This is the month we celebrate love, watch for a groundhog's shadow, and place more focus on black history. All great things to occupy the short but dreary winter month of February. But in our homeschool, I don't like to limit the study of black history to one month of the year. It really is simple to incorporate black history (or the study of Native Americans, those of Asian descent, or any other race for that matter) into your normal homeschool routine. As a woman of Irish ethnicity, I find it important to openly and honestly discuss the good, bad, and ugly of my family history ~ even if some of the details aren't all that flattering to the Irish as a whole. And as an Irish woman who has studied the life of her people during the dark days of Queen Victoria's rule, I have found my heart to be very tender toward those who have struggled to find their place in this world, not matter their race.
Whenever we study history, or read literature with a "real life" setting (in other words, not when we read a book about life on Mars!) I try to incorporate some focus on the people groups involved. It's actually pretty easy, and hardly takes much extra work for me. I just plan ahead and request some library books on the topic. And if I didn't plan ahead, well, then I use Google, and encyclopedia, or find a resource somewhere on my overflowing homeschool bookshelves!
For example, if you are reading about the Lewis & Clark expedition, take time to read up on France. Why did Napoleon want to sell all that land? And why did America want to buy it? What were the trade routes commonly used via New Orleans? And what kind of people lived there? This will lead you to an understanding of the Creole people from that area, and will probably open the door to more discussion about topics such as slavery, French-American-British alliances, the lifestyle of riverboat traders in the 1800's, and perhaps even a pre-study of some of the famous men who later died at the Alamo! Then there is the study of Native Americans - which is an enormously broad topic that does not get enough attention, in my opinion.
Studying about the Second World War? Include some facts about the Tuskegee airmen and the Buffalo Soldiers. Reading the Little House books during family read aloud time? Try and find out who settled in the Dakotas, and why (here's a hint: a lot of Irish settled there after fleeing Ireland and perhaps fleeing the gangs and troubles of New York City!). Mom, are you reading Upton Sinclair's classic The Jungle? Why not discuss some of it's subject matter with your children and do some family research on life in the meat packing industry of Chicago, and the Polish people who settled there.
One day when I am with the Lord, I am going to worship before His throne with those from every tongue and tribe and nation. Since it's a part of my forever, I think I ought to spend some of my homeschooling energies on it.
Day 259 done :)
Jan L. Burt