The Importance of Learning about Dates in History for Elementary Aged Children

The Importance of Learning about Dates in History for Elementary Aged Children

The Importance of Learning about Dates in History

As adults, we know that history is lengthy. It spans years and covers a multitude of events that have built off of one another to result in the world we live in today. 

It’s imperative that our children and students are able to not only understand this concept, but also the many important dates throughout history and how those dates and events have impacted their place in history. It may feel daunting, but, if our kids are taught well, they will be able to understand history and how it relates to them.

Start with What’s Familiar

When teaching dates in history, I like to start by focusing on dates that pertain to our own country because I think students can often relate to those best. It also helps students learn new information about the area they live in. 

Expand their Horizons

Once students are able to understand their own country’s history along with things that impact their own lives currently, it’s time to take a look at history in other places.

To do this, we focus on an event or date in history. We then use that as a basis for determining why that event happened. This could be why a war began, why a monument was built, or why a country was taken over by another. For any event in history, we can stop and discuss why that event occurred.

Perhaps the part I enjoy most about this is watching as students begin to make connections and dive deeper into the history. For example, if we are learning about the Great Wall of China being built, I can lead a class discussion on how and why the Wall was built and who benefitted from it being built. Watching students’ gears turn as they ponder these questions and share their thoughts is inspiring.

Looking at dates is a great way to start comparing and contrasting and looking at themes that emerge through history too this is also important for helping develop children's morality, an important part of development for many 6-12 year olds.


You can also take a look at timelines to build discussions about history and important events. Find a copy of the Jewish calendar or the Islamic calendar and allow students to take a look at the different constructs of time in comparison to their own calendar. How have these times and calendars affected history as well?


My timeline cards have various events through history and include a range of dates as well as shelf work and follow up extensions. You can see them here

Teaching history can feel daunting, but it doesn’t need to. We must merely see it as an opportunity to discuss with our students the past that has formed our present. Take the time to learn and explore with your students. There are several events in history, and none of us know about them all! Be open to learning it along with your students.

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