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Let’s Start at the Very Beginning….Our After Schooling Plan

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:36pm

Though most people consider me an optimist, I have a fairly wide cynical streak. So, as we finish up our first set of after schooling units, I’m cautiously optimistic. Do you detect my nervousness at starting this grand plan? One niggling little part of me expects it to be a crashing failure, one about which friends and family will tease me years down the road:

“Remember the time you decided to ‘after school’ and after two months The Hamster threw the books at you and said he wasn’t going to ‘do that stupid “home schooling stuff” anymore’?

I await the day in fear and pray for it to pass quickly. Until then, we soldier on.

Since I’ve noticed that though I’ve discussed our plans, I haven’t actually discussed our curriculum and schedule in any detail, I thought I’d do that today, in case anyone cares to tag along. (Please contact me if you do; misery afterschooling loves company)

We are doing 8 week units in two subjects, history and science. (We may add in music, art and literature in some sort of structured way in the future.) Eight weeks seems to be about right what with regular school and other activities, including unstructured free time. We’ve just completed out first units in each subject and I’d say we spend about an hour or two a week on each.

Since our approach is unstructured the hour or two means we read some of the books on each topic on and off throughout the week, do some projects and maybe watch a video. Our kids though incorporate the topics into their play time sometimes too but, that’s part of the point. .

Since Crystal is a bottom up learner and I am a top down learner, her instinct is to pick one topic and develop a detailed plan for the next eight weeks. Mine is to outline the topics for the next two years first, then work out the detail. We’ve compromised (after a few heated conversations) by selecting on our topics for the next 4 months and writing out a detailed plan for each unit a week or so before. Crystal is better at the detailed plan than I am…but I’m improving.

So far we’ve decided on 3 units in each subject, which will take us 24 weeks to complete or roughly 6 months:

Paleozoic Era
Mesozoic Era
Cenozoic Era

Rocks and Minerals
Weather and Climate

Our original plan was to follow the guidelines in The Well Trained Mind but Crystal wanted to start with prehistory, unlike in WTM, which starts right in with early CIVILIZATIONS. So, we’re winging these first 6 months, and then will pick up on the first grade curriculum found in WTM.

Our fairly detailed plans (nicely laid out in tables) include objectives, book resources (mostly from our local libraries) and planned field trips and projects. We’ve started “review notes” after each unit too and are keeping a notebook of our adventures as recommended by experienced homeschoolers.

What’s somewhat (actually not really) surprising is how much fun we are all having. The kids are latching on to different topics. The Hamster found rocks fascinating. Crystal kids less so. While her kids were very interested in The Paleozoic era, mine can’t wait to get to Cenozoic. Since we’re “afterschooling” not homeschooling” there’s less pressure on us to ensure they “really know” each topic. And that makes it even more fun for us adults.

Visit The Carnival of Homeschooling here!

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