Parents as Teachers: Qualifications, by Lynne

 

One of the most frustrating things I have heard when I’ve told some people who know me that I homeschool my children is, “Well, YOU are qualified to do so.”

Yes, I’m fairly intelligent, have gone to grad school, and have taught and tutored many students. I have even taken half a dozen education classes in college. I’m not a certified teacher, though. I dropped out of the education department when I realized I’d be spending the majority of my life with angst-ridden teenagers if I taught high school French classes. (That wasn’t the real reason, but it’s a darn good one!)

So, yes, one might think that with my background I am qualified to teach my own children at home.

But guess what — so are millions of other parents who have completely different backgrounds from mine. Homeschooling is an entirely different animal from traditional school. Although many former teachers have chosen to homeschool, you don’t need a degree in education to teach your children at home. In fact, in my state, all you need, legally, is a high school diploma. If you’re willing to devote your time and energy to provide opportunities for your kids to become productive adults, you’re qualified to homeschool.

Homeschooling is not one definable “thing.”It’s as varied as the families who homeschool.   Homeschooling works for so many families because the parents are invested in finding out which methods, which curricula, and which approaches work best for their individual children.

Here are the qualifications that I think are most important for a homeschool parent, in order of importance.

  Resourcefulness
Flexibility
  Patience
Resilience

I’ve put Resourcefulness as number one, because from the homeschool families I’ve observed, it seems to be the main factor in the success and happiness involved in this intense journey. You need to be able to do the research and find the materials or techniques that will help your child learn and grow. As Apryl pointed out in her article, sometimes that means finding someone other than yourself to teach your child.

Flexibility. Life happens. Kids are kids. You must be flexible. All the carefully planned out lessons in the world can be derailed in an instant. If you don’t go with the flow, your homeschool path will not be as happy as it could be.

Patience. This is another thing that makes me a little nuts. Mothers who have stayed up nights with colicky babies tell me they would never have the patience to homeschool their own children. Here’s my answer: “Yes, you would.” Do you have the patience to clean up vomit from a sick child’s bed? Do you have the patience to make macaroni and cheese every day for lunch for a decade? Do you have the patience to be vigilant when your baby starts to crawl and get into things? Of course you do. You’re a parent.

                                                  Patience is your job.

How else are these little people going to learn to ride their bikes or tie their shoes? And, I believe, your relationship with your child has a different dynamic when you are homeschooling as compared to when your child is gone for a good chunk of the day. My kids have gone to public school, so I’ve experienced both. You have a lot more patience for homeschooling when you don’t have to worry about homework, packing lunches, making sure the trumpet is packed for band practice, and getting to the bus stop on time. It’s a completely different way of life. That said, I think I’ve dug down deep into my baby toe to find my last reserve of patience as I’ve been teaching fractions this year.

Resilience. Not only do you need to be flexible, but you need to be able to bounce back from setbacks. Things will go wrong. It’s inevitable. You need to pick the family back up, brush off your pants, and get back to work. Sometimes homeschooling isn’t all kisses and cuddles and field trips. Sometimes you worry that you’re screwing your kid up for life. If you get bogged down in this mire, it’s hard to see the end goal.

So basically, your parenting skills transfer over to homeschooling skills. Don’t have any idea what the quadratic equation is? Find a math tutor. Your kid blew through in one month the Language Arts workbook that you were planning to use for the whole year? Go to the library and find books on parts of speech and punctuation. Your fifth grader can’t learn to capitalize a sentence after being made to correct about 8 billion un-capitalized sentences? (Personal experience!) Learn meditation techniques. The wonderful curriculum you spent $200 on is not working for your kid? Sell it online and buy something else.

I love teachers. I think many of them do an amazing job of reaching kids and inspiring them to learn. They have earned a degree in their field, and it applies to what they do in a classroom setting. I also think that the really good teachers have all the qualities mentioned above. So if you feel intimidated or worried that you are not a “real” teacher, take a moment to think. You are not in a classroom setting with other children. You are with your own children, and nobody knows them as well as you do. You are plenty qualified to inspire your children to learn and to become the best people they can be.

