Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer's almost half-done!

Yikes! We only get two months of summer here for the school year and with July already nearing its last week, it means summer is almost half-done! And what have I done for school prep?



Well, I've thought about stuff. As I've decluttered things and found potentially useful resources, I've put them aside to use. But I haven't sat down yet and really thought about next school year. Or even this August, for that matter. Not that I want to start school this August (um, actually, as of this coming Monday!) but I will have my nieces and nephew during the day while their parents are working and I would like to have at least one presentation a day, establish a routine, etc. They are so used to just having complete free time at my place since they usually only come after school for a bit and the odd day off school; I haven't established any kind of real routine for any of that. So, I'll need to do things gently. Ease into it. But what am I easing into? Not entirely sure. I guess I have to figure that out!

But my mind is mostly on my son and his upcoming school year. My daughter's main work is already planned (ie she's doing online courses where the work and structure is decided upon by outside teachers), but there are still extras to make sure to include: meal planning, cooking, financial stuff... Oh, and her French class. She will be doing French with two other teen girls, but I have not yet planned anything for it. Ach (think German exclamation with that 'Ach'), got to do that, too. Back to my son...

My son will be 12 in September. He's always been a bit of a "different" sort of kid, different sort of learner. I never figured out how to break through or use the bond he had with his cousin when they were both little and give them as much Montessori as I gave my daughter and another girl I was homeschooling at the time. I had more children in the house at that point, too (my two plus four others), so it just made things more difficult. In any case, I would do things, he wouldn't connect, I'd leave it. But he's always been a kid who lags a bit, then catches up super quickly and even often gets "ahead". (I will never forget his Buzz Lightyear drawing. I actually still have it somewhere. He wasn't quite yet 3 and had spent all of his time drawing up to that point being elliptical shapes with dots: potatoes, he said they were. All of a sudden, one day, he draws this figure: a head with hair, eyes and a mouth, a body with arms and fingers at the end of the arms, legs going out from the body part with toes at the end. He had skipped all kinds of steps. It's what he does. He did the same thing with walking, talking, later on with reading... That's just how he is.)

So... I have this funny learning son who would be grade 6/7 if in the school system. As a homeschooler, he is registered as being "year 7", which just means it's his 7th year of school, but I can choose his curriculum. Had we sent him to school, we would have actually waited a year. When you have a kid who learns by lagging then jumping the way he does, starting him the year we started homeschooling would not have been good. At times, I do think I should have waited to register him for homeschooling. He just loves enjoying things around him more than he likes to do academic kinds of stuff. Which is why I ended up essentially unschooling him. Until now. (Can you almost hear the slightly evil "heh heh heh" and see me rubbing my hands together in anticipation? :D)

He knows this coming year will be different. For one, I will have LOTS of time to do lessons with him. Second, he is much more aware that other kids in the extended family are doing things he can't do. He doesn't like that. Makes him feel kind of stupid. He's not the slightest bit stupid: he just has not done anything remotely the same for work.

On one of my Montessori lists, we were discussing how many Montessori elementary schools post the local outcomes for the students to be aware of working at meeting. This idea has been stuck in my head as something to do with my son, but to have the outcomes for grade 1-6/7 available and as the 'target' stuff to have lessons with and do projects on. Not all of it, because we've got some silly topics in some grades for social studies and science (I'm pretty sure he doesn't need to cover the topic of My Family, nor Colours) nor do I need to include certain math things, for example, that he can already do. And as I write this, I find myself questioning: What is this going to look like exactly? This is what I need to figure out. How am I going to organize and present these outcomes? And do I include the grade 7 outcomes? Part of me goes: "Well, he's got a lot of "catching up" to do and he's youngish for his age, not at the Erdkinder point, so perhaps it's best to just look at him as a grade 6 student." Another part of me goes: "He is so capable and will catch up without any difficulty. Why not just put it all out there?" Both parts are equally weighted at the moment.

I know for math, we definitely have to cover all kinds of elementary things he has not really worked on, plus just have him do more work in areas he has not done enough in to master, like large addition and subtraction.  My brain just paused there. I do need a basic plan for the year of when I can anticipate showing him different things, be it for math, science, social studies or language. (Language, oh boy, that's one we have to work on a lot.)

I'm going to have to do some more thinking and brainstorming offline rather than losing people with my endless train of thoughts here. I will come back at a later point to share what I've figured out. (Oh, and now I've seen the labels as I finalize this post and see "Work Contracts". Something else to mull over.)

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