Wednesday, August 25, 2010

knee-deep in planning

(The boys enjoying constructing bits of stories into fairy tales -- "Crazy Fables" from Didax.)

It seems like just yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that we all felt very "done" with our school year. Suddenly, we all are seeming very "done" with summer. So I've had to kick the fall planning into high gear around here lately so that we're ready to start up again full-guns come the day after Labor Day. I'll break our fall plans down bit by bit for those of you who, like me, enjoy that sort of thing. For those of you who don't, skip to the bottom of this post for a peak at my personal fall project!

Our school year is going to go something like this: We'll be doing 3 cultural blocks between now and Zoo Boy's 8th birthday based on the 2nd Grade Enki Education curriculum -- African American/Harriet Tubman; British Isles/John Muir; and Native American (Apache)/Stalking Wolf. After The Boy turns 8, we'll move into the 3rd Grade Enki format, spending the rest of the year working within the context of Haudenoshaunee (Iroquois) culture. Our language arts, math, science, art, and music/movement work will all occur within the context of these cultures.

(J uses our Collie, Joy, to move the sheep between pastures.)

Since natural science is such a normal part of our everyday existence, I don't really plan on doing much formally with that. We'll still have our daily morning walks, and I'm planning on fitting in a true nature walk once a week as well. We'll also, no doubt, spend much of our free time with friends enjoying the outdoors, nature centers, and museums, as we have in past year. Perhaps we'll even throw in a program or class here or there, although J told me that he feels like he knows so much about nature and animals now that he doesn't learn much when he takes those classes, and Zoo Boy agreed. So I'll probably leave it up to them as to which programs they feels like they could benefit from.

(Zoo Boy works with the Therapeutic Listening Program while J and he play a game of MadLibs.)

Both boys are going to continue with Occupational Therapy/Sensory Integration Therapy for the coming school year. Both are working with the Therapeutic Listening Program, which I will write more about in a future post, and the OTs are going to help us work on their eating issues.

We're also establishing a Family Dinner Time -- this is going to sound dopey to most folks, but we've really not been able to eat meals together, not only due to schedules (I'm usually working at dinner time), but because the kids have had trouble sticking with us through meals of foods they do not eat. Both have made enough progress, however, that it's completely reasonable to expect them to try all of the foods that The Map Man and I are eating for dinner. So making sure that we sit down to a meal together several times a week is going to be a must.

They are also going to select, shop for, and prepare one meal a week for the family to eat together. They are both stressed and excited about that. I think they are ready to add the important life skill of planning and cooking a meal, and I'm hoping that being involved in providing the meal will motivate them further to give new foods a reasonable chance.

(The boys attended a "touch tank" program at the town library recently.)

J is asking for some hard physical science classes, but I'm having trouble finding that for him. Instead, we'll renew our membership at the very expensive but also very worthwhile CT Science Center and plan on spending a couple days a month there. With the proper timing, we've always had luck at finding museum educators (real live working scientists) available for impromptu programs and demonstrations so that the boys get a closer look at the equipment and work being done at the museum. If I manage to pull enough energy together, I may try to arrange for some classes there for homeschoolers as well if somebody else doesn't do it first. We've also got the Springfield Science Museum as a back-up plan, and we're definitely planning to take a longer trip to the Boston Science Museum as well.

(Buzz, buzz, a model of a mosquito out of K'nex building toys, built by Zoo Boy.)

Our curriculum will continue to be rich in art -- drawing and painting will occur on a weekly basis here at home. In addition, we're looking into pottery classes (since sculpting is one area I feel that I've been a bit negligent with ), and the kids will again participate in a class about building/sculpting with Keva blocks.

Performing arts wise, J has turned down an opportunity to get more involved with theater in favor of expanding on his dancing. He'll be taking two dance classes at his new, specialized dance school (which concentrates on Ballet) -- Ballet and Modern. In addition, he'll be taking a class in Jazz and another class in Tap with the school he had dance camp with this summer. And he'll be involved in a production of The Nutcracker with the specialized school, so there will be weekly rehearsals for that as well. He also plans on singing with the Youth Chorus he's been with for the past two years, although one of the performance dates conflicts with The Nutcracker -- we're holding our breaths and hoping that timing, etc, works out that he can participate in both shows, but we won't know that until the end of September. And he's still asking for guitar lessons, which I'm trying to find a way to arrange (and pay for).

(The boys have been having fun setting up various scenes and scenarios with their Playmobil castle sets to surprise each other with.)

I've been particularly careful this year not to over-schedule activities (although it might not see like it from the above!). Last spring we spent too much time driving from place to place, and didn't have much time just to hang out here at home. I think I've fixed that with our new schedule. We're going to be busy with school work each morning for 4 hours during the week (Mondays will be classes with the Homeschool group, Tuesday through Friday will be here). Then after lunch and rest, there will be a good sized chunk of time with nothing regular schedules, which can be used for hanging out here playing, getting together with friends, or visiting museum and nature centers, etc. Tuesdays we have OT for an hour mid-afternoon, and Thursdays it's Spanish class (again an hour). And there's dance Monday, Thursday, and Friday evenings. But still plenty of time to be a little "loose" and unscheduled each day.

(J plays Monopoly with some stuffed friends.)

All in all, I think it's going to be an exciting year! We're wrapping up our summer with a reading of the book Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha, by Jonathan Landaw and Janet Brooke, which the boys are very much enjoying. They are also completing a Geometry and Measurement workbook that they've worked on this summer. All should wrap up by next week, when The Map Man will have the week off so that we can do some fun family activities to launch us into the new year!

Oh, and here's my fall project. This is April. She's an 8 year old Akbash Dog that I adopted from a local town pound. She was surrendered there when her owners sold their cattle farm and they couldn't find a home for her. She's not a pet, she's a working Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). I will write more about LGDs in general and April in particular as my project progresses, but for right now I'll just say that she's arriving here this evening, and my first order of business will be to try to gain her trust and convince her that sheep and poultry are as important to guard as cows are. I expect my initial work with her to take about 6 to 8 weeks, at which point she'll hopefully turn out to be a fabulously useful addition to our farm!


Sunshine Alternative Mama said...

I loved reading all of it, Shelley! I think I enjoy planning just as much as I enjoy teaching. Congratulations on your new "project" ~ she's a beauty!

Stacey said...

Your fall sounds like great fun. I hear you about figuring out how not to overschedule. I'm struggling with that myself right now. It's good to have so many opportunities, but those opportunities present challenges too...