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    To Study History in a Person

    September 19, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    Up until now, we haven’t done very much at all in the area of history. This wasn’t born of disinterest in the subject. It was simply that we didn’t have many history books appropriate for children, and I knew that we would be visiting many used bookstores on our trip. So I had opted to wait.

    Apparently, there aren’t many used children’s history books in the central coast area. Not that we visited every used bookstore.

    Well, we did buy a wonderful copy of Dickens’ A Child’s History of England {for $4}. But really, there was no Meadowcroft or D’Aulaire like I had hoped. Even worse, Mommy didn’t really have a vision for an approach to history that would really reach the heart of the children.

    That is, until one day, when the children were exhausted and taking an extra-long nap, and Si and I were sitting on the balcony of our hiatus home-away-from-home listening to the waves and reading. I was finishing up Charlotte Mason’s Home Education: Training and Educating Children Under Nine when I discovered that, though I didn’t have a vision, Mason certainly had opinions on the teaching of history to the very young:

    The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn ‘outlines,’ or a baby edition of the whole history of England, or of Rome, just as he must cover the geography of all the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.

    This clicked for me. This is not to say that we will not build our own timeline, and mark the men we study down in their place. It is just that the timeline will give us a record, not be the object of our study.

    Since our son already has a deep affection for George Washington, and since he is a perfect object of study for a child to learn of the birth of our country, it was not hard to choose. So, soon to arrive at our doorstep will be, in no particular order:

    The Bulletproof George Washington

    George Washington


    The Story of George Washington

    What better time that kindergarten to “linger pleasantly over the thoughts of one man” and, hopefully, think his same, great thoughts?

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  • Reply Brandy September 22, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Oh, Kris, I think you are absolutely right! Some things are better learned by being there. 🙂 How I wish we had the resources to visit you and Nate–ahem–I mean, go learn about Washington!

  • Reply kristie September 22, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    I think the best way to learn about George Washington would be to visit New Jersey and see the Princeton Battlefield. E. could see the actual road that Washington led troops through from Trenton to Princeton one Christmas during the Revolutionary War. Walk where Washington walked. Crazy! He could also visit the house that Washington lived in during part of the war when he was in the Princeton area.

    Yes, I think E. could learn a lot of he visited NJ. Just ask him. =)

  • Reply Brandy September 22, 2007 at 4:21 am

    I will have to keep those children’s tales in mind, Kimbrah. By the way, I Googled Sally Clarkson. Her blog seemed very insightful!

  • Reply Rahime September 20, 2007 at 7:24 am

    I wish I still had the books I read…I think many of them were checked out of the library though…and many others did not make the cut in one move or another.

    I can’t remember which biography of Marie Curie I read exactly, but I’ll do a little searching and see if I recognize it and let you know.

  • Reply Kimbrah September 20, 2007 at 4:03 am

    Okay, I went and grabbed the book. It’s called “Stories For Young People Leo Tolstoy” The ISBN is 1-4027-1143-3. They have others as well. I saw a Mark Twain version as well, so I will have to check that out too. I am sure there are other authors, too. I am totally in love with the Tolstoy book though. See ya soon!

  • Reply Kimbrah September 20, 2007 at 3:49 am

    I just happened upon a GREAT book of Tolstoy’s short stories directed at younger readers. There are illustrations and the stories are awesome! in the front there is a short biography about Leo Tolstoy and it is just enough information to cause one to want to seek out more. It includes the store “Three Questions” which is one of my personal favorites. I think E. could get into it. I am going to find a copy of it if I can, so I will show you when we get into town.

    By the way, have you ever listened to any of Sally Clarkson’s homeschooling lectures? My friend just lent me a set and they were FABULOUS. I think I would like to have my own. Very grounded with great ideas on how to go about this whole business, even for an unschooler like me. Just wanted to share.

  • Reply Brandy September 19, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Any suggestions on a good biography of Marie Curie, Rahime? Even though I’m focusing on Washington, I’m trying to build our library in light of future learning as well. Even if he was never interested, I’m sure the girls would be.

    Not that I’m against boys reading the biographies of women… 🙂

  • Reply Rahime September 19, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I completely agree. I think early in one’s education is an excellent time to read about great men and women of history. One of the few things I remember from my childhood reading (and of course, this was not in school) was reading biographies about people like Amy Carmichael, Martin Luther, George Washington Carver and Marie Curie.

    I hope you and E. both enjoy George Washington this year.

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