Connections

posted in: Kids Activities | 16

February 5 09_0730 blog

I've noticed a direct correlation between my time spent preparing and enthusiasm on the part of my children. I purchased some new art materials (pastels and craypas) just trying to broaden their art experiences. All I had to do was display my picture (far right) and within a day, Tilly (left)  and Kalina (above) had picked up the supplies, and drawn their own versions of  the planet Saturn.

One of the things I love most about homeschooling is how our learning flows so naturally, seeping into every aspect of our lives together. Because we are learning together (meaning, I am teaching and overseeing the work- and most subjects are taught in a group) it is so much easier to see and make those connections.

Let me give you an example. We study history  through The Story of the World (which we all love) and we are currently in the 1600's.  Despite that, we took a brief hiatus, to study the Great Depression (brought on by our love of the Kit books). In reading books about the time period, I learned that The War of the Worlds was written and broadcast during the Depression. We requested if from the library and boy did my children ever get a kick out of it. Especially since it caused so much panic in New York. It is so cheesey, their Jonathan Park stories are scarier.

My children love music, almost as much as I do. A recent favorite around here has been the Sound of Music. It dawned on me one day, that The Sound of Music must have taken place roughly during the same time period, since the family flees Hitler's army (in 1937, by the way).  So we watched the movie. Keziah had no idea there was a movie/musical attached to the music she loved, and seeing it only increased her love of the songs. Watching the movie led to many discussions about the Trapp family, including, is The Sound of Music a book?

No, but their story is written (by Maria) in The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. So, we requested it from the library and Adalia, Judah, Tilly and Enoch have all read (or are currently reading) it.

The book makes reference to the fear the Trapp family felt as they heard about the "attack" (War of the Worlds) on New York city, where their two young daughters were attending school. My children howled with laughter at this one. And the family sang at (and eventually bought and renovated) a CCC camp, something which completely went over my head the first time I read the book since I had no idea what  a CCC camp was (the Kit books make several references to her brother Charlie working in a CCC camp).

Talking about WWII and the Depression, prodded me to dig out a copy of the memoirs my grandma wrote before she died (oh, how I wish she was here to share in our study of the Depression). I was able to read aloud to my children about their great grandparents' lives during the Depression and WWII. Which led to the inevitable, "Grandma was alive during the Depression?" Since anything taking place before the new millenium is ancient history to my children.

It's these connections that I love and value so much. The Kit books-War of the Worlds-The Sound of Music-Great Grandma's Memoirs. They are all interconnected. They weave in and out of one another. They make sense and are not random pieces of information. They all fit together in a beautiful tapestry.

Now, they could be learning about these very topics if they went to school. The difference is, they would all be learning about them at different times, which would hinder the great conversations we've been having as a family. And I wouldn't know about them,  so I couldn't encourage and point out connections  here at home.

I distinctly remember my first year of college, finding that what we were studying in my anthropology class had direct relevance on my Latin class, which lined up with my beloved Linguistics classes, which connected with the music I love so much, which is intermingled with my math (that I loathe). They are all connected. It was an epiphany. I was so used to separate, boxed in, discombobulated subjects (haven't you always wanted to use that word in a sentence?) it never occurred to me just how much these topics had in common.

Now, as teacher and student, these connections are a natural part of our lives.
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16 Responses

  1. I love to find those connections also!
    What fun for your kids!

  2. That rocks! 🙂
    That’s the best description I’ve seen lately of homeschooling. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Connections all over. How awesome.

  4. What a great post! Q

  5. Lisa Chrisman

    I so enjoy your creativity and all your ideas. As a mom of 7 ranging from 17 down through 1, I am always running out of time in my day before I get everything done. When do you get a chance to prepare for your school day and all your wonderful ideas?

