National History Day is often one of the biggest research projects a student will complete in their pre-college days, requiring them to engage in complex tasks such as primary source research, thesis-statement writing, and analytical presentation.
Each student approaches these tasks at their own pace and education level. The entire process is a learning experience, and the skills that students acquire will set them up to be successful in college and a career. The challenge of mastering these skills is sometimes the best lesson that students will learn. In the end, students discover that they can confidently seek out answers to their questions and tackle difficult research and analysis independently.
As observing adults, it is important for us to allow them to make these discoveries with limited guidance. Students may need help brainstorming, teasing out answers, getting connected to resources, or learning technological skills, but ultimately their experience will be richer the more they complete the project on their own.
If students need a ride to the store, a hand with power tools, a guide through video-editing software, an outside eye to read through a written draft, a suggestion or two on where they might find sources, or a conversation to help clarify a question, this is where the teachers, parents, librarians or History Day staff step in. If students need to do heavy researching, draft writing, or project development and creation, this is where they fly solo.
History Day is a fantastic experience for students, and it can be a good experience for adults, too, as we watch and are amazed by all they learn to do.