Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Agendas, Plans, and What Becomes of Them
This weeks asignment was to write about your curriculum plans and your curriculum choices. We use a kind of eclectic approach to some things during the school year. I tend to mix "traditional" textbooks with unit studies along the way - either made by myself or from other fellow homeschoolers.
You can read my post here titled "The Best Laid Plans" http://houseofmanyblessings.blogspot.com/2008/08/best-laid-plans.html and that will give you some indication as to what I think about planning, the follow through on those plans, and what happens when "life" gets in the way.
Now for some of the what and why?
We have been using for 3 years now Tapestry of Grace for our basic foundation in history. This curriculumn covers all ages K-Mom. I have to add mom because that is how they advertise their program which is good because many of us moms, myself included, need some real guidance in teaching sometimes. I chose this program because of two things first it was oriented to the classical model of learning and then because I could teach all five of my children the same thing but at their own learning level. I do tweek it a bit because they provide you with so much to choose from that you really can't use it all unless you only have 1-2 children. We use this program to cover our history, literature readings and writing assignments. I really do love this program but at the high school level, where I just ventured into with my first 9th grader, is quite heavy in reading and in scope. Thankfully I have a husband who is an avid reader, who loves classic literature, and can keep up with some of it for me.
For some of the simplier things we use Rod and Staff for English, Spelling Power, Teaching Textbooks for math grade 5, Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1. The younger two are still in Saxons. Then we throw in a few workbooks to cover phonics and handwriting.
My older two are using Apologia Biology this year. I struggled for several years on what to use for my younger three for science when I finally found the Christian Kids Explore series. This year we are focusing on Earth and Space. I like this program to because it is so user friendly. You can use it as a way to cover topics or you can have your student memorize lots of facts. I use it as a guide, a tool to plan what to cover and how to lay it out in their notebooks.
Every year I always want to incorporate the study of great art and great music but I would fall short and my plans, well you know. So this year I bought the Young Scholars Guide to Composers. You can cover this in one year but I think I will take two so we can really enjoy the works of Vilvaldi, Bach, Handel to name a few. In regards to exposure to great artists I am doing my own thing and have scheduled artists throughout the year for two weeks at a time. I will be incorporting books on the artist, notebooking pages from http://www.notebookingpages.com/ and some drawing and/or painting. We will talk about the dates with each artist, maybe do a small timeline, talk about their style or technique, try to jot down a few details about each artists life, and then study their paintings. We will talk about what we like and what we don't like, the colors, the mood the painting reflects; then we will try to re-create our own version of that artist's work.
Here are a few additions to the general framework of our school year - artistic pursuits art curriculum and from Harmony Fine Arts my oldest will be following her plan for music appreciation and art appreciation. We will follow her plan loosely but similar to the above paragraph with the exception that she will be reading more and doing some research so she can write an essay on each artist and composer plus a short opinion piece.
My youngest is Micah and is almost 6 years old. I found last year that he is much more of a hands on learning but I myself didn't learn that til about the end of the year. I stumbled upon this website http://www.homeschoolshare.com/ which uses lapbooks as a learning tool. So for my son we are also doing some of those. The funny thing about this is he was having so much fun that two of his sisters wanted to also work on lapbooks. Those two are working through the templates using the American Girl series which really wasn't part of the original "plan."
As far as plans and agendas, well yesterday I forgot all about the English lesson and spelling words for my 3rd grader, Annaliese, because she was having so much fun working on her lapbook. So that might give you a clue as to what really happens with my plans.
I think I've learned over the years to relax more, have fun, not worry about grades so much but about real learning. My kids tell me all kinds of things that they learned that I personally did not cover with them. So much of learning comes from exposure to many different things. I hope from being homeschooled that they will develop a love of learning for a lifetime not just to fulfill graduation requirements.
You requested a Bible verse - Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
I chose that verse because we can only accomplish so much in our children's educational goals with the time we are given whether that is through textbooks or unit studies or some where in between. We have to rest in the assurance that if we truly feel led by God to homeschool that he will take care of the rest. For some, homeschooling isn't just about academics but more about training our children in their faith and in instilling them with Christian values.