Friday, January 22, 2010

2010 Curriculum, Thoughts and Plans

Well it’s that time of year again, time to get organised for the beginning of a new school year.

We have lots of new Montessori Materials that we are all excited about using. I’ve been printing and reading my new Teacher Manuals that I got from Montessori R & D. Gee those little Monti kids are definitely streets ahead of public school kids aren’t they. We have no rush and are just going to enjoy the materials, as I know the kids will.

B especially will get a quick overview of all of the basics so that he can move ahead with the Montessori curriculum, K will fit more nicely into the 3 – 6 program and little C is the perfect age to get some real Tot School fun happening.

So even though we are going into Montessori in a big way this year I never utilise just one curriculum and/or one school of thought. I still believe in using the best of everything available and when I say best, I mean the best things that work for us. After 2 and a half years at this (and finally listening to myself and my kids, instead of everyone else) I can say that we are actually starting to get there with what works and what doesn’t.

For the most part it will be flexible, with lots of choice available for the children. We will have two main areas that we will spend our time in when at home (apart from the back yard). Our Montessori room and our ‘messy’ room (the garage), where things like science experiments and art and crafts will be completed. The messy room will still be set up in much the same way as a Montessori space, with activities set out ready to go, but allowing the children to make their choice on any given day.

B and I have been talking considerably about choosing work that is appropriate and at times even challenging for him. Last year he opted on the side of always choosing the easy stuff and things that were far below him, which granted from time to time is ok but not with each and every choice he makes from the shelf. So that is one area I will need to monitor closely.

We will also continue with a small amount of bookwork, this is, I admit mainly to satisfy me and my worries of showing what the kids actually do with their time. Even though I know that they learn more from everything else we do, but I am not prepared to give up on bookwork all together. I am big believer in everything in moderation.

I don’t make resolutions but there are a few things that I really want to do more of this year.

  • Spend time in Nature: I hope to do this weekly and not just park visits either. I know this won’t happen every week, but I am scheduling more time in nature. Ideally I really would like for us all to start Nature Journals, (we have done so before but never filled more than a few pages) but I’m not going to force that. Being in nature is more important than the journaling of it, so if it happens it happens. I have been considering joining one of the Nature McLinkys but dearly would love something Australian if anyone knows of anything please point me in the right direction.
  • Spend more time Cooking: With the kids I mean. Even if it is only cookies, spending more time together in the kitchen is a priority.
  • Spend more time Reading: We do read aloud every day but again I’d like to increase how much reading aloud we actually achieve in a week. I may even consider keeping a log of sorts to monitor how we are going.
  • Circle Time: Well as close as you can get with 3 children. But I love reading how other families have that time together at the start of the day and am working on what I would like to include in our Circle Time. I think I will need to start off slowly and add in more as the routine gets set in place. I think it will ground us though, give us that together and the children will know exactly what is coming up for the day.
  • Chores and Responsibility: I am working on a ‘What Next Chart’ so everyone knows what is happening in our day. I don’t do schedules, they just don’t work for us and I don’t want to be tied to a schedule anyway. However having a basic plan for the day should hopefully make our day run more smoothly. The What Next Chart will also include chores, now that they are 8 and 5 I think the time has come for the children to be more productive around the house (without overloading them with household duties).
So those are my main ‘goals’ for the year and even if I only achieve half it will still be an improvement on last year. What’s the saying, Aim for the stars and you may just hit the moon.

We will also be continuing on with our fabulous Homeschool Group and the extra curricular activities that the kids get involved with there. We love our friends and the social aspect of the group is an integral part of our homeschool. For the beginning part of the year the kids are doing:

Mixed Sports
Gymnastics (very excited about this)
Art Classes

These are weekly classes (all held on the one day) and this time around we have roughly 30 children participating in some way or another.

Once a month we also have:

Book Club
Bunnings (think Home Depot) Workshop
Art Gallery Workshops
Playground and Swimming Meet ups

These are a lot of fun and all free, which is a bonus.

We are also aiming to have more quiet one on one (as in one other family) play dates, as soon as our ‘messy room’ is functioning well I will start to put those in place. It is the one on one time where true friendships are made, well in my opinion anyway.

I will post in more depth on each of these areas as I get underway with them, with pictures and more details, and I’ll probably even have some questions for you.

Looking at the Curriculum side of things for 2010 has been fairly straight forward. We don’t do grade levels, but roughly B is doing Grade 3, K is in Prep (kindergarten in the US) and C will turn 2 halfway through the year so lots of Tot School fun for him and lots of mess….hence the implementation of the ‘messy room’.

I’m going to break down what we plan on using for each level, more for me than anything else.

