My school planning is all done, finally. It’s a good thing too since we started school this week. I finished up on Friday, and while I am sure it will be a constant adjusting and tweaking process, the whole year is laid out. Planning school is such an overwhelming task for me. I think this year having to plan in 15-20 minute chunks over the whole summer was good for me. It gave me a chance to really think about ideas, mull them over, talk to people, and finally decide what I wanted to do with the children.
I went through so many different ideas and methods in my head. Charlotte Mason inspired, Waldorf inspired, my own mish-mash of things, 4th grade or 3rd grade for Ishaan, 2nd grade or 1st grade for Ulka? So many questions to work out. In the end, I came back to what always feels right and what resonates best with the children and our family life, and that is a pretty straight up Waldorf style home school. We all love the rhythm, pace and beauty of it. I haven’t read a ton of Steiner and sometimes I think he’s kind of wacko, but a lot of what I’ve read makes a lot of sense for us and I like how it plays out in the way we do school.
Technically Ishaan is in 4th grade and Ulka is in 2nd grade. By technically I mean that according to their age those are the grades they would be in if they went to traditional school and that is what they are registered as with the school system. However we believe in “delayed” academics, or letting the kids be kids and just play for as long as possible, so we wait an extra year before starting “real school”. The whole grade level thing seems arbitrary to me anyway. If I teach Ishaan about Native Americans and shelters around the world instead of Norse mythology and map making, his year is he not learning what he should be? So in the end, Ishaan is doing 3rd grade and Ulka is doing 1st grade, for whatever that even means.
For Ishaan I’ve broken down the year into 4-week blocks with a few 1 or 2-week blocks thrown in to break things up a bit. We are going to focus on Hebrew stories, Native Americans, Fibers and Textiles, Shelters and homes, and Farming and Gardening. Math and poetry are ongoing and don’t get dedicated blocks. Our main focus will be on hands on projects done outside as much as possible and writing fluency. This seems reasonable since the projects bit is what Ishaan loves best and is good at and the writing bit is what he hates, struggles with and needs to work on most.
Last year Ulka sat down and the table with us for a short time in the morning and did some work, but mostly just to get into the routine and rhythm of doing school. When Ishaan first started we found the transition to school a bit difficult so I wanted Ulka to get a taste of it before she really had to. So since it is her first real school year and it is hard to know what will work best for her, Ulka’s blocks are much more loosely planned and will be solidified as we go along. What I do know is that it will entail lots of fairy tales and animal stories including the Burgess Animal Book for Children which I love for this age. Our focus for her this year is definitely reading and she is super excited about it.
The trickiest part of school for me really, is figuring out what to do with the little guys. Kairav naps in the morning so I just have Ila to keep busy. Our afternoon session is fairly short and mostly handwork and art so it is easy for them to participate and for me to be with them. I think it will actually be easier when they are all in school doing their own work, but that is a long time from now- and it will probably be Ishaan teaching Kairav to read!