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American History

I miss the days when I could post about a great nature walk, or an evening at the beach, or a fabulous class the girls took.  This is a different season of homeschooling and of life.  Big questions are being asked by the girls and by me of what we want to do, where we go from here and what lies ahead.  

It has been a very productive year academically.   Too much has transpired to list in one post so I will be posting a series of “what worked” for us posts.


We used Notgrass curriculum this year, which was chosen by their coop teacher.  The girls completed Exploring America 1: Columbus through Reconstruction in the fall.  The spring semester they worked on Exploring America 2: Late 1800s through Present.  Total Credit earned 1.0.

I have always struggled with the “is it enough” mentality.  I see their peers rush (literally run) out of youth group Tuesday evenings to get home as soon as possible to resume homework.  Some pass up weekend trips because of homework.  They stress to the point of tears over collaborate projects and partners who don’t do their fair share of the work.  I ask myself, what in the world this is teaching them?  To better handle stress in corporate America?  

Grace in particular shares with me how much of the youth group conversation centers around school, mostly how much their girls hate it, how hard junior year is, and how they cannot wait to be done.  

My girls don’t have this same sense of anxiety and stress.  They have work due each week.  Every Tuesday they must have a unit (5 chapters) of history read and be ready to discuss.  

To supplement their learning we have taken several field trips:
  • Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Davy Crockett Homestead, Tennessee
  • Fort Loudon, Tennessee
  • Sequoia Museum, Tennessee
  • Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Many more New England day trips are planned over the summer break because although we will be on “break”, our philosophy of education is that learning never takes a break.  We also use video/documentaries to supplement the reading.  One fantastic video about the causes and events of WWI, covered and entire unit in visual form.  Grace is very visual and watching history makes more sense to her than reading about it.

I truly believe the homeschooled high school student can create a week that closely resembles what college is like.  The average college student is not attending class 7:00am-2:00pm five days a week.  They have classes that they schedule throughout the week according to their time preference,  class availability and professor preference.  There is downtime to socialize, work, and yes, study.  The student knows from a syllabus what is due when and it is the responsibility of the student to utilize time wisely in order to maintain a balance of play time, work time and study time.  This is how my girls approach their week.  They have jobs: set babysitting times, dog walking, photography and they have extras: youth group, internship, and they have social events: concerts, coop outings, and periodic friend meet ups.  It is up to them to balance their workload.  There have been many late, late Mondays when the balance was not maintained and homework had to be completed.  Those were not fun nights and they taught the girls how not to do “school”.  

The fall was a tricky time to learn how to balance a higher workload, a more structured learning environment, classes they did not particularly love, and classmates that were challenging to work with.  After a few months, they found their rhythm and they found success in their week.

History was definitely a success this year and will continue to be through the summer months.


  1. William used the Notgrass Uncle Sam and You (civics course) and he and I were really happy with it. I think we will continue to use their curriculum but not sure which one to chose yet. I loved the simplicity of it and how we could choose the activities at the end of each lesson.

    1. I feel like I am running out of time. I wish I had found some of these resources a few years ago so Grace could have stuck with the Notgrass books but the timing was not in our hands. It's crazy but with class proposals due for coop soon, I am already planning next year. I want to fill it with the lessons she needs (lots of finance and economics) and some things she wants (internships and field trips) and things that I think are beneficial like continuing on in the 101 series for physics. I do feel blessed that I came into these resources in Lilah's 9th year so she will have the benefit of continuity in high school for 4 years. Hard to believe our kids grew up on us!


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