Over the last few months we have been pushing to finish our work for the 2015-2016 school year. There are about 5 science lessons to go, and a few odds and ends for the younger kids, while Vegas has a full summer of Algebra and Biology to chip away at. At the beginning of this last year, I planned for working through the summer, and I am so glad I did. The stress of finishing everything by June is gone, and an easier pace has allowed for us to go on several unplanned field trips, and work on household skills that might have been pushed aside otherwise.
The natural product of one year ending, is to think about the next year, and to begin planning for it. Having our struggles and successes fresh in mind as I am looking through potential textbooks is key to choosing wisely for each child. I recently read through For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and was struck by how different our American education system is from how a child’s mind actually learns or processes. I was challenged to change my mentality from a segmented, goal oriented, test based plan to a long-range, whole child, preparing for life, holistic approach.
The book that has been the most successful this year with the younger kids has been Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, by Bernard J. Nebel. Because of it’s popularity within our family, I ordered Nebel’s Elementary Education, Creating a Tapestry of Learning, also by the same author. I was surprised to find his philosophy of learning and teaching to be so close to that of Charlotte Mason, who Susan Macaulay writes about in For the Children’s Sake. It was very satisfying to find two seemingly unrelated books that were in complete agreement.
With these books on my mind, I set about carefully reading through different reviews and samples from textbooks in all subjects. Using the resulting books, I have been putting together a curriculum for the next few years that I hope will serve each child well. The goal being to build a broad structure of thinking, and consequently implementing those subjects into meaningful tools for life. I cannot put it as eloquently as these other authors, but what I can say is, I am excited to be thinking outside of the grade level box.
With that said, next year Vegas will be in 9th grade, Elvis in 4th, Axel in 1st, and Meri in PreK.
Each child has areas of exellence that surpass that ‘grade level’, as well as areas that they are still working through. Rather than feel pressure to meet certain ‘normal’ levels across the board for each one, I am motivated to use those areas in a complimentary fashion, recognizing that each strength and weakness is part of a unique and wonderful person, who is exactly who they are meant to be.
I am hopeful to steer each child in the direction of mastery and passion that is particular to them, not create a ‘jack of all trades, and a master of none.’
Making extra coffee, Shelley
P.S. My next post will be a school supply and book list.