Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preparing for Sixth Grade

Ah, Tuesday. The one day of the week that is usually errand free. Today is especially quiet, as the Boy is hanging out with a friend, building a tree fort in our side yard. Later they will head to a grandparent's home for an afternoon swim. 

So what to do with all my "free" time? A hot bath? Read a book? Hah! To begin with, I started a pot of tomatoes to simmer down into sauce, and also a pot of sauce to come up to temperature for canning. There's the never ending pile of laundry, a romp with the puppy, the garden to weed, and oh, yeah, I need to start preparing for school.

Yikes, we only have a handful of weeks left before our first day, traditionally the day after Labor Day. Usually I'm pretty well prepared come August. Not this year. I have not done one single thing to prepare. I haven't read any books, bought any supplies, hardly put any thought into it at all. Until this past weekend. It hit me....fall, and therefore school, is coming whether I'm ready or not. So I better get ready. Or at least get ready...to get ready.

For the past two years I have developed my own Waldorf style curriculum, based off a summer's worth of research and combining free/inexpensive resources. I have an aversion to pre-packaged curriculum and enjoy creating something that's entirely our own. But I am feeling burnt out. I just don't feel like it this year.

After discussing the subject with Husband, I decided to give myself permission to buy a few things that will ease some of the creative pressure. I tend to be really cheap when it comes to buying things that I can or could do myself. But doing so should allow time and energy to focus on other aspects like rhythm, field trips, social activities, handwork, and crafts. 

Giving myself permission was difficult, but not nearly as difficult as deciding what to buy. A naturally indecisive person like myself can get overwhelmed quickly by all the choices! There are lots of free resources that can give a person some ideas. There are a few packages that lay it all down for you: Live Ed, Oak Meadow, Christopherus (K-5 comes in a package, 6 and up is more piecemeal), Little Garden Flower/Waldorf Essentials, etc. I already know that I don't like a scheduled approach (Monday do x, y, and z). That helped to narrow things down. I want a guide, not detailed lesson plans for every subject, every day.

I started with my "go-to" resources: Marsha Johnson's yahoo group, Millenial Child, Bearth Institute, Path of  Discovery (Eric Fairman). From these sources I figured out Step I: What I want to cover this year:
  • First of all we need to review Egypt
  • Greece, which I didn't get to last spring
  • Geometrical Drawing
  • Astronomy
  • Business Math
  • Rome
  • Mineralogy
  • Physics
  • Middle Ages
  • And if I can get it in European Geography
In addition to the above subjects, the Boy is taking a formal Latin class at Lancaster Center for Classical  Studies. He will continue piano lessons with Tina Davidson, and will take a 5 week horseback riding course at River Valley Ranch. I still need to arrange handwork and woodwork classes with our co-op group.

Step II: I purchased the resources I needed:
  • Tales of Ancient Egypt (Green)
  • Roman History and Medieval History (Christopherus)
  • Making Math Meaningful (York) I bought the guide, teacher's work book, and puzzle book
  • String, Straightedge, and Shadow (Diggins)
  • Geology/Astronomy (Kovacs)
  • Ancient Greece (Kovacs)
  • Rome (Kovacs)
  • Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (Kraul) 
  • Compass Drawing (Harst and Weiderhold)
  • Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools (Wildgruber)
  • Geometric Patterns from Roman Mosaics (Field)

I'm using Christopherus's Rough Guide to Sixth Grade, Marsha Johnson's notes, and info from Millenial Child to pull it all together into lesson plans. 

I purchased all my MLBs and a few other supplies from Meadowsweet Naturals

And now it's time for Step III: The actual lesson planning. Without my guides in hand, it's a bit tough to plan too far ahead (I can continue procrastinating a bit longer). I will start with the Egypt review, then move on as more guides arrive in the mail. 

Today's job though, other than can tomato sauce?  Clean up the school room and get everything orderly for that first day. I think I need another cup of coffee and a romp with the puppy!

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