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History

Famous Homeschooled Politicians

Homeschooled Politicians Who Shaped America

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 »

Poetry, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, & the Civil War

“O Captain! My Captain!”

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 »

The Benefits of Natural Consequences

How Natural Consequences Benefit Children

(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 »

How to put the "feel good" into homeschool field trips

How To Put the “Feel Good” Into Homeschool Field Trips

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 »

Homeschool High School: Our 10th Grade Plan

High School Homeschooling: Our 10th Grade Plan

From the feedback and questions that we get on our Facebook page, there is a great deal of interest in how to homeschool high school. This year my daughter is a sophomore in high school, and I thought it might be helpful to share our 10th grade plan with you. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling high school is often easier than homeschooling younger grades. Students are older, more mature, and better able to manage their own academics. When they need assistance, the material is more difficult, but between teacher guides, online resources, and friends with a knowledge of the subject matter, we have not found this to be a problem. Continue reading »

PhoneSchooling: News Apps for Critical Thinking

More PhoneSchooling: News Apps for Critical Thinking

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 »

Interest-based groups for learning (& fun)

Interest-Based Groups For Learning & Fun

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 »

Contextual Learning: Homeschooling Through Fashion

Contextual Learning: Homeschooling Through Fashion

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 »

Instead of Curriculum: Storyteller Jim Weiss

Instead of Curriculum: Storyteller Jim Weiss

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 »

TheHomeSchoolMom: Timelines in the Homeschool

Timelines in the Homeschool

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 »

TheHomeSchoolMom Resource of the Week: Smithsonian American History Museum Explorer

Smithsonian American History Museum Online

“Smithsonian’s History Explorer was developed by the National Museum of American History in partnership with the Verizon Foundation to offer hundreds of free, innovative online resources for teaching and learning American history…” Continue reading »

TheHomeSchoolMom's Resource of the Week: Could Lincoln Be Elected Today

Critical Thinking and Logic

“Could Lincoln Be Elected Today?” is a resource for teaching critical thinking from FlackCheck.org, the political literacy companion site to FactCheck.org. Continue reading »

TheHomeSchoolMom: Alice Paul

Alice Paul and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

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.
Continue reading »

Ancient Chinese Dynasties

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 »

Choosing Your History Curriculum

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 »

How To Make a Timeline Easily

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 »