Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Coming Together

I was able to sit down over the weekend and come up with a pretty decent Grade 4 year.  I'm never quite sure where to place us grade-wise (not in terms of skills, but in terms of the story curriculum), but grade 4 seems to work.  T-Guy would have started grade 4 last fall if he was in school.  J-Baby would be in grade 4 next fall. Inevitably we end up starting our new grade somewhere between January and April, despite the many times I've tried to have us start in the fall.

We are returning to a more rhythmic approach to focused learning after more than a year of what ended up being pretty much radical unschooling.  Looking at the blog I can see several places where I wrote of trying to get back into rhythm, only it never really clicked for us.  I'd like to interpret that as accepting our true nature as unschoolers, but as I mentioned, I can sense the discord and disconnection in the boys and I know they need more rhythm, plus they really want to do focused work.

My goal is to find a balance for us between focused work and unschooling exploration.  I love the Waldorf/Enki block cycle for the wonderful rhythmic container it gives to the weeks and months.

I've settled on a 3 - 4 weeks on, 1 week off format.  Basically we'll take the last week of every month off, which gives us a nice break and allows time for more in-depth projects and planning (or heck, even just relaxation).

The blocks aren't set in stone, as I'm still waiting to see how Enki fits into all of this.  But for now they look like this:

Block 1: Mathematics.  ML: Review the Four Processes.  SL: Planting the Spring Garden.  P: Handwriting.
Block 2: Zoology.  ML: The Human Being and the Animal World.  SL: Modeling (2 weeks), Drawing (2 weeks).  P: Mathematics, Handwriting.
Block 3: Language Arts.  ML: Grammar (Parts of Speech).  SL: Planting the Summer Garden.  P: Mathematics, Handwriting.
Block 4: Mathematics.  ML: Math Magic.  SL: Weaving (chosen because we'll be working with patterns in our ML). P: Grammar, Handwriting.
Block 5: Humanities.  ML: Norse Mythology.  SL: Painting (2 weeks), Sewing (2 weeks).  P: Mathematics, Handwriting.
Block 6: Local History and Geography.  ML: Native Americans of Southern California.  SL: Crafting a Native American Garment.  P: Mathematics, Handwriting.
Block 7: Mathematics.  ML: Fractions.  SL: Quilting.  P: Grammar, Handwriting.
Block 8: Humanities.  ML: Norse Mythology.  SL: Painting.  P: Mathematics, Handwriting.
Block 9: Language Arts.  ML: Grammar (Tenses).  SL: Planting the Fall Garden (with an opportunity to view our entire garden in terms of past, present, future).  P: Mathematics, Handwriting.
Block 10: Mathematics.  ML: Measurement.  SL: Cursive Writing.  P: Grammar.

In addition we will have a spelling lesson and history lesson weekly.  The boys have expressed a desire to learn to spell and I'm finding it easiest to work with a stand alone program that is slightly behind where they are so that they are in fact discovering what they already know rather than struggling.  We all enjoy history and I've decided against putting it into the block format as it is something we often study together as a family.  This year we'll be working our way through the first two books in the A History of Us series.  At some point we'll bring in the third volume of The Story of the World. We aren't approaching history the way classical education does, with an emphasis on names and dates.  Instead, we look for common themes and experiences, and see history as a great story.

We have our nature co-op, which addresses many of our science needs for the year, and the boys participate in sports. Fine Arts instruction happens throughout the year in both the main and secondary lessons, and T-Guy is starting guitar lessons.  That only leaves health as a required subject in California, and we believe that is an excellent subject to be approached by life learning.

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