Benefit of Natural Learning #10: Book-Loving Kids!

I discovered yet another benefit of natural, home-based learning last month:

My daughter asked for BOOKS for Christmas!

(I couldn’t get her to keep her eyes open for the camera flash. That’s okay–we’ll save those peepers for reading, I guess, LOL!)

That’s right–while everyone else was rushing to the toy stores, looking for animatronic hamsters or computerized dinosaurs, I was calling up a small, independent publisher in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, requesting their entire series of Native American children’s novels!

It all began when I bought this book for our in-home history studies: Naya Nuki

Naya Nuki is the (partly fictionalized) account of Sacajawea’s actual childhood friend; a girl who–like Sacajawea–was kidnapped and sold into slavery. But unlike Sacajawea (who remained in capitivity long enough to bare her captor’s children and to help guide the Lewis and Clark expedition), little Naya Nuki escaped!

This precious book chronicles the 1,000+ mile journey of Naya Nuki towards her home. After reading Naya Nuki, Prima loved it so much that she begged for another. So I bought Doe Sia (because our library doesn’t have any of these books on their shelves–boo!):

Doe Sia is the true (also partially fictionalized, to help fill in the blanks) story of a Native American girl who helped guide and protect a group of white settlers in their journey across the prairie.

After reading this book, my daughter said “Are there any more books like this?” I visited the publisher’s web site, and sure enough–there’s an entire series!

But our library didn’t have any. Neither did local bookstores. Prima was crushed.

When Christmastime came around, Prima’s constant refrain was, “All I want for Christmas is a set of books like Naya Nuki!” So we contacted Grandview Publishing in Jackson Wyoming, who not only shipped the entire series to our home before Christmas, but who also included a delightful book on CD, and a poster of the artwork from Naya Nuki!

If your children do not yet love history, I encourage you to check out these books, which are very entertaining and educational, and help history come alive in the hearts and minds of young children (whereas history textbooks only fill them with lifeless dates, dry facts, and summarized events).

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History or Social Studies?

Did you know that most schools teach Social Studies, instead of history? Here’s why:

“A common assumption found in history curricula seems to be that children can’t comprehend (or be interested in) people and events distant from their own experience. So first-grade history class is renamed Social Studies and begins with what the child knows: first, himself and his family, followed by his community, his state, his country, and only then the rest of the world.

This intensely self-focused pattern of study encourages the student of history to relate everything he studies to himself, to measure the cultures and customs of other people against his own experience. And that’s exactly what the classical education fights against–a self-absorbed, self-referential approach to knowledge. History learned this way makes our needs and wants the center of the human endeavor. This attitude is destructive at any time, but it is especially destructive in the present global civilization.” —Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Trained Mind (p. 108, emphasis in bold is mine).

Here is a copy of Dizzy’s recent history assignment–a report on ancient Crete:

Are public school kids learning about ancient civilizations in the 3rd grade? If not, their parents should consider these fun history learning and activity books:

Here’s a sample learning activity from Volume 2 of this series (middle ages)–

Thanks to the Story of the World series, my children not only enjoy learning about history, but they also do history projects and read history books in their spare time. In fact, our daughter Prima requested a series of history books for Christmas! But more about that after December 25th . . .

Children Need Time to Create

Charlotte Mason (the renowned educator/founder of Ambleside teacher’s college in England) taught parents and educators that,

“The morning . . . is much the best time for lessons and every sort of mental work; if the whole afternoon cannot be spared for out-of-door recreation, that is the time for mechanical tasks such as [crafts], drawing, practising . . . ” —Home Education, p. 23

While in public school, my children did not have afternoon time to explore the outdoors or to be creative, because they spent their entire evening doing homework!

But in the more natural, organic setting of our home school, all EIGHT subjects are easily completed before lunchtime (because home schools move quickly, due to the lack of crowd control issues), and afterwards, my children are free to explore and create the things that interest them!

Here’s one example–my daughter Prima wants a pony. I told her “no way.” So what did she do? She began to construct one herself, out of old cardboard boxes:

See the pajamas? If I had let her, she would’ve stayed up ALL NIGHT working on this thing. Charlotte Mason was right–afternoon/evening is definitely the time to let children explore their creativity!

I couldn’t believe she was able to design and implement this entire project without any patterns or adult assistance. In school, every project had instructions and a list of requisite supplies. But Prima apparently prefers to create things freehand:

During Prima’s public school days, projects like this were unheard of–she was too busy trying to get all of her homework done before bed.

A few weeks ago, the kids saw me making a pie. This is something they didn’t get to see when they were in public school, because I prefer to bake at midday (while the baby naps). This time, they got to join me:

And while they rolled, cut, and baked, you can bet that I was teaching about the art of pie-making (and its historical roots in the American colonies) which put a tangible (and tasty!) spin on history that led to further discussions of early colonial life. I actually had to get out the history books to answer their questions!

Our discussion became so lively and educational that I found myself wishing I had started inviting the kids to help me out in the kitchen a lot earlier–little Buttercup actually showed more interest in history that day than I ever experienced at her age!

But the best result that day (aside from yummy pies!) was the passion for learning and the feeling of accomplishment that my children experienced that day–proving that education isn’t all about worksheets and standardized tests.

Learning MUST include the feeling of accomplishment that comes from creating something meaningful, while at the same time recognizing one’s place in history!