As I mentioned in previous posts, we are using Mystery of History for our history spine this year. I thought that I'd share some of the supplementary resources that I will be using to round out our history studies and to adapt them to my younger kids.
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History Pockets: Ancient Rome
I bought a couple of History Pockets at a used currriculum sale and they were so easy to use that now I have almost all of the series. Here's a sample spread from the book that shows what the pockets look like and what goes in a typical pocket.
I don't actually make the pockets. I usually just glue the activity to colored paper to stick in their binders. This torch from last year's Ancient Greece unit from History Pockets: Ancient Greece. The bottom part of the torch is a booklet about the history and symbolism of the torch. These are not your usual fluffy cut and paste activities. History Pocket activities actually contribute to kid's knowledge base.
History Pockets:Ancient Civilizations
This book is geared for 1st through 3rd graders and it includes units on Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and the Aztecs.
Here's a sample project from the Aztec unit. There's another page, not pictured that has the pieces to finish the calendar.
Here's an example of a completed project from The Mesopotamia unit we did last year. The ship sails up and down the river. My kids love the interactivity of some of these projects.
I found this book through our library and it has tons of activities and cultural facts about the ancient Greeks and Romans. It has recipes, dress up ideas, games, and educational activities from each era. We did a handful of the Greek activities last year and we will start the year off with a few of the activities from the Romans section. Some of the activities take planning to do but others are quick and easy like this one that explains Roman measurements:
Days of Knights and Damsels
This is by the same author of Classical Kids and has the same variety of activities, but geared towards the Middle Ages.
History Through the Ages
My middle school aged son is using this for his current cycle of History and is very proud of what a nice looking timeline he has.
Geography Through Art
This book has art projects from around the world and helps fill in some of the gaps. For example, I can't find an activity book for ancient Australia, but this book has a lesson for Aboriginal art. It also has lessons for African, South American, and Japanese art from the time periods we are studying, too.
I just showed you a lot of supplemental activity books, so be sure to read how I organize all of these materials inHow I Plan Mystery of History for the Year.
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Mystery of History is a BIG program to sort through. I have found that it is easier on me if I do the majority of my planning and preparing before I read the first page to my kids.
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Step 1: Make a Lesson Planning Grid and Fill it Out
For me, the first step to planning is to print up a simple grid to use as a planner. I used Google Docs to make a four column grid and included enough rows for two weeks worth of lessons per page.
As I glanced over the lessons, I took notes for each lesson. In the first column, I wrote the title of each chapter, lesson number, and page numbers. The second column is for writing additional readings. I also used it to jot down map activities and quizzes I planned on doing. The third and fourth columns are to jot down notes on narrations and activities I want my kids to do. Most of the activities come straight from Mystery of History, but a few come from Story of the World Activity Book 2.
After going through the book and filling out the grid, I jotted down the titles of relevant library books at the top of each page so I can quickly go to our library's website and reserve the books I need. I found most of these books by browsing through the literature recommendations at the back of the book and in the Story of the World Activity Book 2. I also checked to see if our library had the books I wanted before writing the titles down.
I used the bottom margin to jot down notes on lessons that I want to include. I plan on doing a lesson on William Tell, because he is part of my heritage. I also plan on adding lessons on ancient Mexico, because that is a part of my husband's heritage.
I still have to write in my son's additional readings, which will be from books like Adam of the Road and the Adventures of Robin Hood, but I don't have all of those books in my hands yet.
Step 2: Make Copies and File Them Behind the Relevant Planning Page
I hate making copies. Since I hate making them as much on busy school days as on lazy summer days I decided to put on a podcast and make all the copies that I would need for history for the year.
It actually took a few podcasts to get the job done.
After making copies, I filed them behind the relevant lesson planning page.
Not all of my copies were from the Mystery of History book. Some I found online and some of the other supplement books I drew from were:
Amy Pak's History Through the Ages Timeline Figures
History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations
History Pockets: Ancient Rome
History Pockets: Native Americans
Story of the World Activity Book 2
Days of Knights and Damsels
I reviewed some of these supplemental activity books in this post and discussed how I used them.
Step 3: Pick a Storage System and Put Everything Away
I store my copies and plans in colorful folders and a file box. I include 12 lessons per folder. This is what my finished folders and file look like:
You could just as easily store everything in a binder and pull out pages as you need them.
Whenever I pull out a set of copies, I usually just put them in my Mystery of History book at the relevant chapter, so I have them ready to go the minute I open the book.
