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:
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Help at your local school or regional NHD contests. Contact
your child’s teacher or your NHD regional coordinator
- 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
- 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.
Contest Rulebook provides more information on program guidelines.