I can’t believe that a year ago my daughter Gia was still struggling with schoolwork.
Oh my goodness, what a tangled mess we used to live in. She hated standard curriculum, would zone out if I suggested movies or educational videos like those her sister was using. She was staggering, literally staggering, through a few programs we’d found and she would often make herself sick by giving herself pressure to do things that felt so un-natural to her. Often I would suggest unschooling to her, but this worked against her desire for structure, for routine.
We know we both work well with routine and rebel against it at the same time.
I relate so much to my girl. We look a lot alike, but more we learn alike. I was home-schooled off and on when I was growing up, and the concept of sitting and memorizing what people told me to, without any explanation why, without any dramatic build so I could feel it in my soul… it was like pulling teeth!
But last year we started the grade 7 Oak Meadow curriculum with my girl, and it all changed.
Because of the program, we’ve watched her develop in confidence, focus, concentration and self awareness. She’s come into her own understanding, whereas before that she often felt lost in the middle-child- shadows.
Last week her grade 8 curriculum arrived, and I know I will be diving in to share with you the new developments as she embarks on this last year before the “High School” topics (after grade 8 Oak Meadow does full high school topics, which are no longer divided up in years, but subjects only.). We actually chose to get our girl the curriculum a grade behind her “registered” year, as the information in this curriculum is so vast and varied I wanted to make sure she felt confident as she dove in.
It It worked. She doesn’t feel “behind” anymore as she now just sees it as years rather than grades.
Anyway, I wanted to share with you a few in depth observations I’ve had about the grade 7 program before I start to get excited about grade 8…
I know it’s going to happen!
The grade 7 is divided up in 4 books/subjects and also came with a teacher’s manual which we both found helped a lot. There was also a plethora of fiction and non-fiction paperbacks to support the material in the curriculum. My daughter started off scheduling her days with different topics… Monday, Wednesday and Friday for some and then the rest on Tuesdays and Thursdays… but this soon changed.
She fell in love with the world history and decided to go full steam ahead. Therefore she worked on World History and English together… (as in this year the material supported each other) and then did Science and finished up with Math. The subjects were as followed:
I’ve always loved History, but I’ve always seen it in a timeline, a progression of time where one thing happened and then another. I never realized how limiting this is… especially when you consider all the different things that happened all at once in various places around the world! We’ve been creating a tunnel vision on culture, sticking to a timeline that was relevant to our own perspectives. This is what impressed me so much with the grade 7 World History, and why I think it made such an impact on my daughter; it moved through concepts rather than time.
Take the industrial revolution, which was a major theme. From learning about Romans and Egyptians, the curriculum seamlessly took her through the Renaissance and into the 1800s and then into the age of flight and modern technology. She went from studying ancient philosophy to asking how television and information overload affected her own mentality. At first my linear mind would get baffled, asking how they would fit in all what they were trying to cover, but it all built upon themes rather than time. How organic! Then, my daughter’s creativity was encouraged as she did various projects from a stop motion presentation of Henry VIII, to a project on cars, (which she actually loved to do). She created flags, maps, wrote essays and poetry all to support the knowledge she was absorbing rather than memorizing.
My kids have always embraced English as a topic, so at first my daughter felt like it could be quite a breeze working through a grade 7 English. She read the required books in lightning time and wrote the projects in conjunction with the World History. What she wasn’t expecting was to make such leaps in her writing. Essay writing has always been a bit of a struggle to implement with our homeschooling. Often my girls have done the required reading, but then the projects and essays would fall to the wayside. I’ve been so eager for them to have a true essay writing skill, since I know how this can affect them once they go into University or pursue their post education. Oak Meadow’s English did just the job. My daughter now has a fuller grasp of how to relay information, how to break down topics, questions and use language to convey meaning. It was amazing to watch the transformation in her work.
I think my daughter’s unschooling years created a strong foundation in her science without her even knowing it. From her time of living on our homestead she’s consistently been learning about erosion, climate, water, ph balances, energy sources and weather systems as well as biodiversity, habitats and the living Earth, all which were topics covered in this year’s science. However, this grade 7 curriculum was able to put it in easy to flow through mini sections with nice little test questions at the end to help her feel confident in the information. The exercises were kept creative, with stories to be written, interviews and research to conduct and it was really created with the concept that life on the planet is fascinating, exciting and important to understand for everyone who lives on it. I think my daughter had an interesting push me-pull me reaction to the science as she didn’t know how much science she already understood and at the same time, she was surprised how “NOT BORING”, real science is. The study of life, how things work, how everything is connected and how things rely on each other at the deepest of levels… it really is magic! (and I think that excited her.)
So when my mother homeschooled me she used to always say that “as long as I had a grade 7 math” I’d get along alright. Well, finally after working through the grade 7 math with my daughter, I can finally get along! (haha!)
My brain has rebelled against math my whole life and when I knew my daughter was the same I have to admit, I was slightly panicking at the idea of working through this subject with her. The rest of the curriculum was pretty independent, we’d touch base, but really she was able to complete her projects mostly on her own. (As a work at home mom who is also homeschooling a reluctant 8 year old, I appreciated this SO much!) But the math we decided would be the one we sat and did together. Both as nervous as the other we were so happily surprised when we could actually understand the tasks at hand. We would use her boogie board to figure it out before putting our answers in and the easy to follow answer key in the back helped too.
There was only one problem my daughter experienced… I was so excited to finally be understanding grade 7 math, she had to ask me to stop from working out the answers. Sigh! (But I think that it's a good sign that she got me to stop. Awhile back she would have done anything to get out of doing it herself!)
I so wish I’d had a curriculum like Oak Meadow growing up. It has the perfect combination of creative projects, inspiring self contemplation (so the student feels they are self developing as well as learning facts) and concrete learning, so a student feels they are moving forward through their school years.
I really would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for balance in homeschooling.
Right, now on to grade 8!
Oh and if you want to learn more about Oak Meadow you can learn more through their website. You've never met a more helpful staff who are always ready to answer your questions.
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