October school, get ready for Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving

Written Oct 2009 for Christian County Headliner News, MO

This year I have two high schoolers and one 2nd grader. My other three kids are too young for formal schooling, but learn extensively everyday as they listen to the older ones. Now that my older ones are in high school, I don’t feel like I have as much liberty to take time off for unit studies that don’t include their normal math, science, history, and grammar textbooks. Still, I am looking forward to taking the month of November to learn about Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. We’ll spend the month of December making presents, we’re not buying any this year, and studying the true meaning of Christmas. But, back to November. I plan on really studying the different wars and finding ways to honor our veterans for Veteran’s Day. War can be such a difficult subject to teach, but an extremely necessary one. My husband and I served in the Navy during Desert Storm. Our uncles and grandfathers served in previous wars. I encourage you to take a couple of weeks and make a family history of who served in the military in your family. When and where did they serve? What branch of the military were they in? Call them and tell them thank you for their service and ask them if your child can interview them. Record the conversation, with their permission of course, and then type up a family history of the interviews. Take those stories and give them as Christmas presents to the family. Send any loved ones that served a card or present on Veteran’s day. There is usually a great ceremony held right in the Ozark square that is wonderful to attend. There are a few parades in the area. Bring signs that say “We love our veterans!” Go to the Veteran’s Home in Mt. Vernon. Just sit and talk with these courageous men and women. It will change not only your life, but the lives of your children. Maybe you could find a family that the parent is overseas serving in the military. Do something nice for the spouse and children. We must be careful to not forget the cost of our freedoms and make sure our children know.

Thanksgiving is on the way. It is great to incorporate the history of it into our schooling. I know we need to keep on track with our textbooks with the older kids, but we also need to remember we are teaching children not textbooks. It is important to finish the books, but not at the cost of their education. You might say , “Hugh? That doesn’t make sense!” Oh, but it does. We can get so distracted with the book that we forget the heart of our history; the devotion, love, strength of character these pilgrims had. It is very hard to get that from a book. I think it is great fun to have my kids focus on what they are thankful for. The Pilgrims were thankful for life, food, the Indians, God, friends, and their new home. We always do activities that the Pilgrims might have done like archery, hunting, foraging, cooking their food, knife and tomahawk throwing, and being thankful. We usually write lists and essays about what we are thankful for and why. At the dinner, we go around the table and say what we are thankful for. Yes, I love the food. I usually wear something with a stretchy waistband when we eat Thanksgiving dinner, but we need to remember and teach the truth of what Thanksgiving is, a time to be thankful with one L, not just full!