Chronos History: A Contextual & Chronological Homeschool Curriculum Guide helps address the inherent bias in most history curricula. It serves as a guide for selecting resources and activities to construct your own history courses, and also as a guide for parents to a vast array of resources they can use to educate themselves from a variety of perspectives in preparation for teaching their children.
Author, H. M Metesh, says,
This is not a textbook. It’s also not a book in which I tell you which version of history to believe.
Chronos isn’t a curriculum in the traditional sense: it’s a guide developed over the past several years and created for the purpose of helping parents understand (1) different interpretations of the past, (2) the vast number of reputable sources in which to self-educate, and (3) how to think for themselves about human history.
This 397-page book is available as a PDF or a paperback book. Since the PDF version is full of hyperlinks, I highly recommend it over the printed book. Also, those who purchase the PDF version directly from the publisher will have free access to future updates of the book.
The guide is intended for kindergarten through eighth grade, but many of the listed resources are appropriate for teens and adults.
This guide divides history topics into 27 chapters, beginning with the Stone Age and concluding with Contemporary America. Within those chapters, coverage of world history continues through the Renaissance and the Reformation. It then narrows to the history of the United States, beginning with the discovery of the New World. (Note that The Home School Historian has a separate world history course designed for middle school students.)
Most chapters address historical eras, such as the Early Middle Ages or U.S. Expansion & Reform. However, three chapters address the topics of Native Americans, Slavery and Abolition, and the Immigration Age (1830-1920). I point this out because this arrangement lets parents choose how much attention to devote to historical eras as well as those three special topics. For example, some parents might spend several months studying Native Americans while others might spend one month. Or some parents might skip over immigration issues until middle school.
After the history chapters are four chapters on government and another on American symbols and landmarks.
Suggested Resources and Activities
Each history chapter has an introduction, followed by several lists that include hyperlinked online resources. The lists below appear for each chapter, although titles of the lists vary slightly for some eras.
- Questions to Ask - key questions for older students to consider about events during the era
- Primary Sources - online sites with information that might be especially useful for parents who want to learn more
- General Spines, Series, and Reference books that cover the time period - for children in fourth grade and above, you will probably want to use one of these to ensure comprehensive coverage
- Documentaries - full-length videos. Listings show a minimum age or an audience rating, such as PG.
- Web Resources - on sites such as World History Encyclopedia and the History Channel
- YouTube® Videos - usually designated for Elementary, Middle, or High students
- Fiction and Nonfiction Books - presented in chart form with author, minimum age, and time period or topic
- Terms to Know - including definitions
- People to Know - with separate lists of secular and biblical figures
- Places (or Areas) to Know
- Enrichment Activities - e.g., writing a letter from a character of the past, finding and cooking a recipe from the era. Some enrichment activities might be used across all time periods, but lists also include some activities specific to the era.
- Making Connections - (for older students) a paragraph that explains relationships between events over time, such as interrelationships between the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment
In sections for studying the United States, there are also lists of presidents during the pertinent eras and lists of states admitted to the union. A 50-page timeline with key dates, found at the end of the book, should be helpful if you want children to create their own timelines. You might also use the heavily condensed, visual timelines on pages 8 and 122.
The recommended resources vary greatly in style and point of view as well as format. However, most of the resources are from a secular perspective, and Metesh tried to find those most neutral in their point of view. The most visible exceptions are a few for the study of the Reformation that are clearly Protestant, such as the videos “Basic Protestant Christian Beliefs” and “Martin Luther Special Feature - Drive Thru History.” But most resources, even in that section take an objective approach. For instance, Metesh’s recommendations include two outstanding videos for teens and adults, presented by Ryan Reeves, that give very balanced, but in-depth, examinations of the Reformation and its key figures, which I would recommend to anyone. Metesh tried to select resources as neutral as possible for twentieth-century U.S. presidents and politics, but she doesn’t include any resources for Presidents Clinton through Biden because—as she states—she couldn’t find any that were neutral. I should point out that using some resources that are not neutral provides critical opportunities to teach students about bias, but this is more important at the high school level.
As Metesh, suggests, you should use resources and activities in this guide that are suitable for each child. That means you might cycle through the guide two or three times, selecting resources that reflect higher levels of difficulty and topics missed in previous cycles. With a young child, you might simply choose a few historical fiction books or biographies to read aloud, while for an older student, you might select one of the spine books and use an assortment of videos, historical fiction books, primary source documents, etc. Metesh strongly advises that parents preview resources themselves.
While some other homeschool resources cycle students through history more than once, Chronos History works particularly well since it provides so many recommendations for different ages that the material will probably be entirely different on a second or third cycle.
Assessing Student Knowledge
The approach presented in Chronos History is heavily dependent upon parents. Metesh intends for parents to become well educated in history by using some of the recommended resources, so they are equipped to teach in this fashion.
There are no answer keys, discussion questions, or worksheets, so parents have to come up with discussion questions, writing assignments, and other forms of feedback that demonstrate learning.
The enrichment activities include a few that provide student feedback, such as “Letters from the Past,” a “Book of Bios,” a “Book of Eras,” and a few other suggested options. I think a combination of one or more of the suggested enrichment activities, discussions immediately after watching and reading resources, and short essays (for fourth grade and above) should work for most situations.
After the lesson material are a lesson plan form and a library book list form that you can you to keep track of what you use.
Chronos History should work best for parents who want to pick and choose resources and want to be heavily involved with designing and directing lessons. It makes that approach easier by recommending many potential resources and activities, so parents do not have to start from scratch.