Monday, February 11, 2008

Snow day!

Or to be more exact, it's a cold-weather day, a day when the temperatures are so low (10° F or -12° C) and the winds so high that there is the risk of being frostbitten if outside too long. The danger is mostly to kids who walk to school, but even those who wait for the school bus, like my two daughters, are also in danger.

So it's a no school day for the girls, a homeschool day for Jacob, and a workday for me at the office while I try to sort out my technical computer issues at home.

But how will Jacob do with all his tenth grade materials while the girls are both home and underfoot? I gave the girls a list of chores and modified Jacob’s assignments to accommodate this unexpected change in the day. Instead of having him watch half a video for Global History (Sergeant York about WWI), I told him to watch the entire video with the girls. They would learn from it, too, even if this isn’t the current topic they are covering in their Social Studies classes.

At school they supplement a lot of the learning with videos. I perpetually hear Larissa talking about videos that she sees in her seventh grade science class, for example, or in Social Studies. These teachers have years of teaching experience and are aware of resources that I know nothing about. Based on conversations around the supper table, I know that Larissa learns about Siamese twins, weight gain due to genetic defects, and all sorts of other things in the videos that her teacher shows. The teacher is a Christian, so I trust her judgment.

I learned about the Sergeant York movie from Nita. I had called her Friday night to ask whether she knew of anything I could use to supplement the Global History I was teaching Jacob. Just reading from a textbook day after day seemed to be too dry, even though my girls both chimed in that history is interesting, and Jacob said that the book isn’t bad. Nita just happens to be teaching her kids about the same time segment in history – from World War I to modern days – and she did have some suggestions. Her son had recently read two books (The Yanks Are Coming: The United States in the First World War by Albert Marrin, and Life in the Trenches by Stephen Currie) about World War I as well as seen the Sergeant York video. “There isn’t that much out about the First World War, but when you get to the Second World War, there is no lack of material about that!” Nita said. I may, in fact, go lightly on the Second World War, which I know Jacob has already covered in school, and focus more on Communism in the world at that time, or study Cambodia and the horror of the killing fields there. This is one of the appeals of homeschooling - modifying the materials that are covered.

Every once in a while, I have to give myself a pep talk and convince myself that I’m doing all right, that I will get through this homeschooling without damaging my child or cheating him of a “real” education.

Even though we are just starting this journey, it already seems like a long, hard trip. Will it ever get easier?


SYPF said...

I applaud your passion for homeschooling. We are also contemplating homeschooling my daughter, but that is not why I wanted to comment.

I represent the Sergeant York Foundation ( and I would like to extend an offer to answer any questions you may have about Sgt. York. Our board is located in the County where Sgt. York was born and we can call on historians as well as three of Sgt. York's children (Betsy, Andrew, and George Edward) to answer any questions you may have.

The Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation

The Reluctant Homeschooler said...

Thanks for your offer. The kids enjoyed the movie and learned quite a bit from it. I was sorry I didn't see it with them, but perhaps another time. They did give me a scene-by-scene summary of the story, though.

We would be interested to know what happened in Sgt. York's life after he returned from the war. Is there anywhere that this information is written up?

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)