2010 Curriculum, Plans & Thoughts for B (turns 9 in October)

Mathematics

Qld Targeting Maths Year 3
Math U See Finishing Alpha, Beginning Beta
Various Math Software Titles
Math Living Books
Montessori Math Manipulatives

Language Arts

Fitzroy Reading Program (continuation)
Explode The Code (continuation)
Various Software Titles
Montessori Language
Journaling: Book Journals, Poetry Journaling (also copywork) Nature Journal
Creative Writing: Write Shop

Science

Montessori
Various Science Kits we have on hand
Nature and Nature Journaling

History

Story of the World: we are restarting this, unfortunately with a baby in the house history got put on the back burner last year. We just weren’t getting to it enough so I decided to shelve it all together. Even if all we do is use it as a read aloud/read alone it will still be far more history than B would get in a public school environment.

Geography

Montessori: I love their geography materials and again they offer so much more than what the average child learns in geography. I think B will really enjoy the Montessori geography materials as he loves map work.

Technology

Momma Snail is creating an online ‘work at your pace’ course for homeschool kids that I plan on introducing B to this year.

Human Society and its Environment

Nature Journaling, Montessori Cultural work and I have plans to begin a Comparative Religion study (brief overviews) but after writing all of this out, wow I’m beginning to wonder where we are going to find the time!

The Arts

Art Classes with Homeschool Group, Montessori Artist Study, Free Access to art supplies and more structured activities in the ‘messy room’. He has been talking about learning an instrument, tossing up between guitar and keyboard, but I need to find someone to come to the house. We also always get to a few productions throughout the year and will continue doing that. Drama has also been on the list of things to try.

Personal Development, Health & Physical Education

Mixed Sports and Gym with homeschool group. Soccer starts at the end of term 1 also. There is always lots of free time spent playing outside or at a playground. B will also be working on more responsibilities around the home, including care of oneself and one’s belongings. We also aim to attend the annual homeschoolers sports day that a nearby group organises each year and our own group is hoping to organise our very first camp this year, which is very exciting.

We also enjoy putting together lapbooks, they are a great way to showcase the learning experiences that we have taken together. In the past we have enjoyed the Before Five In A Row series as well and although we really could not possibly fit another thing in I am considering looking at FIAR to do during the holiday breaks as this would also encompass our lapbooks in some way shape or form. If only you could do it all!!!

B is slightly behind his schooled peers with his reading as we have taken a very stress free, work at his pace approach to reading. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t been working on reading we have, but we DO NOT move ahead until he is ready, even if that means staying in the one place for weeks, or taking breaks where needed. I know at school he would be attending some kind of reading recovery program and I just shudder to even think of that. How awful for any child, not only are they struggling with reading they are also removed from the class for extra reading practice.

No thanks!

Thank goodness we have all the time in the world for this. I want a son that loves to read not one that was forced to learn and finds reading a chore. We have already started back with small amounts of school work (I like to ease the kids back into it after a big break) and I was pleasantly surprised at his fluency, he will be moving ahead another level come the first week back of official school.

If you follow my blog you will probably also notice that the Montessori works that are made available for him will be beneath his years, in terms of how Montessori place the children. In one part this will only be for a short time, as he becomes familiar with the materials and on the other there are many components of Montessori that are streets ahead of public schools, Geography is one example of that. I don’t think I even know a 3rd grade child here in Australia that has done even half of the Geography work that a Montessori 3 – 6 classroom does. The more I look, read, handle and play with the materials myself the more I know the children are going to flourish.


2010 Curriculum, Plans & Thoughts for K ( 5 turns 6 in July)

I had slowly eased K into ‘school time’ last year so she is well aware of what is expected of her this year. Even though she is only doing Prep, I think she is ready for more, however she is the sort of child that will not be pushed into anything and so again this is where I feel that the Montessori components of her work will really allow her to move ahead in leaps and bounds. I also do not need to meet all of the KLA’s until K is 6 and 3 months but I have still listed them so that I can come back and read this at anytime if need be.

Mathematics

Singapore Preschool Math (continuation)
Montessori 3 – 6 Math
Math U See Primer (I’m not actually sure if I will use this but I have it if needed)
Various Math Software Titles
Math Living Books


Language Arts

Montessori 3 – 6 Language Program
Reading Eggs Software
Explode The Code (will begin Book 1 when can read initial cvc words)
Journaling: Book Journals, Poetry Journaling (also copywork) Nature Journal (these will mainly be picture journals with some scribing by mum)
Creative Writing: Write Shop (she is on the lower end of the age bracket for this but it is a very gentle program and she loves to make up stories so I am going to give it a go with her)

Science

Montessori 3 – 6 Science
Various Science Kits we have on hand
Nature and Nature Journaling

History

Story of the World: (see B’s note above) She will sit in on this read aloud but I will not require any more from her unless she wishes to.

Geography

Montessori 3 – 6 Geography

Technology

Mostly from life, basic computer use, building and constructing with Lego and recycling, things like that.

