Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Change in Homeschool History Study Plans

I recently shared thoughts after seeing the three hour interview with Joy Hakim on CSPAN's IN-Depth BookTV show. Hakim discussed her series of books for US History and her three books on the history of science (first , second, third).

Since the show I've been trying to figure out how I can incorporate the Hakim history books NOW rather than put them off until later. I also am more than half way through watching the interview for a second time. I love listening to author lectures while I'm sitting and knitting.

My husband has not been directly involved in our homeschool studies except for the stock market simulation class and competition that he coached three years ago. He also attended some of the homeschool astronomy courses this last fall.

My husband reads a fair amount of books on topics of world history, mainly about the Middle East, and reads more about U.S. History, especially the Founding Fathers. He has enjoyed learning about Lewis and Clark and then has read more than a fair share about some of the more recent presidents whom he respects. It dawned on me that to somehow get my husband more involved in my son's history studies. Listening to Joy Hakim make a plea that when studying American history we should focus on ideas not memorization of dates or other boring stuff it hit me.

I discussed it with my husband and the plan is set. Our whole family is going to read this book series, now. I'm going to see if I can get the CD audio of this from the library so my husband can listen while commuting home from work. I probably will have my kids read the book to themselves and I'll read it also. (I want them to see the graphics in the book so am thinking of avoiding the audiobook for them.) I will assign chapters and we'll discuss things either over dinner or at night after dinner.

Yesterday I began reading the first volume of The History of US. I recall Hakim saying the books get progressively more difficult to read, longer and more complex as the series progresses as it is meant to grow with the child. She said the books are targeted to middle school readers. Speaking for the first few chapters I can say this is fast reading, not lengthy at all, but is already full of ideas to discuss.

Hakim has received criticism for some ideas in the book. I can already see why. The book is not blindly patriotic. She does not refuse to discuss complex or negative things in order to promote nationalism. She is clear in these chapters about thinking that the United States is the greatest nation in the world. I'm interested to see how the book unfolds and how negative things can be discussed without bashing America, without throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.

Other History Studies

At present we are using The Story of the World volume three (SOTW). We are at about the year 1700. My sons are also reading independently, other books, more exciting nonfiction books and biographies to flesh out the content of the time period being covered in SOTW3. This is especially important for my seventh grader as SOTW3 was intended to be used for a third or fourth grade student.

We will continue to use SOTW3 and the living books as supplemental readings. (This includes all of world history, it is not just US History.) In addition we'll use the Hakim books. I don't know how many chapters we can realistically do per week in the Hakim books or if it makes sense to assign and discuss two chapters at a time. I'm trying to be realistic so we'll just have to see how this works out after trying it in real life.

I'm excited about the idea of having nightly discussions about American history with the entire family.

Other Notes

On the BookTV show Hakim stated volume 10 was recently revised and will be released in February 2010. It brings history up to date including the war with Afghanistan. I don't own that one yet and will definately wait for the new edition to be released before purchasing it.

Hakim discussed on the show, how US history used to be taught to students using the narrative format. I can't recall if she said this about science but I know that is true as well. I note that a number of homeschoolers (including our family) have used narrative style nonfiction books and have found them effective and enjoyable. The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling advocates the use of these stories. Some homeschoolers still use the hundred year old former school texts as the source material for their home schools.

Hakim mentioned the author Charles Coffin as one author using the narrative style. Some of his books are still in reprint, such as The Story of Liberty. They are long and suitable for high schoolers or adults. Some homeschoolers seek out his other, out of print books in used bookshops.

Books Mentioned in this Post


dstb said...


I like this idea, especially getting your husband involved so that you can all take part in the conversation. I'm going to give it a try, too.

We do have the whole set of Hakim books and we have read the first two as part of our studies the last two years as a read aloud. I think getting an audio version would make things easier. I've noticed some of the libraries have it as a download, so I will have to figure out how to access that.

We also have the first of the Hakim science books, but have not read it. Something to work into the plans.

Thanks for the idea.

Judy Aron said...

I used Hakim's books - they were ok.. but I prefer to use original documents too. Some good stuff - try to get your hands on World Books Annals of America. I think it's out of print now - but great stuff if you can get it on EBay.