History lessons in US primary schools

(43 Posts)
Star555 Tue 21-Apr-20 01:47:20

Any expat parents currently living (or who have lived) in the US who send their children to a local, non-international school? I'm rather disappointed to see that history lessons in primary school involve a too-heavy focus on US history only with many repetitions across the years of the same boring things (life in the 13 colonies, Civil War, etc.). How I wish the kids could learn about Roman Britain, the Tudors and Stuarts, etc...all the exciting things that are covered in KS2 and KS3 ! Has anyone come up with a supplementary "home curriculum" for British history, or other ways to teach their children about British/European history? I just can't imagine my kids missing out on so much, and moving back to the UK and being disadvantaged when encountering British history topics for the first time in school at an older age. (I guess it's not just the US, expats in other countries will also face similar issues.)

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Doyouwantanothercuppa Tue 21-Apr-20 02:06:41

Horrible Histories?

ARoseInHarlem Tue 21-Apr-20 02:10:51

Erm, don’t most countries teach their citizens mainly the history of that country and maybe its neighbors (mostly a propaganda-ized version of)? And isn’t the US notorious for its myopic teaching of even American history?

If you want your child to learn about European or British history, a niche topic outside of Europe and Britain, you’ll have to make it happen outside the regular school system.

TKAAHUARTG Tue 21-Apr-20 02:29:10

Why would an American school teach British history?

stellabelle Tue 21-Apr-20 03:01:13

Do UK schools teach US history ? Why would you think that US schools would be teaching US Kids about the Tudors and the Stuarts ? If this bothers you, teach your kids about those things at home. A few You Tubes should do it.

Lalala205 Tue 21-Apr-20 03:03:53

I'd imagine offering up an alternative to the history of the country you're residing in as being 'boring', when taught in their schools wouldn't be received very well tbh 😕

HelgaDownUnder Tue 21-Apr-20 03:31:15

If you are looking for supplementary resources E.D Hirsch Core Knowledge foundation has free units on British, European (and Asian, if you're interested) history. They are written for American schoolkids, so they are probably not as detailed as what your DC would study in a British school, but still much better than what American schools are offering.

The rationale behind them, is that the author (an education professor) thinks the same as you do about US history classes and has written a bunch of resources for teachers to encourage them to include more of what he sees as 'core knowledge' in the curriculum.

The teacher guides are probably not relevant to you, since they are focused on a classroom environment, but the student readers and workbooks are fine for one-to-one lessons. I've used some of them for homeschooling in Australia, and find they're modern and easy to follow.


Star555 Tue 21-Apr-20 07:19:22

Thanks, all. To be clear, I don't expect US schools to teach in-depth British history, or Brazilian history, or Swedish history, etc. I would have been happy with a well-rounded curriculum that broadly explores different topics in world history, including Ancient Rome, Renaissance European history, etc. British history would form just one part of this. What I am appalled at is the school's sole focus on American history, as if the rest of the world didn't exist. I would want kids to be exposed to some extent (not as much as they would be in the UK of course) to British/European history in primary school as part of general world history lessons, such that they could at least be familiar with the broad topics for their own enrichment as well not feel at a total loss when returning to UK school. Horrible Histories and ED Hirsch are great suggestions! Anyone have more suggestions for good pre-GCSE (British) history book series? Thanks again!

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bellinisurge Tue 21-Apr-20 07:27:06

My dd only knows anything at all about US history because we have exposed her to it. Your fascination with European history- Renaissance, Ancient Rome etc is laudable but the world doesn't centre around Europe. Is your child learning the history of China? Or India? These are two powerful influences in the world today with rich and fascinating history.

Lyndassniff Tue 21-Apr-20 09:45:33

I studied The American Civil Rights movement and the unification of Italy as part of the national curriculum in a school in the UK. The history of other countries is covered a little bit.

WhyCantIThinkOfAGoodOne Tue 21-Apr-20 09:47:27

The problem with US history is that it simply doesn't go back that far. Also the people who US consider to be Americans largely originated in Europe so it's hardly unusual to expect them to include some European history.

Doyouwantanothercuppa Sun 26-Apr-20 14:12:34

Usborne books do some good history books, but they might be too young for your children. My son is in YR2 and the “See Inside” series suits him.

YesIReallyDoLikeRootBeer Mon 27-Apr-20 06:32:46

I work in an American Middle School (grades 6-8). At this age the kids learn about Ancient Civilizations.

