When I was in school, I struggled with understanding how different events in our world’s history related to one another. As I’ve gotten older and have begun putting some of those pieces together, history has begun to make so much more sense.

These revelations have led me to wonder why history isn’t taught chronologically in school. There actually isn’t a ton of research on this, but there seem to be two main schools of thought. One is to teach history chronologically for context, but to repeat this cycle multiple times throughout a child’s schooling years as their maturity and ability to understand the content grows as they grow.

The second main school of thought seems to focus on the idea that you teach pieces of history as they relate to the child’s ability to understand. In this mode of thinking, starting chronologically can be challenging because it is much harder for a child to grasp concepts from early and ancient history than ideas and places they are more familiar with like local, state, or national history.

I think both of these concepts are interesting. As with so many things, I tend to blend the two. I find, however, that one thing that seems to help tie everything together no matter how you study history is timelines.

Even if you teach history in order, your child will come into contact with and learn history from other places and time periods. A timeline gives your child a visual representation of how pieces of history fit together.

As I was trying to find a timeline for our family, I came across two main types. Of course, there was the traditional wall timeline. Honestly, we don’t have a spot to put this and it seems the size of it could become wildly out of hand over time. For me, this wasn’t an option. 

The other type of timeline I’ve heard a lot about is the Book of Centuries by Charlotte Mason. I really liked the idea of a timeline in a book, but I was worried that putting multiple things on one page might cause things to be too cramped and lead to running out of space, ultimately causing the timeline to get a bit jumbled over time. I also wanted to include great books we’ve read in our timeline as well as art, writing, and projects the kids created. 

That’s where I had the idea to create a timeline binder. Here’s a peek inside:

I love that this timeline can infinitely grow and all the pieces can be easily reorganized when needed. It’s also been fun watching the kids as make connections when adding new things to their notebooks.

Over time, I’m getting better at remembering to add things to our notebooks. This will be such a great peek into our homeschool over the years, and I think the kids will truly cherish them when they’re older.

One of the great things about this notebook is that you can really add anything to it. Even a piece of notebook paper with some scratchings on it will work just fine. I know, however, that sometimes a little guidance can be helpful, so I created these free worksheets you can use with your History Timeline Binder


Templates for adding people, places, events, and things to your timeline binder.

Available in both BCE/CE and BC/AD, these are century grids to add to the divider pages of your Century Timeline Binder. Each set also includes labels for tabbed dividers as well as a blank grid for any additional centuries you might need. Includes 21st century BC/BCE through 21st Century AD/CE.

Do you use timelines in your homeschool? If so, what’s your preferred format? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments below.