Thursday, May 7, 2009

Summer Preparation-Schooling

Yesterday I posted about maintaining the "big rocks of our daily life" during our crazy summer schedule and another element that I am weighing is whether or not to continue with our "schooling."

I really appreciated Nancy Wilson's post Why Give Kids a Vacation Anyway? And I know for older students whose school year is packed with challenging work and projects and sports and enrichment, they need downtime.

But for us, our schooling is much more laid back. Our formal "school time"is a very short. Most of their learning comes while cooking in the kitchen, out on nature walks, working in the garden, reading good books together, playing with our ant farm, and doing montessori-type activities. We have found a wonderful little Kindergarten curriculum that is a delightful mix of Charlotte Mason, Classical Education, Unit Study and even some Montessori-ish activities. Now I know you purists cringe at the suggestion of combining these things but it has worked so well for this age. And it comes with a wonderful Christian focus, all in one laid out curriculum, for $100!!

We also have enjoyed scheduling our school time with the "church year" rather than the "civic year," changing our school focus during advent and lent and partying during Christmas and Easter so I feel we get enough breaks.

We've also noticed that our children thrive when we work their little brains a bit each day. Since the curriculum engages them in real learning, I think, it will tie in nicely with the different destinations we visit. For example, it has fallen that we are in the midst of a farm unit as we are heading out to my in-laws farm. We'll be able to see the animals and machines and barns we've only been able to read about. When we hit our "rock" unit we'll be near the Blue Ridge Mountains in VA and I hope we'll be able to do some hiking near waterfalls and some toddler rock-climbing!

And finally, my daughter is right now really grasping reading concepts and it seems if we stop now, she'll forget it all.

So I know many of you readers homeschool, so what do you think? Am I crazy? What has worked well for you?


Jessica said...

Okay, I really like the idea of structuring your homeschool around the church year rather than the civic year! I hadn't thought of it, but it makes so much sense. I think the freedom of homeschooling hasn't really hit me yet; that OF COURSE I have the freedom to play around not just with subject but with structure. So cool!

Jennifer said...

I agree learning is year round as you teach your kids meaning, morals, and the world God has given us. I like your themes of Rocks and Farm Life, etc. It is so true that values are "caught" rather than just "taught" so they are learning so much by your good example and spending quality time with them. Heard someone say love is spelled "T-I-M-E"! Happy Mother's Day! Keep up the good work! Love, Mom

Christina said...

When we decided to home school, we also planned a more year round schedule for similar reasons. We have trimesters with the biggest breaks around Christmas and Easter for all our celebrations. I knew I would also want a bit of a break in the summer just to prepare and that I wanted the kids to feel there was a change from one year to the next in school. Our third trimester is from May - August and we plan to continue with two main subjects (reading/phonics and Math) These don't require a ton of planning on my part and they are the subjects that build on each other so much. The other things we plan to do, apart from simply being outside more etc. will change. This year we are going to go through an art book b/c Gabriel has loved his art class at co-op. We are also going to go through "The Story of the Orchestra." He loves music and will start piano in the fall. I also have a good list of books we will hopefully read though together. I know we will be doing a lot of other activities, working in the garden, swimming, and simply being outside more. Since Wisconsin winters are so long I am trying to be careful not to plan too much so we can be out and fully enjoy!

Amy said...

Hi Christina! Thanks for your help. I'd love to hear more from you about what you recommend for Kindergarten. Just good to hear from someone who has actually done it!! I can't believe Gabriel is old enough for piano; it makes me want to cry!

Jessica, I'm really looking forward to hearing more about your homeschooling choices. Hope you'll update on your blog when you decide! I really liked Susan Wise Bauer's book and loved For the Sake of the Children by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (Francis and Edith's daughter). It has changed our approach so much.


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