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.
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.
You might also be interested in:
- ‘Story of the World’ Blog Roll – see how others are studying the different periods of history
- How We Use ‘Story of the World’ as Our Main History Spine
- Tips for Using ‘Story of the World’