It is that time of the year when I take a few days to reflect on the kids' school work. I love doing this it is so motivational for me, especially when I browse through all of the photos that I have taken while they were in action. I know for some homeschoolers, and those who attend traditional schools that the school year is coming to an end. Not for us! We march on and continue to become life long learners. I tend to think of our schooling in a calendar year from June- June. In June we get inspired by the beauty of the season and I like to take full advantage of all of their energy, and as the seasons unfold we wind down, and this year I found out that March is a good time for a break, at least for me:) The kids ask me every now and then what grade work they are doing in various subjects. It is often a difficult question for me to answer, because truthfully they are all over the place in subject areas. Sometimes to make things simple I will give them an answer according to the last grade they completed when they attended school. When I know that I am offering them a challenging work I may say after they completed the activity something like that was just eighth grade work, way to go. The bottom line is when I am able to observe them and properly guide them by offering the right materials at the right time they are successful!
One way that I am able to stay on top of their academics is by this blog. Using the following pictures in regards to DJ's Zoology/Biology studies for our calendar year I will attempt to share why report cards really wouldn't work for us.
March of 2012 DJ got the spring bug and became very interested in learning about frogs. I unnecessarily had a personal agenda with his interest and put together a work that can be found at Montessori Print Shop. It was a language work that was incorporating his interest. It was too easy for him and it was an activity that was completed in less than 5 minutes and DJ never returned to this work again. If I was to put a grade on this work DJ would of gotten an A for knowing how to do something he already knew how to do, and I would of gotten an E for meddling and for not offering materials that would enhance his learning.
I learned something that was very powerful and it was best that I learned it from DJ. What he wanted was to observe and get close with frogs. He wanted to go to the Nature Center and visit the pond. I put in much work juggling my schedule and observing DJ that luckily that E that I earned didn't hurt my spirits, which would of hindered DJ's self guided studies.
Instead of printing and laminating more materials that interfered with the learning process, we went to the local pet shop and brought a frog that was six dollars that gave him the opportunity to learn observation skills.
This time he asked me if I had anything that he could record his observations on. This printable came from the same frog study packet from Montessori Print Shop, it was perfect and right on for his skill level at the time.
I eventually gave him the printable packet and he chose what he wanted to complete. One of my weaknesses is wanting the kids to know what other kids know that attend traditional schools. Shame on me! Isn't that one of the reasons that I homeschool, so I can guide them at their own pace? Yes! The first work that is pictured was offered to him, because I stayed up late one night looking at state standards and became worried that he wasn't doing enough language activities. Looking at the photo reminds me of how neat his work is when he is able to follow his interest in a way that increases his knowledge. The above activity definitely incorporates language skills and a couple of other skills as well. I am so happy that in March I didn't give him a report card with an A under language skills, he may have interpreted it as why do I need to write I just got an A.
From studying the frog he became interested in learning the parts of the fish
DJ really does enjoy using the nomenclature cards, and it especially goes over well when he has a real fish to study.
What grade should I give this? The work was done neatly and without hesistation, but DJ really doesn't know this stuff. This was done sometime last year, not sure when. Somebody said that in Michigan all fourth graders should meet the state standards and know the parts of the animal and plant cells. Well they don't know my DJ and I am not giving him an E for not knowing it either, he'll get it, when he is ready! After all he wants to be a Vet when he grows up:)
Besides DJ sets high expectations for himself. He is so into the Backyard Safari kits that you would think that he is turning his field work into a professor. He is honest and never rewards himself the badge until all of the requirements are fulfilled.
Oh! and he plays games that go along with his zoology studies even when "school" is over.
He role plays often. I particularly like this photo of him actually reading a college level book about animal health.
In the Fall our school time was just perfect and once again DJ was able to dig deeper in his studies of animals while doing work with our Timeline of Life.
By December he was a proud owner of a Ball Python and other reptiles. He continues to give them daily attention and makes sure their physicals are up to date. Can you understand how difficult it is for me to give a grade, especially since none of this is considered school to DJ anyway? DJ zoology/biology studies continue to get deeper, especially since we are now in the end of May pop over here to see his latest biology work.