In preparation for my trip, I've begun to put together my shopping list of curriculum MUST HAVES for the coming school year.
Like most mommas, I have a pre-determined idea of the subjects I WOULD like to cover and even the curriculums I WOULD like to use to cover them.
But, the truth of the matter is, my ability to teach any of these PERFECTLY-PLANNED concepts is only as good as my child's interest in learning them. Obviously, some core concepts and subjects are non-negotiable. Super boy WILL be learning multiplication facts in math next year whether he likes it or not, because I subscribe to the spiral approach to math vs. the whatever-you-want-to-learn-today-is-fine-by-me version. (Fortunately for me, he WANTS to learn multiplication facts. True story.)
But, for most other concepts and subjects, there is no hard and fast rule that says we HAVE to learn (fill in the blank) next year. Subjects like Bible, science, life skills, art, world cultures, and many others non-core/elective type branches of study can be taught based on the natural interests and curiosities of the learners.
My children are all so very different. They were each fashioned by the Creator with unique interests and talents. But, since many parts of our day are centered around cooperative learning, they all get the benefit of encouraging and participating in each other's passions.
Our learning is delight-directed. While I sometimes have a skeletal plan based on what I THINK they might enjoy learning, I can't hold an iron grip on my PLAN. I have to be willing to release my grasp and accept PLAN B. (The ants vs. frogs project of 2011 proved that learning happens best when it is interest-led.)
For the past couple of years, I've continued to devise a well-ordered curriculum shopping plan, but only AFTER I've included my children in it.
I conduct what can simply be called a watcha-wanna-learn-next-year brainstorming session with my brood. It goes a little something like this...
I sit them all down together.
TOGETHER is crucial because a brainstorming session always evokes more ideas when there's more vs. less. (My idea strikes a chord with you. You toss out an idea based on mine. She throws out a thought that was birthed from yours. And he flings out a random notion that doesn't have anything to do with anyone else's suggestion, but strikes up an entirely new line of thoughts. And so on...)
I pose a few key questions to get the ideas flowing.
And then I write.
I jot down all of their curiosities...all of their I've-always-wanted-to-knows. And smile.
Because we've been doing this for a few years, they know that it is not possible nor probable that we will be able to cram all of their wants and wishes of learning into one year. But, they know I've not just HEARD them, I've LISTENED to them and that to the best of my ability, I will design a course of study that has THEM and THEIR DELIGHTS in mind.
Last year, my oldest son had the urge to learn chemistry. And although I was kicking and screaming on the inside when I plunked down the $165 for an all-in-one elementary chemistry curriculum, I was smiling on the outside. And so was he. I had invested in his passions and had given him a voice in his own education.
And you know what? We are all LOVING chemistry. Who knew that cracking the code to the periodic table of elements could be so fun?
Here are a few questions to help jumpstart the brainstorming?
Delight-Directed Planning Questions
- What have you liked learning about most this year?
- Was there something that we learned that you'd like to learn more about?
- Is there a question that you've always wanted to know the answer to?
- What was your favorite project that we made/created this year?
- What would you like to learn about in (insert subject name) this year?