(Warning in advance – this turned into a prolific journal post on 7th grade boys curriculum and learning . . . . could have been a 3 part series. )
2010-2011 is the first school year that this Unschooling, Delight Directed, Project Based, Lapbook, Unit Studying teachin’ momma has relied so heavily on structured tools for learning. I have read a few debates in the comments of other blogs about what makes a person an Unschooler, a Relaxed Learner – how many tools can you use? What we have found this year – is that the ability and desire to learn has shifted in my 12 almost 13 year old son. We started him in “official” academics when he turned 5 in February, this February of 2011 he will turn 13. Technically – it always has felt to me, that his “year” switches in January. Same thing for my December born 10 year old son.
This year I have been privileged to be a part of several online reviews – the major being The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew. An interesting year unfolded for me. I have always been a lover of a good used curriculum sale – book store – browsing, searching for ideas – and then tweaking them to our interests. However, this year, the companies represented didn’t just want us to browse the valuable object they sent us for free – they wanted us to use them. . . . until we had a feel for how we liked it, how it helped us – what we might like to change in it.
I set my heart and actions on Full Throttle Faith that the Lord had a plan for us – and difficult or frustrating –we would walk through it. What I found, was minor moments of panic – (HUGE Hard Looking Curriculum pkgs Arrive that I’d sooner toss in the lake than implement) – lots of time in research – and a delightful time of learning. It does feel like we’ve been through a whirl wind of products this past fall, and after all of the planning in December – I still didn’t feel like I had a direction for our school.
Yesterday – It hit me. I didn’t ask Nathan. Nobody asked him what he wanted to do this month. I had not spent time in focused prayer – asking for the Lord to lay it out. Seriously folks, I’m just not sure why I ever forget this easy simple step! In a matter of 15-20 minutes, Nate and I sat down, went through what was available, and came up with a focused plan, with the Peace of the Lord on our hearts!
So – for January-March (or at least til next week) here are his opportunities:
Phonics Zoo through the end of the year, once each day Mon-Friday
Daily Grams 7 each day.
Daily Mind Builders Social Studies
A combo of a couple of Bible review companies, Squire and the Scroll workbook and AWANA memory – or Read a Proverb Chapter a day.
The Write Foundation – 2-3 times per week, hopefully finishing one Lesson per week.
Handbook of Nature Study, Unit Study on Lakes, ongoing Geology and Marine Biology
Mathematical Reasoning book 2 and access to Mastering Math Essentials
Geography Terms – January is Dune, a different term and continent per month. Ultimate Geography from Timberdoodle is the guide book.
I asked Nathan what he wanted to study before we started this – and he said Grammar. He is involved on several online forums and projects and would like to easily be able to communicate on line and in person. I think that him seeing that there is something to be desired in better grammar and communication is the greatest step. My 10 year old still likes to say the most bizarre unrecognizable phrases. I sort of miss that from Nate – but he is 6 foot tall, it’s really not as cute anymore.
I would like him to do a research project – so we choose one of deep academic value – the difference between the iPod Touch and the XBox 360. He has posted to a couple of forums, has emailed and phoned several friends taking a poll on which they would rather have. He is to create a Notebooking Page of his research, and have it ready for us in February. He saved his Christmas Monies and will pool it with his Birthday Monies for an iPod Touch, however, he is starting to think xBox 360 would be better. We drew up a book report type Notebooking Page and he has already filled out 2-3 pages of information from his research yesterday.
We talked about the list of “to do” and he said he was a bit overwhelmed to see it all written down, however, each item on the list is designed to be 10-15 minutes a day, some not every day, Geography is once a month, Structured Science is once a week. At tops, if he focuses – he is looking at a disciplined 1-2 hours a day of seatwork. If you take a peek into any 7th-8th grader’s day and homework – I’d say that still qualifies us for UnSchooler.
We also talked about his Project Led Interests taking key –if he comes us with a topic – we’ll adjust these areas to be practiced while pursuing that interest. 🙂
I am glad for “those who have gone before” that I feel confident in our plans – and knowing that they will learn, they will seek – my learning rich environment will enable them to succeed.