 

Lynnlynnee–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past three years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

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Memoria Press Review by Lynne: Geography I

Our family had the opportunity to review the Geography I curriculum from Memoria Press. Memoria Press includes this program in their fourth grade curriculum.  You can purchase the Geography portion for $48.  I used it with my fourth- and fifth-grade sons.

Geography I covers the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.  It also includes a review booklet for the United States.  We’ve always done geography in conjunction with history, and not as a separate subject, so I was interested to see how this would work for us.

The Student Text begins each section with a brief overview and map of the region.  The regional information is followed by a two-page spread for each country in the region.  You can see a sample of this layout on MP’s website.  The first page is broken down into three sections:  History’s Headlines, where we get highlights of the country’s past; Tour of Today, where we learn of events from the not-so-distant past; and Fast Facts, where we get the stats about the country and learn about its flag.  There are also black-and-white pictures to accompany each country. The second page is a basic map showing the country in relation to its surrounding countries and bodies of water. In the back of the book, there are several colorful pages of flags.  My kids were very interested in the flags, so I actually found them some flag stickers that they could put on each page.

The Geography I Student Workbook has a page for each country for the students to label a few of the major geographical locations and to record some basic information about the country.  You can see a sample page here.  The answers are provided in the Teacher Guide.

The United States Student Workbook breaks the country into eight regions.  For each region, there are worksheet pages to identify the name of the state and its capital.  We had never done a formal study of United States geography, so I was surprised when my kids just whipped through the United States booklet.  They informed me that they learned the states and capitals through various educational video games.

I normally choose secular materials for my kids, but I have used other MP items and have not found them to be overbearing in their religious viewpoint.  If you want no mention of God or Christianity at all in your curriculum. though, this is not the program for you.

As a preliminary foray into Geography, I don’t think you’ll find a more simple and easy product to use.  It provides a good overview of the various regions and what countries make up those regions.  The text is brief and simple, but you could easily do more independent research on a country that strikes your fancy.  The maps are clear and simple and provide a good sense of the main points of interest.  My kids enjoyed using these books, so we have decided to continue on with Geography II next year.  Once again, though, I will cut off the binding and have the workbooks spiral bound.  My kids do not like trying to hold a book flat while writing in it.  I just photocopied the workbook pages so they could lay them flat until I was able to spiral bind the book.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

  lynneby Lynne –Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past three years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

Plugged Into a Different Creative Outlet, by Lynne

 

My favorite gift as a child was a banker’s box filled with art supplies. I couldn’t imagine anything better than a box full of colorful paper, crayons, glue, sequins, and glitter. My sisters each received one of these boxes too, and we spent hours making glittery creations at our kitchen table. I was never a great artist, but I did find joy in creating things.

These days, I spend my free time scrapbooking and making other paper crafts. I enjoy making things to give to other people and making things to embellish my home. I’m also a creative cook. I like to figure out new and interesting dishes, especially when my CSA box arrives. Combining foods to display their colors and textures always feels like creating a piece of art to me.

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A delicious palette of colors

For some reason, I don’t think of my kids as creative types. This is, however, completely untrue. My kids are very creative, just not in the way I traditionally think of creativity.  We have lots of art supplies in this house. I always imagined that my children would love cutting up paper and using pom poms and glitter and pipe cleaners and watercolors the way I did. They don’t. Most of our homeschool art projects are forced by Mom.

 

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What am I supposed to do with this, Mom?

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I did get them to do one Pinterest idea. It only involved gluing strips of pre-cut paper, so they were good with it.

Since I am a scrapbooker, though, I get to revisit our lives when I create pages about certain events or activities. This has caused me to look through hundreds of photos that I’ve taken of my children and to marvel at the creativity that does shine through in so much of what they do. I think this creativity can be partially attributed to the fact that I’m pretty laid back about messes. For example, one sunny afternoon, I went outside to see my boys and my niece smashing boxes of sidewalk chalk with croquet mallets. Instead of  being angry that they had destroyed all the chalk, I commented on the beautiful rainbow  of dust all over the driveway. It also helps that I’ve exposed my kids to many different types of creative outlets. We’ve taken them to children’s museums, art museums, stage productions, concerts, etc. They’ve both attended theater classes and briefly took music lessons.

