Foreign service students have the wonderful opportunity to gain new perspectives and insights—specifically in regards to history, civics, and government—while living abroad. They’re gifted a chance to experience and explore different countries and cultures all over the world.
However, it’s important to give them context for where they came from—and studying U.S. history can help them in so many ways. While international schools can provide excellent education options for children, they typically do not cover U.S. history in a way that will leave them with a sufficient understanding of how our nation was formed and everything that has happened in the nearly 250 years since.
Learning U.S. history is so much more than just memorizing dates, facts, and characters. Here are 10 ways studying U.S. history actually helps your student in the long run.
1. Shows them what sets America apart from other countries
U.S. history provides a solid foundation for understanding what indeed makes the United States so special. America was founded by rebels, and has developed into an economic and military powerhouse. More than that, it’s become a beacon of freedom for so many people all over the world. Learning about how the nation got its start and how it came to be what it is today can only be discovered through the lens of a U.S. history class.
2. Gives your child a sense of where they came from
Some kids have only known life abroad and they have little knowledge or connection to life in the U.S. Learning American history can help kids understand where they come from and provide them with a sense of identity. It’ll help them appreciate the sacrifices and struggles of their ancestors and even help them develop a sense of patriotism and pride in their country. An international or local education may give them a greater sense of the history of the world—which is important as well—but U.S. history shows your student where they fit into it all.
3. Helps them appreciate their surroundings while abroad
The United States is a melting pot of cultures. As children learn more about how the nation came to be—and the diverse cultures and people who made it so—they’ll cultivate an appreciation for whatever country they currently call home. Living abroad while studying U.S. history is a unique opportunity for children to connect to the subject on a completely different level.
4. Strengthens qualities like compassion and empathy
Chances are, living in a foreign country has already opened your child’s eyes to different cultures. They see how different the world is and how unique each person they meet can be—history classes just broaden that awareness. Discovering the hardships and sacrifices other people endured—even just within the context of U.S. history—can help children develop compassion, tolerance, and empathy in new ways.
5. Helps them learn from past mistakes
There’s a well-known quote by author and philosopher George Santayana that reads, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is important for students to know how our country got to the point it’s at today. When they learn about the some of the atrocities committed throughout history, they can use the empathy they’re developing to look for ways to avoid situations like that from occurring again. U.S. history teaches them that the American government is nimble and malleable enough so that as they continue to learn from the mistakes of the past, they have the power to shape the future and make it better.
6. Helps them understand how cultures evolve
The U.S., although still a relatively young nation, has seen many eras and ages. History classes show students how society and culture change and evolve over time and how much one generation can affect the next.
7. Keeps them up-to-date on school standards back home
Enrolling your child in U.S. history classes while they’re abroad means they won’t miss a beat when it comes to keeping up with their classmates back home. Typically, the education systems abroad focus on world history, and while this is a solid foundation, American schools still concentrate on U.S.-centric history. A supplemental course that covers U.S. history, keeps students up-to-date with the history standards back in the U.S., so when it comes time to move back, they’ll be caught up and on track without any issues.
8. Sets them up for college
While it may seem a little early to be thinking about sending your first grader (or even your eighth grader) off to college, it’s something that will likely happen before you know it. With a U.S. history course, especially one taught in an online format, your student is learning skills that they’ll be able to take with them once they enroll in a university. Colleges are offering more and more online courses, so when it comes time for your student to begin taking classes in this format, it won’t feel foreign to them and they’ll already be ahead of their peers. Taking additional, supplemental classes, like those we offer at U.S. History Abroad, also prepares them for a more strenuous workload and gives them the time management and independent learning skills needed to succeed in higher education.
9. Helps them develop critical thinking skills
Reading and analyzing historical documents teaches children to become careful readers. What rights do the First Amendment really give U.S. citizens? How important is propaganda when it comes to war? Learning U.S. history gives students a chance to become skeptical of biases and independent thinkers.
10. Put things into perspective
History is still happening. Studying history shows students that society is not dormant; it’s constantly changing and can be influenced by so many factors. It helps them to question and understand why things change, who propels those changes, and what comes from those changes. Learning about U.S. history, while keeping up with current events, can put today’s world and happenings into perspective.
Ultimately, the value of learning U.S. history—no matter where you are in the world—is immeasurable. Start perusing the many different courses we offer and sign up for our newsletter to be alerted when registration for the new school year opens!