, including the right to worship. This right, this freedom that many in other countries around the world can only dream of, is known as the First Amendment. It states,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”