That's it! Since I'm already familiar with Mystery of History, once I got started, it only took a few hours to plan my year and a couple more hours to make copies and file them.
If this is your first year using Mystery of History, you will probably want to take a couple more hours to read the introductory chapters and familiarize yourself with the book.
Here's everything, shelved and ready to go! Here is a link to my exact small file box and large file box. Both are super sturdy and I've used them for years.
Be sure to read my next post in this series: Activity Books to Use With Mystery of History, Vol. 2
After a few weeks off from school and blogging it's time to start thinking about next school year. I just ordered the last of our curriculum and thought I'd share what my 7th grader will be doing next year.
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For math, we are departing from Singapore Math to do a year of Saxon Math before starting Algebra in 8th grade. I wrote about my options on what to do after Singapore 6 in this post if you want to read about other 7th grade math choices.
The core of my son's language arts program will be Writing and Rhetoric books 7 & 8. He will also be doing a formal spelling program this year just because I am noticing some spelling errors in longer, vowel heavy words. Read my review of Writing and Rhetoric.
For literature, he will be reading historical fiction, biographies, stories, and legends that go along with our history studies of the middle ages. So far he have King Arthur, Robin Hood, Beowulf, Arabian Nights, selected Viking legends, and Adam of the Road on his reading list. I am also looking for a couple of biographies to round out his reading list. I also plan of listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on audiobook in the car as a family.
This year, we are studying the Middle Ages as a family. My son will be going through Mystery of History 2 as his spine. Last year, we started with MOH 1 as a family, but it just didn't work for us and our age spread. The second book in the series seems to be a lot stronger, and I think my son will enjoy it.
I'm sad that this year I need to have my son do his own science curriculum, independent of the rest of the family. However, I am excited to start Apologia's General Science along with him. We will only be using the textbook and tests. Even though it looks like a fabulous supplement, I have opted out of ordering the Notebooking Journal because my son is dysgraphic and there seems to be a lot of unlined writing space. I will be using graph paper notebook pages like these in lieu of the notebooking journal.
He will continue to make entries in his nature journal.
This year, my son will continue working on Spanish via Duolingo. A lesson takes about 15 minutes a day, which is just right. Once a week, he will do a lesson in Artisitic Pursuits. He will also be taking golf lessons 1-2 times per week with a few boys from his school.
As a family, we will be reading the book of Acts and selections from Paul's letters together and memorizing the Apostle's Creed.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about why knowledge matters. Today, I am following up that post with a few thoughts on how we can build our understanding in any subject. You won't believe how incredibly simple it is to build expertise!
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How to Build Knowledge in ANY Subject, Drum Roll Please...
You can build knowledge on any topic by reading more than one book about it.
What that's it! You say. You don't need to write a blog post on that!
Yes, I know, but how often do we set out to actually learn something new in our fast paced society? If we get in a fix, we can always just Google it, right? If you read to the end, you will see how having knowledge on any topic is actually really helpful in navigating our quickly changing society. But for now, think about how reading a few books can grow your knowledge base:
If you read three Jane Austen novels, you will be able to have a smart conversation with any Jane Austen aficionado.
If you read a book on both sides of a scientific debate debate, you will be able to see the weakness and strengths of both sides of the argument. Then when an expert makes an expert comment, you will actually be able to judge the validity of what he says instead of going with the theory that you've heard the most or uncomfortably accepting whatever the experts tells you.
Read three books on any history topic and you'll probably be the only expert on that topic in the room at the next social gathering you go to.
Case Study: How My Knowledge About WWII Exploded
Lately, I've become much more knowledgeable about World War II without intending to study the topic at all. In fact most of my life, I've avoided any books or movies about World War II because I knew enough about the war and myself to know that I wasn't ready to look that kind of evil in the eye.
But then I read The Book Thief and even though it was fiction, I was touched by the heroism of the Germans who quietly defied the Nazi party despite the incredible hardship of living in Germany during WWII. I learned about the day to day life of the typical German family, the the cloud of fear they lived under, and the little acts of defiance they did that kept them from being swept away with the dehumanizing evil of the Nazi regime.
After that I picked up Monuments Men from the library because I saw the movie and from the book I learned about a side of the war that I knew nothing about. I had no idea that Hitler was systematically looting the art treasures of the nations for his own super museum, nor did I know he planned to destroy them all if he lost.
