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, January 19, 2016

Final Upper Elementary Work Plan

Legoboy is coming to an end of his elementary years and is already showing signs of the Adolescent mind... sleeping a lot more; moody-moody-moody; more expression through hand-work; and needing more guidance with his work plans, where he was really independent for quite a while there.

This last bit threw me for a loop, but also entirely makes perfect sense. For all of us who have spent a few years avoiding the checklist mentality with the work plans???? Guess what the adolescent actually NEEDS! A checklist!

A checklist developed together - not something pre-determined - and the child still has control over his day and week and month and year and interests and studies, but the child right now *craves* more connection with the adults around him, seeks that guidance so much more when the previous second plane of development was worked through properly with a strong relationship built and all internal needs met ---- so this new child just wants to know what the expectations are so he can get on with things. He IS working toward a goal now - whether that be to finish middle school or high school, earn specific credits, learn a specific skill in order to do a particular activity, etc. There really needs to be more of an "end in sight" mentality.

We are still in the transitioning phase. And I have already noticed something as I type this up - unbeknownst to me and just following our natural Montessori paths, we are totally moving into a classical direction. Bess at Grace & Green Pastures has already identified this connection and has some plans in mind - I always saw the connections, and know that others have combined the two, but I never really made a plan - I had a few specific goals for our household as a family, otherwise the plan is to meet the needs of each individual and the family as a whole. And here we are - classical! ;)

So here goes - final semester of upper elementary Montessori homeschooling for my precious baby, Legoboy!

Finishing up the elementary albums

Legoboy has slowed down *quite* a bit on the final presentations - partly his own readiness and interest, partly to help me create videos. He figures he will get those presentations with the videos and he mostly enjoys helping me (he earns Dairy Queen blizzards as well as a percentage of each KotU sale that includes video access).

Also, the albums are not the be-all-end-all of your homeschool curriculum. They are a foundation and a structure on which the individual child and the individual family has time to explore areas of personal interest and family importance. So many resources can be plugged in as the child reaches out into the world and deeply explore their areas of interest at the time of their interest. For example, I could sit here and complain about not finding just the right match of a study resource for my son to care about American History, but really? He has been exploring the Highlights series on the states, reads lots of books (ahem, historical fiction) of various time periods and locations, we watch a lot of movies, we discuss all of those movies and books and references that he isn't clear on - and it all ends up interconnecting. Oh yes - and games. Board games, card games, dice games, you name it, we play it; and the more educational or strategic, the more we play it. And there are geography games too!

  • Mathematics - I have been eyeing some of the adolescent algebra presentations - the early ones - for Legoboy. He seems ready and the author (Mike Waski) says that some of the work can be done in upper elementary. I recently attended a workshop and tried to engage in a conversation about which could be where, but time was so limited, we didn't get back to it. Follow the child!
  • Art - at this point, art works into everything. I do want to do a history of art timeline this year yet. And he has plans to work through Art-Pac 6 for basic simple fun. 
  • Music - we still need to work on the tone bars, but will do those as we get to them in the videos. Otherwise, he has history of many composers and styles down pat, piano lessons (see below) and a wide variety of musical interests under his belt. 
  • Biology - we have thoroughly covered this album, but he will help with the videos for some built-in review. 
  • Geometry - A few spots left to fill in, but he wants to just do them with the videos - it will be good to show audiences a genuine "first lesson" ;) 
  • History - we have this covered ;) 
  • Language Arts - also covered; he will do review with the related videos and he is doing literature studies as noted below. 

1/23/2016 --- OOPS! I posted this before Legoboy looked it over. He said I made some mistakes - I added in some things he wants to work towards doing in the autumn, when he is fully in adolescent mode. So I have struck some things out! Sorry!

