What to Stream in Your Homeschool This February (You Know, If You Want)

I thought it would be fun to round up some of the relevant-to-homeschool-life shows and movies that are available for streaming this month. My definition of relevant-to-homeschool is pretty much anything that I would be excited to watch with my own kids, so your mileage may vary and I would love to know what you’re looking forward to in your family’s queue! (I've tried to flag R-rated or otherwise questionable programs, but every family is different, and it's always a good idea to vet something before you show it to your particular kids.)


The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

If you watch one documentary series for Black History Month, this is the one I’d choose: In six intelligent, detailed, wrenching episodes, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., traces the history of African Americans from the earliest days of slavery to the modern day.

Complementary reading: A Kid's Guide to African American History

I Am Not Your Negro
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

This emotionally charged documentary focuses on the book James Baldwin didn’t write and connects the historical civil rights movement to the growing Black Lives Matter movement. It’s fierce, intense, and powerful, and it will probably make you fall in love with James Baldwin and break your heart a little.

Complementary reading: The Fire Next Time

Akeelah and the Bee
Streaming on: Hulu

Honestly, I can’t believe we haven’t watched this one yet. It’s a movie about a spelling bee! It pretty much had me at “h-e-l-l-o.”

Complementary listening: The soundtrack for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Ella Enchanted
Streaming on: Netflix

This Cinderella-story-with-a-twist feels more substantial in its print version, but the movie is fun for a family movie night. I think we’ll watch it one of those Fridays when we order pizza and don’t want to get off the couch.

Complementary reading: Ella Enchanted, natch

National Parks Adventure
Streaming on: Netflix

If you’ve ever wanted to watch a glorious cinematic backdrop of our national parks, here’s your chance: This IMAX film explores some of the best know parks in the United States and celebrates the history of the National Park Service and “America’s greatest idea.” Since we’ve been making the most of our free 4th grade park pass this year, I think it will be fun to add a few more parks to our road trip list.

Complementary reading: Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 59 National Parks

Love and Friendship
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Yes, thank you, we will watch a Jane Austen adaptation, especially one featuring a villainous Kate Beckinsale as a widow on the hunt for financial and social security. 

Complementary reading: Lady Susan

What We Do in the Shadows
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Not everyone will want to watch a vampire mockumentary with her teenage daughter, but since my particular daughter likes nothing better than making fun of my obsession with Buffy, I’m hoping we can get a lot of laughs out of this film, which follows the adventures of four vampire flat mates. (Most of the laughs come from the fact that they all got vamped a different times, so they see things like, say, sneaking into nightclubs, from very different perspectives.) It's rated R, FYI, for violence and "adult situations."

Complementary reading: Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe)

Streaming on: Hulu

I have loved this movie since the first time I saw it, and I am so excited to watch it with my now-16-year-old daughter. Amelie’s childhood loneliness makes her a particularly observant young adult, and over the course of the film, she slowly moves from watching other people’s lives to working to change them for the better. It’s a candy-tinted movie full of whimsy and charm — definitely on my Top 20 list. It's rated R for a couple of sex scenes.

Complementary reading: Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions

West Side Story
Streaming on: HBO

It’s the Sharks versus the Jets while Tony and Maria fall in love in a Technicolor New York City. This musical take on Romeo and Juliet keeps the feuds and vengeance (never a good combination) but adds racism and identity to its themes, plus a jaunty soundtrack and delightfully acrobatic dancing. Romeo and Juliet was our Shakespeare for the fall, so it should be really fun to watch this movie together.

Complementary reading: Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure

The Cutting Edge
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

I’m always going to pretend that the Winter Olympics makes this ice skating movie essential family viewing. (I’m also going to cry at the end of their routine every single time I watch it.)

Complementary reading: Skating Shoes

The Trader
Streaming on: Netflix (but not until 2/9)

I’m really excited about this Georgian documentary — I’m trying to engage my kids with more cultural anthropology, and this film, which follows a woman who collects old clothes and home goods to trade for food at a community market seems like a great point of entry. (Plus it’s only 22 minutes, so I’m hoping it will leave them wanting more.)

Complementary reading: Saturday Sancocho

Mozart in the Jungle
Streaming on: Amazon Prime (new season starts 2/16)

The fourth season starts on February 16. Even if you’re not a classical music fan, it’s easy to get hooked on this series about the players in NYC’s classical music scene.

Complementary reading: The Composer Is Dead

Streaming on: Netflix (but not until 2/21)

Daniel Day Lewis is a surprisingly convincing Abraham Lincoln in this biopic, which spends a lot of effort to get the details right, down to General Grant’s reddish-brown whiskers and Lincoln’s White House mantel decorations. It gets a bit bogged down in talk and cumbersome detailed (largely historical but a few invented), but as biopics go, it’s pretty good. I meant to watch it when we were covering the Civil War last year, but since we didn’t get to it, I am glad to get to watch it for Lincoln’s birthday month.

Complementary reading: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln