Sometimes I feel guilty about not using a "real curriculum," and the older S gets, I start looking into them. But then I actually start to feel guilty about considering using curriculum! What is that all about? I guess because even with the best "pre packaged" curriculums, there is still all this fluff. All this stuff that either isn't important, doesn't really need to be taught, or probably won't be remembered.
But math is getting HARD. I mean, she is grasping the how to, but I'm having a hard time helping her understand numbers. Like truly. Sure, she can skip count to find 5×8. But does she realize she can manipulate the numbers by saying 5×10=50-10=40=5×8. I mean, that is how I do math and I can manipulate numbers faster than anyone I know!
But...I'm not into worksheets and neither is she. She would rather play a game that drills facts, so we know Right Start is good. It has visual (abacus), tactile (games), and now we are going to add in lessons-auditory.
I was going to purchase their transition book as well as their level D book. Minus the worksheets. I really just wanted to work with the darn abacus and have a way to explain the concepts. I knew we would skip over some of fluffy lessons. I mean, come on, each book has over 150 lessons. Book A starts with counting and Book B and C are still stick in addition and subtraction mastery. It should not take 6 years of math to get to multiplication.
Then I found their very first curriculum back when they were Al Abacus math. It took some digging, but I found some books for sale. The book covers everything from understanding numbers the way they teach them to long division. WITH THE ABACUS. Each lesson is one page. No fluffy topics. You stay there as long as you need. It even touches on percentages and decimals. Everything she needs to get to middle school and no petty busy work. It just has how to explain it, show it on the abacus, and which games in the game book (which we already have) compliment the lesson. Woo Hoo. I am so excited. We can continue our laid back, bare minimum lessons and still have some guidance.
Sure, that makes me sound lazy, but it isnt that. Why does she need 13 years of daily math to prepare for life? She doesn't! Life is not that difficult! And academics are not as important as they seem. I just want to make sure she gets what she needs while still enjoying life as much as possible. Serving God-she has been a real help at the Center lately, seeing family/friends, playing tennis-tennis camp taught her a LOT, being outdoors-she is really mastering kayaking with us, going to activities-this is her last semester of swim-but then she will really dive into AHG, playing with her toys, exploring her interests-which lately seems to be multiple births. She asked to watch a National Geographic on twins and that really set her interest on fire. She even watched a woman give birth! And it didn't bother her. She cares for her baby dolls like real babies. She even "nurses" them And went to a lactation class with me to learn more about breast feeding. And once Sara gets here, she will learn exactly what babies are like. There is so much to do! Last night she helped with dinner (She breads chicken like a beast now!) She dried dishes and put them away. And we made a red velvet cake for the first time. I love this age!
She can't miss out on all that for academics. Sure, we could possibly find a way to cram it all in. Maybe. Probably not without sacrificing somewhere-probably time with N at night. And she needs her down time. Talk about grouchy and over worked when She has been on the go too much. She is low energy. She loves adventure, but needs a long break afterward. She spends a a lot of time reading, drawing, and sleeping. She needs it. And I want to give it to her so she can be the best Sam she can be.
Our goals for her education are this: (time to redefine in time for the start of another school year.)
-Learn to serve. We have been on that track for years, but I want to keep an emphasis on it.
-Love learning. Keep that curiosity alive by making learning fun and getting excited about what she gets excited about. And take all the negative connotations off of true learning. Whoever said documentaries are boring, they were wrong. Whoever said researching in encyclopedias is outdated, wrong.
-Read, read, read the classics. Being well read means being knowledgeable, being a better writer, and being a better speaker. I plan to read aloud to her and Sara until the day she graduates. Of course, she will have her own books to read too. We just finished Mother Theresa's biography. It drones a bit at the end, but we made it through and now she knows more about her and What nuns are and how the Catholic religion works. We are also finishing up the Burgess Bird Book. No rush there. We are enjoying it and learning interesting stuff, like the fact that robins make thier nests out of mud. And some birds do not eat worms!
The classics cover massive amounts of History and Science. And to be honest, I don't see a need fir anything more. I take the reading list from Ambleside and take away some books and add others that I think need to be covered or things that relate to what she is interested in-housewhich are usually biographies or the classic version of a play we just saw.
Slightly unrelated to the classics and not really something I'd require all my kids to do unless they had a passion for it like S, but there is a big emphasis on fine arts here. We attend lots of play. In fact, my Dad will be taking S to see the Nutcracker put on by professionals this year! She really loves musicals. And despite the fact that she had an opportunity to be a stage hand this year and it didn't turn out well, she does plan to try again when she gets older. She still loves drawing and painting and going to galleries and museums, but it seems her interests are more in theatre lately. All her drawings are dramatized with a story behind them.
-Know basic math. That requires one lesson a week and a day of fun games/review. This will go through 6th grade.
Decide by 7th/8th grade if she wants to prepare for college-which she will attend in high school if she does, or if she wants to spend the next four years preparing for something else.
-Play and be outdoors as much as humanly possible. I don't care what she plays. Yesterday she went on a two year adventure to save twins that has been abandoned by an old lady in the wild. Some days she goes outside and rides her bike for 3 hours. She likes to bird watch and recognized many of the common birds in the area. Some days she sets up town for her Lego people. (Poor thing. By time she gets it all just perfect, we have to leave or something.) I don't care. Play. Anything.
That's it. Those are the goals. And so far this Summer we have done a great job meeting those goals. If we continue to meet these goals over the years, I will be completely satisfied with our bare bones academics, life experience rich, home grown education.