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Musings on Back to School- Julie LaFollette

"We're not studying American history this year."

So, here's something I hear from time to time & I want to take a quick minute to tell you my thoughts, because honestly, I used to think the same way.  I'm going to approach this from the standpoint of the US, since it's where I live and the bulk of my work involves creating letter subscriptions to help families learn more about United States history.  Please, though, feel free to simply insert the name of the country where you live anywhere I may mention the US or America, because I think the message of this holds true no matter where you live.

Early on in our homeschooling journey we used a more Classical approach (I'm not even sure what to call our approach now, but it's slightly Charlotte Mason-ish & slightly eclectic if I had to put a name to it).  So, there we were learning about Ancient History and then a little less ancient history the next year, and then even less ancient the next, until we finally reached recent enough history that we were learning about the United States finally.  Somewhere along the way we rolled into November and Thanksgiving season with me thinking our kids just innately "knew" what Thanksgiving was all about and boy,was I wrong.  

Our oldest remembered and had retained enough from covering it at some point in early elementary, from conversations, and probably even from the Magic Treehouse book set at Thanksgiving (she was a diehard Mary Pope Osborne fan back in her younger years).  Our youngest was too young when all of these educational opportunities had come his way to retain any of it, so he asked what Thanksgiving was all about as we prepared food to take to Grandma's house for our celebration and that really got me thinking.

Thinking about how in the midst of the richness of learning about other peoples, and cultures, and their histories; I had forgotten to teach our own.  We changed things from that point moving forward.  We had more talks about our American holidays, our history, and our nation's great story.   We checked out library books, watched documentaries, and had great conversations.

So, learn from my mistakes.  Study the ancient Greeks and Romans, the rise and fall of the Aztecs and Mayans, the Great Wall of China, and any and every other time period and culture you like, BUT don't forget to slip in little snippets of your own country's history along the way.  After all, you LIVE THERE, so your children need to know and love YOUR country's story, because it is THEIR STORY to be proud of, their story to protect, and theirs to carry on to the next generation of your country.

-Julie 

Julie is the History writer for Harbor + Sprout. She creates at Heritage Letter. Shop her letter subscription at www.heritageletter.com.

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