  6. Renee,
    How do you decide what unit study you’re going to plunge into next? (Is it usually based on your Story of the World readings, or the interest of one or more of your children, or the calendar (holidays, occasions, etc? Or maybe a little of everything?)
    And… how often do you plan? (ie- do you have a planning period at the beginning of the year and roughly sketch out different topics you may be inclined to study), or do you plan more frequently?
    Sorry if you’ve already answered this. If so, just point me in the right direction! 🙂

  7. Yes! I love those connections, too. I am so glad for the chance to find them all over again with my kids. Those drawings are wonderful!

  8. Think about publishing those memoirs…. My daughter LOVES to read about the depression, but we can’t find a lot of new books out there….

  9. Would the CCC be the Civilian Conservation Corps?
    Just curious because the Americorps program still going today, started during the Clinton admin. was based on the CCC. I was in the NCCC (part of Americorps) and some of the older men who were in the CCC and still around- came to our opening ceremony the first year of the program…
    Lovely post. 🙂
    sarah

  10. Forever Liesel by Charmian Carr is a great Sound of Music book too-its written by the woman who played Liesel and it has a lot of behind-the-scenes looks at the movie and the real Vonn Trapps.

  11. Jennifer Kay

    This was exciting to read-why? Because I read like this. I read something, even fiction books, and it causes me to think-now that was interesting, I need to know more. I am 46 this year and I still go on research trips to the library, or over the internet.
    I love your family, check in most days, and always come away with a smile.
    PS I kill at trivia games-and I think that is why.

  12. Just catching up on your blogging!! Hilton gets almost as excited about anything having to do with planets and space as he does about soccer! (I did say ALMOST!!) They love the Magic Schoolbus series of books — the solar system one is practically falling apart!!

  13. I love this post. But it doesn’t just describe homeschooling. I have to defend public education here
    (as an exteacher, now academic). GOOD teachers do do this kind of stuff. Certainly in primary schooling in Australia.
    Lots of teachers aren’t good or don’t do the prep (which typically SAVES one time in the long run, rather than the reverse) but I love mixing all the subjects. Admittedly with special needs kids (I am a teacher of the deaf and have also taught language disordered kids) I had more flexibility (and less kids, usually 6-8). But I have seen mainstream teachers do it.
    For example, after I started diving I loved teaching a unit on oceans. For the older kids it expands into looking at climate change etc. The younger kids get to choose an animal or two to research and write about. We cover geography (learning about where the oceans are and environmental issues as well as people around the world who work on the sea), history (the children’s fascination with pirates and piracy (oh, ok, I love dressing up as a pirate with them!)). And we usually have fish or sea monkeys in the classroom. I also always take them on a couple of excursions to the aquarium and to a rock shelf where we get to find all the creatures in rockpools (usually the kids’ favourite excursion of the year). And i have the BEST collection of ocean picture books. (I have never taught any kids old enough or linguistically able enough to study novels unfortunately.)
    Anyway, that is my rant. Not dissing homeschooling at al. I have often fantasized about doing it if i had kids. But not all mainstream schooling is boring and discombobulated…;-P
    PS I LOVE that you love linguistics. That is what my post doc is in. It is the hardest decision to make: teaching kids, or researching language.

  14. Let me start by saying I just found your blog. I can see that I will be spending the next few days getting to know you and your family by reading your blog. Your pictures are beautiful and your writings are helpful.
    Now on to my question.
    How did you get these things to all fall together like that? I mean, that’s the ideal homeschooling atmosphere. But that has NEVER happened here. NOT ONCE.

  15. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this post! We too were recently able to make a connection to our beloved Kit Kitteridge when we vacationed in a cottage built by the CCC itself. I too reached out to my Grandma for family info when learning about immigration as she is full Polish. Thanks for the inspiration! While I much prefer an interest-led approach to Science and History, I have learned that it does still require some forethought and intentional action on my part. I tend to fluctuate between rigid schedule and anything goes. Determined to find a healthy balance this school year.

    • Thanks for sharing! These connections make homeschooling so worth the effort. And I too, fluctuate between a rigid schedule and free exploration…none of my kids seem to be damaged by it 🙂

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