Monday, April 01, 2013

We Are Advancing Constantly

Sadie will start 6th Grade mathematics (Saxon) this  month.  She is still technically in 4th Grade.

When we chose to homeschool Sadie two years ago, it was in part so that we could incorporate things like Latin and Greek into our curriculum.  Even Catholic schools do not teach those subjects at Elementary levels anymore.  In part, too, was the idea of not missing a huge chunk of Sadie's childhood -- after three years of sending her off to school in the morning, I was feeling disconnected with the person she was becoming.  Some moms make great classroom moms and get totally involved with the school experience.  I am not one of those moms.  The last great part of the decision was finding a schedule that really works -- for that optimal (optare - "to wish") balance of academic vigor, life-enhancing experiences, and plenty of dreaming down-time. I think we are getting very close.

I have set up the school year as follows: In September, we officially start a new academic year.  This is so that, if Sadie ever goes back into a traditional school, she will be in sync with the school calendar.  But, she will be "in school" year-round.  We do three weeks on, one week off, from September through August, with four special times of the year when she can have two weeks off in a row.  That gives us a typical 36-week school year, with a good dose of field-tripping and goofing-off time thrown in.

Because we are eschewing the 3-month wasteland of summer break, in September there is no "waking up the summer-slumber mind and snapping it back into academic mode" month of remedial learning.  In the words of Patton (the movie, at least, if not the man), "we are advancing constantly." Even on her "off" weeks, Sadie needs to do a little math, a little Latin and Greek, and a little memory work (be it poetry or geography or both!). This is just to keep her awake.  I have tried to give her time with absolutely no schoolwork, and have found that, when we start again, she inevitably tries to claim that she has forgotten how to conjugate ambulo into pluperfect or how to subtract fractions. This is because she is a weasel. So, math and Latin and so on we do -- and, if she does not fuss, it takes less than an hour and she can go climb up a tree and commune with the birds, or whatnot.

Also, by adhering to this schedule, we are still able to be ready for testing at the end of May.  At first I was worried that our strung-out timeline would make Sadie only 3/4 of the way through her grade level by testing time.  I have found, though, that homeschooling allows us simply to get through more things quickly, as well as thoroughly.  So, we can finish a 4th Grade science curriculum in April, or US History in May.  And math is just something that spirals around anyway, with piecemeal additions of new concepts interwoven with constant repetition of old ones.  Sadie did very well on her tests last year; I know she will do the same this year.  And the NLE, starting in 5th Grade?  Piece of cake (fingers crossed/knocking wood)!

I never thought that I would advocate for year-round school.  I believe with all my heart that kids need lots and lots of dreaming alone time and robust playing time and time out of their seats and into the world.  But, I am pretty sure -- and I'll have to wait for the years to bear witness as to whether I am or not, ultimately -- that this mixture is just right.  At least, it seems to be working for our family.  The seamless advance from year-to-year in our various curricula just plain works.  Far be it from me to wish to sentence any child to more time in public school; but, for homeschoolers or nontraditional and private schools, this schedule is something to consider. 

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