Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Changing History

Last year, we made the decision to homeschool year round, taking breaks when we want to or need to.

One thing I am learning about myself this year, is that I can only do one "in-depth" subject really well at a time.  We can do math and writing and Latin, Logic, Geography, etc.  I can come up with art projects every day of the week and get into artist studies.
I can't, for some reason, put my all into Science and History at the same time.  
I tend to focus on one or the other.  Last year, I had given myself permission to focus on history and just have fun with science experiments.  I had even posted about spending a few months on History and then a few months on Science, only to read a few days later another blogger's opinion about not doing both simultaneously.  I took this personally, although it may not have been intended that way.  This blogger reads my blog, comments often...were they responding to my post about focusing on History or Science one at a time?  I second-guessed myself.  And ultimately made the decision to try to do it all again at the same time this year.

But, after 8 months, we were only on Chapter 19 of our History book.  Yes, we had taken a few weeks to explore World Religions and another few weeks to peruse Viking books and Norwegian mythology...but my focus was really Biology this year.  I had Biology-on-the-Brain, I was constantly thinking of creative ways to teach my girls about the parts of the brain, the chambers of the heart, the different systems of the human body and how they work together; we were all over growing germs and learning about diseases; my girls have a good understanding of neurons and how they work; we drew diagrams of eyes and ears, hearts and lungs, kidneys and the digestive system.  We made life size diagrams of ourselves and sketched in our organs.  We made models of the human brain and the human heart.  I saw my girls making connections, getting excited and digging in to biology... we spent hours each week engrossed in human biology.  I got excited and was googling and finding websites and additional resources... and we seldom found time for history.

As we near the summer of our second year of homeschooling, I am okay with this.  I am ready to accept that despite what other bloggers may think, what other homeschool moms may say, what experts in education may expound upon...I am better at focusing on one thing at a time. This is what works for us: really digging in and not coming up for air until we have learned everything about that topic...and THEN moving on to the next one.  Intense in-depth studies in history and science work better for us than moving back and forth between the two subjects.

I have gone against my own rules and created a detailed plan of how to finish Story of the World Volume 2 by the time we leave for the lake at the end of June (there is a reason for this, which I will explain more at another time).  I am getting excited about history--we are getting to the "good stuff"...Robin Hood, the Black Plague, Joan of Arc, Henry the VIII, Anne Boleyn, Shakespeare... I rather like the idea of digging in and doing an in-depth study of one subject like this at a time.
I feel it's disjointed doing history one day, reading about the Crusades and then learning about red blood cells the next day and not going back over the Crusades or learning about Robin Hood for a few days... we lose momentum, it loses some of it's excitement if we wait so long between chapters.  
So, I am going against what other bloggers may say, what experts in the field may have written and we are doing what works for us.  

We are also going a little against the way our history program is set up.  My girls despise writing summaries of every section.  So, I have made a list of various important people and places that we will cover and have assigned the girls to each Google those people and print out a picture of each person.  Then, they will write facts about that person or place on the page with that person's picture.  I will have them do summaries on some of the chapters that don't cover famous people or places or where we didn't print out a picture.  Also, I want to do a more in-depth study of Joan of Arc and do a project on Explorers that will include maps of that Explorer's route.  I am getting excited for history again.  I am looking for additional resources in history now, as opposed to science.  I have History-on-the-Brain now and am constantly thinking of different things we can do with this time period...timelines, documentaries, daytrips, books, movies, projects, etc.

Knowing what works for YOU is crucial to homeschooling.  Don't worry about the opinions of other bloggers, homeschool moms or "experts"... do what is best for your family.