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Early Morning Thoughts, March 25, 2020

Homeschooling for Excellence Via Family Research

Well, the government finally shut down almost every one of its schools for children, and I have to admit that I never thought that day would come – but it’s here! Yippee!! Well, maybe it’s not Yippee for you if you have children at home and you have no idea what to do with them from an educational perspective. And yet, you fully realize that education is important for children, so what do you do to help them? TV is no good. Video games are no good. Hanging out with their friends may not be a good idea either. And the Internet, maybe good, maybe bad. What to do…

So, let’s think about this closed schools education situation for a minute, shall we. For young children, their history and their personal habits begin at home. You know that. It’s true for all of us. Whether good or bad, all of our histories begin or began at home. Kids usually know where they fit in the family. Kids are smarter than we ever give them credit for. And we have no real idea what the government schools teach our children. Maybe it’s only good helpful stuff. Maybe it’s not such good lessons about life in preparation for being an adult. But hey, we’re not all teachers, so what do we do?

And for almost all of us adults, in our own adult daily lives, we live in the here and now, trying to make ends meet, getting food for the family, stealing a few minutes for entertainment or sports, etc. Raising a family is a busy time in life. And all that busyness is what we know about and what we deal with. We deal with it every day.

Interestingly enough, many of us parents try to dedicate some time to future planning, and of course this planning is often hit or miss effort since we haven’t lived in the future yet. And sometimes things happen during the day that hit us with a déjà vu mind warping experience. ‘Dad used to say that.’ ‘Mom used that same kind of pan.’ ‘That swing reminds me of my swing when I was young.’ That draws us into the past. And so it goes, from one day to the next.

But now, today, your kids are not in school, and you are either out of work, on leave, or maybe working from home. So, what to do with the kids…

I have an idea.

Let’s let our bright young stars do some investigative work, on their own, in a real-life situation that will help them learn how to do research and learn how to pay attention to, and document, detailed information. Let’s start them learning about your family members. Let’s let the kids create a family tree that shows everyone your family members, whether dead or alive, where and when they were born, what they do in life, etc. Think of it as a history book, because it is.

Once started, I suspect this kind of a project will be self-running and will generate a LOT of questions, questions that children can learn to answer for themselves. And, once they learn how to do a bit of research, and learn how to keep track of details, they will likely become students for life. And that’s a great personal style to have in the modern world.

But how do you get started in doing family research? Great question, and fortunately, I can help answer that question. I have a free book on family research, available online, that should tell you (the parent) everything you need to know, and if your children are old enough, they can read and learn the same material that you learn. This can become a family project.

A bit of background on me and on why I am suggesting this project. I do a lot of family research, and because of that, I found that I was being asked the same questions over and over again by others. So, I wrote a book entitled “The ABCs of Family Research” to help answer the questions I was being asked. I wrote the book as an introductory book with the idea that it would help people understand what was involved in the research, how to do the research, what resources are available to help in the research, etc. Then I brought my old website ( out of retirement and uploaded the ABCs book in PDF format for website visitors to access, read online, or download to their own computers. No charge for this book – it’s free. Here is a link to the book.

ABCs of Family Research, 2018

After I wrote the book, I went online and reviewed a few other family history books that were already being sold. I have to admit that I attacked the family research subject from a slightly different angle than others have done. My view of history and family research is a bit non-standard, maybe because I want the readers to learn and to do the actual research. I am not some arrogant college professor – I actually try to write clearly and in an easy to read manner. So, in many ways, ths is a teaching tool. It’s a beginner’s course in how to perform document and Internet research, and can be useful in adult work, whether technical, scientific, legal, etc. There is no exam for this work. It’s just ‘do your best’ and become smarter about life as it was and as it is.

So, to get started, go to Highlander and read the ABCs book. Download it if you want, it’s pretty quick on the download. I’d tell you more right now, but it’s all written in the book, and I have no way of knowing what your first questions will be unless, or until, you ask me, which you are free to do. I’ll help where I can. May success attend your efforts.

Best regards,

John Sutherland

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