When I first announced to my mom that we would begin homeschooling the big guy, I was very nervous about how she might react. Not that my mom is the least bit reactionary, because she's not. It was just that in general, because I always allow my mind to explore the worst case scenario, I had prepared myself to have any, and all family members, unload their fear on us. Of course, nothing close to that happened, and everyone was incredibly supportive and excited for the change. My mom ended up being one of our greatest supporters(!), offering to help in any way she could. At the time of announcement, she only looked a tiny bit surprised. Then she smiled, leaned into me and said - "Just take him to DC for one week a year and he'll be just fine."
(Did I mention my mom is awesome with the accidental one-liners? Hi Mom!!)
So I'm off to DC to ensure that our son is just fine this year. ;)
See, one of my mom's best friends relocated to DC several years ago and she has since been visiting her for two weeks, every year. She falls in love with our capital every time, always returning with a suitcase full of wonderful stories about free museum exhibits, a thousand things learned, incredible food, and of course, an eagerness to return.
For us, studies of Washington and America's history began our first day at home, quite by accident, really. When we first sat down to crack open the 9yo's curriculum, he immediately rejected my teaching efforts, mumbling "This is just like school". It was 9:26 and mommy needed a break. He got up and wondered around the house, I poured myself a second cup of coffee. When he came back, he was holding a magazine on world history (one I'd recently purchased for a rainy day car ride). He sat on the couch, and spend half the day reading it cover to cover.
This is what I see as self-directed learning at its best. :)
Tossing the curriculum, and embracing his new-found love of history, we dove in deep for weeks and learned so much - all of us! He read mountains of books and magazines, listened to audio books, watched programs, played games, and built models. It was so mind-blowingly exciting for me to observe from the side lines. My mom kept saying - "Get that boy to DC!"
Everyone I know who has been to Washington seems to have done so right around the age of ten, and in all of us, it left an indelible mark. I can't wait to get there and see it for the first time in thirty years, but even more so, to see it through my boy's eyes. Here were some our family's favorite resources that brought us to this point:
- The Libery's Kids series is great starter, especially for the small kids. Think Scooby Doo meets American Revolution. Good stuff if you can get past the phony English accents.
- History Channel's America The Story of Us. An incredible way to see history come to live. Some heavy parts, but nothing horrible. Lots of wonderful teaching moments.
- Discovery Channel's North America. Stunning and perfect for the whole family.
- The Green Glass Sea (book on tape) by Ellen Klages. Beautiful!
Not to mention countless books on George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, US presidents, the Revolutionary War, The Civil War, WWII, the making of the bomb, the Little House on the Prairie series, etc., etc. Our local public library has been the greatest resource in our homeschooling and we are there weekly, always checking out the maximum amount of books allowable (which is 25, btw!).