Struggling with Homeschooling Burnout?

I think this is the time of year where I get a spate of emails either from excited parents who are ready to embark upon their homeschool journeys or I get just the opposite – emails about burnout, dashed expectations, and exhaustion.  Parents with homeschooling burnout wonder what to do if they don’t want their children to go to a brick and mortar school, but yet they cannot see any resolution to the challenges before them.

I experienced true burnout this year, and I am not afraid to share what worked for me in hopes it will help other homeschooling parents.

Part of the challenge:  Part of  burnout, for me,  had to do with homeschooling for ten years with most summers taken up at least partially or fully with homeschool planning (vacation, anyone?). I notice in some Waldorf Schools the teachers seem to take sabbatical after taking a class through eight years.  We do not have that option at home, as we often have younger children to continue homeschooling or we are homeschooling into high school.

Part of the solution:  Stack some vacations in the worst part of the year to get me through; plan less weeks and less days per week in order to work in planning time during the school year.

Part of the challenge:  Homeschooling for many years children of wildly different ages who have wildly different developmental needs.

Part of the solution:    No child is going to get their day 100 percent tailored to them in a homeschooling situation where the family has children of massively different ages.   As a homeschooler, it is easy to look at what a Waldorf School might offer and think that this would be better for the child.  However, comparing a Waldorf School and Waldorf homeschooling is often like comparing oranges and grapefruit – same family, but perhaps distant cousins.  Home is not school and school is not home.  Reaching a balance not just over the course of a week or a month or a year is important, and to take a really long-term view that the child will get what they need by the time they graduate.  Remembering why we homeschool for each developmental period is important and helpful.

The other part of this solution is to impart more responsibility to the older children where one can, and to know sometimes it isn’t in the academic arena or the artistic arena, but it may be the older student can be helpful with smaller children or responsibility around the house.

The third idea is to look carefully at outside activities.  It is harder to say no to worthy outside activities that  a high schooler wants to do if they only have a few years left full time at home, but it is simple to tell younger children they simply must wait – or to choose activities the whole family can enjoy together!

Part of the challenge:  High school was not only a curveball for our oldest, but it was a curveball for ME.  Most of the parents in my area homeschool high schoolers using traditional textbooks, online classes, or the use of a hybrid school where their child is in classes two to three days a week with homework to do on the other “off” days.  What I kept hearing over and over was how homeschooling high school was so wonderful, how all it was was facilitating work and the student did everything on their own.

This could be the case for many Waldorf homeschoolers, but I don’t think this is always the case.  Many of us are still directly teaching high school subjects and very involved. We also may be trying to figure out that whole balance of blocks versus year long courses , workload,  and how to grade things.

Part of the solution:  Let it go.  Courses can extend throughout the high school years in homeschooling.  Preserve the relationship.  See if you can find in-person support from someone who has homeschooled similarily to how you have homeschooled, but also understand that every teenager has a different rate of neurologic development, and therefore that person’s experience may not be your experience at all!   In the middle teen years, I see  very pronounced differences in the development of the brain and the profound effect this has upon high school.  No one talks about that at all on homeschooling blogs, so I am saying it!

Part of the challenge:  The parent is still developing and going through seven year cycles; older parents can have challenges and we all seem to age a little differently.The decade of the 40s can also  be where many mothers are squished between taking care of elderly parents or parents with health problems, homeschooling, running a household, and getting children to activities.  It can be overwhelming.

Part of the solution:  Rest, exercise,  and healthy eating is a key.  Making time for your own health does nothing but stabilize the school situation.  If you have shorter days due to your own health needs and you decide to homeschool with shorter breaks throughout the year in order to accommodate this, well, we  have that flexibility!  The other piece of this is to go back to your spiritual practices – what strengthens your inner resolve and strength?

These are just a few of the things I did this year to help myself.  I would love to hear from you if you have suggestions to help mothers suffering from burnout! What would you say to be encouraging and helpful?

Blessings,
Carrie

How To Get Your Early Planning Going!

Hello Friends!