Human Society and its Environment

Nature Journaling, Montessori Cultural work and if we do make a start on our Comparative Religion study (brief overviews) she will sit in on that.

The Arts

Art Classes with Homeschool Group, Montessori Artist Study, Free Access to art supplies and more structured activities in the ‘messy room’. I plan on setting up Mister Maker type activities and taking ideas from the Usborne Art Books for Kids. We also always get to a few productions throughout the year and will continue doing that. For example she is off seeing her first ballet production as I type with her Grandma. Drama has also been on the list of things to try.

Personal Development, Health & Physical Education

Gym with homeschool group. K is also very active outdoors and spends a great deal of her free time on the trampoline, climbing frame and swings. She has briefly mentioned that she would like to play soccer although I’m not sure how serious she is about that. K will be joining in on working on more responsibilities around the home, including care of oneself and one’s belongings. We also aim to attend the annual homeschoolers sports day that a nearby group organises each year and our own group is hoping to organise our very first camp this year, which is very exciting.

I am excited about this year with K to watch her grow and develop and see how she takes to all of the fabulous materials. She helped me unpack most of the Montessori order when it arrived and was very intrigued with everything.


2010 Curriculum, Plans & Thoughts for C ( 1 turns 2 in July)

LOL Curriculum, that’s funny!!

He will be right into Tot School and in fact the ‘Messy Room’ was inspired by him. Not because he’s messy but because I want him to have a space where he can be. Where he can do all of those things that toddlers love to do, paint, collage, play dough and just generally make a mess without messing up the house and the school room. I have already set up the art/craft studio corner but have a long way to go with the rest so photo’s on this area may be awhile away. We will still use the space it just isn’t up for ‘showing off’ just yet, if you get my drift ;-)

I also knew that there was no way I could have him with us in the Montessori Room, he is far too young to understand, don’t touch and quite frankly I don’t want to be saying that to him every second for 2 – 3 hours every day. So for now we are revolving around him and his sleep.

The mornings we are at home we will spend part of in the ‘messy room’ where C will have all of his Tot School activities and the bigger kids will have the opportunity for some free play, messy science experiments, art and crafts. After lunch, when he goes down for his nap the 3 of us will spend that time in the Montessori Room. The plan his that C will continue napping until he is 3…..yes yes I know even the best plans can fall by the wayside but at least by age 3 he will then be old enough to join us in the Montessori Room and we can all enjoy that space together. In the meantime once he becomes ready for the first materials he will use them in the ‘messy room’ or in the lounge room.

Ideally I want to start having activities prepared for C also. Not that we have to do them but if they are ready to go it is so easy for me to grab them off the shelf and get started.

I love how Mozi Esme has structured her Tot School around the Alphabet, you can read her approach here and this is something that I would like to do. Anyone got a few spare hours they could give me so I can spend some time getting organised? Pardon? Oh yeah I didn’t think so!! LOL

So that’s our year, or how it looks in my head at the moment anyway.

Did you make it this far, gee that was a lot and too think I only have 3 kids. I really take my hat off to you mummy’s with lots of kiddies running around, truly I do.

I’m going to keep this as a quick link so that I can check on it regularly, especially if we fall off the bandwagon so to speak. Although falling and still learning isn’t always such a bad thing now is it. This post will also give me the opportunity to assess part way through the year and see where we need to make any adjustments. Come the end of 2010 it will provide the opportunity for reflection.

I’m looking forward to this year, having a baby is just a gorgeous time but newborns (and under 1’s) take up so much of it (even if it is only spent staring at them and cuddling them) thatwe just didn't get through as much as I would have liked to last year.


6 comments:

Raising a Happy Child said...

You have great plans for this year. I hope that all your kids will do well with their studies, and I am looking forward to your posts about their progress.

Wendy said...

Recently, this came to my mind as well. Now I am thinking about planning, which I generally never consider until the last minute. However, your post has inspired me to get started earlier this year!

Heidi said...

Great job planning! It sounds like you have a very great start.

We are just like you in our application of Montessori, in fact next year we will be starting Story of the World as well. I think it will fit in nicely (and is actually nicer than the Montessori history curriculum which is a little over the top in some ways)

Elise said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and learning about what you have instore for this year. I am always fascinated to learn about the way other mums structure their learning and how they decide what they are going to include.

As a former secondary school teacher, I also choose to incorporate various educational philosophies and do not prescribe to just one.

Earlier today, I wrote my Tot School post and in it I have included a nature scavenger hunt that you may be interested in accessing and using.

I am looking forward to following you on your journey this year.

Adriana said...

I love to read about your plans for this year. I look forward to hearing more about your school year.

Raven said...

Thank you for posting all of this! It's always nice to see what other people have planned for the year. And how nice that you'll be able to have a room designed for messy!

Also, as someone who has visited several lovely spots in Australia, I have to say that I'm envious of your year of Nature Days ahead! Should be beautiful!

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