Information for Parents and Guardians
Is your student participating in National History Day in North Dakota? You may be curious about what this means for you and your family. What are the objectives and commitments of this program? National History Day is more than one day of the year. It is a project-based, academic enrichment program for students in grades 6-12. Project categories include performances, papers, documentaries, websites, and exhibits. By participating in National History Day, students learn skills that will prepare them for college, including how to conduct in-depth research and write and present historical content. This experience provides students with opportunities to improve their research and communication skills.
Parents and other caregivers have an important role to play in a student’s success in the state competition. Help your student select a topic that fits the annual theme and the project that will best showcase their research. Students should pick a topic they find interesting as they might be working on their project for several weeks, even months. Visit a library to locate research material, rather than relying only on websites. Encourage creativity, provide transportation when needed, and help locate supplies and materials. Assist with tasks that are unsafe for your student to do themselves, such as using power tools. The most important thing you can do is be an enthusiastic cheerleader.
Questions about assignments or about a school-level competition should be directed to a student’s classroom teacher. Teachers can adapt National History Day to meet their own needs and requirements, and deadlines and grading rubrics will vary. Reinforce the short- and long-term goals the teacher has set for accomplishing the project. If your student is working in a group, make sure they can commit to the time and obligations that go along with working on a group project. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money to participate in National History Day. Most of the projects can be completed with minimal investment. Many of the materials and supplies students need can found around the house. Also, look at garage sales, second-hand stores, and dollar stores for low-cost items to recycle and repurpose. Practical, lightweight, collapsible framing materials work best for exhibits and performances. Remember that students are judged for the quality of their research, not the bling in their project.
As students compete at different contest levels, keep in mind that the point of the program is to teach them to think like historians. Not all students choose to compete beyond their classroom requirements. Of those who do, not all will win a medal. Completing a National History Day project is still a worthy accomplishment they should be proud of. Talk to them about the importance of what they have learned. This is, first and foremost, a learning exercise, but we hope they will have fun too.
If you are a homeschool educator, or your school does not already participate in the National History Day program, ask the state coordinator if you can be enrolled as an independent educator. Contact the state affiliate coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Make sure to also explore the History Day Educator page at ndstudies.gov. Thank you for supporting your student as they create a National History Day project!