How We Use ‘Story of the World’ in our Christian Home

how we use SOTW in our Christian home

One of the challenges of studying Ancient History as a Christian family, is that there is a lot of aspects in this period of history that are not of a Christian or even a moral worldview, such as worship of gods, gladiators, violence, and a lack of mercy and value for human life.

I’m glad we waited until my daughter was 8 to look into Ancient History, as she now has some firm foundations and we can now look at history through that lens.  I wouldn’t recommend starting much younger with this particular text unless you have really covered the foundations of your faith and you are also willing to put some effort into bringing a Christian worldview and perspective into your study of ancient history.

Is using ‘Story of the World’ right for you?

As I contemplated whether ‘Story of the World’ was going to be the right text for us, I realised that history has happened, with all its triumphs and tragedies, greatness and despair, achievement and loss, the good the wonderful and the very ugly, and I can’t just not teach history because of the ugly stuff.

I want my children to have an understanding of history from the very beginning through to present day, where they can see the hand of God moving through His people, bringing life and redemption, and also what happens when people go their own way and depart from living in relationship with God and in harmony with His created world.

‘Story of the World’ is not a Christian curriculum, although written by a Christian author, but the text does not set out to bring you back to the Truth.  What it does is report and present history in a factual yet narrative form, and does not comment on it as such.  So it’s up to you as the homeschooling parent to guide your children’s hearts and use it as a learning opportunity.

How we Approach Studying History

Here’s the basic approach we take in our history studies using ‘Story of the World’:

  • The Bible is the only book that is true.  The Word of God is foundational to how we see and understand the world.  I try and weave scriptures through our studies, and always bring us back to what is true.
  • We look at each chapter and I will often stop and pause during the reading to clarify things, or we might discuss how people were living that was contrary to God’s law (eg. Hammurabi’s law of ‘an eye for an eye’ versus what Jesus taught).
  • We talk about how even in the Old Testament we see that only a single generation might have passed since God delivered His people, yet still the Israelites lost their way again, time and time again.  How much more does this happen when a people group continue for generations without any knowledge of a living God?
  • We discuss consequences, moral law, grace, mercy (or lack of), and whatever else comes up that I can bring us back to foundational truths.
  • We supplement using various books and activities that reinforce our Christian worldview.
  • There are certain parts we read in the text, do minimal activities such as mapping and writing, but don’t focus on.  Parental discernment is a important factor in deciding what gets focused on and what gets little attention.  I have a sensitive daughter – your boisterous boys might enjoy parts that we gloss over.  🙂
  • I repeat often that the ancient world was the time period that the bible was written in.  Particularly with the New Testament, we talk about the Greek and Roman cultural world, and the world in which Jesus came when He came to ‘seek and save the lost’.  We talk about who (and what issues) Paul and others were addressing in their letters to the Early Church.

how we use SOTW - bread making

I foresee that other volumes will present their own challenges also.

Volume Two will give us a wonderful opportunity to study early Irish history, the Renaissance, the age of exploration and discovery and the Elizabethan Age.  This period also has some great poverty and sickness, the plague and the Great Fire of London, ongoing wars between European countries, Mary I and her slaughtering of Protestants, and some of the worse methods of torture and death during the medieval period.

Once again, parental discernment and some planning will help you navigate your way through what you focus on or gloss over, and how you bring your children back to the foundations of their faith.

So there are a few things to get you thinking about as you study this time period, and others, in your Christian family.

I see the opportunity to present history from a factual perspective (as much as is possible when every writer has a worldview they write from), and in doing so, I can introduce my children to some of the things that have happened in history but via the lens of our Christian worldview.

If you’re also of a Christian worldview and are using Story of the World, I would welcome your thoughts and ideas on how you make it work in your home.

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6 thoughts on “How We Use ‘Story of the World’ in our Christian Home

  1. mwfinchwren

    I can finally comment using my Kindle Fire!

    I love your approach to this, Vic. You have thoroughly outlined the very system of thought that, even with our slightly older son, is vital for us in using this book. He really struggles with parts of this book….we always breathed a sigh of relief when we got back to the Israelites!

    I’m going to print a copy of your guidelines and tuck it into our SOTW. Thank you, my friend!


