I've really struggled this year over what we were going to do, how we were going to do it and whether or not I would post about it here. I'm coming to some general conclusions and have a solid plan, but that plan could change at any time, so I don't think I'm going to get as detailed about it here as I have in the past.
I also know how much it has helped me to see what other people are doing. So, I've decided to give you a rundown of some of my basic principles for the upcoming year. Again, know that specifics are not set in stone. I don't have a perfectly planned 36 week schedule with neat little notes on when each term begins and ends and what we will do in each term. I have a general plan of what matters most to my family and how I might accomplish some of those goals.
What matters most to me are the basics ~ that my children have a sincere love of God and that they develop Godly character, that my children can read, communicate and do basic math, that my children are out in nature as much as possible and have a genuine appreciation for all of the amazing things that He created and that my children are surrounded by beauty like well-written poetry, the art of the masters, beautiful music, classic stories and the writings of Shakespeare. So, in no particular order, here are some of the things we are going to try out this year.
My basic plan is this:
- Read to the girls about God at breakfast or thereabouts each morning.
- Memorize poetry and scripture with the girls.
- Spend time each day one-on-one with each child. For the Princess, this time might consist of math or her reading to me or some oral English lessons or some phonics lessons or games. For the Hippie, this time might consist of oral English lessons or a dictation lesson or hearing her orally narrate something she's been reading or helping her with a written narration.
- Have the girls spend time each day working on things they can do on their own. For the Princess this includes copywork, reading independently and logging it, drawing pictures about the stories we hear and copying summaries we come up with together. For the Hippie this includes copywork, math, typing, reading independently, written narrations and drawing or crafting from our stories.
- Spend time each day as a family. In a nutshell, we will read and they will narrate. I've got some typical Waldorf Grade 2 type stories lined up (Animal fables, stories of saints, legends, Jataka tales, etc) that I'd like to read to the girls this year. I'd like to read a variety of chapter books ~ both fiction and historical. My goal is exposure to a variety of topics (history, nature, biographies, Shakespeare, literature, fairy tales, fables, myths, legends, classic stories, etc.). I'd like to read lots of animal stories like Bambi and The Last Little Cat and Along Came a Dog and The Cricket in Times Square and Ribsy and more. We'll also learn German together, do some math puzzles together and do nature study together.
- My current plan is for us to listen to some of the books suggested in Ambleside Online Year 1 and 2 on audio while I brush their hair or we eat lunch. I'm planning on Our Island Story, Viking Tales, 50 Famous Stories and as many of the classic literature as we can get to (Understood Betsy, Wind in the Willows, King of the Golden River, Peter Pan, Pinnochio, Robin Hood, Heidi, Tanglewood Tales, Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, The Story of Doctor DoLittle, Five Children and It, Otto of the Silver Hand, etc). I own many of the titles, but my voice can only handle so many readings in a day, so I'm trying to share the load a bit with the audio books. :)
- I want to read the rest of the D'Aulaire biographies to the girls this year.
- Have a "Tea Time" each afternoon where we do Picture Study or listen to different composers or read some more classic stories or read from Beautiful Stories of Shakespare or read poetry together.
- To round it all out, we'll continue our weekly Homeschool Adventures Group, use our Zoo Membership to its fullest, attend regular shows at our local symphony and the girls are taking an Upcycled to Art Class this fall.
- Then, of course, there is the LIFE learning of baking and games and just plain fun.
There you have it. My sporadic thoughts all laid out for you. Neat and tidy (not). I just keep trying to remind myself of the ages of my children. My youngest is in the Primary years where the most important things are really the 3 Rs and God. That's it. And play. Then, we have my oldest who is just past that cusp into the 4th-6th grade block of learning. That age is ready for more content, but still needs time to play and (in my opinion) doesn't need to be bogged down with too many facts. Everything they have been exposed to in these early years can and will be solidified when they hit Junior High and High School ages.
God, a wide variety of books, nature and the basics.
That is where we are at this year.
Of course, I might have mentioned to the girls at some point about spending an entire year learning all about animals and they keep asking me about that, so I may break down and get this when we can afford it. They really want me to get it. But, that will just fold into the plan laid out above.
Read something every day, write something every day, do some math, get outside, be surrounded by quality literature and living books and hear all kinds of beautiful things. That's my educational philosophy. What's yours?