Seventh Grade Homeschooling: Here Is The Real Deal

 

Most of my friends will tell you I am honest, probably to a fault.  I tend to say what I think, even if I put it in the nicest words possible.  (Sorry to my friends who have to put up with me!)    So, I have to be honest and tell you a few things about planning seventh grade.

 

It is disappointing.  It is challenging.  It can be frustrating.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Ha!  There it is!

So many of the resources and previous places that provided direction seems to “dry up” or it becomes incredibly vague as to “how” to do seventh grade.  There are only about three or four curriculum providers providing any direction at this level at all, whether that is articles, workshops, or full curriculum.  That may sound like enough to choose from and draw from, but I don’t think it is, to be honest.  None of them have completely resonated with me.  Each curriculum provider seems to provide different suggestions and ideas – which is wonderful in one sense, to see the possibilities – but also daunting in another sense, because it seems as if no matter what path you follow you may be “missing something”.  I understand all of education, whether school or at home, is going to have things we don’t learn –there are many things I didn’t learn even going through university twice in two very different plans of study!  I don’t believe there is an education that exists without gaps, but what I find disappointing is that threads that are started don’t always seem completed in seventh and eighth grade.  A strong start, but not a thought to how the scope and sequence will finish out in some of these home programs.    For example, in seventh grade, some put in almost no geography; or some put in one region of the world but not another region, some put in chemistry but not physics; all seem to put in physiology; none put in American History (not even the American curriculum providers!) and leave the entirety of American history for eighth grade which I think, at least for me as an American, is terrible.   And, some providers, when they start American history,  skip the pre -colonial times and pick up at Manifest Destiny into the Civil War.   Some put in astronomy whilst others did this in sixth grade, some put in separate blocks for geometry and algebra and some combine these subjects into one block.

Middle school is a lot to pull together, and yes, the oft -used phrase “Every homeschool will look very different in middle school” does apply  here, as it does to every grade.  But again, within that freedom, I think we need to find the developmentally appropriate form.  This is not only the capstone ending for the eight grades, but also a preliminary foundation for high school.  And, for many homeschoolers whose high school careers morph into community college and other things out into the world around age 16, the decisions in seventh and eighth grade could be important.

The one thing I did was go back to the AWNSA chart.  No, this is not to say homeschooling should look just like this, of course,  but to see past what a homeschool curriculum provider *thinks* would be feasible or  *could* be possible in the home or just what their own personal bias is and to then compare and see what is possibly done in a school (but maybe not because I don’t know as a class teacher can fit all this in either!) can be helpful, I think.  It helps you to know what you can do, what you can draw from, and to look for the reasons WHY these subjects are developmentally appropriate and then look at your own child and your own family.

 

According to the AWNSA chart, this is seventh grade: Continue reading

June: Time To Plan

 

In May, I wrote a post about “preschool” planning here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/25/notes-for-preschool-planning/, plans for fourth grade:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/22/plans-for-fourth-grade/, and this post about planning:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/05/may-time-to-plan/

 

I think, finally,  I have the blocks for my seventh grader mapped out.  It was a lot of wrestling with the curriculum, which I shall write about at some point.   In the meantime, while I was wrestling with what blocks and where, I wrote out a general flow for six of the blocks, knowing the order  and such would evenutally come.

 

I haven’t done much for fourth grade yet, other than to lay out a general flow to the school year, but  I have planned our Local Geography block and started to put together a flow for math for the entire year. Continue reading

Let’s Read: “Simplicity Parenting”

 

Chapter One opens with a story about a sweet little eight year old who was entering third grade.  His parents were both professionals in education and government, and they lived in the city.  The little boy was a picky eater, an intelligent speaker with adults but had trouble connecting to his peers, avoided any risk taking, and was a bit anxious.  James was often in the midst of a stream of adult information about political and adult intellectual topics.  The parents decided the best way to help James was to work on rhythm, and decrease the amount he overheard regarding world news, politics and topics like global warming.  When this was done, the sleep of the little boy improved and his outdoor play expanded.  His anxiety decreased.