  2. thehomeschoolingdoctor

    Good day! We have used SOtW from first grade, following the four year cycle. I started with our oldest and then our second joined in when she “started school”–so she came in at about book three. For the first, I read the chapter to her and we also did lots of the hands-on activities and supplemental readings in the activity book. She liked it a lot and history was probably her favorite. For us, it did and still does open up the conversation about our Christianity and our beliefs. They get so irate and flustered sometimes, “How could they do that/think that?” It is a great, great time to teach what we believe but help them understand how others could do/think something and what we can/will do when challenged with the same trials. Will we stand firm or crumble? Will we belittle unbelievers or lead by example and try to help them “see”–show them God’s better, higher way? The Old Testament is also very frightening and disturbing when read as history. When all things are seen through Jesus, life can be reassuring. Thank God for that.

    Kind of off topic, now we have worked our way through to the fourth book and all we have time for is to read it, discuss it, and do the geography work! I am SO amazed at how well my girls (10 and 8) know geography. Better than I do, I think. I am happy about that!

    Have a wonderful week! Terri

    1. Victoria Post author

      Thank you SO MUCH for this wonderful comment Terri! I love what you’ve said. You’re already through the 4th book! Will you repeat the cycle or move onto something different? from Vic

      1. Jennifer

        I started homeschooling for the very FIRST time this week and love this curriculum for history. But I am having doubts now. My son is 7 and in first grade and we started Vol. 1. I was going to heavily edit the book as I go through it, but now I’m not so sure that is a good idea and thought about just ordering the 4th book on Modern History. I would go through the first one in a later year. What do you think? I don’t want to mess up his thinking about God and our beliefs.

        1. Victoria Post author

          Hi Jennifer, I completely understand. 🙂 I started this with my 8 year old and we’ve been homeschooling from the very start. She is an advanced reader and we had already done quite a bit of history, mostly learning about other cultures. I waited until she was 8 (and now 9 and we’re halfway through) before starting this volume. You’ll find that if you read the other volumes, they also have some unpleasant aspects – because history does!
          Because you are only just starting homeschooling this week, you might like to consider waiting until you introduce this text. I’m not sure what your sons school experience has been like so far, but many homeschoolers find there’s a ‘de-schooling’ process that takes place over a few weeks, and sometimes months. This really just involves laying some foundations and also discovering how your son learns and what he enjoys. What are his strengths and weaknesses? What is his learning style? What values are important to you as a family? If you wanted to do some history, you could start with some bible history or do a run-through of the history of the world as a whole, by using lapbooks and unit studies. My history plan from the beginning was learning about other cultures at age 5, then doing 2 years of world history at ages 6 and 7. A really fantastic place to find project packs for history is ‘Homeschool in the Woods’ You might also want to start keeping a timeline book.
          I still find that with Ancient History I skip parts that we don’t wish to focus on, such as certain myths and legends that are unnecessary for my 9 year old to know, or the gladiators etc. And then when we come across some biblical history, we spend more time on it as it carries more meaning to us. I love how we can learn that the bible is the word of God, but also an authentic record of history.
          You’ve asked about Modern History – this volume is written to older children and so might be a little more difficult. The volumes are designed to go through in chronological order, as is the style of Classical History, so they are increasingly more difficult. Modern History also has the World Wars.
          If you’re concerned about confusing your son with learning about other gods, I would also spend some time laying some great foundations about who God is and why we follow Him. Don’t be in a rush with anything! Just take your time and enjoy the journey. There’s plenty of time to get in ancient history, or any history for that matter. Get some books out of the library on topics of history that interest your son – knights and castles? Church history? Missionary stories? Exploration and discovery? And let him develop a love for learning and fascination with history. Talk to him about how God moves through people, and how they often get it wrong! But how he continues to intervene, how he raises up champions in each generation to carry His truth to the next generation, and how desperate we ALL are in need of a Saviour! Blessings to you. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with. from Victoria

          1. Jennifer Weide

            Thank you so much for your response! I do believe I will hold off on this text until next year. He is an advanced reader, but I feel he needs a stronger foundation in Christ before I expose him to some of the topics in the book. Thanks again for the information. Jennifer

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