Literature Studies - stemming from the elementary Language Arts album
Legoboy chose some pre-written literature studies from Memoria Press to go through of his own accord. This year the focus is on Adam of the Road, Door in the Wall, King Arthur, and Robin Hood. He likes these guides himself; as for my preference, I would like to see related art and science suggestions, etc - you know, more of the cosmic education components. When I let up my own expectations though, and let Legoboy lead - he always pulls in these outside studies himself. When I start to do something he backs off. You'd think I'd've learned my lesson by now! Someday. ;)

Poetry: He is also working through the Poetry selections in Poetry for the Grammar Stage.

Geography Studies - stemming from the elementary Geography album
The Keys of the Universe albums do not at this particular moment have a "functional geography" chapter. The geography album almost had this in it ---- then the jumpdrive was lost right before a back-up was going to be made. Yeah. Not a good day (now a month...).

Legoboy's chosen paths have been the inspiration for what *will* be in that geography album in regards to functional geography. He chose these resources based on a wide variety of options (including not using any particular resource at all). And as the soon-to-be-adolescent he is becoming, he is really eating up the idea of following the lessons point by point, stopping to add in his own; discussing with me when he hits a point he already knows (verify his knowledge so he can move on) or is bored with (verify he knows enough to move on, or how much to work through anyway to move on to the next lesson).

All of these really get into specific cultures, music, art, as well as the physical geography of the local area.
Why so much? Because he wants to!

Ancient Greek - stemming from love of all things ancient History as well as Biblical
Online course through Homeschool Connections.

Cover Story
He took a long break from this as he shifted focus to other areas. Next month he plans to pick it up again, probably from the beginning. Here is the post where he first started Cover Story.
Although he HAS started going through it again, he asks me to note that he probably won't delve into it until we have the Keys of the Universe Montessori homeschooling videos finished. Why this connection? Beats me, other than the amount of time involved.

Christian Studies
Legoboy has been working through Memoria Press's Christian Studies 1, 2 and 3 at a rather fast clip. He has studied so much of this within the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium already as well as his own studies and other homeschool studies, so this is just putting it into another framework. He uses this as a review and it is going FAST.

US History - finally finishing !? 
The post where he started US History studies - way back! We still have those resources; but they are not meeting our particular needs anymore. The book mentioned there is good; I think it will be more meaningful now we have gone through the videos. With that video overview, Legoboy is moving along more smoothly through his study book; then we will get back to the book in the other post, with its even greater detail on the eras it covers.

Key Montessori principle for the elementary age: whole to the parts. Overview, then delve into the details of interest. As we delve into these various details (of which he is creating a notebook of questions and ideas to explore that he does not want to research until he has had the entire overview (videos) and finished the study book), we will explore various viewpoints and use a variety of sources.

Legoboy continues to participate in the local parish's level 3 atrium. This has been a mixed bag experience. The current catechist is brand-new to being in level 3 full-time, only recently finished her training, and has a great deal of other responsibilities on her shoulders. It is a lot for her. An adult male friend of the family and his daughter have recently returned to the atrium, so Legoboy is much more amenable to attending as long as they are present. Previously, he would ask ME to give him a presentation at home and suggest some work options - now he knows there will at least be some good exploration of some aspect of the faith. So - he goes. And texts me during class to ask what he should work on... Not because he isn't capable but because the structure of the class is no longer amenable to children identifying their personal interests and following through on it - that and he can't find half the materials. Pray for this catechist! Her heart is normally one of gold and there have been some difficult situations of late!

Piano Lessons
Last week, Legoboy started on his first official piano lessons. To date, I have taught him, he has self-taught using The Music Tree books, and he has had random music lessons from various individuals. It has been a while and he needs something more consistent. So there goes any extra money I thought we would have from being debt-free! He really does enjoy playing the piano, though - so the cost is totally worth it.

Strengthening and Conditioning
The local YMCA has a class that we've not seen listed in the program before, but apparently has been offered for a while. This class meets twice a week for an hour (plus 5 laps around the building before or after) for children about 4th through 8th grade. The idea seems to be a "something to do in between other sports". Since Legoboy doesn't play any seasonal sports, this has been a great ongoing class for him - they do a lot of what looks like military drills, use a variety of workout equipment - and his favorite part: use some of the workout machines and big equipment (the stuff that the Y says you have to be older than he is AND receive a demo on how to use!).

