Thursday, July 24, 2008

Homeschool Prep

I've been knee-deep in doing some homeschool prep. We haven't been doing much formal schooling with Amirah these past 3 weeks, just lots of reading, art projects, and parsha study (torah study). Good enough. BUT, I have been working quite a lot on the fall. I'd been planning to start in mid-August, but it turns out that my brother and his family and my parents (hi, all!) will all be up here to visit us and my sister and her family who also lives here. I think school will wait until September 8. Ah, the joy of flexibility. Maybe before then summer weather will actually arrive to stay for a little while.

I've been working quite a lot in anticipation. I have a wonderful music curriculum I'm planning to use, and in another stack I have a Kindergarten curriculum from Rebbetzin Tova Greenblat, a teacher at the Bais Yaakov in St. Louis. It's a terrific curriculum. I've separated out all the songs and rhymes and am going to overlay that onto the music curriculum so I can teach all the concepts using Jewish material. A bit labor-intensive, but the final product should be really useful. I'm excited even if it will take me forever to fine-tune it.

We've worked our way through more than half of Saxon's Kindergarten math curriculum. We'll probably finish that at the end of October. I've been mapping out the lessons/concepts between now and then, skipping over things she already has truly mastered. I want to make sure she's mastered her number and math-symbol writing before we dive into 1st grade math, so we may not start that until January.

I've also been perusing the Judaica curriculum, which is quite intensive. One could easily spend 3 hours per day just doing that. This is what I'm thinking for now...

In the mornings we'll do Judaica:

t'fillah (prayers)
parsha stories (the weekly reading from the torah); discussion; torah theater (act out our favorite part)
projects related to any upcoming holidays
finish up knowing the alef bet this summer
start Hebrew reading and writing in the fall
doing lots of practice with oral Hebrew

In the late afternoon (during nap time; a very alert time for Amirah) we'll do reading, writing, and math. I'm hoping to end up with 5 hours of Judaica and 5 hours of secular studies per day.

Once a week we'll do science, music, a major art project, and a field trip. 9:00 in the evening is also a very alert time for her so we can finish up anything we missed then. We also can use shabbat to catch up on Judaica studies and Sundays to catch up on secular studies if needed.

One BIG reason I'm excited to be homeschooling - instead of a student going for an A, a student can study for mastery. When a concept is truly mastered, one can move onto the next concept. There is no quickly memorizing something long enough to be able to spit it out on a test and hopefully get a good grade. Or getting worse than lost because you didn't get the last chapter and the class has long-ago left that and gone onto the next. You work at something until you really understand and integrate it. And if there is something you get right away, you don't need to waste any time lingering over it. If there is a topic that REALLY interests you, you can dive into it more deeply and learn all you want. I think it's really a wonderful way to learn.

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