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Colorful chalk mess

 

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Home made slime mess

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Getting creative with Potato Head parts

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In the children’s discovery area at the Cleveland Museum of Art

My older son has been creating comic books for a few years now. He has made up his own characters and has literally filled hundreds of pages with these comics. The drawings are very simplistic, but he spends hours and hours coming up with plots for his books. They tend to be disgusting and violent, but I’ve given up trying to get him to tone them down.  His favorite character is Hamy Mommy, and he created his own birthday decorations and dictated how I was to decorate his cake for his 8th birthday.

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This cake was totally his design.

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He drew characters and other items on each goodie bag.

This same son has inherited my creative cooking gene. He likes to experiment with ingredients to see what will happen. I can tell you that popcorn pancakes are not very delicious. He does make a scrumptious granola cake and has contributed good ingredient suggestions to some of my recipes. My younger son made a “vinegar cake” one time, and that was not so tasty.  BLECH! That was the end of his cooking career.

 

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Cupcakes they made for our annual Harry Potter Film Marathon

My kids are also creative when it comes to their appearances. I never thought I’d be the mom who allowed her nine-year-old to have a mohawk, but he was so adamant about it, I decided it wasn’t a hill to die on. This led to several whacky haircuts, the strangest of which was a poof of hair on the top right side of his head, which we had to dye orange. The day he came down with the blue tattoos all over his arms, combined with the haircut, I was speechless.

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Then, my younger son decided to wear a third eye for a few weeks. He went everywhere with a googly eye stuck to the middle of his forehead. My mother would never have allowed us to go out in public like this, I’m sure of it, but I’ve decided that it is fostering their imaginative sides. (Or, at least, that’s what I tell myself!)

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Yes. He wore this everywhere.

I’m always astounded by the creativity of their play, too. Almost none of their toys are used for their original purpose. The Beyblade arena is turned into a hot tub for the stuffed animal spa. The swords and light sabers are laid end to end to create boundaries for an imaginary house. Their video chairs are turned on their sides and pushed together to create a hideaway. Their socks are turned into sleeping bags for their Zhu Zhu pets. One day, I walked into the master bedroom to find stacks of boxes with a “throne” on top where one stuffed animal was holding court while all the courtier stuffed animals were paying tribute on the floor below. Another day, I came home to find the Harry Potter chess set pieces circling the Lockrobot population on the floor. It made me laugh.

 

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They save all their Halloween costumes and then rearrange the pieces to create some very comical effects. I have several scrapbook pages of the weird costume combinations. My favorite were the Dalek and Cyberman costumes they fashioned out of stuff they found in their room.

 

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Dalek

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Cyberman

Looking back over all these pictures helps me to envision creativity in a whole new light.  So, I probably will never get to do all the fun homeschool art activities I’ve pinned on Pinterest, because my kids have very little interest in that particular kind of creativity.  I’m content to pursue my creative outlets and to let them pursue theirs.

 

LynnelynneLynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past three years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

The World From the Outside In: Why I Chose Classical Homeschooling, by Lynne

 

I was led by the hand into the world of modern-day classical homeschooling by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. Their wonderful book, The Well-Trained Mind, spoke to my heart in a way that changed my whole outlook on my responsibility to see that my children received a good education.

I had never been satisfied with the education I received in school. It always felt as if I was learning bits and pieces of information, but that I was missing the big picture. I read these two sentences about classical education in the Overview portion of TWTM, and nearly wept:

It is language-intensive, not image focused.  It demands that students use and understand words, not video images.

It is history-intensive, providing students with a comprehensive view of the human endeavor from the beginning until now.

That second sentence is the one that really pierced me. In my view of the world, not enough of us have a “comprehensive view of the human endeavor,” and that is why we have so many repeated conflicts. We’re missing the big picture.

So I chose classical homeschooling for myself, at first, and not really for my kids. I wanted this education. I wanted to learn about the world and my place in it from the outside in, not the other way around. I wanted a strong, language-based education that focused on knowing how and why to do things. I wanted my education to feel complete and not scattered. I wanted this for me. I knew that if I chose this method for my kids, we would all be learning together. I was really excited.

