Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Partial Answer on This and That

Home schooling is really an interesting thing. Of course, everyone who home schools knows that everyone who home schools does it completely differently. There seem to be a billion curriculum choices to make and it can be overwhelming - even to those of us who are moderately "seasoned" in the whole endeavor.

Jonathan and I were both raised home schooled and so we've always planned to do the same with our children. Technically we are not legally required to begin just yet, but we have anyway - in some form or fashion. Our oldest was five at the start of this school year and since he can already read a fair amount and is already at the point of adding and subtracting fractions, I'm not too concerned that he is going to be behind. This has made me somewhat lazy in selecting any curriculum whatsoever because he's all across the board in skill level and, as I say, we aren't legally required to start yet. (Why hurry it if you don't have to?!)

That all said, I did finally get down to business in the handwriting and history department. I had an encounter with a home schooling mom, at a conference we were both at, who was using the Story of the World books for history. I picked her brain as to why she liked them and she was very helpful with her response. (Several of you have also mentioned once or twice that you've used this series.) In summary, she convinced me this was a set of books worth reading and so I purchased and we have begun reading The Story of the World : Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor.

What we do is this: I read one of the sections and then Bookworm1 has to build a scene depicting the story we just read with his Legos. We've been taking pictures of his scenes of Nomads and cities along the Nile River and putting them into a notebook. In this same notebook, he has to write a few sentences of explanation for the picture which then cements the facts in his mind. (Bonus points: handwriting practice happens at the same time!)

We've been going to the library more frequently in conjunction with our studies, bringing home books about archeology and the Ancient Egyptians, primarily. At some point, I was thinking I should type up a list of our favorite (non-fiction) picture books which we've been using. I also checked in with Barefoot Books and they have some titles which are great to add to our studies as well. For example, they kindly sent a copy of We're Sailing Down the Nile.

In this book by Laurie Krebs we climb aboard a river boat to go sailing down the Nile with a few friends. On the way we see temples, a market place and the pyramids. Each page spread also has a small illustration in the upper right hand corner depicting one of the Egyptian gods. The best part about this book, in my opinion, is the map at the end which is illustrated by Anne Wilson. There are little icons to show where Lower Egypt is, and Upper Egypt. We see that Giza is quite a distance from the Valley of Kings and it was very good to get a better picture in one's mind of where things are located. There is also a page spread explaining who the gods and goddesses were, as well as what life looked like back in Ancient Egypt. I probably liked the back pages of information more than the story but it was still a handy book to be able to read through.

(My thanks to Barefoot Books for sending a copy of this title our way in exchange for our honest thoughts.)

Now, obviously, being that we are Christians, we believe in one God and only one God. I wasn't sure how Bookworm1 would take to hearing about the Ancient Egyptians and their beliefs. This study has certainly prompted a lot of discussion but he has shown me that he can clearly differentiate between facts and fiction and has an understanding of what we believe versus what was believed in Egypt. It has been very good to talk through these things.

Now, you can read that above paragraph and get riled up in two specific directions that I see, and you may find yourself wanting to jump down my throat over either. I'll just say this: I think one ought to be cautious in teaching their children about what are false religions. Certainly I think it's ok - and even beneficial - to learn of them. But you have to know your child and know when they are ready to take in the information in a mature way, dealing with the information appropriately. I know a lot of Christians my age who were raised in fairly strict settings who are taking the opportunity in their adult years to explore many things that their parents and Bible teachers marked as "forbidden" during their childhood and teenage years. There seems to be a great tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater, where they begin to question everything first instead of first acknowledging that there are some great truths which they would do well to hold on to.

I don't want my kids to grow up and do what I see my peers doing. I don't want them to reject everything I ever said because I kept them too secluded from the world. Nor do I want to bring so much of the world in during their formative years that they can't begin to clearly differentiate between truths and untruths. Christian liberty most certainly allows us to watch any variety of movies, read any number of books and study all of our history. (Really, I think we should study all of our history regardless because it is our history. Because it is our history. Because it is our history!)

All of the above sort-of-but-not-thoroughly-expounded-on, I will say that learning about the history of our world, from the beginning of our world, has been extremely fun so far. Bookworm1 is fascinated by the Egyptians. (Furthermore, he has shown amazing amounts of interest in the story of Moses of late.)

I'm really glad that we went with The Story of the World. I love using Legos - for fun and for learning. I like that we're practicing our writing by deciding what it is that we want to say to retell the story in our own words. I like the time we're spending together. And, the study is making me more curious about Ancient Egypt as well. Alongside Bookworm1, I've picked up The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, by Howard Carter which has been such fun! I'll definitely talk more about that later.

All in all, this has been highly educational. You'll have to forgive me the occasional home school oriented post as we work our way through our own variety of schooling! Posts like these are bound to pop up occasionally. 


