A Shift in Our Focus for 5th Grade
When you think of restful homeschooling what comes to mind? This has been the question I've been contemplating this summer.
For me, I imagine a home where learning takes place in a natural way, with lots of time for discussion, contemplation, and independent learning. A home that is focused on truth, beauty, and goodness. Sadly, our homeschool falls short of these ideals.
So this summer I've been listening, reading, and discussing these ideas with other homeschool moms and have pondered how I could bring these virtues into our homeschool for TJ's 5th-grade year.
The end result is a drastic change from our usual schedule.
The first big change is the addition of a Morning Meeting time. I have a few reasons for adding this to our day:
- Focus on prayer & devotions first - as TJ gets older I want more time to read our Bible and discuss various topics together. It just seems to naturally fit at this time.
- Begin our day with things that are true & beautiful - there are many 'small things' that get overlooked or tossed aside when we are crunched for time. But I believe they are important and need a place in the schedule (things like poetry, art & music, Shakespeare, and hymns).
- Facilitate a shift to more independent learning - one of my goals is to shift more of the learning to independent studies as TJ gets older. We'll end our morning meeting time by going over her daily schedule and any subjects I need to teach directly.
After our Morning Meeting TJ can start her independent work for the day using her assignment list. She'll still be working in open living areas like the kitchen or family room where I'll be available as she needs me. We'll break for lunch and have some time to practice French, play math games, or work on Logic problems.
After lunch we'll have a 2-hour block of time for content subjects - history, geography and science, which have seen the biggest change. Instead of covering history 3 days a week and science 2 days a week, we are moving to a completely different schedule. I originally read about the idea on The Well-Trained mind message boards and this post about table time at The Planted Trees.
This was my biggest area of concern when I was looking at things that needed to change. After we had worked through all our other subjects history and science were often moved through quickly to get them checked off the list. I would rather spend time discussing and delving deep into topics that interest us. Something that would be impossible to do with our regular schedule.
So, instead of a mix of history and science lessons each week, we will spend our time focused on one subject. 3 weeks each term (we school in 6-week terms) will be history focused, 2 weeks will be science focused, and 1 week for independent study. By allowing ample time each day and week to focus on one topic at a time I believe that we'll have a more relaxed and restful atmosphere.
After that daily 2-hour focus we'll wrap up our day with tea time and reading.