History is possibly the favorite subject in our house – we are lucky to live close to many amazing historical spots so we can bring the ancient times to life just a car ride away! We also have some resources from our secular history homeschool curriculum that expand on what we discover.
As a secular homeschooler (not affiliated with a religious group) it’s important to me that my kids get a historical perspective of human history without it being tied to a specific faith. Part of the benefit of not being in the public school system is that we can see the entire world in a different way.
If you are amongst many of the secular homeschoolers, it can be a little difficult finding secular history curriculum options. Even if you identify with one religion, there may be some instances where you’d rather use a secular homeschool history curriculum.
In this post, we’re going to look at a variety of options currently available for elementary (primary) through to high school level. This post contains resources that are accessible to both US and UK home educators and I use terminology that applies to both demographics.
What is a secular homeschool curriculum?
In short, a secular curriculum for any subject typically lacks any religious affiliation. If it does speak of a particular religion or religious beliefs, it is always in an unbiased way and does not deem one as absolute truth over the other.
With this in mind, I’ve made it easier for you to know your secular homeschool curriculum options. They have grown over the years and there are lots of options for your child to study history in a secular way, whatever their age, interest or grade level.
Why use a secular history curriculum?
Studying history can have many benefits including boosting your child’s language arts skills, critical thinking and philosophical approach.
However, history is often one of the most difficult subjects to teach, especially when you wish to do it apart from religious doctrine. It almost always seems that even from ancient civilizations, there is some sort of religious perspective- it’s important to note who the main characters seem to be and why it may have been written that way.
How your children absorb and process the information depends on how these perspectives are introduced and taught so they can become critical thinkers. One of the biggest reasons you may want to use a secular history curriculum without religious material is to get an unbiased look at the past.
This helps younger students with critical thinking and being able to see the past from a much less skewed perspective.
There are also religious reasons why some homeschooling families choose a non-religious history curriculum. In some instances, parents have said they’ve purchased a curriculum they believed would align with their faith only to find out it isn’t quite what they believed.
Whatever your reasons, it’s often a good idea to choose something other than a religious curriculum. In some cases, some homeschooling families would rather teach religion as a specifically separate subject versus one that is merged.
Now that we’ve discussed what a secular history curriculum is and why you may want to use one, keep reading to check out my best secular homeschooling curriculum list for history.
How To Use These Resources
I recommend child-centred learning, where your child chooses which topics they would like to study- or at least which aspect of a topic. They might be fascinated with Viking clothes or Roman food, or they may wish to create a giant timeline of America’s development.
They might want to try some medieval crop rotation in the garden, or make a quill from a feather they find in the park. As I explain in some of my other homeschool blog posts, intrinsic motivation is key for the best kind of learning- and the resources below will help captivate your child too!
Best Secular Homeschool History Curriculum
I’ve divided the great secular homeschool curriculum options into the following categories: Books, Online Classes and Curriculum Box Packages.
Secular History Books For Elementary Students / Primary School (Ages up to 11)
My First History Encyclopedia – Provides a strong knowledge foundation for younger children (aged 5-8) covering periods such as the Romans, Vikings and Aztecs plus others.
It Started With A Big Bang – A great way to start children thinking about the ‘history of us’, this book dispels the young earth science theory with an explanation of the Big Bang. This book would also be great as part of a secular homeschool science lesson.
The Horrible History 20-Book Collection – My kids’ absolute favourite history books. These leave all the ‘gross’ bits in and are illustrated with comedy drawings. These books cover everything from Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians to the Awesome Egyptians.
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History – A fascinating journey through time, from the prehistoric era to the 21st century.
Timelines from Black History – A brilliant book exploring the great black leaders and legends from prehistory to modern times.
100 Women Who Made History – A fantastic resource documenting the achievements of strong women through history, from scientists to creatives.
500 American History Facts For Kids – A collection of engaging and exciting facts about U.S history for homeschool families to learn about America history from Native Nations to the USA.
Accidental Inventions That Changed Our World– Looking at over 60 of the most unlikely and amazing inventions throughout history, with fun illustrations for each.
Find Out: Vikings! – This DK book is packed with pictures, facts and quizzes to bring the Vikings to life for children.
Ancient Romans lift-the-flap book – This interactive book with 50 flaps to lift is a great way for children to learn all about the Roman Empire.
