Saturday, 26 November 2016


Firstly what is a curriculum?

It could be described as:

means and materials with which a student will interact for the purpose of achieving identified educational outcomes.

This is where some natural learning/unschooling/delight-directed learning families often want just a SMIDGE of assistance.

There are times when "strewing the path" with activities/equipment is easy - your child or children make it obvious what sort of thing they're interested in or definitely NOT interested in!

But having been in this home educating career for over 20 years now I've come across many families, including my own, where a bit of assistance (just the right degree) has been wanted, but I've never found just the right thing.

So I had to make my own!

And I called it Adventures In Natural Learning:  Seasonal Journal.

One of the recollections my husband has of his school days is that each year at school seemed to have no relationship to the year before - the new information seemed to BURY any previous information.

With a spiral curriculum many ideas are re-visited over the years and BUILT ON according to a child's interest/maturity level.

When we were reviewed by the Education Review Office (when they did regular visits to home educators) the officer asked me:

"If you don't test your children, then how do you know they are moving ahead academically?"

I thought for a second then said:

"Because every time we come back on a subject they've enjoyed in the past they are excited to tell me what they remember about it."

He was satisfied with that answer.

And it has become something I really want other parents to understand.

Over the years I gathered masses and masses of ideas from various educational methods, and have sorted them in an orderly and seasonal fashion.   If a family follow these suggestions over a few years they will have covered SO VERY, VERY MANY TOPICS AND SKILLS.

Start slowly, gauge a child's interest and drop the topic if there is no interest.   Try another topic from the same season and see if there is any interest.   Next year, come back with a fresh Seasonal Journal and look at the same subjects.  At your own pace.  Miss things that are not interesting.  Go deeper into those that engage your child.

As an example - above in 'Mid Summer' a suggested topic is Expansion and Contraction.   For a younger child, perhaps when the sun heats the corrugated iron roof of the shed in the morning and you can hear a crack it will be enough to say "The sun is heating the iron roof and it expands, that's the noise we can hear."   That's all.  Unless your child wants to take it further. 

You can quite happily then TICK Expansion and ContractionDon't be surprised if your child then hears a car backfiring (or some other explosive noise) and says "Is that expansion?"

Another subject listed is Making hay, various grasses.  Keep this in mind to talk about when driving past a tractor, or seeing haybales in a paddock.  Talk about why it is best to put straw on your garden rather than hay (too many seeds in hay perhaps?).  Look at a video of building a hay/straw/sand/mud house.  DO they use hay or straw?  Do they make haybales from wheat stalks?   

How to give and follow instructions - use landmarks can be as simple as a role-play game.  Pretend you're a tourist walking through town, standing at say the park, looking lost.  Stop your child and say "Whereabouts is the library please?"   Your child can have a go at explaining how to get there.   Or role play a phone call - you're a washing-machine repair man who needs directions to your house (his GPS is broken ...)        You could also look at a map and give your child a pointer.  Point to New Zealand.  Go to India - what ocean do you go over?  Now go to Japan.  What country are you flying over?

Open YOUR mind to questions about how the world works.  Your child may be interested too.

And next year, coming back on the same topics they will, more than likely, remember what you discussed, and they will BUILD on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment