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Five Reasons Why You Should Be Taking Your Children to Historical Sites

Five Reasons Why You Should Be Taking Your Children to Historical Sites

1. Historical Travel Can Help History Come Alive

I think it is valuable to show children where battles were fought.

Gettysburg’s field of battle was only 4 acres in size. Over 7,800 soldiers died. Those are just numbers. But standing on the field and realizing how small that was, how gruesome the sight would be… If you can check out a reinactment, it would be even better. Make a famous site 3D in a child’s mind, and they will never forget it.

Not that travel is the end all in historical learning. But if you take travel and couple it with other outlets, it can be powerful. Imagine seeing the movie (or air show reinactment) of Torah! Torah! Torah!, reading a first person source account of the morning of the Japanese attack, and then standing in Pearl Harbor. Now that is learning! A one page dry accounting of the battle that brought the US in to World War II in a history book just doesn’t cut it.

2. Historical Travel Can Help Children Understand Hard Concepts

I hope to give my children a more real vision of history than I had growing up. I know my vision of pre-Civil War America was very skewed, because of the southern doctorine I was fed and because of the limitations of the written word.

Intolerance is learned, it isn’t something they are born with – and I say this because studies support it as well as my personal experience with my children. If you raise them without prejuidice, they don’t have it. So when they encounter slavery when reading Mark Twain, it can be confusing. Slavery is a very tough topic for children to understand.

I struggled to teach Claire about the Civil War, slavery, and the Abolutionists. Then we took a trip to Barrington Farm next to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park. There is a lovely, large clean home that the Lamar family lived in. It is full of light, airy, and their clothing was elaborate and nice. Then we went to the slave quarters. They were dark, tiny, the clothing was tattered, and it was immediately clear to Claire the difference in quality of life. Add that to the first hand knowledge she has about how prickly cotton bolls from her Grandparents’ farm and how hard it would be to pick cotton all day, and I feel like she has as clear a picture of the political climate of the times and the reasons for the Civil War as a 6 year old can.

3. Historical Travel Can Build Upon Your Previous Travels.

My children debating the issues at Washington-On-The-Brazos State Historical Park

This is a picture of my children at Washington-On-The-Brazos. For the non-Texas reader, this is where Texas became a nation. Formerly part of Mexico, the Texians (as they were called at the time), debated and agreed upon a Declaration of Independence – even as the Alamo was under siege. The children had been to the Alamo a few months before, and it brought the experience full circle. They could imagine how packed the room was, the gravity of the situation, and how important the decisions made were. Exciting!

4. Historical Travel Can Help Children Grasp the Accomplishments of Man

Montezumas Castle in Arizona

Checking out cliff dwellings in Arizona over 700 years older than our home can help understand another hard topic – the advancement of mankind. My kids are so young, they don’t know what a CD or a VHS is. They have always had the internet, and I remember Claire asking me when she was two to go to “Unicorn.com” because she wanted to see a picture of a unicorn and she understood the naming structure of URLs. Taking that type of kid to a cliff dwelling is far better than trying to explain that there was a time that people lived in houses without A/C. Minds blown!

5. Historical Travel Can Help Children See the Bigger Picture

My kids are little, and their problems are little. They priviledged enough to live in a happy home with attentive parents. Situations that constitute massive dramatic events are trivial in nature.

Seeing that Abraham Lincoln lived in a tiny one room cabin, worked hard and became such an important figure in history helps put things in perspective. Checking out the Wupatki ruins and understanding that their whole lives were wiped out by a volcano can make not meeting Ariel at Disneyland seem like a ridiculous thing to worry about. It also showed tenacity, where a people flourished even though the desert provided them nothing but hardship.

How did people live here – there’s no water for miles?

Hopefully, you see the importance of historical travel with children. Nature is great to connect with, and amusement parks sure can be fun. But, because historical travel can help your kids understand so much about human nature, it is invaluable to helping them build their world view.

Is there a historical destination you think every child should visit?

  1. Tonya {The Traveling Praters} 3 July, 2013

    I hated history when I was in school. It was my least favorite subject and one I dreaded teaching to my own children. Then I discovered living books and field trips and my eyes were opened. :) My boys love history, it’s their favorite subject and they have learned so much, effortlessly from our travels. I can’t imagine teaching history– and making it meaningful– any other way.

    • Amy Moore 3 July, 2013

      I loved history and loved to read about it. But,wow! It is so much more vivid when we travel to the places as opposed to seeing history as words on a page. Glad your boys love it! Homeschooling the kids through travel = way easier than doing it through books.

  2. Steve 5 July, 2013

    I’m not sure but I think your kids are settling the issues with a Rock Paper Scissors battle.
    You’re very right that it’s much easier to teach history if there’s a personal memory of a place or event. Showing kids these places is a fantastic way for them to learn. Of course, it’s probably easier when you live down south. Most of the historical battlefields in Canada are frozen solid 10 months a year.

    • Amy Moore 5 July, 2013

      I think our world would be a happier place if we used Rock Paper Scissors diplomacy.

      We have the heat issue. I pretty much avoid the outdoors in the south for the summer, but I understand the freezing temp things. Definitely ups the difficulty a bit!

  3. Lisa Goodmurphy 5 July, 2013

    I agree that it’s important to take kids to historical sites. I have always felt that they learned far more experiencing and seeing sites for themselves than reading a history book. I had the ultimate confirmation of this last year when we spent a day visiting D-Day Normandy with our kids. My then 15 year old declared it one of the best days she has ever had on vacation and claims that she learned more in that one day than she learned in the year of studying WWII in her history class at school. And to think that I had worried ahead of time that a full day of WWII might be too much for them!

  4. Majida 6 July, 2013

    I hated history lessons and was so glad, that in Class 5 we shifted from Europe to Asia, stuck in history class at an unfavourable topic. However once we settled down in Asia, lessons commenced and AH! I realised that history as waiting here for me with new and other heroes. Their names were different, the language thee spoke was different, however the issues they stood up for were about the same, in fact even inter knit to those in my European history text books! After years of travelling, I realised that the beach and sun vacations are boring, I need more and that more I was looking for is history, culture and the people in the different parts of the world. The chills up and down your spine are the thirst if that knowledge, of who we are, where we come from…what development we have been thru and this is what kids should know. Don’t deprive them if the excitment of their history