It has been a busy time of year here with finishing school, enjoying friends and squishing in pool time.  One thing I have been serious about since I came home revitalized and encouraged from the Waldorf Homeschool Conference in Orlando, FL is to jump on planning.  There is a lot to coordinate this year.  My seasonal/festival ideas for each month are written down from over the years, and our start/end/probably vacation dates are also written out. I had an idea of possible block rotations  (subject to change), and I have recently sat down and gathered resources.  Most of them are Waldorf resources; there are some Oak Meadow resources for my tenth grader; but many resources are just library books sorted into subjects or things off of Teachers Pay Teachers for high school  to fill in my own gaps or to work with specific works of literature for high school.  Then I made a list of what needs to be planned:

  1. High School Spanish 3 – I will be facilitating this through a traditional text book and additional readings and games I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.
  2. A combination health (for our tenth grader) and seventh grade physiology (traditionally done in a block in seventh grade but I am combining with my high schooler’s health) twice a week.
  3. A twice a week writing track where I am combining my tenth and seventh graders, focused on the wish, wonder, surprise theme traditionally found in Waldorf  seventh grade where we can focus on skill progression in writing and different types of writing for our tenth grader.
  4. Second Grade Blocks and Weekly Nature Study.  This will be my third time through second grade, so I am familiar with much of the material but hope to really bring fun and new ideas to it all and make it very active for our very active little choleric guy.
  5. Seventh Grade Blocks – to include physics, Renaissance and Reformation history, Exploration, astronomy, several math blocks and hopefully a little block on Colonial America at the very end of seventh grade.  I am going to save the whole of chemistry for eighth grade.
  6.  Tenth Grade Blocks – still debating on blocks; we never got to our ninth grade Art History block as we ran out of time and we have a few topics in Biology to finish. Other than that, I am planning blocks in US Government, Embryology, Ancient Civilizations and Ancient Literature, a block of poetry, and a block of Contemporary African-American Literature, and several math blocks.
  7. Fantastic Fun – these will be hands-on things on a single topic once a week all together.   I fully expect our second grader to be in the room for many of these topics that really mesh more with seventh and tenth grade such as African geography, Latin American geography, project-based math, navigation,  and more (essentially places where I felt seventh and tenth grade overlap) so I am thinking of the best way to approach some of this. Our second grader probably will just weave in and out, and much like the way I feel about younger children hearing stories that they will encounter later, it just is what it is.  Homeschooling is first and foremost about family and I don’t wish to banish him from our activities.
  8. My other big plan is to begin this school year and have a week or week and a half of the life of Buddha and Buddhism – this ties into the Silk Road for our seventh grader, and into the Ancient World for our tenth grader and it could tie into stories for our second grader.  I envision this primarily as an artistic time, and hope to work with creating clay sculpting (tenth grader) and black and white drawing (seventh grader) and some other projects.  I also plan to read Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” to the older children and work on some projects coordinated with that.
  9. Summer Reading lists – I am having our rising tenth grader read Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Bean Trees” and the book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. I also included a tenth grade reading list to pick several books of choice off of during the summer and school year for book reports.   I am having our rising seventh grader read, “Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World” and probably something that bridges the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

How are you coming along planning?  I wish for peaceful planning for you!

I think the best ways to get your early planning going is to see where you can combine children in blocks or topics, gather your resources, and just begin.  Where is the wonder and activity, and where is the skill progression for the upper grades? I would to hear from you how you are doing!

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

Resources For Planning This Summer

It is a very exciting time to be a Waldorf homeschooler!  There are many resources available for planning this summer.

First of all, Jamie York has middle school math workshops on-line this summer, along with in-person workshops in Boulder, Colorardo for Grades 1-3, Grades 4 and 5, and Grade 9, and Grade 10.

There is a conference in Orlando, FL on May 13, 2017 with Kristie Burns of Earthschooling, Jean Miller of Waldorf -Inspired Learning, Donna Ashton of The Waldorf Connection, Jodie Mesler of Home Music Making and myself.  Details are here.

Taproot Teacher Training is coming up in August with Barbara Dewey, Jean Miller, and many other experienced presenters.  You can find details here

Live Education! has a summer conference coming up in July  in Santa Cruz, CA.  Details are available on the Live Education! page

I believe there are other conferences and workshops coming up as well- please do chime in!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Sixth Grade Medieval Block

 

We are in our second week of our sixth grade Medieval Block and this time around I have done very different things than I did with my first student so I thought it would be a good time to update some notes on this block. If you are interested as to what we did the first time around, you can see here and here.

This time around, we finished our Roman block by reading the book, “The Dancing Bear” out loud and our sixth grader completed a report about Attila the Hun in between our Roman and Medieval history blocks.  I also had our student read, “Favorite Medieval Tales” by Mary Pope Osborne and Troy Howell and have her pick her favorite story and re-write in her own words.  I think this can be a great exercise for children who struggle with writing.  Usually what the children who don’t like to write will do is make a numbered sort of list of plot points and then you can work with your student on turning the plot points into good descriptive sentences.  We also started the book “Son of Charlemagne” as a read aloud between blocks as well, and finished that book the first week of our block.

