Many of you are homeschooling your kiddos or supporting your schools effort to educate your kids while they are sheltered at home. Some moms have mentioned they are interested in continuing to teach their children at home even after the quarantine restrictions are lifted. If you are this parent, this interview is for you and for those parents who have been and will continue to homeschool their children.
This is time of year most homeschool moms and dads are looking into and ordering curriculum for 2020-2021 school year. It can be especially tough to find good material for teens and tweens.
Meet my friend, author Cynthia L. Simmons. She’s a mom of 5, now adult children. She homeschooled all her kids and understands the unique challenges that can bring. She also appreciates the desire to utilize and present top notch, attention grabbing (and keeping) material to children entering or residing in the teen years.
Her approach to history is unique. She utilizes her novel, Pursuing Gold, to capture the kids attention while shaping the educational piece with her companion curriculum.
I asked Cynthia 8 questions about the material she has developed for homeschool families.
- Lori: I understand you created a “family friendly curriculum” for homeschoolers. Could you explain what you mean by “family friendly”?
Cynthia: After extensive research on money during the Civil War, I wrote a historical fiction book on a Confederate bank called Pursuing Gold. Since few people have covered this topic, I decided to offer my research to homeschool families. I wrote a curriculum to accompany the book for teens and tweens; Pursuing Gold: History and Critical Thinking Curriculum. Families can read the novel together and do the exercises. Mothers love it. They tell me the questions I include bring up numerous topics for them to discuss around the table. The appendix provides additional information on money management and avoiding debt.
- Lori: Why did you include critical thinking?
Cynthia: Our country has moved away from our Christian heritage and the media promotes beliefs contrary to a Biblical worldview. I believe it’s more important than ever to teach children to think clearly and critically so they won’t be deceived. I include a section on teaching critical thinking as well as including probing questions. Also, a main character in the novel struggles with her faith in hard times, and several characters help her find answers. My husband and I often teach Apologetics ( the branch of theology that is concerned with the defense of Christian doctrines), and I love to include some of those arguments for Christianity in my work because we need to be able to give a reason for our faith.
- Lori: Please give my readers a summary of your Pursuing Gold novel.
Cynthia: Pursuing Gold is an mystery that centers around a bank in my hometown, Chattanooga, Tennessee. In the story, a dishonest person counterfeited money against the bank, which could force the bank to close. The owners must find the culprit before it’s too late. As they search for the offender, they must pursue gold to keep the bank afloat. In the process, they learn to pursue God.
- Lori: Why did you base your novel on historical fact?
Cynthia: The Union targeted Chattanooga because the railroad ran through, giving access to the South. A huge battle took place at Chickamauga, which was a few miles from my home. I grew up climbing on the cannons in the park after picnics and hikes. My dad loved the history of the battle, and I assumed everyone else did too.
- Lori: Why are you interested in the history of money?
Cynthia: I tell people, I married an accountant because I can’t add or subtract. My husband taught me bookkeeping. When I heard counterfeiters were common in the South, my curiosity led me to study further. I was addicted! Now I collect bills and coins to show when I teach on the history of money.
- Lori: When I think of high school history class, I recall feelings of boredom and the drudgery of date memorization. How do you capture a tween’s or teen’s attention when they study history?
Cynthia: Throw out dates! I think it’s a crime to bore kids with history. Instead, study people. Your student will get interested and wonder about the time when the people lived. That stir their curiosity and will lead them all over the place! Use dates to form a timeline rather than making dates the main issue. When I homeschooled, we made history come alive by visiting historic places.
- Lori: How can moms and dads teach youngsters about money?
Cynthia: Little kids can sort coins by sizes and then talk about how they are different or the same. Play store with your kids. Allow them to pick out toys and label them with prices. (You can use real change or play money.) When I did this my my children, I’d be the cashier and check them out. As they got a little older, we reversed the roles so they could be the cashier.
- Lori: Do you happen to have a Bible verse for your novel, Pursuing Gold?
Cynthia: Yes, it’s Psalm 34:8 .
“O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him.”
If you are a homeschool family with teen or tween students, this approach to history sounds fascinating! You can click here to head over to Cynthia’s website and then go to the store and resources tab. You can also find her novel Pursuing Gold and its companion curriculum on Amazon.
Here’s a little more about Cynthia:
A retired nurse and former homeschool mom, Cynthia L Simmons and her husband have five grown children. Cynthia writes both non-fiction and fiction and serves as a columnist for Leading Hearts magazine. Active in her local writing group, she has taught workshops, led writing conferences and currently offers Cynthia Chat videos and a weekly radio show, Heart of the Matter Radio. She’s an AWSA certified writing coach, loves to help new writers, and has a special place in her heart for young moms. She understands the challenges moms face and longs to help. Find her at https://clsimmons.com .
© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.
I am a retired reading specialist/teacher and have used historical fiction to help students grasp the period of history they were studying for years. I have a debut historical fiction novel about to be released by Elk Lake Publishing at the end of July. There will be a teacher’s guide to accompany it. Would you be interested in talking about it? From a Christian world-view, the book, His Gift, tells a story based on a true event at the onset of the Great Depression. There is an uncanny parallel to our students’ experiences of “disruption” to all normal life with Covid-19. Let me know if you’d like to follow up.