As I’ve explained, Sammy and I haven’t started history yet. Before we do, I wanted her to have a better sense of place and time. Little did I realize that it would only take a few weeks for her to come up-to-speed on these concepts!
I wish I could take the time to write about all the different things we’ve done to help Sammy with her concepts of time. Mostly it is just marking days off on two different calendars, a couple of timelines, and an excellent “sun clock” that I got from Falling Apple. (I also plan to use their astronomy books and materials when we are ready. The sun clock is part of an astronomy activity kit that will be available this fall–I was lucky enough to get an early version. I’ll try to remember to link to it when it is available since I don’t have time to explain it here.)
Most of this is the same stuff we’d been doing with Sam for a couple of years. But the little bit of extra work in school helped, especially since Sam was simply ripe for this development. Of course, her sense of time will continue to develop for a long time. There is no substitute for experience, after all! But I think she has enough clarity on the difference between “yesterday” and “last week” and “before you were born” (not that she truly understands that yet, but at least she knows it is different) that we can begin talking about history.
As for place, she is also ripe. I didn’t have to do anything more than point out places on a map, really. She loves her Montessori puzzle of the United States and she has memorized the names of all the states using the song Fifty Nifty. Her grandparents are full-time RVers, so they are always moving from state to state, and sending Sam postcards. My mom tries to find postcards with the shape of the state on them, and Sam absolutely loves all of this. When her dad goes on a trip, she wants to see it on the map. She pays attention when we drive around in the car (but she has always done that). And I bought this awesome little book, Me on the Map, which she read out loud to me a dozen times. We made a map of her bedroom, and I hope we’ll make a map of the house and the neighborhood soon. But even before we do that, I am comfortable that when I talk about a place in history, if I show it to her on a map, she will have some sense of it being a “place,” and that as her databanks grow, she’ll have some tools to put all this together. That’s really all she needs to begin.
And now I have to think about history! We might start History At Our House next year, but I haven’t decided yet, and she’s not ready for that yet. I might do the Montessori “big picture” overviews. I know a lot of Objectivists say that it is anti-hierarchical, but I disagree. I think it’s okay to start with a broad overview to inspire and stoke interest. In fact, that might be exactly the right kind of “preview” for the upcoming year, before we start a more concrete and chronological approach.
It’s exciting to think how much progress we’ve made in just six weeks of homeschool. I thought we’d have to buckle down in the fall, but the way we’re going, we should still be able to take a lot of days off for field trips or travel or whatever else strikes our fancy.