Fourth graders and seventh graders in Texas are required to learn Texas history as per Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. Growing up here, also learning Texas history, I figured every state had their students spending 1-2 school years learning about their state’s history. By college I realized this was rather unique to Texas and just a handful of other states.
Truthfully the information I retained from my two school years learning our state’s history is rather limited. In 7th grade I had to create a replica of the Alamo, I worked on it for two solid weeks. I received a low B because I didn’t get the arches on the front exactly correct. This did very little for my Texas History education and much more for my obsessive attention to detail and perfectionism when creating something.
Texas History for Homeschool
When Issa started 4th grade this year, I knew I wanted her experience to be different. Homeschooling with a dad with a history degree certainly lends some value. Also, we LIVE in the place we are studying, so why not experience the things we are learning in our homeschool classroom in real life?
Every summer Bill and I sit down and plan out the school year. We go over the TEKS, figure out what textbooks we want to use and buy loads of supporting materials. We also attempt to plan much of our adventures around what Issa is learning. For example last year for science she studied archeology and geology so we made sure to tour a couple caves and go on a fossil dig. But this year, with Texas history, the entire state is our oyster and it’s chock full of pearls.
Exploring Texas for Texas History
Texas has a pretty interesting past, from indigenous peoples, to Spanish invasion to Mexican takeovers, to independence as their own Republic, to becoming a state and then to their involvement in the Civil War (the final battle was fought at Palmito Ranch, Texas). I think understanding our state’s history gives us a clearer lens to understand who we are today. Texans have pride in their state unlike anywhere else I’ve visited. Learning the history, it makes a little more sense.
My hope is to spend time sharing these learning adventures here. I know kids of today are experiencing a similar experience to mine, maybe even worse off now that Texas is so intense about teaching for their standardized tests. But I believe if families can take the opportunity on vacations across the state to experience at least one educational historical thing, our students might have the opportunity to retail a little more than I did all those years ago.
So stay tuned, we visited Galveston this weekend and the places we experienced were nothing short of mind blowing.