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s the school year begins for students attending ResponsiveEd schools, parents may be curious about what they can do to encourage learning and inquiry in their students. It’s time for a history lesson that starts with ideas for parents and students to incorporate during the coming year to ensure success in their studies.

While it is sometimes difficult for students to see the big picture in the details, no historical study can take place without learning the details. When students get bogged down from memorizing dates and names, encourage them to make a game out of it. The use of music and songs can be beneficial when learning chronological events, much in the same way music and songs can help students remember grammar and languages.

Encourage students to narrate what they are learning in class. While they may forget particulars, especially as they are learning, they will remember the stories they are hearing. Encourage them to share their knowledge with you. Who knows, they may be able to enlighten you.

Encourage wonder and imagination with your students. We should treat history like a great mystery that needs Sherlock Holmes (the parent/teacher) and Watson (the student) to solve it. Every student’s contribution is essential if the mystery is going to be solved.

Focus on subject mastery. The goal of history instruction is to make future historians, i.e. students who love a good story and can understand how on Earth we arrived at where we are today. Students who master history will be the students who make history. Let’s encourage them in their quest!


John Heitzenrater has twelve years in education serving as a teacher, headmaster and K-12 history director.

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