Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Monday, July 14, 2008

Grade Two: The Very Last First Time?

I posted almost a month ago about fall homeschool plans for Crayons. (This list has changed since I wrote it, though. The updated version is here.

(I also mentioned that plans for Ponytails' schooling were somewhat tentative, and they still are. Although we have homeschooled for a dozen years and consider it a lifestyle as much as a school choice, we still need to think through what's best for each child; sometimes that means a classroom setting. As a courtesy to Ponytails, I'd appreciate not making that a topic of discussion, at least until the plans for the fall are a little firmer. I did want to mention it, though, because it affects what I'm planning for Crayons.)

I've never planned a year quite like this before. Unless we have one of those late-arriving gifts from heaven someday (never say never), Crayons will always be our last-to-use-this child, the one who wears the dresses and reads the books on their third go-round.

It makes a difference when you're paging through a catalogue--you can't justify the cost of something new divided by three in the same way, when you know it will probably be used only by one (although you can always resell things).

But it also makes a difference when you're thinking over a third run through very-familiar Year Two material. This is the year to tweak things--to remember what worked well and what didn't; to gather up and use the pieces that there never seemed to be time for. Year Two has always been one of my favourite years to teach--what's not to like about castles, Pilgrim's Progress, and The Wind in the Willows?--but for Crayons I've decided to handle it somewhat differently. Reasons...possibly having her here alone to school, so feeling free to modify things just for her...knowing her love of books and strong creative side...wanting to challenge her, but also to simplify things for my own sanity and because she's still seven years old. She likes Winnie-the-Pooh as much as she liked reading Lord of the Rings with The Apprentice during the last leg of a long car trip.

So the year is planned out in detail, down to the week. (I don't plan tighter than that: stuff happens, snow falls, people get sick.) It's not just a compulsive need to be super-organized; there are reasons for it. One of the strong threads this year is time: calendars, seasons in nature and art, national holidays, the Christian year, telling time, times of day (one of our books, Nightprowlers, has sections about what you see and hear at dusk, during the night, at dawn) makes sense to organize this school year around each season, month, special day.

When I look at the year's work, there's also a sense of timelessness, or working across time: from King David through Robin Hood, from John Bunyan through Igor Stravinsky. Not everything is in a box of "medieval world": the connections are there to be freely made as we go along. (And all of that makes me think again about time going by so fast, the homeschool years being so short...)

The second reason for detailed planning is wanting to divide the year into 12-week terms plus exams weeks, plus holidays; and the third reason is simply that we also have to manage other peoples' schedules. Those in school get certain days and weeks off, and if we're going to have feet in both tracks, it's easier to plan by the school calendar.

Oh yes--and the whole year has to cost as little as possible. I won't go into all the reasons for that, but chalk it up to the economic times we're living in. Besides the fact that we generally enjoy being frugal.

All that's not as hard as it sounds. I just went through the books and other things I wanted to do, and listed everything in 36 weekly segments. 36 weeks of Bible stories. 36 weeks of Miquon Math topics. 36 weeks of "Social Studies," for want of a better word--a mixture of British history, Canadian geography, and readings and activities relating to holidays. And so on. I typed them into a Word table format (I've never figured out spreadsheets), trimmed down and adjusted the things that wouldn't work, and printed out my "master schedule," one week to a page. I also printed out the individual subjects and put them in these folders (I found the whole set, unopened, at a yard sale).

One of the other major themes this year is journeying, discovering...maybe not so different from last year's thread of exploration. I have a personal sense of this as well, looking ahead to a year that will be different because each child is different. The Apprentice's school journey was different from Ponytails', and hers is different from Crayons'. And there is our personal journey, pilgrimage, as well--spiritual, intellectual--new ground to cover. New things for our family. Greater challenges. It has been a year of change so far in many ways, not all good...but part of the journey anyway.

I'm planning to post separately (as I get time) about some of the different subjects for this year--I'll add links here as they get done.

Related posts:
Crayons' Grade Two: Science and Nature
Crayons' Grade Two: Social Studies
Crayons' Grade Two: Math
Crayons' Grade Two: Language Arts
As Little As Possible
Crayons' Grade Two Outline (updated July 2008)


T said...

I love it. We do the same thing and never plan deeper than weekly. Life happens ya know. I too break it down into 12 week sessions and I like to leave a bit of wiggle room for tangents we may discover we want to go on.

Denise Gaskins said...

Every year is a new adventure, isn't it? We are starting 4th grade for the 5th and last time. It's a wistful feeling to see the early elementary years forever fade into memory...