Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Planning the Grammar Stage for our Family

I so admire hsing moms like Jessica at Trivium Academy who can sit down and write out a beautiful grid which fleshes out their desired curriculum plath for their child's K-4th grade years. The number of times I've tried to do that -- I can't even begin to count. I've done it on paper, graph paper (I love graph paper), Excel spreadsheets, napkins, you name it.

My most recent Excel spreadsheet is called "Long Range Planning," in which I attemtped to plot out how the Neo-Classical/WTM history rotations would look with my four boys, who are each 3+ years apart chronologically and roughly 4 years apart academically. It's obvious to me that I haven't really looked at this grid in a while, since it doesn't take into account that we're now using Sonlight Core 3 for the 2nd half of 3rd grade and into 4th as well.

[Which reminds me, at our last support group meeting, I came clean and confessed that we were not only homeschooling year round but also had just started Core 3 in January and would finish it around Thanksgiving. I know this makes me a nut within my local hsing community, but I think I'm comfortable now being kinda freakish.]

Inspired as I was by Jessica, I tried to flesh out what I'd used for Ben & plan to use for 4th grade -- his last official "grammar" year [*sniff*] -- and began to write out what we had already used and planned to use for Luke. This made me realize that for my family, this type of long-range planning is just not going to work for us. Mind you, I'd love for it to work. Here's some reasons why I have a hard time completing something like this:
  1. I have no idea what type of learner Luke will turn out to be. Ben and Luke have different personalities, and trying to flesh out curriculums like math & language arts for him seems like a waste of time. My first choice will be using curriculums I already have that I enjoyed using with Ben. But will these be effective for Luke? Will they capture his learning styles? Will he connect with them? And, will I enjoy using them a second time?
  2. I love the idea of the deep and wide study of science in the grammar stage, but I'm not sure I'll continue with this in practice next year. Biology had nice segments to it: animals, plants, human physiology. Physics has some nice segments, too: energy, forces, light, motion, etc. This helps to break up the course into fun and exciting chunks. Chemistry has been great, but there haven't been than many natural breaks in our studies (yet) to keep interest high. [Mental note: add more optional experiments.]
  3. I'm just not sure how Luke's grammar level program will line up with Ben's logic level skills in 5th-8th grade. I can plan for them to line up and I can plan for them to not line up, but I do also like to consider the boys' interests (most noteably in science) when deciding what to do with them.

Now, our side-track back to SL has been a welcome change to our homeschooling, and I am really, really enjoying the freedome it is giving us to spend time on other assignments, work on extra math practice, explore some interesting websites, and just not spend all day until 4pm doing paper-pencil school work. I hadn't really planned for this to happen -- for me to like it so much -- and as the next year and a half plays out, that will determine the direction for Luke's 1-4th grade years for history/ geography.

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