One of the true blessings of homeschooling is that I get to learn about everything along with my brilliant, curious, and excited son. This is my advanced degree: I’m a student in The Reid School along with Raisin and Strawberry! It goes from birth all the way to post-graduate college courses!
Raisin may be only 5, but I have determined that he is much older intellectually. So many times he asks me perplexing things. I answer the best I can, but for those times when I simply do not know, I must say “I don’t know.” His ready answer is usually, “Let’s go google it!”
So I am learning from him about science (a subject I never warmed to), and I am hoping that some day he’ll be incredibly interested in history, because I am having a blast this year!
I decided to teach my son American history. I was not very happy with the things I bought (I only spent a little on a few things, but they were disappointing) so I’ve been piecing together my own curriculum (more on this another time). This lets me work with my son’s various levels: he is a brilliant reader, reading at a fourth grade level. But he also is five, with a five-year-old’s attention span. So we are doing lots of games and picture books.
As I plan my subjects for the coming weeks, I’ve been reading books myself about the various subjects. When we learned about the Native Americans back in September, I read a Very Short Introduction and Charles C. Mann’s 1491. I thought the American Indians were a fascinating subject and I made lists of more highly recommended books to read on the subject. But by then, of course, my son was moving on to Roanoke and Jamestown, so I tried to hurry a book in before it was time for the Mayflower. But there was hardly time to finish that book and another Native American (1800s history) book before now we’re well in to the American Revolution. I managed to read about the Founding Fathers and Ben Franklin and I’ve only just finished a biography of Thomas Jefferson (no post yet) but think of all the books I’ve left out!
My problem is that I start reading on a topic and I get overwhelmingly fascinated by the subject. I want to go on a tangent and read about John Adams (I read David McCullough’s massive biography about 7 years ago, but it surely deserves a reread!) and I’ve never read a biography of Washington himself. And what about an account of the making of the constitution? All these subjects are fascinating, and well worth the extra effort to study them. I could write a book about all these fascinating subjects, if I just had enough time to research and pull it all together!
But alas, there simply is not enough time as I scramble to figure out which aspects of Adams and Jefferson to teach to my son. I wanted to teach him about their fascinating relationship. That they were friends working for a cause, but then they let politics get in the way. How they stopped talking to each other for more than a decade before they finally began their written correspondence that lasted the rest of their lives. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to delve deep in to those letters between the two men? They knew they would go down in history. They had strong thoughts on their places in the historical record. I’d love to learn more.
This week we are going to learn about Adams and Jefferson. I do not think we will do any of that fascinating discussion. We will probably find a map of America before the Louisiana Purchase and after and then we’ll read a few books about Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark’s journey is a fascinating subject I learned about a few years ago, and since we’re soon to go on a road trip through the same wild lands they explored, it will work in nicely in our schooling this week and next.
But I feel sad that I cannot delve deeper in to the other fascinating characters of the Revolution. I feel sad that I certainly will not have time to read about Jacksonian America before my son and I jump in to the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and then the rest as America jumps forward into modernity.
When I hear or read the cliche phrase “So Many Books, So Little Time” it feels almost like a taunt. It’s so true. Because beside all of the wonderful History Self-education I’d like to give myself, I would also love to read all of Dickens and Shakespeare, to study a favorite novel, like Pride and Prejudice, in depth so I could respond intelligently about it, and to write my own curriculum for my son.
But there simply is not time to do it all.
My only comfort is that in about four years, I’ll be revisiting American History with my children, because Strawberry will be ready for a Kindergarten overview. While she will not be ready for more depth, maybe by then Raisin will be!