Homeschooling the American Revolution, So Far

As I wrote earlier, I set up a summer school for Neil after being so disappointed with his fourth grade education. One of the subjects we’re covering is the American Revolution. So far, via a book I borrowed from the library, we’ve covered history from the Boston Massacre and the Intolerable Acts through Concord and Lexington, the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first Continental assemblies, and the Brits sailing off from Boston to Nova Scotia. As Peter and I know, this is just the happy rabble-rousing revelry before the Brits come back and the horror really begins. But I’m learning a lot: more than I remember learning in school, and Neil’s an eager student.

The rest of the family has gotten into it, too. Kelly chose a children’s book on Boston, which explained American history (in a Boston-centric way) on her level. It’s so cute to ask her: “Was King George the III a good guy or a bad guy?” She’ll firmly state “a BAD guy.” And then, when asked why, she’ll say “because he wanted all our money!”

At the dinner table, we were snickering about the horrible uniforms and the mistreatment of the British army regulars, and Peter pointed out that it was the British military discipline that made them so formidable, especially when it came to using inaccurate muskets. Peter added some comments on how rifles were a huge technological advantage in weaponry, and we just learned about the rifle-toting frontiermen who joined George Washington’s army and who would become our sharpshooters.

I’m even planning to get strangers involved in this. At some point (as part of my lesson on writing to one’s audience), Neil is going to have to write a (pretend) letter to King George III. I know there’s a different protocol for writing to royalty, but when I looked up the proper salutation, I snickered at how high-falutin’ and obsequious it was. That’s what I get for coming from a country where King, Queen, and Princess are dogs’ names. But there’s always a lot of geeky Brits milling around at the San Diego Comic-Con, and they’ve probably been trained on proper etiquette towards royals. One of them can tell Neil how to write such a letter, and he can do it with a straight face better than I can. Who knows, with today’s kinder, gentler royalty, maybe you can just write “Dear Queen” these days.

So we’re having a good time with history, so far.

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