History has about as many theories and ways to teach it as there are homeschoolers. In all honesty, we’ve run the gamut ourselves. I started out wanting to teach my daughter classically, and to give her a history course that started with the beginning of recorded history up until the current day. I found a book and workbook set called The History of the World that seemed to fit this nicely, and I loved the reviews I read about it. Unfortunately, we just never could get into it. This isn’t a fault of the program; I’ve flipped through it and it looks fantastic. It simply wasn’t a fit for us.

Teresa has used Time4Learning for years, and the social studies program taught her some great things. This seemed to be the easiest way for her to learn, at least on the days when she was doing well in what she called “computer school.” When she was younger, she needed a mix of both “computer school” and “book school” or she would stagnate in her learning.

So, for the book school portion, I resorted to workbooks, printable worksheets, and even a lapbooking unit on the Mayflower, which she loved. Since she is gifted in art, making a lapbook enabled her to learn history and also utilize her artistic talents, while also learning about history. I think that hands-on approach is sometimes key to her learning more thoroughly, and helps her to retain more of the information.

Fifth grade history has been an interesting year. We’ve done social studies through Time4Learning, printed out sheets on events and holidays from online, and also embarked on some field trips to further explore history. We’re lucky enough to live in New England, so American History can really come alive here with the wealth of historical sites that are within an hour or two’s drive. We can go to Boston and see Bunker Hill or Old Ironsides, or to Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower down in Massachusetts as well. We’re an easy drive from the place where the Shot Heard Round The World was fired, or Walden Pond … the list goes on and on.

After a field trip to a historical site, I like to have Teresa use the internet to read more about that particular site, and then, using the information she has gleaned online plus her visit to the place, write a report talking about everything she’s learned and her impressions of the place. I find that she learns much more this way, and history is really beginning to come alive for her. It’s exciting to watch in this 5th grade year, as she really begins to appreciate and love history.

Got Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed

There are days when I relish in my homeschool; my daughter in 5th grade sits and does everything we have to do that day, and my son in 2nd grade does the same. The children are done before lunch and smiles abound.

Today was not one of those days.

My daughter rolled out of bed at 9, grunted hello, and disappeared to parts unknown. I finally tracked her down in my bathroom with the comics from the Sunday paper. I asked why the late wake-up and was answered with “I couldn’t sleep … now will you let me use the bathroom???” (Please note: She was sitting on the edge of the tub most decidedly NOT using the bathroom.

Teresa is a great kid. I don’t hear lots of complaints from her, and she puts up with the interruptions from her little brothers with a fair amount of patience. But when she gets up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed it can be so hard to start our day off and get some learning accomplished.

After eating her breakfast, which took her an hour of serious stalling, I decided the best course of action would be some computer work since she usually gets through that faster and would – I hoped – have the least amount of whining in her sleep-deprived (so she said) state. I set her computer up and set her off to work

And then the fun began! First, she couldn’t get the mouse to work. After a battery change she claimed she couldn’t hear the website. I tried not to point out that the volume button on her monitor was right in front of her but managed to bite my tongue. A few minutes of blessed silence, and then I heard a little voice say “Mama? I have a headache from reading. Can I be done?”

At this point I was a tad frustrated. At first I sweetly told her to get back to her work. Ok, I might be exaggerating a little bit about the sweetness. I was satisfied that work was being accomplished after an hour of no complaints, until I looked in at her. She was sitting at her computer with her eyes glazed over, and I’m fairly certain she hadn’t gone past the first page of her work.

I walked in, turned her computer off, and told her to go get her coat on. Despite her look of curiosity I told her nothing other than to get ready. Once she was ready I sent her outside with her 2 younger brothers and 3 bags and asked them to collect the best looking of the fall leaves from outside. She immediately perked up and set to work.

When the kids returned with their treasures we ironed them into wax paper and hung them up. Then we went online and looked up why leaves change colors, and I had her write a small paper about what she learned. Did it take longer? It certainly did. But it was so worth it.