Another novel that I read on vacation gave insight into the role of journalists during the war a life in the army camps and yet another book taught me about a heroic band of rustic shepherds and peasants from Crete who held off a highly trained and heavily armed Nazi invasion. I also read part of a biography where I learned about the years before World War II in my home state of California and a bit of the war with Japan. I unfortunately didn't finish the book because it was giving me nightmares, but I was intrigued to learn that some of the toxic philosophies about race that fueled the Nazis worst crimes, were also influential in the United States. When I read a Pulitzer Prize winning novel about World War II, I was standing on familiar ground.
And all of a sudden I realized that my understanding of World War II stretched far beyond Anne Frank and whatever cold, hard facts my high school history teacher taught us. I was more well rounded an an area of knowledge where previously there had only been a few threads of understanding holding together a loose collection of facts. And surprisingly, I didn't have to read a bunch of dry, academic works. All of these books were living books. Books with soul.
Why Does Knowing About World War II Even Matter?
How does this thread of knowledge and understanding help me now, 70 years after the close of World War II?
First of all, some things should never be forgotten.
Secondly, walking through another time period and seeing it through a variety of other people's eyes keeps me from being nearsighted about my own life and time.
Finally, knowing about the past helps me see the present with discerning eyes. Here are a few instances of how knowing about World War II helps me evaluate our present culture:
Learning about Nazi propaganda teaches me that well crafted images and words can sway a public that is taught to be literate, but not taught how to think and discern. Slick advertising images, social media, and hashtags are huge influences. Unfortunately, anyone can make an infographic that looks legit or a meme that misquotes Einstein. We all know how to check sources and do our own research, but how many of us do?
Reading about how the pre-World War II Germans trained a generation of schoolchildren and then turned them into willing soldiers and executioners makes me wary of our public school system. The teachers weren't evil, they were just training kids in the philosophy of the day and doing what they thought was best based on what they knew. Since the curriculum was determined by state departments and not communities, kids were coming of age with values very different from the values of their parents. The values and behavior of the nation changed and it led to a moral break with devastating consequences.
Reading about the philosophical influences and social movements that lead up to the rise of the Third Reich makes me wary about the influences on my society. Whether a philosophy is far left or far right politically, it isn't safe taken to its fullest extreme. This worries me because America doesn't seem to practice moderation lately.
Finally, it is scary how the German people slowly were backed into a corner that they couldn't get out of without devastating effects. They wanted to live their lives and not cause trouble, so as their government slowly pushed pushed boundaries and took power. In short, they acted how I would act. I would have minded my own business and tried to manage my own home well. I would have sighed and hoped the evil I saw before me would pass or that someone would fight my battles for me. But when many people backed in a corner start defying the system in small ways, the system weakens.
That is an important lesson to know.
For Further Reading
One of the biggest challenges in studying ancient civilizations is the difficulty in finding interesting ways to make those time periods come alive. Unless of course, you are just studying Egypt, Greece, and Rome, because there are plenty of activities and books for those civilizations.
While being able to read straight from the Bible is such a great way to study the history of Ancient Israel, I also pulled together a handful of other resources to help spark my kid's imagination.
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Old Testament Days is a well written and well thought out activity book for students of all ages. The activities and readings in this book helped us to understand the life and culture of Old Testament times. Most of the activities were interesting and easy for me to pull off.
Ancient Israelites and their Neighbors is geared to a slightly older audience than Old Testament Days, and also includes activities for the Phoenicians and the Philistines. In addition to activities it also has short readings about the cultures, which was especially helpful in learning about the neighbors, because there isn't that much information readily available for kids about the Phoenicians and Philistines.
We also read the Jesus Storybook Bible as a read aloud during our study of Israel because it does such a great job tying the themes of the whole Bible together.
I used the illustrations from The Family Time Bible as I read the relevant chapters from our Bible because my younger kids like having a picture to look at.
While there are plenty of picture books about Noah's Ark and the Christmas story, I have a few favorites. My favorite Noah's Ark book is this award winning book from Peter Spier and my favorite nativity book is this beautifully illustrated one. The Story of Hanukkah tells the history behind the Maccabean revolt.
Throughout our study of ancient civilizations we have been going to our library to check out relevant videos from the series Ancient Civilizations for Children. Each video teaches how we learn about a specific civilization through archaeology. The Ancient Mesopotamia video covers the Israelites and the Ancient Egypt video also covers the Hebrews time in Egypt.
