Friday, June 15, 2012
Last Year in Lower Elementary - Singing the Blues
I am so happy - and so sad... My little boy is growing up!
He is entering into this last year of "lower elementary". While we use AMI albums and consider elementary a continuum from 6-12, there is a certain sense of moving forward in this next year that is the typical parental bittersweet moment ;)
For the first two years of lower elementary we have almost entirely just followed the Montessori albums, throwing in our own interests and my own requirements here and there. For the sake of our personal situation, I also have "traditional school" lesson plans on which we mark off accomplished skills and record attendance (our state only requires 180 days per school year of attendance). According to those plans, he finished 3rd grade back in January (of his normally 2nd grade year). Montessori just does that ;) And we have plenty of time to explore all his own interests! A year and a half of Ancient Egypt has been a bit much for me personally, but it has been GREAT for him!
For this third year, we'll have a bit more planning to do. I have pulled all the state standards for 3rd grade in our state. He is responsible, over the course of the next year, to ensure that he has all listed skills, knowledge and experience.
Occasionally items from this list might make it onto his weekly work plan, but mostly it will just be up to him every so often to check the list and decide how to proceed. If he knows something intuitively, he can just let it go, but knowing my son, he'll likely make a little booklet that demonstrates each skill listed on the standards. I will actually be surprised if this doesn't happen.
We're doing mathematics, language arts, science, social studies, art, and physical education (the last two only because he "wants" to - ok, fine ;) ).
Looking things over, the only areas he might be "missing" are contained within social studies, particularly local history. He will develop his own plan for going about the requirements, with my assistance. We'll head to the library for books and videos, then expand from there - he might make dioramas, art projects, timelines, charts, posters, lists, diagrams or who knows what. There are SO many ways to fulfill those requirements - and there is no one right way!
And for the record, it's not that local history is left out of the Montessori elementary albums - it is that local history MUST be developed by the local teacher and the students in conjunction with one another. Montessori history covers the framework within which to study history; and the details are left to personal research. Culture and all other aspects of social studies are covered in-depth.
As homeschoolers in our state, we do not HAVE to follow those standards; but I choose to follow the Montessori elementary albums in this regard; there is a focus on the local public school requirements in the 3rd year of lower and of upper elementary. I believe it will help to instill a sense of responsibility to and respect for local authorities, strengthen his work ethic, provide practice in a safe environment for the future when he has to do things he'd rather not do (without overwhelming him now), and set a sound pattern for a mature adulthood.
So here we are at a benchmark. Leaving behind the total freedom of primary; and the relative freedom of lower elementary; to embrace a year of outside requirements. Then we'll have two more years entirely to ourselves before we repeat at age 12 years.
Ok. Reality is that the public school requirements take an average of 5 minutes per week, if that! So this is just a mommy making a mountain of a molehill ;) Hehe.