I love learning about different ideas, methods, and philosophies of educating my kids.
One goal that remains at the center of my own educational mission for our homeschool is inspiring my kids to be independent learners. I really want them to be interested and excited enough about learning to forge on ahead of any structured guidelines and/or time limits.
I’ve found through the years that the things they really know and take to heart are the things that they learned from their own initiative.
I’d heard about Thomas Jefferson Education, but until now had not taken the opportunity to learn more about it.
As I looked at their website, I found their philosophy explained in this way:
The 7 Keys to Great Teaching:
1. Classics, not textbooks
2. Mentors, not professors
3. Inspire, not require
4. Structure Time, not content
5. Simplicity, not complexity
6. Quality, not conformity
7. You, not them
I plan to purchase A Thomas Jefferson Education in ebook form to read for myself.
But in the meantime, our Crew was blessed with a full year’s subscription to TJE’s online program This Week in History at TJed.org !
This Week in History was designed for kids ages 6 or 7 on up and parents/teachers to have daily resources available in multiple subject areas: math, science, language arts, art, geography, current events, etc. all based around the history of the day/date- both past and present.
TWIH is provided as a weekly online bundle that you can view by logging into the TWIH blog feed on the TJed website as well as it being emailed to you.
Each day is dedicated to a specific topic, subject, or idea sometimes with additional things that happened in history on that day. Some of the things included might be pictures, links, hands-on projects, art ideas, writing prompts, discussion questions, historical facts, biographies, other important things that happened on this date, lots of teacher resource links and helps, recipes, maps, ideas for field trips, and on and on and on.You can pretty much guarantee a full spectrum of activities that cover all your subjects.
The easiest way to get a good idea of how this thing works is to take a peek at a sample week.
For just $9.99 per week you can have inspirational learning at your fingertips!
This Week in History at Gunn Ranch Academy
I found the concept and the idea of a plethora of random topics and activities for every day of the week interesting, yet somehow inviting. When I first looked at a whole week of daily interest topics I was amazed at the variety of resources. I really enjoyed receiving the weekly emails in my inbox that I could plunk into a folder to pull up anytime so I didn’t have to constantly be logging in at the website. It’s kind of exciting to discover a brand new week of inspiration!
As I looked through the weekly activities, I did have a question as to how to fit it into our schedule. I would have loved to have this in earlier years when my girls were younger and I had more time to search for more things to do. Or for days when they were working independently and had finished up assignments and needed more to do.
My schedule right now with only three together-days per week and two independent days per week doesn’t allow for a whole lot of “randomness.” That’s not to say that my 12 and 15 year olds don’t get to follow their inspired paths, but they pretty much know where they are going with their inspiration time at this point. Their days are pretty full and I can’t really see this being of much use for them at this point, except to help find something for their younger brother to do.
Which brings me to my 6 year old. He is a different story. I can totally see this being a big help this year with him. There were many days last year that I pulled my hair out trying to find something he was interested in to stimulate his learning. With him being only kindergarten age last year, I was not real uptight or worried about academics; I was mostly focused on his attitude towards learning. This new year, being his first grade year, will need some new inspiration. I’m excited to challenge him with some TWIH projects because the way the website is set up I know I can just sit down with him and let him look through it with me and pick the things that interest him. Clicking on exciting new adventures, great ideas for hands-on projects, and random subject material might just be the ticket this year for learning being his idea.
A few of the things I personally like about TWIH:
~the days that cover a US State’s history as it entered our union. The resources are great- maps, state birds, photos, famous people, coloring pages, links to historical events, word searches, crosswords, interesting facts, etc. A great way to have geography and US history at your fingertips!
~I love how the birthdate of a person who was a poet has her biography, samples of her poetry, history of poetry, links to articles on kids and poetry, a download for a vintage kids poetry book, an activity on analyzing a poem that includes a punctuation lesson, several more poems with beautiful pictures including discussion questions, and finally a write a poem section. All this on one day!
~many, many hands-on craft activities, from making a handkerchief doll to making mobiles, pinhole cameras, ice cream in a bag, building a Leaning Tower of Pisa, experiments with magnets, trying your hand at Morse Code, and even how to do a cartwheel.
~I love how important events both past (landing on the moon!) and present (meteor shower!) are included and then elaborated upon.
~and another birthdate, this time of a world renowned violinist takes use through a whole lesson on music appreciation, other famous violinists with links to hear the music, to how to make a violin, through a tour of Carnegie Hall.
~links for audio, visual, hands-on, and all other types of learners.
~tons of coloring pages, crosswords, word searches, maps, drawing pages, writing activities, games, you-name-it, it’s all there!
~ and the end of this week in history? Silly Putty!
The more I look back through this, the more I’m thinking this will probably end up playing a big significant part of Levi’s first grade year. It’ll be the “First Grade Year of Inspiration”, made possible by This Week in History. 🙂 Sounds good to me!
I’m sure I’ll be posting updates throughout our schoolyear of all the cool things we’re learning and I’ll try to reference TWIH as I do, so stay tuned!
All in all, I recommend that you check out TWIH for yourself. It might be just what you’re looking for to add inspiration to your homeschool year!
Check out my Crew Mates’ adventures with This Week in History over at the Crew Blog!!
*Disclaimer~ I received a year subscription to TWIH for review purposes as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. No other compensation was received and opinions are my own.