Tough topics aren’t always fun to teach. It’s not fun to talk about the Holocaust, or Japanese internment, or concentration camps, or Holodomor.
But we must know history.
We must know the truth about what happened, or we risk repeating history’s horrors. We must not shy away from difficult periods of the past. We must learn from them, and then remain vocal and vigilant so such tragedies will not be repeated on our watch.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the main characters after the last page of a book? My sixth-grader did.
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This book, actually, impelled Aveline to read a whole stack of books about the Holocaust, and listen to radio theater productions of both Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom and The Hiding Place. One good book — in this case, The Endless Steppe — can open up Big Conversations about difficult topics, and plant a seed for courage against injustice.
I’ve been reviewing quite a few board books lately, and I’m back with another round for the littles. These playful books are especially suited for infants, and bigger babies who aren’t quite toddlers yet.
The new school year tumbles in, with torrential rains, soaked earth, and flickering electric power. Online classes begin, with technology connecting us to classrooms in Serbia and Romania, classmates in Ethiopia and the United States, and language studies in Russian, Chinese, and Greek.
Did the pandemic increase speech delays? Some researchers say yes.
According to several recent studies, pandemic-era children are talking less than their predecessors1. As a parent to a pandemic toddler — Lochlan turned six months old in March 2020 — this concerns me deeply.
I’m not an expert in speech pathology, but some data seems to show both a measurable uptick in referrals to speech therapy2 and “a decline in verbal functioning”.1 One starts to wonder if maybe the kids are not okay3 in our current pandemic-response environment. (Researchers in at least one study indicated “factors related to the pandemic had ‘by far the greatest impact on infant and toddler neurodevelopment.'”1 )
It’s easy to feel helpless when the the broader global situation remains so complex and convoluted. But there is an immediately actionable response in our grasp: read books aloud, and talk to our kids!
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.
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.