Thursday, 17 May 2012
Things are ticking along nicely at the "Raising Little Shoot's" Home School...
I have been considering how we will progress in the next 'school' year & it will be very much a continuation of what we are doing right now. I have just finished my annual report for our Local Education Authority (did I mention that I now work for them?!?!) and I thought I would share here... I have explored many different styles of education over the years, but I am always called back to the beautiful, gentle style of Charlotte Mason.
I am not a purist by any stretch of the imagination, employing ideas from Classical educators & even Steiner, but it is Miss Mason that wins my heart : ) I find her ideas inspiring & refreshing for our day to day whole - life needs.
Key ideas that I employ - Discipline I hope to instil good habits within my girls such as working hard, honesty, manners & so forth. I find that a regular rhythm with our schoolwork helps with the ‘working hard’ part - they know what is expected of them & this (usually !) keeps complaints about settling down to work at bay. They have daily & weekly chores for which they are responsible. Keeping up with these & doing them well is cause for a celebration - we have a fortnightly ‘ice-cream party’ as a reward for jobs well done!
Free Time I work our schedules to allow plenty of free time - as much as possible to be spent outdoors (weather permitting) Our academic work is done in the mornings when we are all fresh & rested. Afternoons are for further reading / handcrafts / baking / playing etc.
Wonderful Books I use textbooks occasionally as a ‘spine’ for our studies, but much prefer what Miss Mason referred to as ‘Living Books’ - quality books that were written by people who loved their subject matter and brought their subject alive through action and character development.
Narration The art of ‘telling back’. When I read to the girls, I require them to tell me about what I have read on many occasions. Elianna is a master at this, Rosie is just getting to grips with it.
Short lessons We don’t do ‘busy work’. I don’t expect the girls to complete reams of worksheets etc. Everything we do has a point. I do require the girls to focus & give me their best for short periods of time. This does not exclude getting deeply into projects, stories, games etc.
Our Days - Mornings for us are when we focus on our studies. We have a timetable that I try to follow most days. Mon-Thurs are usually as follows - We start our days with Bible Reading. We do this as we eat breakfast & the girls narrate what we have read. Once chores are over & we start 'School time'- we begin with memory work - Bible passages, poems, phonics, math facts (currently Elianna is working on her times tables, Rosie addition & subtraction facts. Sometimes historical or geographical facts. We also have a ‘word for the day’ I chose a word from the dictionary & we have fun using it throughout the day.
Latin Elianna has just begun a very gentle study of Latin. I shall see how this goes. I am hoping it with give us a greater understanding of our own language & help with other languages in the future. We are using ‘Getting Started With Latin’ by William E. Linney
The girls have spellings to learn each week, which they spell out orally & also write out as practice. I make the lists myself, either using the particular phonics rule we are looking at that week, something they are having difficulty with, or choose a high frequency word.
I read aloud to the girls each day from a chapter book, as does their dad. Current read alouds are Sea-bird by C.Holling Holling, Well really, Mr Twiddle by Enid Blyton & The Goblet of Fire from the Harry Potter series.
Elianna & I work on grammar daily. So far we have looked at sentences, punctuation, nouns & verbs. I have just ordered a formal grammar curriculum - Ridgewood Grammar Book 1. I have also ordered a fun looking pop-up book called ‘The Great Grammar Book’ by Kate Petty
Elianna has begun to work on various writing projects. We have been looking at the elements of stories (Genres, settings, characters & so forth)Currently she is writing her own sequel to ‘The Billy Goats Gruff’ She has an idea for her story & has developed her characters. She hit a problem with the ‘climax’ of the story. We are reading several traditional renderings of other fairy tales & looking at the plots to see how they handle plot development. (A lot of trickery & deceit!) This is one of the beautiful aspects of home education! Working on a project like this - no rush, really digging deep into a topic of interest.
Daily the girls practice their handwriting. Much to Rosie’s chagrin - this is her least favourite thing to do! Both girls write in cursive for copy work - I taught Elianna print first when she was younger & then she progressed to cursive. With Rosie I chose to begin straight away on cursive, one of the main reasons being that she is left handed & I hoped this would make life easier for her, preventing letter reversal. Most of the copy work we do is letters to the girls pen friends, or letters to family members. They also copy the poems we memorise.
Each child reads to me daily & also has some ‘quiet reading’ time were they read by themselves.
Maths I began the school year using Kumon workbooks, internet print outs & various books for maths. We now mainly use www.khanacademy.org for the girls daily maths lessons. This is a great website, with super tuition for a math-phobe like myself! The girls love to do their work on the computer & I love that they are working at a level that suits them & stretches them, allowing them to master topics before moving on, with plenty of opportunity for us to review.
Afternoons are a time for exploring.
Here is an idea of how things *usually* go (read sometimes, but certainly not always!)
Mondays & Thursdays
we read a wide range of books that lead us deeper into history, geography, science, art history etc— just simply sitting & reading a pile of books. This sparks interest & the girls often follow up with projects, experiments & such. They are also encouraged to explore crafts & we have a full-to-bursting art cupboard at their disposal. They both knit & both have their own spinning wheels.
Tuesdays we have our ‘Poetry Tea’s’ - we set the table & have a tea party complete with Strawberry tea & either home-made cakes or shop bought biscuits. We get out our stack of poetry books & sometimes we work to a theme (such as the weather, animals, season etc) or just pick out at random. We read, eat, drink & chat to our hearts content. Elianna has been attending a place at an Art Class for home educators fortnightly on Tuesday afternoons.
Wednesdays The girls usually visit my parents & go swimming.
Fridays Fridays we break from the routine of the rest of the week. In the morning we have spelling tests & the girls read to me. Then we have our nature study time - getting our doors if possible, or bringing nature indoors to observe & draw. We keep a year-round nature table which the girls display their find of rocks, mosses, flowers etc. The girls each have a nature journal in which they sketch & paint. Friday afternoons we meet with other home educating families or just hang out together & live our life.
This year I hope to continue in the same vein as last year - concentrating on basic skills - the Three R’s, I suppose! Mastery of topics is really important for me & something I am prepared to invest time into.
Elianna has really excelled at her drawing & I hope she will continue to seek to develop her skills. She will certainly be encouraged by her dad & I. She is my dreamy, creative girl & we will encourage her skills in creativity -drawing, stories, painting, crafts etc. Her maths are very solid, though she would say she is not very good at it. To me, I think a more accurate meaning would be “I don’t like this very much!’ When doing a more complicated equation, long division, for example, she occasionally needs me to help her think through the process, so she doesn’t forget part (keeping track of the remainder, for example). This is where mastery comes in - keeping reviewing until the idea is solid but still review often.
This year has been a big one for Rosie! She has joined Elianna for academics in the mornings & has learned to read & do basic maths. (she has gone from saying 1+1=4 - ‘because I want it to’ (!) to competently adding & subtracting ‘simple’ 3 digit sums & beginning multiplication & division. Rosie has a passion for both animals & people - she loves to be outdoors holding toads, insects, caterpillars etc & she really enjoys weekly youth Club. This year our French lessons haven’t worked for us. They just have not been something we have kept up with. It is something I will
considering coming back to.
I look forward to hearing your plans!