How To Beat the Fear of Learning History

By Ranjani Sastry,

Is writing a history answer a nail-biting finish for your children? Does your child feel that the subject history is beyond his/her understanding? Well, not anymore. Here are some tips for your long-awaited queries on how to study a subject full of dates, events, names and achievements. This detailed article will give you an insight into some innovative ways of learning the subject faster and smarter.   

Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1207518

Falling in love with history: It’s more than a subject of past, or dead and dry collection of facts.

We agree that history is a dry study of past or a collection of facts. Let us put it this way: One of my students expressed his views about the subject history as – ‘Ma’am, these are mere stories about dead people!’ Children are sure to get bored staring at the text book for long hours and trying to memorize what happened and who was involved. I think if you are a teacher or a parent of a student who finds it difficult to read and learn history, then it surely adds to your stress during examinations. But, it shouldn’t because why should you take stress when there is a solution for it. It is very important to generate interest in the child during the initial stage before taxing them to memorize for the sake of general knowledge into their little brains. All they have to do is have the will and love for history which will in turn generate interest.

Here are some sure-fire strategies to make history a fun subject. Let me explain by categorizing a student into age-wise groups:

1. For Children till 4th Grade

2. For Children up to 10th or 12th Grade

3. For those who are really interested in history and still read more about it

For Children till 4th Grade

Generating Love for History through your childhood stories:

It is important to tell your child stories of your childhood or your family history. These stories should have a moral lesson to teach and have a third person point of view. They should connect with your child’s feelings but not your perceptions about the event or life. You must be selective and choose what is worth telling. Initially, you must intrigue them to understand your past and your family bonding, likewise you can also generate interest in kings, kingdoms, and wars from the past. Wait for the child to ask questions to you.  Slowly, this may kindle their interest in learning about other happenings and events. This is called ‘transfer of learning’ in psychology. Children understand concepts better when those are connected with a story. There are many analogies you can browse through, or search for key words and events and create a ground for understanding them. This is just one way of making them interested in history. If family stories is not their kind, introduce them to all the fun stories from the past about their “liking.” This shall create a great interest.

Strengthening the power of different ways of questioning:

While reading historical facts, if you develop the questions of ‘Why’, ‘How’ and ‘For What reasons’, then you will sharpen your skills of reasoning. History provides this power of reasoning and logic.

The sense of ‘I’:

When you want them to learn about character sketches like: Akbar the great, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhiji and other personalities, try to use the ‘I’ approach. For instance, If you want them to remember, ‘In South Africa Gandhiji organized (1907) his first Satyagraha [holding to the truth], a campaign of civil disobedience.’ Put it this way –ASK THEM TO BECOME THE CHARACTER AND SPEAK- ‘In South Africa I organized (1907) the first Satyagraha [holding to the truth], a campaign of civil disobedience.’ It shall create a great impact initially and they might have to unlearn the ‘I’ while writing it down which is very important. It creates a better picture and they can memorize it in a better way with ‘I’ creating its magic! Try once with difficult-to-remember paragraphs.

Imagining Cartoon characters:

Your children may have a fondness for cartoon characters. You can create actions like – wearing a crown while teaching them about king, action of putting veil on face while talking about queen and creating a drama stage in their study room while you teach them about characters. This shall definitely create an interest in them, likewise, they will learn to memorize names and events in a better way.

For Children up to 10th or 12th Grade

Students in to the middle or higher grades, have the compulsion to learn social studies. Even if it is their top most in the list of favorite subjects, these tips and tactics are going to be of great help to your children.

Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/278748

As students graduate to a higher grade, the pressure to learn many more lessons increases. Like in mathematics, you cannot forget the formulas taught in previous classes to perform better; similarly in history, you cannot forget the events been taught to you previously, for you to learn the current lessons better.

All you need to do is, take the page of a current lesson and read a paragraph, recall about the similar topic or the person who taught you. If you read about events – question the cause of the event and try to recall two important things:

1. WHY IT HAPPENED?               &               2. WHAT WERE THE EFFECTS?

Can’t recall? That’s absolutely fine! Google it. Read some relevant information. Read the questions given behind the lesson. ‘When’ and ‘Who’ are all questions that are fine. But, you must search for questions starting with ‘WHY’ as ’Why’ is connected with curiosity and anything you searched for with curiosity always stays with you. When you start answering the ‘WHY’ questions, you cannot deny the answers to ‘What’, ‘Who’ and ‘When’. Try this out and try some more mnemonics and local mapping technique and plotting on paper to recall better. I’ve observed that my students have no problem in remembering things but, the problem is in recalling. Why is it that during exams you tend to forget? It happens because in math, there are easy ways to remember sequence of formulas or theorems; but in history it is not so. In history, there are multiple people involved in an event and some lessons have biography sketches of leaders and prominent personalities. If you have observed, history is a fact that events have reasons. Only reading will not help, but questioning what you are reading and writing with a flow and rationalizing it will certainly help. Moreover, by questioning you answer to yourself and you will remember well.

