Friday, April 8, 2011

Homeschooling and The Civil War

 The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns

It is no secret that I have dabbled in homeschooling.  I began really researching the option about 18 months ago.  I must admit, I didn't really get it.  I mean, I am a teacher, I knew I could teach them but what and when and how...I just couldn't wrap my head around it.

We made the decision not to send Kid #3 to preschool this year.  I decided to dip my toe into the homeschooling water before I could do any "real damage".  I also opted out of the full day kindergarten option for Kid #2 choosing "only" the half day of kindergarten and homeschooling her in the afternoons.  Kid #1 is in third grade in our public school and doing fine, but there are a few things I would change if I could.  He has recently taken a huge interest in the Civil War.  That interest and a not so great report card lead me to trying an experiment this week.

Experiment #1: Homeschooling all the children together (with the baby!).

Experiment #2: Homeschooling without spending a ton of $$ on supplies.

Experiment #3: Homeschooling without the house looking like a bomb went off.

This week was our district's spring break.  It also is the week that Ken Burns' The Civil War is on PBS.  So, Sunday we headed off to the local library.  Kid #1 needs to recite a poem for school, so our book selections included Civil War and Walt Whitman.  I began to scour the internet for maps, worksheet and other materials.  PBS has supplemental material on their website although I had to modify it for a third grader.  I was amazed how much we were able to get done in such a short time.  We read Civil War books, discussed history, learned about the US geography at the time, read and wrote poetry, did a few drawings, created a Civil War portfolio, completed word searches and discussed battle strategies and watched some Ken Burns.  Wow!  We were able to complete this at our own pace, between loads of laundry and other fun stuff.  I know homeschooling mothers are laughing at me, but I really was surprised how quickly we worked (most days).

The girls were also busy with alphabet practice, cutting practice, counting, art projects, and cooking.  They also did a bit of Civil War work.  Kid #1 read the girls a book on Abraham Lincoln.  Kid #3 drew a picture of Lincoln and I found a few coloring sheets for the Civil War.  They also colored a USA map, but a current one. 

We ate full breakfasts.  There was no yelling, "Hurry up, we have to go!".   Our schedule was wake about 7, eat breakfast, care for Lizard (Yes, we are caring for a neighbor's lizard.), clean up (ourselves, our rooms and the kitchen), get dressed and begin school.  School usually started at 9:30 and we completed our lessons by lunch and after lunch took time to make crayon cakes(a later post), play a family game on the Wii (it rained a lot this week) or read books.  A few days we got outside, but it was only a couple.

I will have to discuss my observations with my husband (I am sure he has a few observations too!).  We will be making a decision about what to do for next year shortly.  All I can say is whether or not we homeschool full time I think I will continue to create units based on my children's interests.  It was fun!

I found that:

#1. I can homeschool all levels, even the baby.
#2. I didn't spend any money this week (Although I did find a set of history books I'd like.)
#3 The bomb wasn't any bigger than it usually is!

I told a friend that my heart was full this week.  That is the best way I can describe it.  Having all my kids with me all week made me happy!  Really Happy.  I know every week won't be easy, but I am eager to try!


  1. This is a great post and I am so glad you enjoyed your spring break! You're right that every week doesn't go as planned, but that's why you rejoice when they do :) Thanks for linking up this week and have a great weekend!

  2. I wrote almost the same post about a year and a half ago, when I was thinking about homeschooling. I was a certified teacher (I have since let me certification lapse) and my girls were in 2nd and 4th grade. My youngest begged to come home for her education and I let her! My oldest remained in school and at the end of the year she made the choice to come home too. We have never been happier. Our family is stronger than ever, they are learning albeit differently than if they were in school but they are both ahead in math and science then their schooled counterparts. Our house still looks like a bomb went off most days but I have enlisted their help and it is getting better.
    I look forward to reading along as you make some very big life decisions. I found your blog from Jen's linky!