I made some me-changes this year as far as technique and methods, and they have done us all a world of good. First, I stopped stressing over weekly tests, multiple daily grades, and having to do things in a specific Mon-Fri format. This has been a breath of fresh air for all of us. My husband has rotating off days at work, and by taking off whatever days he has, we are able to be more flexible, and enjoy time with him. We still begin our week on Thursdays, he has been having Saturday and Wednesday off lately, so those are our days off. I think that having a mid week break is actually helping us, rather than hurting (as I was worried they would retain less). Having longer between tests allows the kids to spend more time memorizing the things that we do, rather then study and test and move on. We are averaging about 3-4 weeks for History tests, we have taken one science test, and we are taking our first Spanish test this week. Math quizzes are done per the program they are doing, so it comes up every week, or every 7 lessons. I've also stretched our spelling and vocabulary to cover two weeks, rather than one. Again, it gives us more time to be able to slow down and take the time to absorb the information, less of a rush, more of a relaxed learning environment. Of course, all of these changes means less stress and pressure on the kids, as well as less pressure on me to grade and create half a dozen tests a week.
All of that being said, I'm seeing some things that we will be changing! One thing that I am changing is Math. Although both the children and me love the Teaching Textbooks, I have read a lot about the program being behind the grade level. I was pushing a minimum of four lessons per week, meaning that they would finish the fourth grade discs by the week before the last week of school. That's great and all... but I don't want them to be behind grade level! So I calculated it out, and if we do only one more lesson a week, we can finish fourth grade and do almost half of fifth grade math by the end of the school year, allowing a grade level and a half per school year to do, then we can assess where they are and move forward from there. One simple change, but it impacts a lot. The option is still out there to push forward on their own, if they choose, but after the first couple of weeks, they stopped doing more than the minimum!
Another change we are making sort of goes along with a future post, so I will go into more detail later, but, we are cutting out TV and electronics except for the weekends, or school use of their computers. This was initially met with resistance, but amazingly has gone without a whimper or word since. I can't wait to go into details about this change! I'll be working on that post soon. We may also be taking Spanish off of our list until later. I have not made my mind up on this yet, but I have read a lot on how the mind learns, and how we are not made to focus on so much at once, but rather our minds do far better when they can focus on minimal tasks at once. Since Spanish is NOT a requirement for elementary/middle school, I feel we may not need it. On this same note, we may be scaling back a bit more when it comes to other subjects, as well.
Overall, I am happy with the learning choices we have made this year. I am more and more sure of my repeat choices as time goes on, and I look forward to seeing the changes that occur over the rest of this school year!
See our curriculum here.