I was so overjoyed when I read TWTM that I insisted my husband read through the first part of the book, the part which explains what classical homeschooling meant for the Wise family. He thought the book’s ideas about education were compelling and he admired my enthusiasm, but in all sincerity, he thought I should run for the school board and try to implement this type of learning in our public school system. That led to several discussions/arguments about how even if by some miracle that were to work, it would never happen in time for our own children to benefit from it. My husband was adamant that he wanted the kids to go to school. He had no room in his brain for the concept of homeschooling.

Fast forward into the middle of two rather unsettling and disappointing years in school for our oldest, and my husband and I had yet another discussion about the possibility of homeschooling. He said to me, “I’m never going to agree to homeschooling.” I said to him, “You don’t seem to understand that I’m not agreeing to the current schooling situation.”  Well, that put a different spin on it for him. Shortly after that conversation, I had a truly mind-boggling conversation with several members of the school “team,” and when I shared this conversation with my husband, he finally agreed to give homeschooling a try.

We followed TWTM model of schooling, somewhat loosely. I subscribe to the philosophy that the grammar stage was for building the foundational skills for learning. We read lots of books, and learned about the composition of language. We listened to The Story of the World and learned math facts. My little boys, who had been bored and not challenged in school, were soaking up information and learning things at their own pace. For my older son, I was able to tailor our lessons to his emotional and physical needs, as well.

During those first years, I attended homeschool conferences and hung out on homeschool chat forums. I perused other types of curriculum and chatted with moms whose kids were doing online schooling. I learned that families choose the type of learning that matches their lifestyle. I’ve seen some other methods of schooling up close, and I can say that I admire the families that make those methods work for them. However, the more I see of other methods, the more committed I am to a classical model for our family.

Through our studies, we all seem to learn and grow in our understanding of the world at large as a whole. Studying Latin helps us to see how language has provided continuity throughout the centuries. Learning about poetry helps us understand the human condition. I don’t feel pressured to complete any curriculum. I feel honored to be on the journey with my kids to discover all that the library has to offer, and all that the world can be.

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lynneLynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past three years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

Homeschooling Through a Parent’s Illness, by Lynne

I bought a T-shirt at a homeschool convention that says, “Homeschool Teacher:  There is no substitute.” I thought it was cute and poignant. For most homeschool families, there’s no one to call in when Mom or Dad is under the weather. School may have to be put on the back burner while the primary teacher is recuperating. For instance, I have a severe cold. So for the past few days, I’ve been making my kids read books aloud, while I lounge in misery on the couch. Then I toss a couple of math worksheets at them and call it a school day.

A parent can fairly easily work around a few days of sickness. Some activities may need to be rearranged. Grandma may need to be called in for reinforcement. The non-teaching parent may have to chip in a little more. It’s not going to be disastrous for the school year if you are sidelined by a few days of illness.

But what happens when the illness or injury lasts longer than a few days?

In the fall of 2012, I had a life-altering situation. I went to the emergency room with intense abdominal pain and ended up with a cancer diagnosis and an emergency surgery to remove the large tumor that was causing the pain. It took me five weeks to heal enough to be able to sit upright for more than an hour. It took me a few months to feel like a normal human being again. Had I chosen to do the recommended chemotherapy treatment, who knows how long the recovery period would have been?

I am extremely fortunate to have a large, loving family. My mother and sisters took care of me, my kids, and my household for as long as it took for me to get back on my feet. I also had lots of help with food and other essentials from other family and friends. Of course, school was not our main priority during that time, but my family and friends did all they could to keep my kids occupied and engaged in activities, so that they wouldn’t worry about me, and I wouldn’t worry about them.

Once I felt like we could get back on track with our schooling, it took a while to build up the momentum we had previously established. Some of my original plans seemed overwhelming since I was really trying to concentrate on reestablishing my own health. Once again, my family came through for me and helped me accomplish my goals. One sister even went through my whole science program and gathered up all the materials we would need for all of our physics labs for the whole year. (Typing this makes me tear up.)  She put everything in a huge bag and labeled it all according to each lesson number.

My sister doing a science experiment with her children and mine.

My sister doing a science experiment with her kids and mine.

I often wonder what would have happened if I did not have this security net around me. What would our school year have turned out to be if I hadn’t had so much help? I may have chosen to send the kids to public school temporarily. I may have tried to persuade my husband to school them in the evenings after his long day at work. I don’t think that would have panned out, because he’s not a teacher-type at all. I may have just cut out the majority of my plans and stuck to the bare bones basics. I’ve read other blogs and homeschool forum chats where families have had to make tough decisions like these. My heart aches when I read about a family who has to change their entire lives because of a serious illness or injury.