We also watched Prince of Egypt and Joseph Man of Dreams for fun when we finished reading about Joseph's life and later the Exodus.
Hands On Learning
Apparently you can buy toys for almost any story from the Bible, including the stories of David and Goliath, Noah's Ark, and the Calling of the 12 Disciples. A Bible Trivia Game would be a great review game.
For Further Reading
There's nothing like dealing with a learning disability to to make you fine tune your educational focus. My son's dysgraphia has taught me more about education than any other course, book, or experience I've had.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
I could have told you this before, but I wasn't practicing it. Our first month homeschooling, I assigned everything, because everything was good and useful. It turned out that too much work was too much work, whether it was high quality or not. Since I was conditioned to written output, I required my son to write, too.
I soon had a frustrated student and soon I was frustrated, too.
Only a drastic change would work, so I eliminated all writing that wasn't essential. Everything else was taught through reading, discussion, and hands on activities. By the end of the elimination process, the only pencil to paper work I assigned was in math and composition.
Even math still required a lot of paring down to get to what truly mattered. The math program we had required a lot of work on my son's behalf even if I just assigned the even or odd problems, because in that program, mastery was achieved through repetitively practicing concepts. In order to keep my son's math time at a reasonable about of time, I had to selectively choose the best quality problems every. single. day.
When I finally found the perfect math program for us, the job of choosing quality over quantity was already done for me. I had just the right amount of problems in the text to teach a concept and the workbook had just the right amount of problems to practice a concept. It also included hands on and visual problems that helped concepts stick in a different way than our prior program's daily review.
Worksheets Aren't All That
"Everything I know, I learned from a worksheet," said no one ever. Cutting back on worksheets threw the teaching ball back to my court and also made learning more authentic.
Sometimes the concepts worksheets are created for are ridiculous. You don't need a dictionary skills worksheet to teach a child to use a dictionary...You need a dictionary and an unfamiliar word. Reading comprehension can be determined better and more deeply by a simple conversation over answering a few questions on a worksheet. (Complete sentences, of course!) Working with a handful of change or math manipulatives before putting a pencil to paper to practice math, builds concrete math understanding along with the pencil and paper skills.
It is interesting to note, that every time I cut out a worksheet, I had to put something better in its place. Pulling an oak sapling out of the ground to observe a seed sprouting into a plant and then comparing that to a diagram in a real book is more instructive than a label the parts worksheet about the same concept. A Charlotte-Mason-style oral narration gives me far more insight to what my kids understand from a reading than a set of review questions ever could.
Sometimes the Roundabout Way is the Most Direct Route
Some things just defy "common sense." When it comes to poor handwriting, common sense says "slow down and try harder," but that strategy doesn't work when dysgraphia is a part of the equation.
Trust me. My son got that advice daily in his second and third grade classrooms from well meaning adult helpers and aids. He tried to slow down, but he was already writing slowly. His handwriting got worse despite following the advice he heard from every corner, so he started to dodge any assignment that he suspected someone else would give him feedback on.
What works for his type of dysgraphia and his personality involves a variety of tools not usually associated with a focused effort to improve handwriting: monkey bars, daily art, graph paper, a crazy figure eight exercise, highlighters, and time to write freely, without being judged for his handwriting. When every growth spurt sets him ten steps back with his handwriting and the fruit of his labors may not be evident until well into adulthood, we need patience and faith in the process. We also need hope that everything we do will eventually bear fruit.
Just Because Something is Hard Doesn't Mean There Can't be Joy
Handwriting is my son's greatest challenge. Writing is hard and for him can be physically painful.
But he writes his own adventure novels for fun. He fills composition book after composition book with stories and drawings from his own imagination, and he takes joy in the process. It amazes me daily that his biggest challenge is also his creative outlet.
As I've mentioned before, a learning disability has made me fine tune my approach to education. I can't just toss my son something educational and call it a day, I have to know my goals and my philosophy and carefully choose what I ask him to do for school in light of those goals.
I wrote another article about dysgraphia. To read it follow this link the one below.
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April is national poetry month! To help you share some poetry with your kids, I compiled a page of poetry that you can share with your kids at the beginning of your school days, over a delightful tea, or for a literature lesson. You may use these poems for copywork, memorization and recitation practice, or as inspiration for an art project.
Poetry is a beautiful way to help kids put words to the experiences around them and the sky is the limit on how you can incorporate a poem into your day!
