Friday, August 19, 2011

A Theme-based Approach for Year 4.0

We began our Year 4 summer session in June. We're having a more relaxed two weeks finishing up the final bits of summer work while waiting for our Year 4 proper to begin on August 29.

I feel another change in the way I'm approaching his learning. I'd felt this in Year 3 and now, feel it even more strongly. I'm more inspired and confident that following my child's lead is most beneficial to his homelearning journey but of course, with some direction from me on fleshing out the learning so that it is both enjoyable and challenging.

My definition of being an eclectic homeschooler too has changed. The yearning to use the "regular stuff"--and by that I mean popular WTM/CM style homeschool curricula that is heavily discussed on well-known forums--isn't as compelling as it used to be. Eclectic to me now means using even more of real-life experiences, whole books and the multitude of offerings from audiovisual and Internet sources than before.

Kiddo will take math and German classes online on a regular schedule. That's the thing with online classes. Helpful though they are, you have to work regularly--which usually means daily. But he likes this stuff and we chose the providers based on his input so hopefully, it will go well.

For other areas of learning, I've been debating and scheduling and re-debating and re-scheduling it all in my head and on my Excel spreadsheet. I think I finally have an idea of what will happen. I will definitely quite possibly change my mind a hundred times by the time we begin (and even afterwards) but for now, here's a rough draft of what's on the drawing board (in other words, a rough draft of the rough draft!).

Theme or Project-based Learning Plans (on a block or rotated schedule):

Patty Paper GeometryTheme 1: Geometry - Lots of playful exploration with geometrical constructions before moving on to a formal, proof-based Geometry program. I like Michael Serra's Patty Paper Geometry because it's rich in examples. The text is to the point without fluff and builds good conjecturing. I might suggest geometry-based stitching or craft projects and construction idea-books for added enjoyment.

Theme 2: The Physics and Math of Machines and Motion - Kiddo loves making models so for this semester, he will use Exploration Education's Physical Science kit (that we began last year but didn't get past Chapter 1--yikes!). I might try to introduce applied math in physics by adding the appropriate TOPS math and science booklets and activities, googled articles, videos and real-life observations.

Theme 3: The Psychology of Crime Fiction and Comics - We're excited about this! I'd be happy if we can get it started though lol. When I posed the question to kiddo whether we should combine three of his interests into one theme-based study, he tartly asked "do you think I'd ever say no to that?". The cheek, lol! I will create our study from scratch with MIT Open Courseware for inspiration, using not only related fiction and web research but hopefully also, some thought-provoking discussions on various angles and POVs of authors and characters. I'm hoping it will tease some writing out of him too. He is already compiling a list of fun books to read or read again for this study. If it's successful, I'll post details when we're done!

Will continue as-is in other areas: co-operative learning with friends; Japanese and drawing/ sketching for fun; audiovisual learning, discussions and good literary works; and the usual piano and swimming.


  1. Oooh the crime one sounds especially good!

  2. Sounds like a really good plan! You can't really go wrong by following your child's interest in learning. We're still very much following the WTM/CM style, as I don't feel Tiger is mature enough to take the lead yet. I look forward to having a more collaborative role, rather than a leading role, in his education in a few years' time.

  3. Hey Kerrie! It sure is interesting researching what motivates the authors to create their protagonists/ antagonists. I'm checking out books on crime fiction and trying to determine which aspects to discuss with the kiddo. It's fun! :)

  4. Thanks Neo! It's always a journey and it looks like you're handling it wonderfully. I look forward to reading how it all unfolds as Tiger grows older. :)


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