About a month ago, our lives took a new turn. I was hired as an adjunct instructor to teach a few English classes at the local community college. This is only in the mornings, and so, with the help of my Mom watching the girls 2-3 hours per morning, I’m still able to homeschool them.
It’s at times like this that I am grateful we made the changes we did with curriculum. Life is very busy now, and it’s helpful to have both the girls studying the History and Science texts.
So today, I just want to give an update today about how the curriculum changes are going.
First, our history/geography curriculum… We’re still doing The Story of the World, and we all really like it. Frankly, it’s more interesting than some other history texts I’ve encountered, and I think it does what history texts are supposed to do – tell a story. History textbooks can be really dry and disconnected at times, not building a proper world context for events.
Providing this context is precisely what SOTW does well. The girls have started, quite literally, at the beginning. The book traces the world’s civilizations from the nomads and villages of the Fertile Crescent, expanding outward. Every week we read a chapter of the book, read additional texts about the topic, and look at maps and atlases. The girls write notes on the chapter, and then prepare an essay on one aspect of the chapter that interests them. Then there’s a simple test every Friday.
Right now, the essay writing is the most challenging aspect. First, (and I feel like I’ve written about this before on this blog) my kids do not like to revise or re-write. So, this means that there was a lot crying the first couple of weeks when they wrote their essays, and then I corrected them, and they found out they had to rewrite them.
Understandable. The physical act of writing does not come as easy to a child as it does to an adult. So, my wife had another idea, which she remembered doing when she was in fifth grade. Now, they write each sentence on its own notecard. We correct the sentences there, and the girls put the sentences in logical order, and then they write the final draft out on paper.
Currently, we are having Katie write two or three paragraphs and Annabelle one paragraph. So, obviously, they are not real essays yet, but the goal is to actually progress to real essays by the end of the year.
One thing that is actually helping me with this slow-and-steady concept is teaching the Composition class at the local college. I’ve had to really work with these students on sentence and paragraph construction, and it’s made me see how important these basics are. So, I’m not rushing the girls until the fundamentals are down for them.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.