Sunday, September 11, 2011

thought about the coming year

(Above, the boys enjoy an outing with The Map Man yesterday, letterboxing at a nearby state park.)

It's upon us! The 2011/12 school year. The public and private school kids have already gone back, most of them in this state a week later than they were supposed to, due to the Hurricane. For us, we'll begin our official curriculum work on Wednesday, although we already started a few things at the end of last week, and our dance schedule starts on Monday, so we're already easing into things.

I had a few thoughts to share about this year's plans for those that might be interested:

This year we shift into larger cultural units, which will encompass all of our Language Arts, Humanities, Math, History, and Art work, as well as a Scientific emphasis on Ecosystems. We are using the Enki Education 3rd Grade Curriculum Package for much of our content. I do not consider my children "3rd Graders," however. Those of you who read here regularly will already realize that I have a serious case of "Grade-itis" and refuse to pigeon-hole my kids into specific grade levels. For the use of programs that require me to indicate their grade, I'm using 3rd grade for Zoo Boy and 4th grade for J. For talking with kids they meet and various other people they meet, I've told the kids they can say whatever they like. Zoo Boy likes to say that we Homeschool and don't use grades. J likes to say 5th grade (which is where he would be just based on age in this town, even though he'd only be in 4th if he was actually in the public school system since he was officially "held back" in pre-K).

Our first cultural unit will be on the Torah (Hebrew culture via the Old Testament stories). I'll have much and more to say about this as we get rolling with it, but I'm quite excited to be exposing my kids to this ancient culture and these classic stories. As a non-Christian/non-Jewish family, my kids would otherwise not be hearing these stories, and not only are they an intimate look into a significant portion of human history, but are also quite compelling in their own right.

In addition to our main curriculum work, we will also be working with a Chemistry curriculum geared towards 2nd through 5th grade with our Science Fridays co-op. We've chosen Pandia Press's "R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey" Chemistry (level one) for this. I have several reasons for making this decision: First, my kids have requested (demanded?) formal physical science lessons. In J's case, at least, it even seems to be a sincere need. This particular curriculum is very adaptable for use in the 3-fold learning process (open intake via story, artistic/active digestion, and output) that we use for all of our lessons. Second, the people in our Science Fridays co-op are our homeschool "tribe" -- they are our go-to friends and folks we like to hang out with, my kids' favorite playmates, and my own private homeschool support network. Despite the fact that we are each different in our approach, we feel connected on a base level. These are the families we'll be growing with throughout our homeschooling lives, and spending as much time with them as possible is my #1 priority. Below are our children at our trip to the Springfield Museums this past Thursday:

Social/community support only becomes more important to me as the years go by. This year we'll also be hooking up with my friend T and her daughter D, plus their usual group of Waldorf-y type co-op folks again. We did some cultural craft co-oping with them last year as well. This year T and I will be leading larger cultural projects. We'll spend the first half of the semester building and using an adobe oven. Then we'll shear my Angora goats and use their fleeces to spin, weave, and construct a nomadic tent.

Monday Homeschool Classes is another important key in our social/community support. This semester I'll be offering a class on Ancient Israeli crafts (for my kids' benefit obviously, but I always figure if I'm going through all the trouble to pull materials together for my kids, other interested families should be able to benefit as well). I'll also be offering an introduction to fractions class, since my kids asked to learn about fractions this semester, and that's one math topic that will come alive much better in a group setting. I'll hopefully have the time to blog in detail about each class.

And finally on the social support theme, J will be participating in a Social Coaching group with my dear friend Kyra's son, Fluffy, who I've been mentioning on my blogs since the dawn of time. Kyra and I go way back to the early days of Autism Remediation with our sons, and it's exciting to be in this next step of that journey with our boys. Seeing Kyra on a weekly basis is treat enough, but the benefit I think J is getting from the Social Coaching is like a great big ripe cherry on the top of our social sundae.

Of course, we'll also have plenty of Phys Ed in the form of dancing (J will be dancing 5 days a week, including a ballet private lesson in addition to his ballet and modern classes and Nutcracker rehearsals) and karate (Zoo Boy has 2 classes per week, plus occasional special classes and events), and swimming which we're hoping to participate in a free swim once a week and hopefully will be setting up lessons as well. And Music is covered with Piano lessons for J (still pondering on what to do with Zoo Boy about that....) in addition to all the cultural singing and dancing we'll be doing as part of our regular school day.

And of course we'll be supplementing with various museum programs, homeschool events and outings, and special celebrations as they come up.

It's shaping up to be a really great year! Yea homeschooling!!


Mrs. Bacon said...

How about drums for zoo boy. There are a lot of interconnected humanities and history about the origins of drumming. Just an idea mind you but he could make his own drums. Excited to see what happens this year.

Harvest Moon Farm said...

Thanks for the idea, I've tried to get him interested in drums in the past, for the very reason you suggest. Like with all things Zoo Boy, it's going to have to be his idea in order for him to try something new.