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An Engineer’s Favorite Subject to Teach at Home—It Might Surprise You!

It is always fascinating to see how God uniquely calls each family to the adventure of homeschooling. For me, God led me down a path with many interesting turns, each a necessary step toward homeschooling. Before children, I was a NASA engineer. When I had my first son, God called me to leave my engineering job to stay home to raise my family. I’m so grateful for that precious time with my two sons!

See Cathryn’s story here! (youtu.be/pkR0hhv2_D8)

As God knew, it also provided the opportunity to write my first Christian apologetics book and launch an apologetics ministry. As my children approached school age, God then brought me the opportunity to teach at a private Christian school. My children would receive a Christian education there while I taught apologetics and calculus to high school students. But then God gave my path another turn. He called me to move from the private Christian school to homeschool. And if I could relearn calculus to teach twelfth graders, I could certainly conquer second-grade math with my son!

You would think then from my background and experience that my favorite core subjects to teach would-be math and science. Granted, I do love math, and I’m still teaching upper-level math at our homeschool community. However, what has surprised me is how much I love teaching history! I even get more excited about teaching history than I do science (but don’t tell anyone, or they might revoke my engineer nerd card!).

I have fallen in love with teaching history for two main reasons: first, as an adult, I have realized how important it is for society to know and understand history. Science is important to show children experimentation, deduction, and critical thinking, as well as foster a healthy curiosity of the world. But if our children want a science-based career, they will receive the in-depth, field-specific scientific knowledge needed in college. If, as adults, they don’t remember why plants are green or how the moon affects tides, there are not devastating consequences. However, if they don’t understand why communism is a bad idea or how our government was founded, then there are serious implications. The lack of knowledge of history, government, and economics are damaging our society. The way to understand current events is through understanding past events, so our children desperately need a solid foundation of history in their education. We cannot skimp on the study of history and wonder why we have a nation that doesn’t understand basic civics. If we want to maintain our constitutional principles, then we must teach history and teach it well.

The second reason I love history is the curriculum Mystery of History. I was that typical high school student who never enjoyed history class. It was simply a class to trudge through with lots of date memorization and no real excitement. But with Linda Hobar’s Mystery of History, these amazing people and events of the past are brought to life through her beautiful storytelling in a four-volume series. She does an amazing job of exploring the complexities of each historical figure as neither all bad nor all good, but all within a Biblical framework. It has led to some amazing conversations with my children as we explore those nuances.

I have also loved teaching Bible history interwoven with world history—because it is all one history anyway. As a public-school student, I learned world history at school and Bible stories at church but had no idea how they were related. The Mystery of History begins with Creation, and as it progresses you encounter Abraham, Joseph, and Esther alongside the Sumerians, Chinese dynasties, Persian kings, and Egyptian pharaohs. It allows you to place each Old Testament event, king, and prophet in his proper place in time so you can see them as real people and real events. As the text progresses from Pentecost through the Middle Ages, it reveals the work of the Early Church Fathers and martyrs in context with the darkened world they tried to reach.

When we sit down to study history, I read through the lesson while my children do their coloring pages or fill out information pages. We play fun games with the provided quizzes to review material from the previous week, or we do one of the many activities provided with the lesson. We’ve made Chinese lanterns from Styrofoam plates, decorated cardboard Roman shields, smashed clay pots with candles inside, and set up a tent, like the wandering Israelites. I am amazed how my children have such a great understanding of the history of the nation of Israel and the chronology of the Old Testament. What a blessing that my children, through the study of history, can see God’s hand in man’s events throughout time! And that is the foremost reason for studying history. I have fallen in love with history in a whole new way!

About Cathryn

Cathryn Sterling was working as a NASA engineer when God called her into ministry and full-time parenting. As an engineer, Cathryn saw firsthand the importance of explaining Christian truths in a logical way. She founded Defend the Faith Ministry, wrote her book, Teaching Others to Defend Christianity, and co-authored Mama Bear Apologetics to equip believers to defend the truth of Christianity. Cathryn now homeschools her two children and teaches upper-level math at her homeschool group. Learn more at www.defendthefaithministry.com.

Copyright 2021, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.

 Photo credit: ©Getty Images/vadimguzhva

Cathryn Sterling was working as a NASA engineer when God called her into ministry and full-time parenting. As an engineer, Cathryn saw firsthand the importance of explaining Christian truths in a logical way. She founded Defend the Faith Ministry, wrote her book, Teaching Others to Defend Christianity, and co-authored Mama Bear Apologetics to equip believers to defend the truth of Christianity. Cathryn now homeschools her two children and teaches upper-level math at her homeschool group. Learn more at www.defendthefaithministry.com.

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