Our first week included a look at the Byzantine Empire, with special emphasis on the following: Constantinople as a strategic location, Justinian I and Empress Theodora and their biographies, the Hagia Sophia, icolonclasm, and the structure of Byzantine society.  This is important information for laying the groundwork for the Ottoman Empire, and in understanding the schism in the Catholic Church.

We also spent time last week and this week talking about knights and chivalry, advances in horseback riding that made being a knight possible, the manor and how these grew into castles and the feudal system, and monks and monasteries.  Biographies covered included Pope Gregory the Great, a mention of Pope Leo the Great (also mentioned at the end of the book, “The Son of Charlemagne,”), St. Benedict, St. Hildegarde, and St. Francis and more.  We have painted, and drawn, listened to Gregorian chants, looked at illuminated manuscripts, worked on calligraphy, and we will be working on rose windows and a cathedral drawing this week and into next week.  I wish I knew a stained glass artist for this block, but I don’t, so tissue paper will have to do!  This week we will finish up with an in-depth look at castles and the role of women and children in the Middle Ages, and re-iterate the life of the peasant.  I also want to highlight  some of the technological advances of the Middle Ages (we have already talked about stirrups and horseshoes for knights but for the peasants the heavy plow was an advance).  I have plans for a writing assignment here as well.  We have been reading the book, “Castle,” by David Macauley.  We will spend one day at the end of this week talking about the Ancient Puebloan civilizations, and I have a little kit to make an Anasazi bowl.

Plans for the third week and into the fourth week since we will have a short week due to travel:  Mohammed and the Islamic World.  We will be talking about the symbols of Islam, the difference between Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi branches, studying the construction of the  mosque and hopefully visit a mosque, make rice and date pudding and Seviyan,  and talk about the wonderful scholars of the Muslim world and the arts of calligraphy, Islamic geometry, paper making, the pointed arch in architecture, the wheel/the crank/the rod – lots of projects here! And we will end with the biography of the Father of optics, Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, and the pinhole camera.  I also have plans for a writing assignment here, and to read the book, “Mosque,” as a read aloud.  I also have several biographies of Mohammed ready to read and look through.

Week Five will include a look back at Charlemagne with some primary source readings , the Vikings and the impact on the British Isles (did you see one of the most recent National Geographic issues had Vikings on the front cover?  I just got a copy of it; it proves to be interesting reading!), William the Conqueror, Eleanor of Aquitaine,  Richard the Lionheart,  and Saladin.  I have a little game ready about the life events of Eleanor of Aquitaine that I found on the Waldorf Inspirations website – have you all seen that?

Week Six will continue with the Crusades, and end with the Magna Charta.  We will also look at the Maya in Mesoamerica and since we just returned from a whirlwind Central American trip, we have some experiential things already in place for this endeavor.

Things happening in other parts of the world during this time period which includes the great kingdoms in Western Africa (my personal favorite), and feudal Japan. I have plans written out for all of these areas, but we will see what we can get to before the end of the school year.  Whatever we do not get to, I will probably start there as our first block of seventh grade.  Look, some seventh grade planning done already!  LOL.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Extending Latin America Through The Curriculum

After my post about extending Africa throughout the curriculum, a long-time reader 🙂 wrote in and said she would appreciate suggestions for including Latin America throughout the curriculum.  I agree that this is needed, and in a way this comment was wonderful timing as we just returned from visiting Mexico, the Mayan ruins at Lamanai in Belize, and from snorkeling in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.  Latin America is on my mind!

I think as Americans working within the Waldorf tradition of education, (whether North, Central, or South Americans), we should and must consider what contributed to the consciousness of the American soul in our own homeschooling. Although it is not as well spoken about, the basis of Waldorf Education does actually consider this.  While the Egyptian Epoch is seen as the platform for Western Civilization,  David Mitchell, in an essay in the free ebook,  “Riddle of America,” wrote about how the legends of Mesoamerica, particularly the Legend of  Huitzilopochtli,  and those found in the temples of Mexico in particular were congruent to those found in the Egyptian Mystery Centers.

