Many people associate politicians and other influential people with prestigious private schools. In some cases that’s true. But many of the most powerful and significant figures in the United States didn’t attend private or public schools — they were homeschooled. Continue reading »
As a student, I hated poetry. In high school, the words “poetry unit” filled me with dread and an almost uncontrollable desire to feign an extended illness preventing school attendance. As an adult, the aversion stayed with me until I heard Walt Whitman’s haunting verses about the Civil War read aloud – grieved, lamenting the death that seemed to be everywhere. Listening to poetry and experiencing the emotions that the poet meant to evoke brought the words to life. Meter and rhyme, refrain and couplet, sonnet and stanza — they may be important to learn, but only after poetry is experienced. Experiencing poetry is crucial to appreciating it. Once it has been experienced, the process of creation can be studied with a focus on mechanics and editing Continue reading »
(or What History Teaches Us About Parenting)
The parent I would become was changed by history. Or at least by revelations history can offer.
At 18, I signed up for a college history course simply to fulfill a requirement. Although I’ve forgotten the professor’s name, I’ll never forget the man. He taught us to look at all of history using one pivotal question: “What happens when people are deprived of (or otherwise separated from) the consequences of their words and actions?” Continue reading »
Everybody knows homeschoolers go on a lot of field trips.
We start them young with trips to the fire department and the water treatment plant. We go to historic farms, art museums, animal shelters, state and national parks, corn mazes, and caverns.
In my state, Virginia, you can study practically all of American history through field trips: Native American sites, Jamestown, Williamsburg, historic grist mills, Frontier Culture Museum, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, antebellum plantations, Civil War battlefields and museums, memorials of World War I and II, Civil Rights sites, a Vietnam War museum, and more. Continue reading »
When I was in high school and college, my mom clipped newspaper and news magazine articles for me. She left them for me on the steps to my bedroom or put them in an envelope and mailed them to me at with a handwritten note in the margin — “Thought you’d be interested in this” or “What do you think about this news?” Today, I do something similar with my teen and twenty-something sons, only I do it electronically. Continue reading »
In my family, interest-based groups have been an important part of homeschooling life. We formed a number of these groups over the years. Some, like a history club made up of eager parents and not-so-eager young children, barely lasted long enough for a few meetings. Others have lasted ten years. The most successful has been our boy’s science club. It was started by five families with nine boys between the ages of seven and eleven. When we began it was highly structured. We met regularly at each other’s homes. Parents took turns planning a project or experiment, got the materials, explained the educational principles underlying the activity, and if things didn’t turn out as planned (actually quite frequently) it was usually a parent who searched for answers. Continue reading »
This year in my role as a homeschool evaluator, I met a number of tweens and teens who are interested in fashion. As we went through their portfolio of work and talked about their year, I was fascinated with the ways they had woven their interest in fashion with their academic studies. Two of the teens I met with had taken their interest in current fashion into the past — studying the typical dress and accessorizing of women and men in earlier periods of history. They also took their fashion interest international — studying the current typical dress of modern-day people in other parts of the world.
Both of these girls (who did not know each other — they had arrived at this independently) had done extensive research to be able to portray the styles of other times and other places, and they could explain how the fashion reflected the culture, religious beliefs, gender roles, classes and roles in society, and daily life. They were articulate about the historical times and geography of the world as they discussed the observations they had made about fashion in these distant centuries and far-off places. Continue reading »
Among my favorite homeschooling resources are our audio recordings by storyteller Jim Weiss. These stories provided many important cultural touchstones for my children during their pre-reading and early reading years, introducing them to historical, scientific, literary, and mythological figures and tales. This is where my children first learned of Galileo, Tom Sawyer, Shakespeare, Robin Hood, and Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading »
Timelines offer students the ability to visually process overlapping and chronological events in history, relating them in a way that is more difficult to perceive through reading. Timelines in the homeschool are a valuable tool to relate subjects together and view historical events as interrelated. Continue reading »
Election day is tomorrow and it got me thinking about how many people don’t bother to vote either because they don’t like the choices, they don’t think they can make a difference, or they simply don’t care. As a woman, I ponder the impact that Alice Paul and the women’s suffrage movement had on women’s rights. Women were jailed and beaten just up the road from me at what used to be the Occoquan Workhouse (later to be Lorton Federal Prison) in their fight for women to have the vote.
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China has been ruled by dynasties for thousands of years. A dynasty is a family in power that passes on control of the country from one generation to the next. Studying the dynasties of ancient and early imperial China is a great place to start to understand the history of this ancient civilization. Continue reading »
For homeschool moms and other teachers who are able to choose their own history curriculum, selecting the book(s) that will keep you energized all year long is a crucial decision. Whether you call them spines, source books, core books, or textbooks, you can’t ignore the importance of having one all-encompassing history guide to keep you grounded and make sure you leave no obvious gaps. This book will reinforce the flow of events, even if your extended reading is chronologically a little before or behind it in time sequence. Continue reading »
I receive many questions from new and veteran home educators over the course of a year.; In the past two months, however, there has been one question that has surfaced more than any other and that is… “How do we make a timeline?” This is a great question and armed with knowledge and the right tools, it is not as hard as it might seem. Continue reading »