Sunday, February 24, 2008

Looking ahead: Spring 2008

It seems fitting that, since yesterday I posted a weekly review, today I should post a glimpse into the future. This is our last week of school before Spring Break. I have a number of things I am working on and decisions I'm trying to make, both in the immediate school year and in considering next school year. I think it would be helpful for me to list them here, to help me remember them. Also, I am the sort of person who needs to talk things through (even if the talk is written out), to help me with decisions.

Spring/Summer 2008 (we school through the end of June, take off July, and resume in August):

1. I wish to start moving Riley and Austin into reading more of their own schoolbooks. I will begin by having them read "Our Island Story" as I find this book to be slightly easier than "This Country of Ours".

2. I am going to drop the writing curriculum I recently purchased for Austin. I realized that it does not line up with my goals. It is very classroom oriented, and does not really apply to real-world writing. As much as I like the convenience of having a curriculum like that to make everything feel "complete", I think Austin will be better served in the long run by spending more energy on oral narration. When we pick up written narration next year, I will also combine it with the techniques he has already learned from using the IEW program. And then, when he is older, we will devote more time to essays and other writing.

3. I really want to continue to refine my understanding of CM's philosophies, how they mesh with RDI, and how to make them applicable to learning within our own home. I have seen some great strides with everyone this year, which is great! But I need more understanding of why I'm changing things, so that I have a firm foundation when things don't seem to be working, or when I start to get nervous about deviating from a more traditional scope and sequence.

4. I'm not going to test Austin this year with the ITBS. He doesn't have to be tested this year according to the state laws, but I planned to do so anyway. I am afraid that will just cause more anxiety for him and for me as well. Riley has to be tested according to the state law, so I will test her on her own.

5. Reece will be finishing the Calvert phonics readers this week! I need to re-read the pertinent sections of How to Teach a Child to Read with Children's Books, so I know what I'm supposed to do next! :) It's sort of exciting to be focusing on teaching her to read in a relational way, with our focus being on shared experiences and getting meaning from what she's reading. It's also a little nerve-wracking because it's not "do this lesson, check off the box, and move on to the next lesson". It's dynamic. RDI encourages dynamic. Dynamic, in this sort of thing, scares me to death! LOL

Fall 2008:

1. Austin will start transitioning into written narration. I found Fifty Famous Stories Retold, which is a Year 1 book. I think I will use the stories in this book as the basis for introducing written narration. I am not yet sure exactly how this process works, so I will be focusing on learning more about that over the next several months.

2. I need to decide if I will have Reece go through First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level1-2. It is one curriculum that I have thoroughly enjoyed, but as I embrace the Charlotte Mason philosophy, I find that my enthusiasm for early grammar is waning. I have especially seen Austin struggle to apply the definitions and lists we worked on for 2 years, and wonder what we spent all of that time doing it for. FLL also includes narration, copywork, and poetry memorization... but I can incorporate all of those things without the grammar focus.

As part of this one (really a grammar focus), I need to decide if I want to worry about Riley finishing FLL3 on time and start FLL4, or if I will be OK with taking it more slowly. I am leaning towards this mindset already, as I've moved her to doing FLL3 only 2 days a week rather than the scheduled 3 days.

Austin is already on a more CM pathway in grammar. He is using Junior Analytical Grammar at a very slow pace, as recommended by Simply Charlotte Mason. He is doing much better with this program than he ever has before (and he has used ALOT of grammar programs in his short life lol). Is this because he is developmentally ready for it finally? Was all that time spent in grammar frustration land worth it?

3. I also need to decide if I want to continue to have Riley and Austin together with all of their lessons, or if I want to separate them out for everything. There has been quite a problem with competition between them. I need to decide if I want to focus on it as a character issue, or if I wish to remove the problem altogether in order to let Austin develop a sense of competence as a learner without the pressure of a younger, more advanced sibling on his heels.

Lots of stuff to think about, none of which have cut and dried easy answers. Or at least I haven't come to those answers yet in my beginning study of CM's philosophy.

I'm sure there are more things, but I'm forgetting them right now! If I can recall them later, I will come back and add them in! :)

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