And, of course, the point of Waldorf Education, is to work with where you are in the world, and with the cultural heritage of your family or your classroom.  This is important and being done in Waldorf Schools around the world.  So, without further ado, this is how I see the Latin American influence unfolding in the American Waldorf homeschooling curriculum:

In kindergarten and first grade, I use Latin American fairy tales.  I like the Bear Prince from Mexico (“El Principe Oso”). Juan Bobo, the trickster from Puetro Rico, I think could be used in first grade as lighter and funnier stories or in the second grade stories as he is quite a trickster.  Other stories that come to mind for the trickster part of second grade include Ananzi the Spider, originally from West Africa, but extremely popular in the Caribbean Islands.  There are stories about the fox and the guinea pig from South America, and  the tiger and the rabbit tales from Puerto Rico.  There are also many nature stories that could be used throughout first and second grade. This, in many ways, is an easy part of the curriculum to infuse. Festivals, cooking, and music can round out these grades in a lovely way.

In third grade, I really have enjoyed the approach of how man lived on the land through the stories of the First Peoples, and I think the Olmecs and Mayans should be included here.  One could also include the mound-building practices of the indigenous people of the Amazon River. What I normally do is refer to the First Peoples by geographic area, the way the Christopherus Third Grade curriculum does.  This makes sense to me in the consciousness of the child, but you may feel differently.  At any rate, what I think should be included here is shelters, food sources, clothing, and save the societal structures for fifth grade.    If one talks about time in second or third grade, I often see such books as “Thirteen Moons on A Turtle’s Back,” referenced by homeschoolers for block studies on time, but one could also include the Mayan calendar as part of this. In third grade, some Waldorf homeschoolers include more creation stories as part of their curriculum, so I was thinking that the Popul Vuh could be included here.

In fourth grade, one could choose animals from Latin America as representatives for the different categories of animals, and choose a favored animal found in Latin America as a subject for a report.  I think the fractions block could be done around something such as preparing for a festival, in practical form and Main Lesson book form.  Fourth grade is the year for the Norse Myths, and I think stories from the Popul Vuh might fit in nicely here.

For fifth grade, I would include a block on the Olmecs, Toltecs, Maya, and Nazca civilizations. The Olmecs certainly need to be covered, as they are a river valley civilization just like the civilizations that sprung up around the Indus, Nile,  and Yellow Rivers. ( If there is not time to include the Toltecs, Maya and Nazca, I would put at least several days of the Nazca in with the Roman Empire in sixth grade as the Nazca also used aqueducts, and focus on the Olmecs and Maya).  There are many beautiful artistic ventures that could be explored just from these two civilizations, the Olmecs and the Maya in fifth grade.   Fifth grade botany typically focuses on the vegetation in the student’s world and beyond into the different types of plants, but one could also talk about the ethnobotanical practices of the Maya that are still used today as related to the palm trees and other types of trees.  The British military even learns about some of these plants when they go to Belize to do jungle training; the give and take tree comes to mind.    I would consider purchasing Master Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson’s block unit guide on “Chocolate Math” as this talks a lot about the use of cacoa and how chocolate is made and would fit in nicely with Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica.  It would also be nice to include a tie-in to Mayan mathematics much the way some homeschoolers focus on or at least touch upon Vedic math in fifth grade.

In sixth grade, some schools do Latin American geography as a block at this time.  I tend to do that in seventh grade.  In sixth grade, there could be a focus on naked eye astronomy, with a return to astronomy with lenses in seventh grade, so I would bring the Maya back in sixth grade to talk about Mayan Astronomy.  I would try to include the Incan Empire at the end of sixth grade if possible, as this fits in chronologically and in consciousness with the Medieval time period often covered in sixth grade, or begin seventh grade with this if you run out of time.

In Seventh Grade, I normally do a Latin American geography block and spend time on the Aztecs (and review the Inca and Maya).  Then,of course, during the block on Exploration, the sad effects of the Europeans on these civilizations must be discussed.  However, I think it is also important to say that Mayan people are alive today.  For example, in Belize where I just visited, the Mayan population is about 11 percent of the total population.  Incan people are still in South America today.   This is important for children to understand.

In Eighth grade, I like to do a World Geography course that counts for high school credit, so that would be another place to look at Latin America and perhaps pick up more modern streams of thought about this region in current events, more modern history from World War II onward. It usually takes us all of  eighth and ninth grade to get through American history because we literally start at the Paleo-Indian Era and work up, but there are many points to include Latin America in both of these subjects. A Revolutions block in eighth or ninth grade should include Simon Bolivar and all the Latin American revolutions.   Tenth grade typically includes a block of Ancient Civilizations, and I intend to focus again on the river civilization of the Olmecs and the Maya as well.