Reference to the Context:

You can take one paragraph, read the topic thoroughly until a new topic starts; take one prominent line you feel is very important in the paragraph which is the best found cause for the event in the topic. If you are reading about personalities, take one simple line, a trait or work they did and draw a mind map on a paper. Once you generate this connection between their personalities, their work, you know their actual sketch of character! Later, read aloud their birth dates and parent’s name and their early life as a child.

Making Points:

There are many instances where you have points numbered as 1, 2, and 3 which helps you to remember easily. Jot down your points. Read each point aloud, close the book and recall the number you gave to that point. Repeat this for all points. You will surely remember those points. You can do this for all subjects. While remembering wars and some freedom struggle movements like ‘Quit India Movement’ or ‘Simon Go Back’, you can enact these to your parents and teachers. You can use your imagination and learn.

In history, you need confidence to prove your points and to do this you need to remember right facts and figures, therefore, more than ‘why’, you need to ask ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘where’, and ‘what’. These questions are equally important.

For those who love history and want to delve deeper into it:

Chalking out Strategies:

There are strategies to go about in history and learning about it. You can revive the Doordarshan serials, watch YouTube videos, read historical books and biographies by some amazing authors. If an author has written about an event or a historical figure, then try reading an article written by another author on the same fact. This may give you a different perspective. This could make things more interesting to you and might help you to get your own ideas without getting biased or judgemental . Nevertheless, you must read books of authors who have already done some research before writing down. They must have also referred to some other articles and books in their cross reference sections.

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To friends and readers who are still struggling with reading, learning, understanding and remembering the vastness of the knowledge that history accounts for, you can think about this –

1. What is your favourite thought about history?

2. What exactly do you like in history?

3. Are you reading for a career in architect, archaeology or paleontology?

4. Are you reading to strengthen your knowledge about our country and talk to people about it?

5. Are you reading for some entrance exam, or to back your interview answers or write an article?

It depends on what you are reading history for. You will find that you can interpret history from any point of view i.e. social, economic, financial, behavioural, or even literature. For this reason history becomes an all-important and favourite in any time of life like mathematics and science. Though it is an art to study history, and it is a subject of liberal studies, it is after all a social science. Reading history gives you vast knowledge and sharpens your foresight. As I have mentioned about how you can win your heart to love history, I am sure you have decided to give it your best shot this time and in your future exams. I say – ‘The past is a past and it will always chase you’. Take a challenge as you know how history learning will help you now.

Go, Go, Go for History!

About the Author:

Ranjani Sastry has done her graduation in Psychology and diploma in Counseling and skills. Currently, Ranjani is pursuing her Masters in Public administration. She is a co-founder and an active member of ’Satori-let’s not yawn’*, a multilingual literary club based in Ahmedabad. She expresses her passion and compassion through reading, writing and involving herself in areas where she can contribute to personal growth. Her friends describe her as ‘if you meet her you will find someone who thinks out of the box and ideas galore’. Presently she is reading ‘I have a Dream’ by Ranshmi Bansal.

About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

 

5 frequently asked questions about reading answered

By Captain Unni Krishnan,

Reading is a dying habit among the current generation of youth and is a matter of concern. I thought I would highlight the benefits of reading in a Q&A approach with the aim to not only influence a few more people to read but also motivate them to get their children to start reading.

Photo credit: Preethi Vijayaraj

1. How does reading influence a person?

Reading influences a persons speaking and writing abilities and more importantly has a great bearing on the personality as a whole because – Reading improves awareness on varied topics and in any gathering helps interact on a larger spectrum of issues.

2. What is the ideal age to start reading?

Reading is a habit and the earlier you start the better it is. The best way is for a mother to regularly start reading aloud to a little baby and then slowly grow this to sessions where both read together. As a family if you can have reading time that would be ideal. It is never too early nor too late to start reading. Of course it is easier to start reading when you are young and as you grow older you need more push.

3. How does reading benefit?

Some of the long term benefits are if you are person who reads, you will never be bored, as a book is a friend that can always be with you, it builds your self esteem because you are considered a resource person within your group. Reading is an active mental process and it is said that if you are mentally active you can stay away from Alzheimer; well then it is a great incentive.

4. Why should a child take up reading?

Among children reading can be of great help, it helps improve their vocabulary as they are exposed to so many new words and its different usage, it improves their concentration and focus, it improves their memory and above all improves their visualization – when you read a book you visualize a scene your way and when you see a movie you see it depicted as visualized by someone else.

