Using Time Lines

Using a time line is one of the most effective ways to help children develop a concept of history.

However, a time line will not pull together a child’s scattered pieces of knowledge like it does for adults. Children haven’t collected enough pieces to pull together. What time lines can do is function as “pegboards” where children hang bits of historical information as they learn them. For this purpose a time line should be very simple, simple enough to memorize the major time periods. A simple Bible time line would be: Creation, Fall, Flood, Babel, Patriarchs, Egypt and Wilderness, Conquest, Judges, Kings, Captivity and Return, Jesus, Early Church, and Future Events.

Avoid cluttering a time line. The temptation is to divide each period into subheadings like arts, sciences, leaders, etc. and to have hundreds of little bits of information for each time frame. This may be helpful for young adults, but it’s confusing to elementary and intermediate children. Stick to the main events and people that characterize or “bring to life” that particular period. You will find it very helpful to read the chapter on history in You Can Teach Your Child Successfully and the recommendations for what children should know about history in Teaching Children: A Curriculum Guide to What Children Need to Know at Each Level Through Grade Six. Unless your child shows a definite bent toward being a historian, don’t overburden him with more than he needs to know. Make history interesting, not a facts-gathering marathon.

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