Lastly, if one is studying Spanish as a language, there will also be many more cultural opportunities for exploration through the grades as the language is learned.  As homeschoolers, many of us are on a tight budget, but if you can save up money and travel to Central or South America, I would highly recommend it. There is nothing like standing in front of a Mayan temple that was built 1500 years BCE to bring all of this to life.  Homeschooling is about using the ordinary minutes of every day, and there are some homeschoolers who embrace roadschooling and worldschooling as their medium, but wouldn’t it be nice if more of us had the opportunity to see culture and history come to life?

I hope this helps provide ideas for how to extend Latin America  throughout the curriculum. I  think in Waldorf homeschooling, we must always consider our cultural heritage and what streams make up the Americas as a vital part of the educational process.

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

Block Rotations For Tenth, Seventh, and Second Grade

So I have gone through a good deal of thinking recently about these grades. I have been writing things down (and scratching things out), and have come up with a yearly plan, a weekly plan, and a daily plan for my first time through tenth grade, my second time through seventh grade, and my third time through second grade.

To help clarify the roles of yearly, weekly, and daily plans, I think of the possibilities in the following ways. The yearly plan is our start and end dates, vacation dates, any field trips I know about.  It is figuring out how many weeks we will run total.  It is festivals and religious observances and seasonal fun.

The weekly plan includes things like how many days I week I will teach, how many days will we be outside the home (unfortunately, with a high schooler, more than I would like).  I think about things like how many times a week do I need to teach X high school subject that runs all year and is not in a block, or does my seventh grader need extra help in an area outside of block scheduling?

The daily plan includes things such as how to get everyone’s school in, what can we all do together as a family or what can I do to combine my seventh and tenth grader, what can I do for self-care and my own health each and every day, how will the house and meals be handled.

The block rotations are specific to Waldorf homeschooling and how I prefer to teach and how my children prefer to learn. So, the block plan rotation for each of these grades looks  like this so far:

Second Grade:

  • August – Nature Tales for form drawing and to review the alphabet and all letter sounds
  • September – Math through Trickster Tales
  • October – Fables
  • November – Math and American Tall Tales
  • December – Stories of Light
  • January – Math
  • February – Chinese Fairy Tales
  • March – Math
  • April – Native American Tales
  • May- Gardening and Herbs, more Native American Tales

Seventh Grade – We will be doing practice math daily and in blocks; we will be doing extra writing twice a week combined with our tenth grader, and we will be folding the physiology block into some of the things for health our tenth grader is doing weekly. Also, I am planning a once a week “together” block with some of the areas that overlap between seventh and tenth grades:  Africa, Oceanography, Navigation, Mechanics, Exploration and World Geography, Latin America, Colonial America, Poetry.

For blocks, I am thinking (totally subject to change!)

  • August/September – The Renaissance, The Reformation, and Perspective Drawing
  • October- Math
  • November – Africa – geography, people, animals (may work in poetry writing haikus about animals as well)
  • December – Physics and Math
  • January – Latin America
  • February- Exploration (with a focus on writing with a Wish, Wonder, Suprise theme.  We will also be doing this in our two day a week writing throughout the year).
  • March – Math
  • April – Colonial History – Biographies
  • May- Astronomy and Magnetism
  • I am thinking of skipping chemistry and combining seventh and eighth grade chemistry into one block in eighth grade but we shall see!

 

Tenth Grade – Classes that will run all year will include geometry, United States Government, Environmental Science, Health, and possibly Spanish 3.  English will run in blocks and twice a week during non-writing blocks.  United States Government will run in much the same way – in blocks but also in weekly classes when we are not on that subject as a block.

Block Rotation will include: (also totally subject to change!)

  • August – United States Government
  • September – Embryology
  • October- United States Government
  • November  and December- Ancient Civilizations with Ancient Literature
  • January – Hands On Trigonometry, Triangulation
  • February – Contemporary African-American Literature (6 weeks)
  • March/April – United States Government
  • April/May – Poetry

We shall see how it all works out!  It promises to be a busy year.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Extending Africa Through The Curriculum

If we are Waldorf homeschooling within the Americas, I feel the streams of the Native American culture and African culture must be represented as foundational and carried through all grades of the Waldorf curriculum.  I wrote a brief post about multiculturalism in the Waldorf Curriculum before, and highlighted the wonderful Waldorf Teacher resource book Hear The Voice of the Griot!  by Betty Staley that will carry you throughout all the grades, including high school.

