First graders and fifth graders and tenth graders — oh my!
This photograph of students attending the Franklin School in the early twentieth century is always fun to show to visitors at the VHS—children are amused by the funny clothes the students are wearing, and they’re often upset that these unfortunate kids have to eat their lunches at their desks. Show this image to a classroom teacher, though, and the first thing they’ll notice are the different ages of the students. This poor instructor has to figure out how to keep both fourteen-year-olds and eight-year-olds on task as the same time!
In fact, many parents are tackling the very same challenge as the teacher in this photograph—figuring out how to engage multiple children at different learning levels while delivering essential educational lessons. There are currently more than 30,000 Virginia school-aged children participating in homeschool education, up from about 18,000 a decade ago. Reasons for this shift toward parent-led education are numerous, but it’s obvious that homeschool education is likely to continue to grow in years to come.
Just like traditional educators seek extracurricular activities to help supplement their classroom instruction, homeschool parents across the commonwealth are also eager to find supplementary programs that spark students’ interest in learning. That’s why we’ve decided to offer four free Homeschool Days at the VHS this fall.
On the first Friday of the month from September through December, we’ll be hosting hour-long, educator-led presentations of our Hands-On History Boxes. Our History Boxes have always been handy in engaging groups of children of different ages. It’s fun to watch older children help their younger siblings explore historical topics, and I love to see how a five-year-old’s enthusiasm for a set of deer antlers or a wooden canteen can infect even the most stubborn teenager. Another benefit to our Homeschool Days is that they provide a forum for children to socialize with other students their age—two ten-year-olds from different homeschooling families can bond over a shared interest in Pocahontas or Virginian pioneers.
We hope you’ll join us for these exciting adventures in Virginia history. In September and November we’ll travel 400 years into the past to learn about Pocahontas and
the Powhatan Nation. In October and December we’ll journey into the great unknown during our Virginia and the Westward Movement program. Each presentation begins at 11:00 a.m., requires no advance registration, and is absolutely free.
Even if you can’t make it to one of our assigned Homeschool Days, there’s still tons of fun for homeschool families at the VHS—any program listed on the society’s website can be customized to fit homeschooled children’s individual needs and are offered free of charge thanks to the Youth Education Fund. Here’s hoping we see you at the VHS this fall!
Caroline Legros is the School Program Coordinator at the Virginia Historical Society.