A Lesson About Struggling Learners from Notgrass History: Sir Winston Churchill

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A Lesson About Struggling Learners from Notgrass History: Sir Winston Churchill - and don't miss the special birthday giveaway!In May 1940 Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces were spreading across Europe. Country after country had either fallen to Germany’s military or buckled under Nazi pressure. The Germans pushed toward the English Channel.

By the end of May, about 400,000 British, French, and Belgian troops were trapped on the French coast along the Channel. The British military was in a race to rescue them before Hitler destroyed them. British leaders feared the worst and believed they might only be able to rescue one in four or maybe even just one in ten.

When the Belgian king surrendered his army to the Nazis on May 27, the situation grew even more dangerous. What happened amazed the free world.

From May 27 to June 4, French, Belgian, Dutch, and Norwegian ships worked alongside the British Royal Navy to rescue the troops from the French port of Dunkirk. Assisting these naval forces were trading ships from the British merchant marine and more personal boats owned and piloted by volunteer British citizens than anyone will ever know.

In the end, the Germans killed, wounded, or captured 68,111 British soldiers. However, the British and their allies rescued 338,226 men, including Belgian and French soldiers.

England had not been invaded since Norman forces under William the Conqueror landed there and defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. If the Nazis had their way, that was all about to change. Though a large British force had been evacuated, they had left behind a massive amount of supplies and equipment, which the Germans confiscated and later used against Allied troops.

This is where our struggling learner enters our story. Sir Winston Churchill had been serving as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for sixteen days when the evacuation of Dunkirk began. He was sixty-five years old and had become one of the most eloquent men in the history of England with an intellect few could match.

Few, if any, who knew Winston Churchill could have imagined this when he was a little boy taught at home by a governess or later at school. His marks were terrible in math, in French, in Latin, and in Greek. In any subject that interested him, he excelled. If it did not interest him, he was considered a miserable failure in the eyes of both his teachers and his parents. His test-taking skills were abysmal. During one crucial exam, he was unable to answer a single question—even the answers he knew.

When parents of students came to school on one special day, the boys were paraded in front of them in the order of their school performance. At the end of the line was Winston Churchill.

Early in his school experience, Churchill became fascinated with the English language. He became an excellent writer and speaker, too, in spite of his lisp. After becoming an officer in the British army and while serving in India, Churchill had long hot days with almost no responsibilities, so he devoured books about things he wanted to know and thought would be important in his future career. He hoped to serve in Parliament like his father before him.

Many in England would have surrendered to Germany as other European nations had done, but not their Prime Minister. On the day the last man was rescued from Dunkirk, Churchill ended his speech to the British House of Commons with these words:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

A boy whom no one believed in finally grew up. He took longer than most boys do, but he grew up in the end. And in World War II, he led the United Kingdom to a victory few could have imagined when he came to power in 1940.


Sir Winston Church, His Son Randolph (Named for Churchill's Father Whom He Idolized), and His Grandson Winston.

Sir Winston Churchill poses with his son Randolph (named for Churchill’s father, whom he idolized), and his grandson Winston. Sir Winston Churchill said, “All babies look like me.” I think he was right. Photograph Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Don’t despair if your child is not at the place that other people–or maybe you yourself–think he should be right now.

God created man in His own image,
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:27

You never know when God will place one of those children in just the right place at just the right time to do something amazing–maybe in a nation, maybe in a village, or maybe in a home. Every single child is made in God’s image, including the ones who call you Mama or Daddy.

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This is a great prize for any homeschool family who needs an amazing History curriculum!   Notgrass History curriculum is designed so that one child can use it independently or multiple children can study it together. They give you flexible tools that you can adjust to the needs and abilities of each student.  Notgrass History combines narrative lessons, primary source documents, historical novels and biographies, and hands-on projects with a Christian worldview that upholds the Bible as God’s word and honors Jesus as Savior of the world.  Enter for a chance to win a $150 Notgrass History gift certificate, which you can use to purchase anything at notgrass.com.
They offer curriculum and resources for elementary, middle school, and high school.  Click Here to Enter!


About the Author

Ray and Charlene NotgrassCharlene Notgrass is a follower of Jesus and a veteran homeschooling mother. She received a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from Middle Tennessee State University, where she met her husband, Ray, in the political science department. After graduating they were married in 1974. Ray and Charlene are lifelong history lovers and began writing homeschool curriculum in 1999. They enjoy classic literature, traveling together, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.

Charlene loves to encourage homeschooling mothers, whether speaking at homeschool conferences, counseling mothers individually, or through her blog, Daily Encouragement for Homeschooling Mothers. Notgrass History publishes curriculum for all ages, including courses about world history, American history, civics, government, and economics.

Check out the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network giveaway from Notgrass History!


A Lesson About Struggling Learners from Notgrass History: Sir Winston Churchill - and don't miss the special birthday giveaway!




  1. Katherine Kastner says

    Charlene. Thank you for the encouragement in this blog.

  2. Thanks, Charlene. It’s always encouraging to hear we can go through adversity and come out strong. Really enjoyed this read.

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