For the early grades, the thrust, should of course, be stories and activities.  First Grade can include African fairy tales; Second Grade can include Aesop’s fables and all the African folk tales and trickster tales, including Ananzi the Spider and the stories that Joel Chandler Harris wrote down as the B’rer Rabbit stories.  In Third Grade, I like doing a another block of African tales and also in our focus of how people lived on the land and built shelters, I like to include that Geechee culture that is here in the Sea Islands of my state (you can see this link for more information).  In talking about the farmer and crops and such, I also talk about indigo and cotton.  This could be included in a fibers/textile block or the farming block or both.

In fourth grade, I like to have a block of Bantu and San tales along with the Norse Myths.  This is mentioned by Betty Staley as fitting nicely here. In fifth grade, I  spend a good amount of time studying the Nubians, who came from what is now present-day Sudan.  We talk about the Kingdoms of Kush and Meroe along with Egypt, and the connections between all of these kingdoms.  I like to point out that at that point, the Sahara Desert was semi-arid to downright lush around the southern Sudanese Sahara and that Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt.  The Ancient Egyptians wanted to control the wealth of the Nubian kingdom, and after the decline of the Egyptian dynasties, the Meroe kingdom became the center of power and increased links and trade to Sub-Saharan Africa.  We also spend time talking about trade routes across the Sahara, and return to this theme in sixth grade mineralogy when we talk even more about salt and its importance in trade.  The Kingdom of Askum would be great to cover in Fifth grade since it is also an ancient civilization, but I find I rarely have time and often it has to go into sixth grade.

In sixth grade, we cover more about Northern Africa in regards to the Roman Empire; and then I like to do an whole block on Africa beginning with the Kingdom of Askum , which I rarely get to cover completely in Fifth grade, and move into Medieval Western African kingdoms. I also do a mini-block in Islam – not just how this fits into the Crusades, but the religion of Islam and how many of the African kings were Muslim and how Islam spread throughout the African continent.  We cover Timbuktu and the importance of the Niger River; Ghana, Songhai and Mali, salt and copper mining;  and then I like to talk about Swahili-speaking peoples. We often, in Waldorf Education, say that Latin phrases should be brought in during this grade.  I feel Swahili could also be brought in as well.  The Swahili-speaking peoples were extending trade across the Indian Ocean.

In Seventh grade, I pick up with Africa beginning with  whatever I didn’t get done in sixth grade, and move into an entire block on the geography and peoples of Africa.  Last time I did seventh grade, this was probably my longest block of the entire school year!  We really get into it and paint and draw and cook and make things and learn songs.  If anyone is interested, I am happy to post an outline of this block in the comments. In our Explorations block, we also talk about African explorers – the connections with Meso-America, the explorations by Africans into the Indian Ocean, Ibn Battuta.  We talk about the deadly impact of the European explorers in both our Africa block and our Exploration block and start to tackle the very hard and real subject of enslaved, kidnapped people brought here to the United States.   This sets us up well for the Colonial America block I usually do as the very last block of Seventh grade.  We also talk about the biographies through sixth, seventh, and eighth grade of black scientists.

Eighth grade and ninth grade brings us to an entire curriculum of United States history where we study the times of Lewis and Clark onward to the very present day in eight grade, and in ninth grade I go back to the pre-European beginnings of the Americas in order to make a full American history course that hopefully brings the stream of Africa into the consciousness of the high school student and how we look at American history.  We talk a lot about enslaved people in our country, but also the settlements of free black people, the role of black people in the Revolutionary  War and the and Civil War.   I also devote a good amount of time to the struggle for Civil Rights in our country, the peacemakers in our country in this movement, and also the struggle for freedom in South Africa.  We also focus on Africa in world geography, including ideas about renewable enery in Africa,and the economy of the continent of Africa.  In literature in eighth and ninth grade, we look at both African-American literature in prose and poetry, usually through authors more well known in high school literature classes – Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, the play The Raisin In The Sun, and various poems, along with “Black Like Me,” by John Griffin.

Next year, in tenth grade, we will be doing an entire unit on  contemporary African-American literature, which will cover truly contemporary literature (not the Harlem Renaissance!).  We will be studying U.S. Government and will be looking at the issue of white privilege, the prison system, inequality and poverty and more.  We will be reading “Just Mercy,” by Brian Stevenson, and the book, “Between The World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Eleventh and Twelfth grade ideas will unfold next year.

I hope this post brings you some ideas for bringing in Africa throughout your homeschooling years.

Many blessings,
Carrie