Secular History Books For High School Students
The Big History Quiz Book – 750 fascinating and challenging questions about ancient to contemporary history.
Battles By Map – This incredible book maps out over 100 significant battles throughout the ages so teens can see history come to life.
The History Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained – This book is perfect for older students who would like to get their teeth into some of the world’s most impactful events (from the colonisation of America to the inception of Buddha), in a simple, light and fun way.
The Black History Book– This top-rated book brings together accounts of the most significant moments in black culture and examines the achievements and struggles of black communities across the globe.
Extraordinary Women In History – This book depicts the challenges and successes of 70 remarkable women throughout history.
The World War 2 Trivia Book – A great book with amazing stories and curious facts from WW2 that will equip teens with knowledge that others will marvel at.
American History– 8 captivating guides to some of the most notable periods in American history, from the American Revolution to the Gulf War and including ‘Who was there first’?
Boxed Secular History Curriculum
Secular options of a boxed curriculum for history may be the right choice for large families, where having separate books and studying different eras for each child may not be economical or practical.
Elementary / Primary School Boxed Secular History Curriculum
This history curriculum offers study units in several formats including books, digital and audiobooks so your secular middle schoolers can learn in their personal style. You can choose from ancient history, medieval history, early modern history and modern history, and a brief description of the contents of each is clearly available on the website.
The core curriculum designed and created by this company does not oppose any religion. Instead, they actually consider themselves faith neutral because they do not teach evolution, creationism. or intelligent design theory. This leaves teaching all things faith-based and or other essential foundations up to the parents. To help make this possible, they focus more on living literature, read alouds, and hands-on science activities. Their history curriculum starts as young as 4 years old through 16 years old.
Taking the practical approach, this curriculum is a chronological program with lesson plans and activities that lead students on a journey of research and finding answers for themselves, versus simply feeding the information. This is a great option for the students who prefer a hands-on approach as your kids will be led to create life-size timeline posters as they learn.
When it comes to teaching history to young children, you’ll want it to be developmentally appropriate and engaging. Oak Meadow offers both because they understand how kids learn. Using healthy activity and movement in their secular program, their lessons are rich in experiential learning. Before deciding if this is a great secular curriculum for you and your family, you can try a variety of samples so that you can make the best choice for your family. The history section of the Oak Meadow curriculum comes under their secular social studies section.
To help young learners have a better grasp on history, these books use an engaging and entertainment-style format to teach about everything from the earliest nomadic humans to the Persian Gulf War. Volume 1 is ideal for first and second graders. Volume 2 is geared towards grades 2-6. Volumes 3 and 4 are pitched for grades 3-8. Purchasing a set like this will have you covered through an entire school year, year after year.
Middle School & High School (Juniors To High School in the UK) Boxed Curriculum
As you move into the middle and high school years, you may want to utilize an online program versus a textbook-style curriculum. Here are a few resources that are a good option for printed (or downloadable) materials.
The History Odyssey curriculum is a study guide format that is organized as a year-long study plan. This helps take the guesswork out of what you’ll be teaching throughout the entire year and also makes it easier to add other resources to it. Your student will be introduced to different viewpoints, engaged through hands-on activities, and have their critical thinking skills sharpened.
Moving Beyond the Page offers full-year social studies (history included) packages for the 7-9 grade levels. One of the biggest benefits is this particular curriculum can be used alongside other programs, resources, and curricula as well. If you’re looking for a curriculum-only option, they do have that available too.
Secular History Online Classes For Homeschooling
If you have internet access and you’re looking for an online school with online courses, here are a few worth looking into:
- Outschool – my kids use this ALL the time for lots of subjects and love the friendly teachers and fun lessons with online games! Use this Outschool link to get a $20 credit!
- OER Project
- Khan Academy
- Study.com (History Courses)
Final Thoughts On Secular Homeschool History Curriculum
Having history curricula you can count on is the overall goal and I hope you can put to use this comprehensive list of history homeschool resources without religious content.
Whether you want to use online classes, textbooks, student workbooks, documentaries, or a combination of them all, there are many options available today to choose from.
Use my suggestions for the best secular homeschool history curriculum mentioned above to help get started on your search. If there’s something you’ve used that I didn’t mention, feel free to put it in the comments below! Please consider sharing this post.