Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:53 pm
We pulled our kids out of a Christian school after their 1st and 3rd grade years (the other two were too young for school then). We keep in touch with some of those families as well as a lot of public school families.
Anyway, we faced similar issues as we came home. The kids would be talking about what they did and comparing. And feeling a bit behind. I wanted to nip THAT in the bud. The Christian school and public school kids were learning lots but ... we were too! We just were doing different things.
Here are some things we did and are still doing:
1. Emphasize the differences and how we believe in the differences. "We're studying history starting at creation. It just makes more sense to us." Or, "Aren't you glad we spent a year learning geography? Now when we read history, we know right where things are."
2. Discuss the advantages of homeschooling. "Wow, we were able to put our writing and grammar on the shelf for a month. And, you got to use that extra time to learn lots for Science Olympiad. And, you brought home a gold medal from the state competition. If we weren't homeschooling, you wouldn't have had that extra time to learn everything you needed to know to be the best middle school food science expert in the state. We'll catch up on grammar later. No hurry. You earned a gold medal and I'm proud of how hard you researched."
3. It's okay to remind the kids, "We left the public school so that we could do things differently. They are learning different things than you are. Yes, they might know about the trans-continental railway, but you know the capital of all the European countries and can cook a mean stir-fry!"
If she still feels "behind" remind her that she's doing just fine and that it's a blessing to move at your own speed, especially when dealing with illness.
However, if you make it to middle school without really learning about USA history, what I'd do is set up a basic timeline just for USA history and then fill in about a dozen events on it. That would give her a brief, chronological picture of USA history and whet her appetite for more later. She'd be able to discuss these things with friends now. She wouldn't feel dumb.
Then, find fun ways to learn the history, a bit at a time. Here are some ideas that we've used to learn USA history before we officially learn it via MFW:
1. America Rock video. It explains some history (such as Manifest Destiny, the "Shot Heard 'Round the World") and some civics (how a bill becomes a law). Great fun.
2. American Girl books. Our library has these, has the teacher's guides that go with them, and also has these books on tape or CD so that we can listen to them in the car during long road trips. Dear America is a meatier series that I like better. And, don't forget some of the classics like LIttle House, etc.
3. Drive Thru History USA videos. This series focuses on the Revolutionary War era.
4. Liberty Kids on the History Channel (or check your library, our library doesn't have the videos but has some books). Since it's on at 5 AM, we don't watch this, but what I have seen looks good.
5. This is America, Charlie Brown is a great video series. I picked up these really cheap at Amazon.
6. Your Story Hour also has some history.
7. And, some "formula" chapter book series (Magic Tree House) probably has some books on USA history.
8. I really like the activity books from Williamson Publishing and Harvard Press Review. I'm sure your library has some fun books on big USA events (Civil War, the Depression, etc.). Our first summer homeschooling, before we officially started with MFW, we did projects from a Lewis and Clark activity book by someone named (I think) Johmann (it's a library book that I don't own -- sorry if the name is wrong). We sewed moccasins, made cornbread (I think), maps, teepees and a model of a boat. The kids had a blast.
9. Most libraries have the Slessinger videos. They aren't very exciting but they get the information across.
10. Remember to do a little reading before American holidays (Thanksgiving, July 4, etc.)
11. Take advantage of local events at the museum, living history park, etc.
12. I'm guessing there are games out there that teach USA history. Anyone?
Pray about what to do. She sounds like a terrific kid and nobody wants their child to feel inferior because they aren't following a PS scope and sequence.
And, make sure you remind YOURSELF that what you are doing is the RIGHT thing. We also did ECC with a 4th grader (and a 2nd grader) and I remember that occasional "gnawing" feeling of "I should be teaching history." But, when I saw that my kids learned their geography at those young ages much better than I ever did, the feeling went away. My kids left ECC with an understanding of different cultures, climates, etc. And, then we did CTG and celebrated the feasts and studied the history of the Egyptians and Greeks. The other day, I found a paper frog (from our plague) in the back of my closet and had to grin.
Oh, and about doing the right thing, this all reminds me a story that makes me smile to remember it. We were carpooling to soccer two years ago and were taking a neighbor girl who was in the same grade as my daughter (although she was 11 mos. older). Anyway, this girl's mom loved their public school. They were accepted into this special program for smart kids, blah blah blah.
And, this girl said they were learning about Columbus at school. She said she liked USA history and said that one thing she liked about her school was that they did a lot of history. My Mary mentioned that we did that Lewis and Clark study and that was "really neat." Kaitlyn, this friend, said, "Oh we learned that LAST year. It was before Columbus." So, our PS school self-proclaimed history buff was placing Lewis and Clark (1804) before Columbus (1492) because she studied it in that order. What it showed me was that while this girl knew some facts about both events, she DIDN'T have a big picture of USA history at all. Even if you forgot the dates, someone with the big picture would know that you've got to discover a land before you can move west in it. Mary kindly corrected her saying that Columbus came first. My dd has a "big picture" of history.
And this was during our CTG year. Mary picked it up from our little activities and some videos and books.
Oh, boy, did I really ramble. Sorry about that.
Again, pray about the situation and keep being a good mommy keeping an eye on the situation.