Literature Based Education – Flexible Lesson Plans


What do the Santa Fe Trail, railroads, and the Irish Potato Famine have in common?  You wouldn’t think they had anything in common but this is the path our history studies took one morning and a perfect example of why I don’t make detailed lesson plans.

We are extremely blessed to live in a state with very little homeschool regulation.  That being said, even the most strict of homeschool laws can be met with a Literature Based Education.  You may need to supplement in order to met obscure and nit-picky regulations, but for the most part, studying the classics is very effective.

Our history studies are fairly simple: read history in chronological order.  We don’t follow the standard schedule of studying the eras one year at a time (Ancient, Middle Ages, New World, etc) and we don’t entirely separate American History from World History (though we do a little bit).  There is just far too much interesting and important history to try and cram it all in to a specific period of time.  Couple that with the fact that things going on in one part of the world can have huge ramifications elsewhere means that studying history in the traditionally segmented way will create gaps in context and understanding.

Over the last year we have covered the American Revolution and the Founding of the United States, the French Revolution, the War of 1812, Napoleon, the Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican Revolution, Lewis and Clark, and the beginnings of the westward expansion. It might not seem like much (less than 50 years worth of history) but we mix our history in with civics and other social studies.  When we studied the Founding we dedicated several weeks to studying a our system of government, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  You may remember that we also had an election a few months ago and as such we taught a lot about the different issues that we are facing, the difference between the candidates, and how the election process works.

In his book Increase in Learning, David A. Bednar said “the Holy Ghost makes the best calculus teacher”.  What do history, science, theology, math, art, ethics, technology, and all other subjects have to do with one another?  When all is said and done there is only one subject and that subject is Truth.  The Spirit makes the best teacher because the Spirit can testify to you what is true.

Not having our lesson plans set in stone aid give us the freedom to study wherever the Spirit takes us.

What does this have to do with a literature based education?  When you are using the classics as your guide you will find that reading one book will lead you to others.  I have found that my very favorite learning experiences (for myself and my children) come from allowing ourselves to be spontaneous and impulsive with our learning.  We have often heard that education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.  Light that fire!  Give yourself permission to put your carefully orchestrated lesson plan in a drawer for a week and see what happens.  Don’t let the joy of discovery be snuffed out of you by a schedule that you or anyone else sets.  Allow yourself to be caught up in the whirlwind romance of the classics!  You will never regret it.

We began our studies with the Santa Fe Trail and followed the path alighted for us by the Spirit of God.  Doing this allowed us to spend hours enjoying the process of learning.  With with the inspiration that came from one history lesson we covered US history, science (botany aka phytophthora infestans infecting the potatoes and human physiology aka how the body reacts when you don’t have enough nutrients even if you eat enough calories), world history, sociology, government, and economics.  I could not have done that if I were trying to adhere to a strict lesson plan.  By following the Spirit we were able to turn what would have likely been a boring and short lesson to a magical day.

4 thoughts on “Literature Based Education – Flexible Lesson Plans

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  1. I agree wholeheartedly. I’m curious to know which Classics you are referring to? I agree with the idea of being able to spend as much time on one topic as you want or need to. I really do wish I had known about home schooling way back in those days that I had little ones. It sure would have been interesting.


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