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National History Day in Wisconsin banner.


Parents, teachers, and other adults play an important support role in the National History Day process. You can help in many ways, while still allowing your child to have ownership over the final project. As a general rule of thumb, adult advisors can do things with History Day students, but not for them. Here are some ideas on how you can be involved:

Selecting a Topic and Doing Research

  • Be a sounding board for your child's ideas as they work on selecting a topic. Are there any interesting local topics or family connections that your child may not know about?
  • Encourage your child to explore resources beyond the Internet. Only a faction of available primary source documents can be found online. Help your student access this research by providing transportation.
  • Assist your child as they conduct research and become familiar with libraries and other research institutions. Adults can help students locate materials, but students should take notes, conduct interviews, decide on a source's potential usefulness for their entry, etc.

Creating a Project

  • Remember that the final product must be the work of the student. You can do things with History Day students, but not for them, unless it would be dangerous for the student to complete the task themselves (such as operating power tools). Student may, and should, have assistance with potentially dangerous equipment. However, students are responsible for the ultimate design, construction, and presentation of their entries.
  • Students may need help and advice about the mechanical aspects of creating their entry. For example, students may need instruction in how documentary or website software works, but the students are ultimately responsible for using that knowledge to put together the project themselves.
  • Performance students may have costumes produced for them, but the design, choice of fabrics, etc. must be their own. Performance students can also rent costumes.
  • Be supportive of your student as they complete a long-term project. Assist them with creating a project timeline and help them manage deadlines.

NHD Competitions

  • Help at your local school or regional NHD contests. Contact your child's teacher or your NHD regional coordinator to volunteer.
  • Calm nervous students and help them make sure they have all necessary materials for the competition.
  • Students are responsible for setting up their own exhibits and props and for running their own documentary equipment at NHD competitions. Students may receive reasonable help in carrying and placing props and exhibits but set-up must be completed by the student. Students may also need help from event staff in troubleshooting technology problems, should they arise.
  • Remind your student that creating a National History Day project is a huge accomplishment and to be proud of this regardless of the results of the NHD competition cycle.


The NHD Contest Rulebook provides more information on program guidelines.

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