Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Education (Schoolhouse Crew Review)


Several times over the past year, I've heard about the book A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille. I haven't yet found the time to read the book, but I'm intrigued by their unique look at leadership education. I have visited the Thomas Jefferson Education website and have been challenged by their daily Inspire emails. (You can sign up for their daily inspiration from the classics for free.)

PhotobucketAccording to TJEd, "Whatever you want to learn, whatever there is to teach, it starts with history." "This Week in History" is an invaluable resource for bringing history into your home in meaningful ways. It breathes new life into your studies.

Each week, I receive a summary email that outlines a historical event for each day in the following week. For instance, on August 7, 1782, George Washington created the Order of the Purple Heart. On July 20, 1969, the first man walked on the moon. For today, August 14th, we talked about Max Klein, the inventor of "paint by number" projects. We also noted that today is Tim Tebow's 25th birthday.

For each historical event, my "This Week in History" email gives me at least a dozen corresponding activities. For the study of the lunar landing, there was a link to a video interview with Walter Cronkite talking about what it was like to be on air during this historic event. In addition to coverage of the historic landing, my resources also pointed me to basic science questions about the moon and our solar system.

I've found that the learning activities over the course of each week touch on a wide variety of subjects --  science, geography, music, cultural literacy (TV and film stars), literature, technology, and more. I particularly like the way "This Week in History" helps fill in the cultural literacy gaps I've sometimes noticed in my children's education. Every once in a while, I come across some fact or some important person that I'm not sure Addison and Brennan have learned about. For instance, I know they have heard about the first lunar landing and could probably quote Neil Armstrong's famous words. I'm not sure that they know the phrase "the Eagle has landed" originated that day.

The beauty of these emails is not just having the historical events linked to a particular day. These emails are in a user-friendly format perfect for a busy homeschool family. Today, I easily clicked on a link to print a color by number page for Lauren. Last week, I was able to show my children good pictures of cable cars and the streets of San Francisco simply by opening my email.

The "This Week in History" information is available to subscribers either through a weekly email or through online access. I personally like getting the emails delivered straight to my inbox. Often, I pull out my iPod after lunch and find the day's event so we can discuss it. When we talked about Tim Tebow today, Brennan knew he was famous for sports and that he was homeschooled. Addison added that he was known for taking a stand for Christianity. "He's kind of like the Gabby Douglas of football, if football were an Olympic sport." A few minutes later, she corrected herself, "Although Tim Tebow came first, so you might say that Gabby Douglas is the Tim Tebow of gymnastics." Conversations like this one make this homeschooling mom smile. I'm proud when my children make connections between school activities and real life.

A subscription to "This Week in History" costs $9.99 per month and can be purchased at A Thomas Jefferson Education using paypal. They also offer books, audio books, and other materials designed to help homeschoolers give their students a truly great education.

Disclaimer: I received a year of online access to This Week in History as a member of the 2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


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