As you plan for summer with your children, investigate history. Interesting things have happened in the past in our country, our world, and even in your own family. The values you learned while growing up can be passed on to your children if you tell them the history of why and how you acquired those values. Even if happenings were sad or wrong, explaining why can help your children understand that they need not repeat such actions.

The past really happened but history is only what someone wrote down. — A. Whitney Brown

Children need to understand how our country became the great country it is. The basic documents were written in handwriting. If children do not learn to write in cursive, they will not be able to read and understand their freedom under the Declaration of Independence or their rights under the Bill of Rights amendments to the Constitution of the United States. They need to be able to write their own name in cursive and to be able to read the signature of others. They will need to sign legal documents as they make their own history.

Our society impoverishes children if they do not learn from those who went before them. You and your children can sign up at Learn Our History for emails about “This Week in History” or find it on Facebook. Children need to have a proud understanding of who they are, especially for minorities and cultures. They learn from what is written down or passed down as tradition from their great-aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition. — Henry James

There is history in our communities. There are historic places in Southern Arizona to explore during the summer to interest children in history. Southern Arizona has a vibrant local history (www.southernarizonaguide.com/local-history/). Such places as the historic Pima County Courthouse, El Presidio Park, the Postal History Foundation, and San Xavier del Bac Mission are open to visit and learn.

Maybe your family could spend vacation time at a dude ranch near Tucson to learn about the skills involved in ranching in the past. The White Stallion Ranch or the Tanque Verde Ranch might be worthwhile to look into. Did you know that history here starts with Clovis man and Woolly mammoths that you can find evidence for in the San Pedro River Nature Conservation Area?

There were Apache Wars in Cochise County. Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista tells of the soldiers who fought and won those wars. The Spanish built a fort in Tubac. There are mining towns that are now “ghost towns” to find information about living in those times.

History not only tells children how things were in the past, but teaches children things that are important for life today. Because we know of people and problems of the past, people can make better decisions in the future.

Your city, your country, your family have histories. Explore and help your children learn about them.

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. — Marge Piercy

Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at bettemroz@gmail.com