May 22, 2013

Why We Home School: Part V

Why We Home School:  Focus

Public school classes have a truck load of topics and information they must cover before the school year's end.  In order to fit it all in and still have time for all the other sundries such as lunch breaks, recess, band, assessments, interventions, field trips, etc. for a class of around 20 kids, not much time is able to be spent investigating any one topic in depth.

If a couple kids in the class don't fully understand how to multiply fractions, there's no time to linger.  Sure, those kids can come in after school for extra help, but how many of them really take advantage of that?

Or, if a study of life cycles really fascinates a class, and it's clear they are thirsty to learn more, there's no time to put off other subjects to dedicate more time to the study of life cycles.  Sure, those kids can go home and Google more information on their own time, but how many of them really take advantage of that?

With so many kids, so many subjects to cover, and only about 40 minutes a day to dedicate to each subject, it's difficult, if not impossible, to really engage the minds of curious kids who desire to learn more.  After all, there are state tests looming on the horizon and lots of preparation left to do.

Home Schooling offers the ability to focus.  If we find a particular topic that our boys really sink their claws into and devour, we can spend as much time as we like researching, investigating, experimenting, studying and digging into the meat of it.

One of the beauties of home school is unit studies.  Though we have not yet utilized the unit study method, many home school families love it!  Every subject - math, reading, spelling, history, science, etc. - is wound around a single theme, linking them all together and really engraving the topic into the students' minds.

For our first year of home schooling, we decided to focus on the Civil War.  We didn't follow a unit study, but we did relate everything we could back to the war.  For our language arts, our oldest boy read The Red Badge of Courage, and our youngest read Billy and the Rebel and the Children's Civil War Alphabet Book.  Our spelling words were taken from the reading.

While the history aspect is obvious, we also took the boys to both a Civil War reenactment weekend and a living history museum's Civil War day, which immersed them into life in the 1800s, as civilians and as soldiers.  They witnessed how people lived day to day, the differences compared to modern day living, and they watched a Civil War battle recreated.

For art, the boys created their own Civil War journals using photographs we took at the reenactment weekend and facts they learned during our studies.

We didn't spend our entire school year learning solely about the Civil War.  All told, we probably spent about 2 weeks on the topic.  But throughout the year, opportunities arose to relate new topics and facts back to what we'd already studied about the war.

That kind of focus demonstrates the advantages of home schooling.  We didn't have to spend just a couple days reading from a history textbook and memorizing important names and dates to be tested on and hope the kids retained some of the info because the next day we had to move on to a different topic.  We had the privilege of immersing ourselves in the rich details of history and relating back to other subjects, which, in my opinion, is about the best way for a person to really learn anything.

Below are some photos we took during the Civil War reenactment weekend we attended.

How do you approach learning?  Do you think it's enough to spend just a couple school hours on a subject, or does the idea of immersing students into a subject and relating other subjects back to it strike more of a chord with you?

Previous post... Why We Home School: Fun!

Coming up... Why We Home School: Foundations


  1. I appreciate your "Why We Homeschool" series! Well said. I am a like-minded homeschooling mom and I thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Jodi. It's always good to know there are others who believe the same as we do! Also, my apologies for such a late response. My "reply" button has been missing in action for quite some time, and I just today figured out how to get it back.