Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Organizing this School Year

We are the second day of the second week into the new school year. Kamron is in Year 6, Aubrey in Year 4, and Brennen is in Year 1. We are mostly following the Ambleside Online Curriculum, with some additions, subtractions and substitutions. This is a heavier year for both of the older two than ever before as I am attempting to work in all of the goals we have for them. We have begun Plutarch, Form Drawing, the actual Shakespeare plays, Kamron is studying business and economics and Aubrey is taking a cooking and home economics course.

About three weeks ago someone on the Ambleside Yahoo group brought up workboxes. I had never heard of these, but I began researching them and then deciding that the basic idea might be very good as an organizational method. The system which I began implementing does not look anything like the original as I only use one box per child rather than twelve. The part I latched onto and love is to have all of the child’s work in one place along with all of the supplies they will need for school that day. That way they can wake up and see how much work they have to do, they can see a few fun things sprinkled throughout and as they get done they get to see the items remaining in the box begin to dwindle. This has been working great. At first the amount of work made both children balk, but Kamron has begun really buckling down and working hard. Aubrey still usually dawdles and was still working at 3:45 yesterday.

Logan has also decided he is too old for preschool and is big enough for real studying every day. So we have dubbed him in four-year-old school and at first I had set up a box for him with some of his projects, but as I lean towards many Montessori ideas for the young children I wanted him to be able to pick many of his activities. So this week I set up a cupboard of activities that will periodically/weekly change depending on his mastery and interest. He has enjoyed this so far. Brennen also likes to use this cupboard. I will do a separate post on what is in it later.

I am pleased with the progress we are making and the amount of serious study the children are getting done. We are also missing so much less, the form of narration I would like is also in there, so even that is getting done consistently.

We have also opted to do school for six weeks on, one off throughout the year with an additional week off here and there. At the end of each term we are also going to attempt the oral examinations Charlotte Mason recommends, as I want the children to retain the information and ideas while also learning to express themselves well. This schedule will allow me the prep time I need, the children the time for free explorations and play. It also builds in a buffer in case we get behind.

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