SquashedFlyBiscuit Mon 27-Apr-20 06:37:55

Currently there are some great online resources due to coronavirus you could investigate.

If you're happy to search through, the BBC bitesize includes primary history topics (both the 20min videos and thebinline content - this last week included basic stuff about romans). Also national academy has a wide enage of topics. In primary this is under "foundation" but year 7 stuff looks great.

SquashedFlyBiscuit Mon 27-Apr-20 06:40:41

Ok ignore that. Just looked up and easiest way to access..

Just google Bbc bitesize and ks2 and you will get a whole host of british and world topics. Within those topics are videoclips and activities. Its truly brilliant. That is assuming you have a way to play UK content....

SquashedFlyBiscuit Mon 27-Apr-20 06:42:59

Bbc bitesize ks2 history...

MrsPworkingmummy Mon 27-Apr-20 06:47:07

Visit TES (Times Educational Supplement) resource page and type in the topics you're looking for. You'll find everything from PowerPoints to full schemes of work. Bitesize is a really good option too. I teach history occasionally in KS2 and KS3, and as well as the history of England and the UK, we look at things like Native Americans and bias, the transatlantic slave trade and life in Norway and Denmark leading to the Viking conquests.

JeSuisPoulet Mon 27-Apr-20 06:47:27

Surely the point the OP is making is that History goes back further than America's founding fathers. For basic historical timeline alone kids should understand how civilisation came about - benefits of running water, etc.

YesIReallyDoLikeRootBeer Mon 27-Apr-20 07:16:38

@jesuispoulet American kids do learn about Ancient Civilizations.

Star555 Mon 27-Apr-20 15:26:45

@Doyouwantanothercuppa - thanks for the Usborne books suggestion; these look very useful.

@YesIReallyDoLikeRootBeer - Yes, I know that in middle school (7th grade) the local school teaches ancient world civilizations but I'm that's too little material introduced too late. Everything in elementary school is American only, and middle school promptly returns to US history in 8th grade!

@SquashedFlyBiscuit - thanks, BBC Bitesize was the first thing I found but unfortunately the videos aren't available in the US.

@MrsPworkingmummy - thanks for the TES suggestion. Just downloaded a few free resources.

Thanks again, everyone! If you know of more books/resources, please do let me know. I'm willing to buy standard UK textbooks that would be taught in UK schools for KS2 and KS3 history, so if there are any specific series that are very popular, I'd love to hear about them.

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SquashedFlyBiscuit Mon 27-Apr-20 16:43:55

What a shame about the bitesize. It's really good (not that that helps!) as we don't tend to use textbooks here - lessons are more interactive.

CGP are normally quite good though and I see they do some books aimed at primary history. We used them for 11+.

SquashedFlyBiscuit Mon 27-Apr-20 16:46:55

I've just looked at their KS2 History section and there is a study book with accompanying activity book for each main syllabus area that looks really good! There's one for KS3 too.

Star555 Tue 28-Apr-20 14:26:50

Thank you so much, @SquashedFlyBiscuit! These CGP books are exactly along the lines of "textbooks" I was thinking of.

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SquashedFlyBiscuit Tue 28-Apr-20 14:45:42

Yay!!!! I teach older students and the CGP revision guides for GCSE/A Level are usually good.

Star555 Tue 28-Apr-20 15:18:37

Also learned something interesting: In 7th/8th grade (Year 8/9) in the US, students have the option to begin a foreign language, including Latin. The Cambridge Latin books are followed and those books include substantial history sections (written in English). In the 1st Cambridge Latin book, the students learn about Pompeii (and Ancient Roman culture), and in the 2nd book about Roman Britain! Mind you, this applies only to a very small number of students (~10 per year) who choose the unpopular Latin option. Students who choose Spanish or French don't learn European history; they learn about modern-day French/Spanish/Mexican culture.

This is great if my kid wants to study Latin, but I can't help thinking...American students who choose Latin will be introduced to these new history topics for the very first time in middle school, when are also encountering formidable Latin grammar for the first time? Isn't that a bit daft with regard to the school curriculum? Wouldn't it have been much wiser to introduce the new history topics earlier in regular history lessons so that when the students are older and studying Latin, they recognize the history as something familiar rather than yet another foreign thing?
When UK students study Latin, don't they already know about Ancient Rome and Roman Britain from their prior history lessons?

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