 

The authors ask, “Was all of this directly attributable to the changes James’s family made?  Was it lack of TV?  Less talk of global warming?  Can we point to any one thing that made the real difference?  My answer to that would be no, and yes.  I don’t think there was any one thing, any magic bullet that obliterated James’s nervousness and controlling behaviors.  But the steps taken to protect James’s childhood definitely had an effect.”

 

Simplifying the world of a child often leads to growth and positive change. This can often be so difficult in Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: June

 

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not yet ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

I wrote about my homeschool planning method of marking seasonal and liturgical ideas down for each month in past posts.  I have written monthly anchor points posts for August, September, October, May and now would like to extend our mood of celebration into June!

 

June is always an interesting juxtaposition for me personally.  It is a month where I often feel very inward because it is often during this time I am going through all the closets, drawers, cabinets and garage space in my home.  I organize my school room and take stock.  And I am homeschool planning for fall.  So in some ways I feel so wrapped up in my own little inner world. I am certain I am terrible company for those around me!

Yet, the juxtaposition is all the time we spend outside in the sun Continue reading

Let’s Read: “Simplicity Parenting”

 

The last time I posted a “Sunday Books” series was in November of 2013. We were headed through Elizabeth Pantley’s “No-Cry Discipline Solution”, and honestly, the posts were not generating much thought and I wasn’t really feeling inclined to delve deeper.  I gave myself permission to breathe and walk away from it since I didn’t feel it was working in that moment.

I have wanted to write on the chapters of “Simplicity Parenting: Using The Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Children” by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross.  I am not trained as a Simplicity Parenting Group Leader as I found the cost to be prohibitive, but I hope to add some ideas and experiences of my own as we go through these pages.  I know many of you out there are Group Leaders and I do hope you will chime in, and I also know many of you have worked through these pages in small groups on your own and also have experiences to share.  I shall enjoy hearing from you!

I love the opening line of this book in the Introduction: Continue reading

Are Homeschooled Children Less Likely To Be Physically Fit?

 

As a physical therapist, I am very concerned about the impact of competitive sports on growing bodies (you can see more about that in this back post).  However, I am equally concerned with the rising rates of obesity, Type II Diabetes, and lack of exercise in our youth.  Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that less than half of children ages 12 to 15 are aerobically fit.  You can see more in the National Public Radio news article entitled, “Are American Teens Becoming Even Wimpier Than Before?”

In the past, I  have also wondered about the physical fitness levels of many homeschooled children.  There was a study done recently regarding physical fitness levels of homeschooled children versus children that attended school.  It was published in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and posted on Facebook sometime during this spring, but I cannot find a link to it.  The research had  a small sample number as I recall, so it may not be completely conclusive, but the results were that the homeschooled children were NOT as physically fit.

Why would this be? Continue reading

The Twelve Year Change

 

Within the pedagogical literature of Waldorf Education, there seems to be  a lot more press about the developmental changes at ages six/seven and nine than there is about the developmental changes at twelve.  This is unfortunate, I believe, because some of the biggest changes within the first two seven year cycles take place at age twelve.

Ages six and seven may be more of a “you’re not the boss of me” age, and nine may be an age of sensitivity and tenderness as children often seem to experience an underlying realizations about loss, life cycles, and separation, but twelve, to me, has the most dramatic changes and unfolding out of these three transitional periods.

A good deal of separation of the child’s own personality really begins at this age, and shows in the will of the child.  The child may set  now set goals, especially in learning, and may work at activities to really conquer something in the outside world that they are interested in intently.  The will shows up coming from a place of inner individual moral development and personality.

The social element awakens;  there can be a  grouping off, especially after grade six. You start seeing this generally as early as around age ten, which is where fractions is introduced into the Waldorf curriculum in grade four, and this grouping off continues to progress.   Many people remember this about the middle school years.   It is important  to make sure the children are in a group in a healthy way at this point – trekking, hiking, kayaking, caving and other bodily will exercises in a group is stimulating for this group and age.

You start seeing development that looks more based upon gender at age twelve than ever before.  Girls tend to band together socially in a way that can be different than the boys – more hanging out, daydreaming, talking.  The boys can be brimming with activity.  Physically the girls are different than the boys.  As the girls approach puberty, Continue reading