5. Is there an age by when it is too late to start reading?

It is never late to start or improve your reading habit but an important aspect in this regard is to be serious about. Have a schedule or an allotted time every day that must be religiously followed for reading if you can have a common time as a family when everyone is reading then it is the best.

One interesting method suggested is what is called DEAR – which stands for Drop Everything And Read. You can follow this at home or office or anywhere else: set an alarm and whenever the alarm goes off stop whatever you are doing pick up a book and read. You can read for 15 minutes, 30 minutes or even an hour depending on the time you have.  You can even have more than one such slot every day or 2 slots on holidays and Sundays during vacations and so on..  You can add incentives and penalties to it. The options are plenty DEAR can be as creative as you want it to be the aim is to promote reading.

If you have been reading keep doing if not start now. Wishing all of you Happy reading.

About the Author:

Captain Unni Krishnan is a Founder and Director of LearnHive; he is also the Founder and Managing Trustee of Primus Public School, Bangalore. Prior to that he was the Founder and Trustee of Indus International School. At Primus, he has been instrumental in implementation of new teaching pedagogies. He has seamlessly integrated the International and Indian syllabi to help prepare students for higher studies both in India and Overseas. Capt. is a ‘Sword of Honor’ from the prestigious Officers Training Academy of the Indian Army.

About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Secrets to nurturing a lifelong love for reading

By Deepa Vaidya,

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go” – Dr. Seuss.

Over the years, there have been numerous studies that have highlighted the importance of reading to children. We all know and agree that children who read are more likely to do well in academics.

Photo Credit: Preethi Vijayaraj

They have better communication skills, a larger vocabulary, sharper logical thinking skills and better communication skills. In this fast paced world though, children are constantly performing a balancing act between completing their homework on time, participating in co-curricular activities like sports and studying for ongoing evaluations. How do we then as parents, kindle a love for reading? Both me and my children are avid readers. Here are a few tricks that I have tried successfully:

  1. Read to your children early and as often as you can: It is never too early to introduce a child to the world of books. Even babies and toddlers enjoy watching you read picture books and pop-up books. My youngest one who is under a year old loves staring at bright coloured picture books and sometimes chomp down on those. It is never too early to start!
  2. Start off with simple books: For early readers, you can introduce books by Eric Carle, Margaret Wise Brown and Dr Seuss. These books have simple rhyming words that children love. Initially you will have to read to them. As your children get older, you can alternately read a page and ask them to read the next. Before you know it, your children will be reading the book cover-to-cover.
  3. Let children choose: As you read more and more books, your children may show preferences for certain books or a certain genre. Introduce them to a large selection, but let them lead the way. Maybe they have a favourite character that they like to read about or maybe they like a particular author’s style of writing. There is no right or wrong book to read.
  4. Incorporate reading into your daily schedule: Leave aside a certain time of the day where you want your kids to read. In my house, reading is part of our bedtime routine. After the kids are ready for bed, they like to cuddle with a book and fall asleep. This is also an excellent activity to calm them down before bedtime.
  5. Minimize time spent in front of television: There is a reason why the television is called an ‘Idiot box’. Watching television is a passive activity. Because books convey information through the written word without the benefit of tone, inflection and director’s opinions, they depend heavily on the reader’s imagination. Television on the other hand provides you with the story, already carved out as per the director’s imagination and edited for brevity. The first time my children saw the Harry Potter series on celluloid, they were surprised by how much of the story had been edited to fit into the stipulated movie time. Much of JK Rowling’s rich prose and subtle details had been lost in transforming the books into movies.
  6. Be patient: If initially your children do not take to reading right away, do not lose heart. Keep trying out different genres or different authors. Persistence always pays and your children will eventually like a certain author that they want to read over and over.
  7. Join a library: If you have a public library that you can go to, make it a habit to visit it every few days. You can also join your neighbourhood lending library or avail of the library in your child’s school. We have seen some of the methods by which you can nurture the reading habit in your children. Books have the power to benefit your children in a myriad of ways. Therefore, as a parent, fostering a love of reading in your child can provide a foundation for academic excellence.
What are your suggestions to cultivate the love for reading?

References:

  1. http://www.earlymoments.org/why-reading-to-children-is-important/
  2. http://tomrubenoff.hubpages.com/hub/Television-or-Book/

About the Author:

Deepa is a mother of 3 children. She has a Master’s degree in Information Sciences from Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey. She is currently on a sabbatical from her career in software development and taking care of her 8 month old. She has just finished reading the Hunger Games series with her older twins and has embarked on reading Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s epic Discovery of India with them.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).