If you like this poetry resource, sign up for the Freely Learned newsletter using the form below. You'll get a free, printable page of poetry every month along with a short newsletter.
I have been Singapore Math with my oldest son starting with level 3B and we are currently on level 6B. Since level 6 is a little different than the previous levels, I thought that I'd write about what I've learned about Singapore 6 based on my experience with the program. If you scroll to the end of the article, I also show some of the math programs that I am considering for next year.
Both books of Singapore 6 can be completed in a single semester
The reason for the shortSingapore 6 program is that year 6 is a testing year in Singapore, so a lot of review and test prep happens. While Singapore 6 does contain many review topics, they are not "easy" reviews, rather they take the same topics to a more challenging level. (On a side note, I think it's important to note that Singapore kids are some of the top students in the world and they aren't subjected to test pressure every. single. year.)
If your student struggles in Singapore 4 or 5, like many students do, the short books of level 6 leave room to go sideways and take time to get those challenging concepts down before moving on. (I really like this series for working on difficult concepts.) Even if you and your student fall a half a year behind, you can catch up in sixth grade. And if you fall even further behind, that's OK too because:
Singapore 6 is well ahead of the US math sequence
If you look at this chart, especially in the latter grades, you will see that the course of study in Singapore Math is more advanced than what is expected of public school students in the the US under Common Core.
The word problems in Singapore 6 are challenging
Granted, all of Singapore Math's word problems are challenging, but the ones in level six seem to be even more challenging than the previous books. You will really have to think through them and do several steps to find the solution, which is a good thing. However, you may want to buy the teacher's manual if you aren't confident in your math skills.
The Teacher's Manual is different than the HIG you may be used to
While many of the same elements are present, the set up is a little different. While it has the same elements as the HIG, it is geared for classroom teaching. Except for the answers, I'm hardly using the Teacher's Manual at all. As a matter of fact, I didn't even order the teacher's manual for 6B.
Some homeschoolers skip Singapore 6 and go straight to prealgebra
This seems fat to me but they feel like level 6 is too short and they also believe their kids are ready for an early start on the advanced math sequence.
Other homeschoolers go straight to Algebra after Singapore 6
I learned this fact from the Well Trained Mind forums. Not all of them do, of course, but since Singapore 6 covers many of the concepts covered in a traditional American pre-algebra course, they feel comfortable diving into Algebra, especially with a textbook that has enough review at the beginning.
Of course, many homeschoolers do Singapore 6 and then go on to pre-algebra or 7th grade math
This is what we are doing. Even though my son has done the work that qualifies him to move on to advanced math, I feel that he needs another year before starting Algebra and then all of the other classes that follow.
There are a lot of other options on what math program to use after Singapore 6B
One thing that I am loving about the Singapore Math program is that it sets students up to succeed in a variety of math programs. You can continue with Singapore's middle school series, go straight to a supportive Algebra textbook, or go on to a formal pre-algebra program. Here are a few potential directions that you can go after Singapore 6 with math programs that are marketed to homeschoolers.
Singapore 6 isn't really that much different from the rest of the Singapore Math Program
I love Singapore Math because in a short amount of time, I can teach a challenging concept and have my son understand it enough to work independently. (And I love short lessons!) I like that the workbooks challenge the students without requiring them to do dozens and dozens of problems. I also love that I feel like my son is well prepared for the upper levels of math!
To learn more about Singapore Math, visit their website.
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The week before last, I wrote about taking an hour of deep down, sabbath and scholé type rest every day. This week I'm pondering what real, renewing rest looks like.
Perhaps spending an hour exerting minimal possible effort is not rest at all. Who, after all, is truly rested after a session of phone scrolling or binge watching a new show?
Perhaps rest is spending an hour doing something you really and truly are good at so that you can grow in your gifts to be the person God made you to be.
Perhaps rest is living part of the day in the presence of beauty...
Perhaps rest isn't stillness, but movement forward on a path just to see what is around the corner.
Perhaps rest is trying to create something that captures a moment, even though you know that you'll never come close to making your hand obey the vision in your head.
Perhaps rest is combining knowledge and creativity to make something new and meaningful, even if it is only for yourself
Perhaps rest is falling to our knees in the dust where we can cast our troubles at the feet of the One who promised to bear our burdens for us so when we rise up it will be in the power of the One who can do more that we can ask or imagine.
Perhaps rest isn't stopping, but growing and becoming whole.