Our family missed a couple months of schooling because of my illness. My very carefully planned year was thrown off course. We cropped activities, read fewer books than projected, and skipped a few lessons here and there. In short, we adapted to the situation.  Even though it was not what I had envisioned, when it came time for our year-end portfolio review we had a decent school year to discuss with our assessor.

It has been almost a year and a half since my surgery, and I’m doing well. My perspective on school and life has certainly changed. My priorities are more about my kids enjoying this time with me than on finishing our math book “on time.” I want my kids to be prepared for whatever life brings to them in the future, so I still focus on providing them the classical education I think will serve them well throughout their entire lives. However, I now spend a lot more time worrying about making good memories with my boys than I do about the things they should accomplish in our school year.

lynneAfter giving public school a brief try, Lynne and her two sons have decided they are really more of a homeschooling family.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism, who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon to be revitalized blog at http://www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com .

Elementary Dissection Lab, by Lynne

Dissection Day

 

Whenever I have a question about homeschool science, I ask my friend Lisa. Lisa’s ten-year-old daughter has an insatiable appetite for science knowledge, so out of necessity, Lisa has had to do more than the average homeschool mom’s share of research into science curricula and science opportunities for her daughter. She is a veritable treasure trove of science information and has been able to parlay this research into fantastic science classes at our local homeschool co-op.

This session, Lisa is teaching a dissection class to a group of nine students, aged 9-14. They will be dissecting everything from clams to chickens. I was able to visit the class and take a peek at the students working on their crayfish dissections.

The kids read up about the specimen before coming to class. Each student has his own dissection kit and works on his own specimen, but they are seated in pairs and work together on each project. They discuss how to proceed and share their discoveries with each other. They record their information on a lab sheet.

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I asked Lisa a few questions about the class, and she told me that the very first thing she did was to go over all the items in the dissection kit and explain the safety procedures to the class. Nine-year-olds wielding scalpels have the potential to be dangerous if they are not properly cautioned! The first specimen was an earthworm, and the kids enjoyed seeing its five hearts. Each week they will explore a new specimen and learn more anatomical terminology. Lisa’s goals for the class  “ . . . are for the students to have a basic overview of anatomy and learn the language that is science. I’m a big believer in exposing children to scientific terms so they build a language bank.”

There are many benefits to doing science classes in a co-op format, such as sharing the cost of expensive materials and the opportunity to swap information. A co-op dissection class, as Lisa says, “also helps busy moms keep sheep hearts out of their dining rooms.” I think many homeschool parents would appreciate having a separate location to work on some of the more messy science projects.

One of my favorite things about this class is that it is open to younger students.  Normally, dissection is reserved for high school biology and anatomy classes. This class is for late elementary and middle school aged kids. Lisa is of the opinion that many kids shy away from more advanced science classes out of fear of “scary words.” She hopes her ambition to build up a science language bank in younger students will encourage them to pursue science even further than they ever imagined possible. Judging by the excitement on the kids’ faces in that room, I have a feeling Lisa may be on to something.

Lynnlynnee–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past three years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

Science and History: Hand in Hand, by Lynne

Teaching Science at Home

 

I am a history nerd. I’ve always enjoyed history classes, historical fiction, and historical documentaries. I never considered myself a science nerd, though. As I’ve said before, The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer changed my life. Of course, I knew that science and history did not happen independently of one another. And, of course, I knew that history influenced and inspired scientific discovery. I also knew that certain events in history often discouraged scientific advancement, such as when Mongol invaders destroyed libraries and universities during their rampages. What I didn’t know until using the four year history and science cycle described in the book was how much sense the history of science would make when studying science in conjunction with history.

“We divide the four years of science into subjects that roughly correspond to the history periods. First graders, who are studying the ancients, learn about those things the ancients could see — animal life, the human body, and plants. . . Second graders collect facts about the earth and sky, a division designed to go along with the medieval-early Renaissance period, when Copernicus and Tycho Brahe observed the heavens.”  (The Well-Trained Mind pp. 157- 158.  2009. W. W. Norton & Co.) The book goes on to describe how third graders learn about chemistry while learning about great chemists of the early modern period, like Robert Boyle. Fourth graders learn about physics and technology while they are studying the history of the modern age and all its exciting scientific and technological developments.

