Hard Questions

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It’s hard to teach about war to a not-yet-seven year old. My kids are military brats. Both of their Dads served in the military, and they’ve had to endure too much time of Dad being gone, on deployments, TDYs, training….

The military is familiar to them in that regard. Uniforms, tanks, weapons… all of those things are “cool” to my kid. He knows that soldiers “fight”. What he doesn’t realty know or understand is the horror of war. He knows that people die in battles. He knows about people being wounded.

But does he understand the sheer number of causalities, in just this one battle? Does he understand that these were not “just” soldiers, but brothers, and sons, and fathers?  Does he know that the ground we stood on is the final resting place for many men who could not be recovered, and this was not just an old battle field, but a massive grave? Does he understand that many of the tombstones say “known unto God” because they could not be identified; and because of this, many families waited and hoped and prayed for years that a son would come home?

He doesn’t know. He doesn’t understand.

He walks through the trenches full of curiosity. He remarks, “oh, cool!” when he sees the dugout, and wants to explore the entire remaining trench system. He doesn’t know if the young man who stood there before him trembled with fear, because he is trembling with excitement.

The question then, is what can I teach him? What makes visiting these sacred places valuable to a child of six? And not just any child, but the child of a service member- a child who needs to not understand the reality of war for as long as I can protect him?

When we walked on a battlefield, I explained to my children that this was a sacred place. A place we needed to be respectful of. I explained as gently as possible that this is a place where a terrible battle happened, and many soldiers died here. In the trenches, I encouraged Bug to look around him and really see the trenches.

Where would the soldiers sleep?


Can a soldier stand up tall here? What could happen if they did?

Look at the mud on your boots? Aren’t you glad we wore good boots today? What if a soldier didn’t have good boots?

Over time, Bug started asking the questions-

Why are those big holes in the ground?

Isn’t it hard to live in there with all that water?

It’s so dark in there. Were they scared?


Why did they have to fight?


Some questions just don’t have a good answer.

Photographs from WWI battlefield remains and memorials- Hill 60, Hill 62, Yorkshire Trench, Sanctuary Wood- Ypres Salient, Belgium

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  1. (I had a history teacher do this) a way to help anyone understand the sheer enormity of casualties: about 7,000 grains of rice are in one cup. spread a flat sheet out on the floor and pour the equivalent amount of rice onto the sheet. This is an eye opening visual to comprehend how many people die in war. Here’s a link for WWII statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties. So for US military casualties in WWII, you’d have 59.5 cups of rice dumped onto your sheet, basically a 25 lb bag of white rice.

    and if you’re curious about who I am/how I got here, I was googling sample lesson plans for Logic of English. I really appreciate you posting yours!!!

    1. That is a good idea- thanks!

      For LOE- I hope they help! To be totally honest, I ditched them. In the end, what worked for me was deciding what sections I wanted to cover at this age (we do exploring sounds, the phonograms, and the spelling list… sometimes the vocab section depending on its contents). We don’t use the workbook, only the whiteboard, and I only require the spelling words to be read fluently. I do not require mastery of the spelling of those words. For example, we do these things as laid out in the program, repeating the sections as needed (sometimes exploring sounds takes a few days), but instead of giving a spelling test at the end of the week, I have the words written on index cards, and he needs to be able to read all of them. We’re able to do about a lesson a week this way. Sometimes it takes a little longer because some sections are longer than others.

      Next year, I’ll repeat the program again, using the workbook, and focusing on spelling. We’ll do all sections then. (maybe not grammar, I am toying with doing the program a THIRD year in a row, using the advanced list from the website and the grammar portion- reviewing the other sections as needed. I figure the spelling rules being repeated will help, not hurt).

      By then, I am hoping for an advanced curriculum from LOE!

      1. we’ve been using LOE for almost a year and haven’t gotten very far (in the book, what we’ve covered my child knows rather well). I’ve just felt stuck in planning lessons and what to cover each day. I can’t seem to wrap my brain around planning. And this was just what I needed to get my brain into gear. I doubt I’ll follow it exactly, but I needed the template. and thanks for the reply, your additional ideas are also very helpful!

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