The Evolution of Our School Day
I mentioned on the Work and Play Facebook page last week, that the kids did some work within the classical(ish) approach while I was in the hospital. Classical has always been a cornerstone of our approach to history and I've often used concepts of narration, dictation, copy work, and memorization as supplements to our language study. Since I relied on the approach more heavily when we lived in Utah and didn't have the space for as much Montessori, I had several easy to use resources to pull out for other people to use.
I haven't completely realigned our curriculum, but we have made some big changes that seem to serve the kids well. We still gather between 8:30-9:00 when our morning chores are finished. Instead of starting with individual work, we are starting with our group subjects (history, science, geography. I have been reading aloud, while they work on something individual. The older three are each making an Ancient Egypt poster and they have also done some individual work in the political geography of Egypt/Africa. Into our opening time, I am also integrating some of our traditional Montessori materials such as the Timeline of Ancient Civilizations and our Africa Continent Box. I eventually plan to do some group presentations of our Biome curriculum during this time as well, but I haven't had a chance to sit down and figure out what that will look like yet. I will also infuse saint study and liturgical calendar related projects here.
After our daily group work, they each have a daily list of assignments in language, math, music, and whatever else I decide they need that day. By child they are working on the following:
Logan: Memorization from Harp & Laurel Wreath, Select picture book reading with me, Fine motor practice activities such as cutting/gluing, artwork, etc, and a small amount of early math/language (mostly Montessori based).
Kylee: Memorization from Harp & Laurel Wreath, Partner/Outloud reading with me of a theme related historical fiction title, Writing With Ease Level 1, MCP Math A (I consider this my major compromise, but I am learning to live with it- eventually I plan to transfer everyone to Math U See).
Caleb: Memorization from Harp & Laurel Wreath, Assigned silent reading related to current period of historical study, Writing With Ease Level 2, MCP Math C, Piano Practice
Aidan: Memorization from Harp & Laurel Wreath, Assigned silent reading related to current period of historical study, Dictation from Harp & Laurel Wreath, Math U See Epsilon (Almost finished, he switched in April so he's not quite done with the 5th grade book yet), Trumpet Practice, Dynamic Catholic for religion
What I've noticed so far
*Narrations have improved significantly as I have given them something to do while I read out loud. Focusing their brains/hands seems to free up their ears for better listening! Although sometimes random things like narrations on a chair have been observed.
*It is also much easier to do the group subjects first instead of starting with individual work and trying to pull everyone together from group work at the end. I've flopped this so many times since I started homeschooling I've lost count and I always say its easier to do first but somehow end up going back to second. Someday maybe I will learn.
*I do like assigned reading. I'm all for kids choice, but I like having this one spot to exert some control over what they read in either introduction of a specific genre/subject or to encourage something more challenging than they might choose on their own.
*While I have wandered away from Montessori math, mostly for lack of practicality when it comes to teaching it across so many levels at the same time, I'm not in love with what we are doing either. My goal is to eventually move everyone to Math U See. I plan to stick to Montessori lessons for the Children's House years, even in math. I will also continue teaching reading using the Montessori approach. I know that other methods work and require less time/space/prep but I just can't do it! What exactly that will look like in the future, in terms of materials/space/storage I don't know but I won't give it up.
I'm fairly certain for the foreseeable future this will be the better approach for all of us. The kids unanimously prefer it, although I wonder if that will continue or if they just like the change. I'm never opposed to adjusting to find what works best at any given moment....in fact I encourage it!