These cycles of history and science together are then repeated again in the logic and rhetoric stages, building on the facts learned during the grammar stage.

Before we started homeschooling, I had been afterschooling my kids in history by having us all listen to The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer in the car as we drove all around.  My younger son was in Kindergarten at the time, and my older son was in first grade — the year students study ancient history. The next year we were homeschooling full time, so I decided to move ahead with history and study the medieval period. Therefore, we didn’t do life sciences the first time around in our four year cycle. We went straight into earth science and astronomy.

I was amazed by the resources my public library had on these topics, so I didn’t even purchase a curriculum for science that year. We read dozens of library books about weather, geology, the solar system, etc. We also did experiments from Janice Van Cleave’s 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre & Incredible ExperimentsWe made a rain gauge and kept weather journals. We went to the planetarium and learned about the constellations. We searched for different kinds of rocks and labeled them.  We even put together our own models of the solar system. As we learned about the rotation of the planets in science, we were learning in history class about Hans Lippershey inventing the telescope and Galileo being excommunicated for his radical scientific views.  How cool is that?

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In our second year of homeschooling, we were studying chemistry in science and the early modern era in history. Now, you could not have prepared me for the enthusiasm my older son would have for chemistry! I was not a fan of chemistry in high school, so I never imagined that my kids could like it so much.  I purchased this beautiful deck of element cards, and my older son would sit with them, and pour over them, and read information from them to me. We even used them to build a giant periodic table on our sunroom floor. In addition to the Janice van Cleave experiment book, we also used Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry Pre-Level I. This book was a great introduction to basic concepts in Chemistry, and my kids really liked how atoms were drawn with arms to show how they linked to other atoms to form molecules. The atoms were drawn with the same number of arms as they had available spaces in their outer electron shell. Such an easy way for elementary kids to understand the concept of how atoms could join with other atoms! There were numerous advancements in science during the early modern period, and it was interesting to see how the advancements in science instigated changes in world politics and history. The study of chemistry and physical properties of matter were at the heart of these advancements.

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Our third year of homeschooling corresponded to the fourth year of the history/science cycle- the Modern Age. This year, we used Real Science for Kids Physics Level I.  We also used the corresponding lab book.  I liked how the lab book had students conduct their experiments by using the scientific method. We learned about electricity and simple machines. The kids took a class at the Metroparks about how light and sound waves work.  We learned that there was such a thing as nuclear physics. We had interesting conversations about the historical implications of nuclear physics, such as the devastation caused by atom bombs, and (an event my kids remember) the damage caused by earthquakes to the nuclear reactors in Japan. We also had some laughs when a physics discussion would be prompted by a family TV night watching The Big Bang Theory.

This year, we are in the Logic Stage and have gone back to the first year of our cycle. We are studying Biology, using Pandia Press R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Biology 2. This is a fascinating book, with lots of hands on experiments and many chances to look at things under a microscope. We are also taking a second look at ancient history.  So much was happening in life sciences during the ancient times.  Egyptians were mummifying bodies, Hippocrates was busy establishing the study of medicine in Greece, and people in India were busy working on a classification system.

Obviously, during all periods of history, all kinds of science was happening in all sorts of areas. The study of chemistry wasn’t limited to the early modern period any more than astronomy was limited to medieval times. People have studied the world around them since the dawn of time. You can’t have biology or physics without chemistry. It’s all interconnected. So, even though this four year cycle breaks down the different disciplines of science to correspond with different eras in history, it doesn’t limit us to these four designations. If you are studying modern times, you are going to learn about the newest discoveries of the latest satellite or Mars Rover, right along with your physics lessons. The four year cycle just provides a consistent backbone to pursue historical AND scientific scholarship simultaneously. When my kids had to temporarily go back to public school this fall, giving up this four year cycle was, honestly, the biggest regret I had concerning their academics.  I am relieved we get to continue on this path, and so are the kids.

Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past three years, after their brief lynnestint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.