So, you may remember when I wrote this about seventh grade planning: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/06/11/seventh-grade-homeschooling-here-is-the-real-deal/
As a little recap, all the things I mention in that post are areas of thought for me; essentially since I think seventh and eighth grade are a step up. Those two grades are different than the earlier grades, and even different than sixth grade. I also think again, in an era where many homeschooled children do look toward taking community college classes and such at age 16, what we do here counts.
The seventh and eighth grades are also the culmination of a beautiful grades curriculum, and I don’t want to miss the beauty and peak of all the work we have done in previous years. It is also my first time through planning seventh grade, which always makes it harder as well. And, to add to that, there are some things I wish we had done in sixth grade that we didn’t so I also felt we add a bit of make up to do. More on that in later posts!
My other major place of thought centers around PRACTICE. I don’t think is talked about enough in Waldorf circles, and certainly not especially for the later grades, nor are enough examples and ideas given. For example, to me, It is not enough to cover state geography in fourth grade, U.S. Geography in fifth grade, etc and then never practice and return to it – the man and animal block of fourth grade, etc. And yes, of course, some of this information comes up again and again as you work the information into other blocks. This is the “layering” of the curriculum that one often hears about, but yet I find it often takes experience to really bring this to fruition. So, a growing question in my head as of late has centered around this idea of practice and integration of what we have studied through ALL of the eight grades and how do I bring this into seventh and eighth grade.
So, I am thinking a lot about the practice and habits part. We start our day with prayer. That is such an important habit to establish for children and for adults for the health of the family and the world. We are part of the Anglican Communion, and we have the wonderful Book of Common Prayer. So that is our beginning and anchor each day. I want my children to have a well-established time with God each day, multiple times a day, because that is an important value in our family and also a means to a rich inner life as an adult. There are other religious and spiritual things that we do that I will be happy to talk about in a future post.
Secondly, my children have to participate in the life of our family. That means sharing responsibility around the house and with younger siblings. It means learning new things in homemaking and within the development of the early years child. This also will serve them well as adults to have this habit and this knowledge. This year we plan to make a small homemaking notebook where we can put things about whole foods, whole foods cooking and other homemaking projects. I have an idea for a basket of resources based off of when Elizabeth Foss over at Serendipity was putting together her baskets of “Literature for Young Ladies” and including life skills along with Victorian age literature. Ours most likely won’t be that beautiful, but will serve a necessity toward life skills as we make a basket of life skills themes for seventh grade. The practicality of homeschooling during the middle school ages is a true and real benefit of homeschooling seventh grade.
After these things are done, my seventh grader will have her own independent things to do. She loves piano, and loves to practice piano. She also loves foreign languages, and depending upon what course we take with that, this would be time to practice that on her own. She does not love math, but does understand the conceptual side of math extremely well and can do her math work fairly independently between math blocks presented and weekly math lessons presented. We also make time for a lot of games and puzzles for math. So that is just another everyday habit. It should be a habit to learn something new everyday, even as an adult. I like Making Math Meaningful’s puzzles and games book, and there are many others out on the market. Also, keeping a basket of books related to math around is a fun thing to have available. It is my job, though, to have the math work laid out each day and then the extras about and available.
Lastly, I plan to have an “independent” folder ready. Several times a week this will include things related to history, cultures or especially geography work that is a review of fourth through sixth grades, and also work on general world geography. There are some teacher resources from the National Council of Geographic Education available here: http://www.ncge.org/ and the Internet can provide a wealth of different resources by geographic area just by search. I will gather articles, short stories and other resources just as I go through life and read things. The other few times a week this will include writing exercises needed for good writing in seventh grade in preparation for a few weeks of “Wish, Wonder, Surprise” as the culmination of things we will be working on all year in writing.
So, that is the “practice” end of things. I hope that helps some of you, and that you would be willing to share what your seventh grader will be working on independently, and what habits you hope to form to help your child in adulthood. If you have any posts about seventh grade on your blog, I hope that you will share the link below!
Thank you for sharing your insightful and inspiring information and experiences. I have enjoyed reading your posts.
I was wondering if you would mind sharing your connections to nutritionists or cooks… you shared a link a while back with a woman’s name but I can’t remember it. If this rings a bell would you mind forwarding me her name/website. I am also a nutritionist and homeopath so I would love to connect.
I don’t really have any connections in that area. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.
Dear Carrie, I love your musings, and I agree that topics should be revisited, practiced and layered or they will be forgotten. (I can’t help but feel like the never returning to things comment, i.e. the man and animal block, was geared to me. LOL. I still have 8th grade…) And, although I have never dared to put it into writing, my number one goals for homeschooling have nothing to do with what knowledge my children acquire. Like you, I want my children to develop spiritual habits, and habits to help them become good people, good mothers/homemakers or good father/provider. My rising 7th grader did many things independently last year that I plan to continue: piano practice, reading assigned books, writing her own summaries and reports for main lesson books, managing her math workbook time. This fall, I will add independent foreign language study that I will oversee once a week (we used Rosetta Stone a few years ago, but I don’t see that they learned much.) In her desire to be more independent, she also approached me with a suggestion for a different weekly rhythm that allows the two of us to meet for main lesson/guided work only three days per week and for her to work independently the other two. I am seriously considering it, and I think it’s wonderful that she has a desire to guide her own learning. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! They are great thought provokers for me. Warmly, Rachel
I too, am loving all your thoughts on this. I haven’t had much time as of late to really sit with this, but this post got me thinking a bit in regards to what I heard Eugene speak about. So when thinking in terms of Waldorf Education and the use of sleep to aid in learning, my assumption was that the grades 1-8 were really just an introduction, a “meeting the subjects” if you will and that in High School, all of these will be revisited but obviously on a much deeper, more intellectual way. In my homeschool, daily math review consists of all materials learned thus far. So my 6th grader was practicing math from all grades either mentally or in the form of daily practice problems. I also found that when I was covering subjects this past year, things would come up from previous years (I would then say, remember when we talked about that in fifth or third, etc.). Much to my surprise, he would remember most of it! And yes the other side of the middle grades is instilling good work habits. I planted the seed with this a bit this past year with an assignment book for math problems. He had all week to complete them all. I also gave him several creative writing assignments and asked for first drafts after x amount of days as well as a European country project with similar dead lines. I am going to continue down this path in 7th as it worked well for him and me!
I do think that is true. Rick Tan talked about that a lot in his talk as well, and Eugene. The seed is planted, things are touched upon and come back deeper…but I do wonder if things like geography are just one of those areas that needs practice (and math and grammar). I don’t know; I am thinking about it all.
Blessings and thanks for sharing!
Carrie, I just loved this post so much. The thought of continually watering the seeds we planted will only helps then grow stronger and deepen their roots.(that’s what we are trying to do give our children a solid foundation:) The idea of layering the blocks is wonderful; I believe as our children go through each life stage their understanding of subjects can go much deeper than when they first covered it. Thanks for the reminder..Blessings Andrea