Where We Are Going
I made the decision to use Oak Meadow this fall. We will use the 4th grade syllabus. Per public school guidelines J-Baby would be entering 4th grade this fall, and T-Guy would be starting 5th. According to Waldorf guidelines J-Baby would be starting 3rd or 4th grade, and T-Guy would have been in a grey area where it could have been 4th or 5th grade depending on whether we had chose to start 1st grade at age 6 years 7 months or 7 years 7 months. OM 4 will be a good place to meet in the middle, and we can always add more challenging reading for T-Guy. Even if a family chooses to use a curriculum there is no reason to think they are stuck in the box.
I had been torn between Christopherus 4th grade and Oak Meadow. One deciding factor was that a few friends will also be using Oak Meadow 4 this fall, which gives is the opportunity to work together for projects. We are really excited about this! I am uncertain as to whether we will create a formal co-op or if we will keep it loose, but either way I am sure the children will enjoy working together.
(I was also disappointed with the number of typographical errors in the Christopherus Old Testament Stories booklet. It is more and more common; I think companies need to realize that spell check doesn't replace copy editing.)
I was able to purchase the syllabus and teacher's guide used (in great condition from 2008) and purchased the math book directly from OM during the May 10% off sale. (Update: I purchased a second math book in July to save the hassle of copying pages ~ we're using the books as consumables.) We'll be looking for the readers at used book stores all summer and then I will place an Amazon order to fill in anything we don't find used.
Here is the general outline:
Language Arts: We will expand our study of grammar and the parts of speech. We will introduce writing at a more formal level including sentence and paragraph formation. Journalling will become a daily activity. We will write poetry and short stories. In addition to use OM 4 we might use the Storyboard from Lively Lessons. We'll also do spelling in a more formal manner this year, using the OM lists.
The boys need more handwriting practice ~ we're not even remotely ready to start cursive. After trying several programs I found that a simple penmanship book (ours are from Paper Scissors Stone) works best for us. I now simply show the boys how I write.
Oak Meadow leaves out the Norse mythology that is traditional to the Waldorf grade 4 year; we'll definitely put it back in in terms of reading, possibly replacing one or two of the assigned readers that my boys know inside out and backwards. My boy have been interested in mythology for years and we have explored myths from a variety of cultures.
History/Social Studies: OM 4 covers Native American history, Colonial history and the westward expansion, and state geography. These are all subjects we have begun in the past few months, so I think it will work well for us. We will continue to supplement history; Papa tackles history and science subjects in the evenings and on weekends and many of our family "field trips" fall under these subjects.
Science: OM 4 covers nutrition, cells, and astronomy, plus longitude and latitude. It sounds like a fun year. I'm sure our own science studies will take us all over the place but that always works out well for us when we do cover a subject formally. I definitely see the science topics being a great area to work as a group.
Mathematics: We'll start out with a thorough review and more work in regrouping. Grade 4 math is so much fun ~ fractions! We also work with geometric patterns, rounding and estimating, math games, and more. This sounds a lot like what I did in 4th grade (but I took math with the 6th graders). This will be our first year using a full math program since we did 1st grade; for the past couple of years we've done a lot of real life math, game playing, mental math, and math exploration.
Fine Arts/Music: OM works fine arts right into the curriculum, with drawing, painting, and modeling taking an integral role. This year we work on dimension and perspective in our drawings. Art appreciation is also part of the program. OM teaches recorder; I'm not sure we'll do that. T-Guy will continue learning the guitar and J-Baby has expressed an interest in learning to play the drums. As always, we'll continue to sing.
Physical Education: We're on our own for P.E., but we have never had a problem staying active or learning about various sports. Mountain biking will continue, and we will look for a basketball program if the one at our community center is discontinued. We walk daily and hike once a week. The boys have expressed an interest in strength training and will be learning about calisthenics. They are too young for weights but can learn to use their own body weight in developing strength (push ups, pull ups, etc.). At home we play basketball and baseball and the boys are learning the rules for both.
Health: The state of California requires that we teach health, something I think most parents do whether or not they homeschool. We'll put most of our focus this year into nutrition, tying in with OM 4 science.
I need to find a planner I like; I might wait until the free Lakershore Learning planner is available, although I am itching to plan now (and have it out of the way so I can relax and enjoy summer). I don't need anything fancy, however, and it may work best to incorporate our planning right into our family calendar. I have a familytime.mine planner that only sees light use and I think it might work. I am loving the new button cover available on the 2009-2010 planner.
I put in an art supply order with Dick Blick. We're going to do things a little differently this year, including using loose drawing paper and putting it into binders rather than using main lesson books. (Update: I had 8 unused 9X12 Strathmore Drawing Pads so we are going to use those.) I'm not a Waldorf purist and we have to many half-used main lesson books cluttering up our bookshelves. I just have to admit that I am not the type to bind everything into one year-end book (Enki style), and I hate the clutter of lots of little books. I ordered the huge set of Prismacolor pencils and a lovely set of 48 Lyra Aquacolor crayons.