Choosing a Homeschool History Curriculum

by | Aug 14, 2019 | By The Subject | 9 comments

There are a ton of options for choosing a homeschool history curriculum for kids with dyslexia.

As a veteran homeschool mom teaching kids with dyslexia at home for over 20 years, here is what I've learned about choosing a homeschool history curriculum that is a good fit with my dyslexic learners.

In my previous post, the Grade-by-Grade Homeschool Curriculum Guide  we talked about what areas to focus on grade-by-grade.

Homeschool History Curriculum for the Elementary Years

During the early years, roughly Kindergarten through 5th grade, the focus for subjects like History and Science is exposure, not mastery. What I mean by this is that it is okay to learn any and everything you want to teach about history, but you do NOT need to test their knowledge, write reports, or ‘schoolify’ their learning.

There is nothing inherently wrong with adding assignments and activities to your history learning. However, I’ve learned two things over my 20+ years of homeschooling.

Filling in worksheets and memorizing facts for tests doesn’t aid long term memory of the subject. It can actually take away the joy of learning – especially for our kids who struggle to read and spell and write.

If you’re wanting to add something extra to your kids learning of history, add something hands-on like cooking or art or a trip to a local museum with a relevant exhibit.

The other thing I’ve learned over my many years of homeschooling is that, often, there just isn’t time to teach a full history curriculum.  I know this will feel uncomfortable for some of you. It did for me. If we’re committed to homeschooling because of the MANY benefits to our kids with dyslexia, we will need to focus on our priorities and be comfortable with letting some things go. I assure you, relaxing on history instruction in the elementary years will be okay.

An easier way

I’m not suggesting not teaching history at all in the elementary years. There is an easier way though. An easy way to expose kids to history is to read historical fiction to all of your kids. If time permits, add the events you are reading about to a simple timeline or mark a world map with the areas you are learning about.

By focusing on quality literature, your kids get all the benefits of reading great books while learning about geography, science, and history.

Take breaks from reading occasionally and have your kids narrate – or tell back – what has been happening in the book. This simple, natural approach helps kids to process what they are learning and is similar to composition – thinking, organizing thoughts, putting thoughts into words – without writing or spelling.

Story of the World: The Story of the World series has been our history spine for the past 6 years. Four volumes cover Ancient History, The Middle Ages, Early Modern Times, and The Modern Age. The corresponding Activity Guides include questions for narration, read aloud book suggestions, maps, and a variety of activities to choose from. We mainly listen to the books and narrate, adding activities in when we have the time.

Sources for read aloud book ideas for History:

Beautiful Feet Books: Inexpensive guides can be purchased to go along with groups of books organized era and age range of students.

Sonlight booklists: Another literature approach to teaching history.

Barefoot Meanderings: A free book list with books broken down by time period and age range of listener.

Timeline of Classics by Gail Ledbetter:  A chronological index of classic world literature created to save planning time and research

80 Free Kindle Living History Books:  A huge list of free Kindle History books

170+ Classic Books on Kindle for Homeschool Education (history, geography, science)

homeschool history curriculum

Homeschool History Curriculum for Middle School

I change my focus slightly when teaching history to my kids in middle school. As I mentioned in my Grade-by-Grade Guide, the focus during middle school changes from read alouds to provide exposure, to more independent learning. If your middle schooler is not reading fluently, getting books on audio is an excellent option.

Literature Guides: One way to encourage deeper and more independent learning is to use literature guides alongside any read alouds. Many of these guides include vocabulary, comprehension questions, and ideas for writing based on the book being read.

My favorite sources for Literature Guides are:

Progeny Press: Easy-to-use lessons include vocabulary exercises, comprehension and analysis, critical thinking, activities, plus a complete answer key.

Total Language Plus: Literature guides that focus on grammar, writing, spelling, with a focus on critical thinking and discovery learning.

Other History Curricula for Middle School

There are many homeschool history curricula. For some of my middle school kids, especially when I was busy with a houseful of toddlers and babies, I opted for an all in one computer-based history program. My goal was to give them an overview of history and some exposure to traditional methods of learning.

Time 4 Learning:  An engaging program with lots of video instruction helps kids who aren’t strong readers.

Switched on Schoolhouse: I’ll be honest, my kids didn’t love SOS. After using a literature-based approach to teaching History for so long, it seemed dry and boring to them. However, the program does have the option to high light the text and have it read to the student. The teacher portal offers a lot of tools for monitoring progress which I found helpful. We’ve also used SOS for Science and electives.