Tonia said...

I use the Story of the World series as well - we're really enjoying it. We've just about finished volume 2 and are ready to jump into volume 3. They just get better and better!

Shonya said...

1) You'll have no need to seek my forgiveness for "the occasional home school oriented post" as I love reading about your experiences, especially as a home school graduate yourself.

2) I, too, am sad and concerned to see some graduates of home schools "jumping ship" and am eager to do whatever I can to avoid the same happening here. (So feel free to write a post addressing that! chuckle)

3) Glad you're enjoying studying history with your kiddos--it's one of our favorite subjects to study together (a close second to literature, wink).

Queen of Carrots said...

Deux also enjoys making Lego scenes to illustrate stories--I should take more pictures. (I'm afraid nothing would persuade him to write more sentences, which he abhors.)

I also have found it beneficial to discuss the ancient myths. It actually makes the Bible far more comprehensible and meaningful to set it in context, I think. And I have not had any trouble with five or six year olds distinguishing between our beliefs and ancient myths. (I perhaps should have been more concerned with the eavesdropping younger siblings, though, as Dot at three once looked out at a scenic view and exclaimed, "Those are the Olympic Mountains! Where the Olympic gods live!")

Carrie said...

@QOC - Yup, I am careful about Bookworm2's (age 3) exposure. He's unable to handle the information just yet. Usually he and his little sister are playing on sidelines and seem oblivious. And when he is present, I make sure I'm excessively clear in very simple terms about the differences.

Annette Whipple said...

Just from reading the Bible and Bible stories, M knows that some people worship idols and false gods. It doesn't make it easy to explain though!

Barbara H. said...

Finding that balance between too much and not enough exposure is hard. I used to be concerned about my kids exposure to my own unsaved family and the myriad things going on there, but then realized it gave them a good picture of what a worldly life looked like with its negative consequences. Of course, some things we still had to be careful about discussing and observing -- sometimes while visiting we'd have to pull them into the kitchen for a game while trying not to do so in a way that was offensive to my family.

I think both Bible stories and hearing missionary stories both in books and in church help open kids' eyes as well.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

Good for you for letting your children learn more than a narrowly prescribed "approved" area of knowledge. I wholeheartedly concur with your approach, and I love that your kids enjoy all of the fun stuff that goes along with it.

I was a bit (pleasantly) surprised that you went with Susan Wise Bauer, since most of my conservative homeschool friends (and family) consider her to be the very devil for failing to toe the strict line that has become practically a litmus test for whether one is a "real" Christian homeschooler. We too are enjoying The Story of the World, and my kids, like yours, seem to have no difficulty differentiating between fact and fiction, true and false gods, and so forth. I agree with Carrots that the Bible does make more sense in the context of the ancient myths. I might also add that a knowledge of the philosophers whose ideas shaped the ancient world can be helpful, too, in understanding much of the cultural baggage that seems foreign in our modern times.

Feel free to keep making "home school oriented" posts. As we have found, the beauty of home schooling is that there is no definite line between "school" and the rest of life. We are always learning, whether it involves a textbook, an amusement park, or a walk in the woods.

Stephanie Kay said...

I've heard good things about The Story of the World. I've chosen to focus on American history for now. Living in New England and taking vacations on the east coast makes it easy for us to include field trips into our curriculum. I'd rather go on a field trip than read a text book any day! :D

Narnia_girl said...

We also used Story of the World and enjoyed it.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Still plugging away at SOTW here, too. We're over half way through volume 2 and still enjoying it. I love the idea if letting Bookworm narrate using Legos. What a fabulous way to to it!

Mikaila said...

What a great idea to use Legos! That may come in handy over here! :)

Taia said...

At some point you may enjoy D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. I checked it out but R. isn't ready yet.

Cassandra said...

Well, I for one enjoyed your homeschooling post. :) I'm always interested in what people choose for schooling. My husband attended a private school all the way. I attended both private and public schools, mostly public. We both solidly agree that if we ever have children, we are homeschooling. Both of us had terrible experiences and feel that homeschooling is a better way to teach a child to THINK. I'm still trying to fix holes in my education even though I have an associates degree. ;)

Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts!

Sky said...

*GRIN* I am very excited to hear about what you do in the schooling realm. I have liked what I heard about Story of the Worlds for awhile now but haven't had a chance to use it yet,(blasted curriculum confinements!) next year I will be going more with the "unschooling" route and am planning on using it then. I LOVE your use of LEGOs for learning!

My children have always been exposed to ancient Egyptians and have always felt rather sorry for the people who didn't worship the one true God. We had the opportunity to see the traveling King Tut exhibit a few years ago and it was AMAZING! We especially liked the few things that were from the tomb of the people who may have been JOSEPH and his wife!! When you know the truth it IS the truth, everything else can be compared to it and will fall short.

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