When I was a girl, the grocery stores started to run out of food.
They didn’t tell you that, because it was a corner of the world you’re not supposed to understand, and they don’t tell you how to become a writer, either. Everyone is supposed to become a reader — they tell you that in school — but it remains a mystery how some readers are able to metamorphose into writers.
After all, the writer concerns himself with not just the reason why civilizations fall, but also the American supermarket, the meaning in dappled bananas on the counter at sunrise, the effervescence of this present moment, and using words incorrectly.
No one teaches you how to be writer, except maybe poets and historians.
Pre-K at home with good books and hands-on lessons
Homeschoolers are opinionated when it comes to early childhood education. All you have to do is mention preschool or pre-kindergarten in a room full of homeschool moms, and you’ll instantly find yourself the recipient of a ton of free advice — whether or not you want it.
One of the most common bits of advice is to let kids play.
[Disclosure: Sonlight provided me with a History / Bible / Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 package, and compensated me financially for this post. I have used many Sonlight products in our homeschool prior to reviewing this product. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]
If there’s one thing I’ve excelled at in our homeschool, it’s procrastinating over choosing a US History curriculum.
As a third-culture missionary kid born abroad, teaching US history has never come naturally to me. When I was young, American history seemed worlds away, and even as an adult, I often still feel like an outsider.
I have zero patience for dry legalist curriculum which holds the Founding Fathers on faultless pedestals, doesn’t consider both sides of a story, and ignores the sorrowful brokenness of our nation’s foundations. (Second-generation homeschoolers, you know what I’m talking about!)
But I knew my own kids couldn’t just skip learning the complicated history of our nation. Eventually, we had to dive in. Having spent my early childhood years in a socialist republic without the freedom of speech, religion, or assembly, I’ve learned that no matter how complex US history is to navigate, we must never take such invaluable freedoms for granted. So I needed to find a complete American history curriculum, especially after my own previous unsuccessful attempts to piece together a literature-based US history course always fizzled out.
This spring, both Western Easter and Eastern Pascha are marked on my calendar — a week apart, a world apart, yet united as one. It’s fitting. I’ve always had one foot here and one there, floating as it were between the culture of my passport and the culture in which I was raised.
I bought a little green book of ancient Christian writings, and have been slowly reading through the dancing words as the seasons ebb and flow.
And this green book, on the page marked Resurrection, these words penned between 347 and 407 AD jumped out at me–
In your quest to add own-voices literature to your homeschool, don’t overlook translated novels! Translated books don’t try overly hard to be diverse, they simply are.
Written in Chinese by children’s author Cao Wenxuan, Bronze and Sunflower follows the two title characters through a summer in a rural village in China in the 1960s, shortly after Chairman Mao established agricultural labor camps during the Cultural Revolution.
When the news starting tumbling through the airwaves, the literary homeschool groups on Facebook were flooded with posts from moms asking for picture books to help their kids understand Ukraine. Yet very few were asking for reading material which would help them, as adults, make sense of the news’ garbled deluge of information about Ukraine.
While I understand the immediate desire to help guide kids through the tangled web of current events, the lack of curiosity from adults made me a little bit sad. Maybe this comes from having spent my early childhood in a place no one has ever heard of (“the former Yugo-what?”) Maybe I’m just a Slavic history nerd — after all, I’m of Slavic descent and already had Borderland on my shelves. But wouldn’t it help if we asked more questions? Wouldn’t it go a long way if we, as parents, at least tried to educate ourselves along the way as we educate our kids?
We start the school year inside one set of walls, and wind it down inside a new set of walls down an old-new highway, further away from the maddening din. We fling open the curtains and let in the newfound light as we hold the books in our hands. Our left hands grow heavier and our right hands grow lighter and lighter as we creep toward the end of the school year, page by page by page.
We rearrange the shelves and fold paint over the walls and fold up sweaters and make the beds and unroll rugs and dream of where we’ll plant sunflowers and cherry tomatoes.
The coffee maker hums and my brain runs back and forth, jumping from track to track: eleven-year-old and two-year-old, eldest and youngest, deodorant and diapers. I swing from Chinese to Greek to toddler English, drawing brackets around grand middle-grade essays and then enunciating consonants and vowels for the smallest little friend. The light rises and falls, rises and falls, rises and falls.
Outside, the news rages. Zealots call for cancellation, call for vengeance, scream at you for the wrong kind of silence or the wrong kind of words, screaming for no reason at all. We all weep. The news cycle drains and spins, drains and spins, drains and spins.
Inside, we sing: Kyrie, eleison.
The marquee at the gas station around the corner winds up. I look away. Someone texts more doom, another soundbite, more fire and ice — another way the world will end.
Music floats in and out and in again. I reach, and grab it.
We press on: dishes and poetry, mopping and tantrums, sunrise and bedtimes.
If you’re science-or math-averse, don’t let your own limitations keep your kids from delving into STEM projects. Code Rocket lets you teach kids to code, even if you have no idea how. The video lessons — and the interactive circuit board — walk kids through fun C++ programming projects. Because the code kids are compiling operates the physical rocket-shaped circuit board, they’ll get immediately satisfying results, like blinking LEDs and beeping sounds!