Homeschool History Curriculum for High School

By high school, our kids should be working more independently. As homeschoolers, we can, and should, be offering them whatever accommodations they need to be as independent as possible. Learning to use assistive technology is a process and should be eased into.

Most states require one year of United States History and one-year of World History as well as one semester each of American Government and Economics.

Online History Programs

We still prefer online programs like Time 4 Learning for History in high school.

Reader Recommended History Programs

Other popular History programs recommended by Homeschooling With Dyslexia readers are:

Easy Peasy All in One High School:  A free, online homeschool curriculum.

Beautiful Feet:  A literature based approach to teaching History. Our family likes Beautiful Feet because we can combine Literature study and writing together.

My Father’s World:  The MFW high school History combines Bible, History and English into one program.  Can be reading intensive unless used with audio books.

Notgrass History:  Combines History, Bible and Literature in one program.  In addition to reading the history narrative about events, issues, and people from around the world and across the centuries, students read original documents, speeches, poems, and stories. They also read classic literature that helps bring to life the time periods they are studying. A variety of writing assignments and hands-on project ideas help students engage in what they are learning.  This program is very reading intensive, therefore very mom intensive.  I mention it here because it is such a very thorough program.

Switched On Schoolhouse:   A computer-based course that follows a traditional textbook approach.  Students read, or have the text-to-speech function read, the content and answer comprehension questions on the computer.  A bit dry for our kids but it did get the job done during the years when I was busy with many younger kids!

Great Courses Plus:  This a ‘new to me’ resource that includes online video lectures on subjects like History, Science, Literature, Language, Health, Travel and more.  Video courses can be streamed on your iPad or iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Kindle, or Windows 10 devices.  Also available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and desk top or lap top computers via the Great Courses web site.  Consider the monthly streaming option for access to all of the courses online.

Watch the replay of our Facebook Live Q & A on Choosing History Curriculum

Other posts in this series:

Choosing Homeschool Curriculum: A Grade-by-Grade Guide

Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum

Choosing a Homeschool History Curriculum

Choosing a Homeschool Science Curriculum

Choosing a Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum

What is your favorite homeschool history curriculum? Let us know in the comments!


  1. nicole

    easy peasy was GREAT for us for 4th and 5th grade history, but my kid ended up doing most of the UPPER level too, so we’re going to have to rethink for HS courses! she really liked all the videos and games, that helped to reenforce what she learned.

    we also got to review Drive thruHistory- they have american history and ancient civ, as well as bible history. he has SOLID questions and additional resources as well, so you CAN do a HS level with them. Kid loves the videos, so we will probably use it

  2. Kim

    Veritas Press self-paced history has been excellent for us. It has memory songs for the time line of each history section, continuous review in the form of games that are fun (most of them), and it is just fun. There are also time line cards that correspond with the lessons. You can also purchase living books to read that go along with the time line. I only pay for one course and both kids do it together. I had been using this before I had a diagnosis for my son and afterwards realized the program used methods that worked for him. There are built in tests if you need to keep grades.

    • Marianne

      Thank you for that feedback Kim!

  3. Angela

    So far for 4th and 5th grade we’ve been using REAL History Odyssey. It’s a very reading intensive, secular history curriculum that combines Story of the World, Child’s History of the World and other sources. The middle school level is billed as more independent but still reading intensive. I’m not sure how we’re going to handle it or if we’ll switch. What I like about it right now is the story-esque format, the hands-on projects scattered throughout, and the REPETITION!! ?. I feel like we hear about each event at least three times in the reading, which is great for my son.

    • Marianne

      I like the idea of repetition too! You can get both of the books you mentioned in an audio format. Would that help?

  4. Bethany Birchridge

    I like how you mentioned that high-schoolers should study technology more independently. My cousin has some health problems, so his mother has been wondering how to home school him. These tips will definitely help her out! Is there anything else she should keep in mind about teaching him history?

  5. KH

    Notgrass History textbooks are read by humans on Learning Ally! The cost of the annual subscription is nothing compared to the benefit of their vast library.

  6. Rana Kacir

    We love Story of the World, I use it as a Spine and then we will read Living books, and biographies to go along with it. We also just started using Great Courses and we love it. It has so many resources.

    I also wanted to say thank you so much for this site and your classes. I just found out that my twins boy/girl both have Dyslexia./Dysgraphia. What a great help you have been.

  7. jen

    Hi there! We created a free web series on Colonial Crafts. Our ten year old daughter teaches a craft and the history behind it from Colonial America. We’re still adding to the videos but she (and we) would love kids and homeschool families to have access to them. They’ve been fun to make.

    Thank you for your consideration in including!

    I’ll look forward to hearing from you!


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