Thank you for reading. If you didn't read my first article on daily sabbath rests for busy moms, check it out here.
For Further Reading:
Technology is remarkable. On my phone, I can access a dictionary, a calculator, weather and traffic reports, the Bible, the news, what people are thinking about any given topic at this very moment, a field guide, a whole library of eBooks, and of course, if I don't know the answer to a question, I can just ask Siri to google it.
With all of that knowledge accessible from my phone, why learn anything at all?
I recently reread an article titled "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham, who is the author of a whole slew of books about how people learn and education in America. During a time when I was researching what really worked in education, I was influenced enough by the conclusions of articles like this and books like The Knowledge Deficit, by E D Hirsch to make more time in our homeschool day for literature, history, and science than I did for the three Rs.
A wide base of general knowledge is key to unlocking the doors of learning. Here are a few takeaways from "How Knowledge Helps" to support why:
Knowledge is Essential for Reading Comprehension
"The ability to read a text and make sense of it is highly correlated to background knowledge." --from "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham
When I read, there is a wide gap in my understanding of topics that I know about and topics I don't know much about at all despite the fact that my reading ability is very high. I can read a play by Shakespeare with better comprehension than a scientific article written in modern English because of the presence or lack of background knowledge.
If I were to read several recaps of sporting events, I would understand an article about baseball better than an article about football. And I would understand the football article better than the article about cricket.
Kids are no different than adults. They read with greater understanding when they already know the topic they are reading about. Is your child into dinosaurs, astronomy, or birds? She probably is a stronger reader on that topic than she is on any other scientific topic.
"People with rich general knowledge rarely have to interrupt reading in order to consciously search for connections." --from "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham
General knowledge means not having to google a fact or a definition in the middle of reading just to understand what is going on. When we can read uninterrupted, we understand more and learn more.
A Base of Knowledge Makes Future Learning Easier
"(Knowledge) makes learning easier. Knowledge is not only cumulative, it grows exponentially. Those with a rich base of factual knowledge find it easier to learn more--the rich get richer." --from "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham
The child who learned about the history of Ancient Israel in sunday school will have an easier time fitting the histories of Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, and Rome into his understanding of ancient history, because all of their histories are intertwined.
A child well acquainted with mythology through a book like D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, will have an easier time understanding many literary allusions in literature and poetry.
A child with knowledge of the natural world around her will have a much easier time when she studies biology formally that a child who does not have similar experience.
Simply knowing something about a subject makes it more likely that new knowledge will "stick."
Knowledge is a Prerequisite for Critcal Thinking
"If we want our students to think critically, they must have something to think about." --from "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham
In other words, if you don't know anything, you really don't have much to think about. Workbooks and activities that promote critical thinking skills are generally bunk since they are usually separated from the real building of the knowledge base for actual critical thinking.
In real life, we can't critically think about something that we know nothing about. I can't throw together a dinner with whatever-is-in-the-fridge if I don't have a basic knowledge of cooking. I can't pop the hood of my car and figure out what is making that weird sound if I have no knowledge of the inner workings of cars. I can't form a real opinion on the daily news if I don't have a knowledge of politics and history. Day to day life requires critical thinking and problem solving to make it through and without the right knowledge, we can't think or problem solve our way through life.
Application: What I do to Ensure My Kids have a Broad Base of Knowledge
I adopted Charlotte Mason style short lessons around the same time I decided that I was going to make sure that my kids had a content rich education. This ensured that I could hit every subject, every day and still be done by lunch.
Being exposed to a wide variety of books is the best way to increase a child's knowledge. We visit the library weekly, and for my younger kids I check out a variety of picture books from a variety of sections including: general picture books, folktales and fairy tales, natural science, art and hobbies, poetry, and history.
My my oldest son loves reading about imaginary worlds, funny stories about kids his age, war stories, and mythology. When I plan his reading list for the school year, I intentionally include types of books and topics he wouldn't pick up on his own such as, biographies, historical fiction, and classic children's literature.
I also cycle through eras of history and science topics with the whole family so we can build a broad base of knowledge that will be foundational to the rest of their education.
For Further Reading
ED Hirsch Jr also addresses the need for a knowledge based education in The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children
I really want to read the book When Can You Trust the Experts?: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education, by Daniel T Willingham because I am so tired of seeing crazy educational practices that are supposedly "research based" but in real life seem to be confusing students.
Thanks for reading!
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