Legoboy continues with taekwondo - the instructors are teasing he is making career of the school black belt! Normally you test for the school black belt, than take (and pass) the association test about a month later. The association only has tests every 6 months. We are coming up on the 3rd one since Legoboy got the school black belt, and we're still not sure if he is going to test or not! He just needs SNAP in his forms; instead he looks bored (he IS bored - so he does them sloppy - this is an internal attitude that needs work).

In the meantime, he LOVES tournaments!
My handsome :)
Last Saturday's tournament:
1st in breaking
3rd in weapons forms
no place in regular forms (bored look on his face)

Swim lessons
He is also on his umpteenth session of the swim lessons for the lowest level. He IS making improvement in every area, but just hasn't moved out of the lowest level class since he started lessons in summer 2014. He started with a 3 week summer session, twice a week; then did one session on then one session off (a session is typically 7 weeks) for a while, but he just started his 3rd session in a row to just get past the basic skills. Then he can re-evaluate to continue on or take a break.

Other - more informal:

We still have other studies going, but not on any official basis:
  • Life of Fred - we'll pick up more next year. Legoboy has read all of the stories already ;) 
  • Key To workbooks - again, we'll pick up the rest next year. 
  • Khan Academy - totally informal. He works on it when he likes, on whatever topics he likes. Most recently he has been focusing on some coding classes they have. 
  • Minecraft Mod Coding class online 

As you can see, we are really kind of coming together, consolidating. The coming adolescent (middle school) years will continue academic growth, but at a slower pace. More in another post! 

What about the 6th grade local educational standards? With all the flux with common core, not common core, but still have to revamp our standards (which were already *better* than common core) to be in line with common core, without being common core..... 

I'll be blunt: 

I. Don't. Care. 

Our local schools don't finish a textbook anyway; when we do a course of study, we meet all goals. 
Our local schools have children all over the place regarding mastery; when we do a course of study, we master the material. 
Our local schools are good schools and meet the needs of most of the local children; my son's homeschool meets the needs of 100% of its students.

I am all for checking in with local standards, ensuring we have the same terminology, that all concepts are covered. 

But when local school districts can't get it together, it is time to move on with my child's education. 

Ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ----- the Montessorian in me can't just set it aside and not LOOK. 

Everything I see in our current state standards for math, social studies, science, language arts, health & wellness ---- is covered by the Montessori experiences as I have them in the KotU or in a child's natural follow-up studies - OR will be succinctly covered in the upcoming adolescent math album. 


  1. That is a busy boy! Everything sounds great. He's so lucky to have you.

    I've been leaning classical the whole time, so I guess it will be no surprise if I lean classical during the adolescent period as well. Love the "I. Don't. Care." near the end plus the three sentences that follow. Ditto.

    Coincidentally, I've had my most recent work plan post sitting in draft for a couple weeks but published it today. I wrote it, decided I hated it, looked at again this morning and decided it wasn't THAT bad and published it anyway.

  2. Funny, so I've been researching the classical model this month because as I was looking into getting "good" literature for our environment, that is where all my research was leading me to. I kept finding classical site after classical site and blog and then asked a few homeschool friends for advice and was led to a few classical sites and a book. Of course with Montessori and all the materials already being so time consuming, I was really not interested in adding "classical" to the mix, even though it's been following me around for a while now, but then I realized that "classical" is not really something you add, it is the content you fill into the Montessori model :). So I felt better and am now on a classical route interwoven through Montessori as my oldest goes into upper elementary! I think it fits great, now that I've read some on it :). And then of course God leads me to this post and the first thing you talk about is going "classical". He always finds a way to confirm what I believe he's lead me to...haha. I was looking through your blog because I was going to ask you what you thought about the classical thanks for answering me without being asked. Anyway, looks like Legoboy is doing good. It's always good to see light at the end of the tunnel!