Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Upper Elementary Montessori - New work journal and work plan

Work Journal - really it's nothing new, a bit more detail in some areas, a bit less in others. We are simply looking for a record of general time spent. Questions and thoughts now go into their own notebooks rather than in here, though sometimes things pop up in here too.
Just to have a cute photo
for the upper elementary montessori
work plan post ;) 
So we use a spiral notebook; note the date, then list general times spent on general studies/activities. We might have 2 days on a page; or it might be a full page for 1 day.

Work Plan - we are going full-monthly now. Legoboy has his plans and we still have the remainder of the albums.
Truly, as we moved into upper elementary (click that link for a related post), I thought the remainder of the albums would be done rather quickly. Nope! What has happened is that I am presenting FAR less. He receives a new presentation and has two courses of action:
  1. Runs with it. Uses it. Practices it. Builds a small (or large) study around it.
  2. "Gets it." Then returns to his other small or large studies he is doing, integrating the new presentation wherever is appropriate.
I am even MORE grateful that we didn't go with more detailed upper elementary albums. As schools start up in my area, I am continually asked "so when do you start school again?" When I say, "We never stop learning," most people are appalled (thinking of textbooks for 4-8 hours all.year.round). Nope! We have keys-based Montessori albums that require us to live life to its fullest ;) 

So we are still meeting each week to go over the schedule for the week (I don't mean school schedule - I mean our family schedule: tae-kwon-do, church events, Mass times, events at the Legostore, anything scheduled with friends or family (lots of pool parties lately!)). We then go over the non-scheduled things that need to be done this week.

By "go over" - this means we discuss it. I don't dictate "here are the things that need to be done" (unless there IS something that needs to be done, but honestly he tells ME those things even when I already know). We have our routine of what we discuss and he runs with it. He'll come up with things that should/could be done, or share an insight on how something could be done, etc.

For example, 2 weeks ago, he suggested we attend the early morning Mass at St. Martin so that we can work on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd sacristy items at St. Paul on the way back, followed by St. John's which is also on the way back, saving a short trip of gas. His actual motive however, was to assure some time in the schedule to play a new game: Settlers of Catan. Well, ok, I can handle that ;)

So we now have a list of monthly goals or "themes" with our weekly conversation of what will be accomplished in each given week. If he feels he needs more time to accomplish a goal, we can discuss and I will support or nix an extension. I want him to learn to meet deadlines, but at 10, Legoboy should not be up until midnight or 3am finishing projects just to meet a deadline either.

As the mother and head of the household, I do have final say on all decisions, but I cherish these moments of discussing age-appropriate experiences with my son, allowing (encouraging!) him to be part of the thought-process behind life's little and large decisions; thereby knowing that when he is an adult and fully responsible for himself, I know that I have equipped him with all that I can including my prayers and my entrusting him to God.

There are a good number of anti-Montessori adults who want to emphasize adult control and adult direction to the point of denying that God has given our children any capabilities of their own. Thus, they hold on too tight until it is time to release the child to the world, then they are devastated by the results when the now-adult child looks to find another authority to "listen to" because he or she is incapable of making one's own decisions. These children spend their 20s (sometimes longer) getting their lives straightened out, when they could spend that time living a wonderful life by having learned all those adult life skills in tiny increments as growing children.
(end soapbox ;) )

August themes/plans:

  • My Temple of the Holy Spirit health study (Catholic-based, but could be done by any Christian denomination)
    • Study each topic in this book, adding desired activities from Blood and Guts; coloring pictures in two anatomy coloring books (the two we have are high school level, really)
    • Dissections where appropriate
  • Finish up My Pet Store Math (a Charlotte Mason offering) - we had to take a break from this a while back. He would like to finish it up.
  • Work of Water: create the river model by himself
  • Catch up on astronomy newsletters and spend at least 1 night a week outside under the stars
  • Come close to finishing Mystery of History (because of his love for ancient history, volume 1 has taken FOREVER to do! This is fine because
    1. he has the Great Lessons, thus the overview of Cosmic Education;
    2. he has taken each (or almost every) short lesson and done some further follow-up work beyond selecting at least one of the included activities (usually more), creating the timeline cards and creating a Wall of Fame in a notebook of his own);
    3. this is the only volume we plan to do. As Catholics, there are 2 specific locations that brought up some interesting discussion for us. Volumes 2 and 3 veer from how we understand the revelation of God. We'll have those discussions, just not with any particular history textbook. 
  • Review work with decimal fractions. He has had some minor trouble with decimal places with the Pet Store Math - mostly in understanding when/why we don't need extra zeroes after a final decimal, unless we have something like 90 cents. And he wants to finish reviewing that material/section for me for the math album.
  • Further music presentations. We have stalled on these, not because we don't LOVE them but because of time and space. He has been playing the piano but no real lessons. We'll look into picking up lessons next month, but our goal this month is to get the tone bars set up again and proceed forward with those album pages.
That's it! Think block scheduling, with lots of real life connecting it all.

We are not covering other subjects this month either because we naturally do them and don't have any particular plans/goals (growing and using herbs; prayer/faith studies (we are prepping the atriums for classes to start this September); or because he has goals for those areas in September or October. These later months aren't fully planned, but he set up a page for each to move things over that won't fit for the month of August. Organizational planning skills ;)  

So how did we spend our time today? Discussing the brain, the eye and the heart (topics of his own interest) - then doing a dissection on a cow's eye (post to come later this week!) - all of his own accord, on a deeper level than if I'd required it, but still with my requirement that he learn it thoroughly and all related ethics. I shared that information with a woman who thought I was crazy to not have starting/ending dates for school - she is a retired nurse and she insists he is doing high school level work (with the terminology he used to explain to her what he did today, yep, maybe it IS high school level work. He's 10. What does that say about high school offerings? Of course, I did the same work in college...).

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