Written by contributor Heather Bruggeman of Beauty That Moves
My Child’s Age: 13
Educational Philosophy Influences: Montessori, Classical, Relaxed
Our family is in its first full year of homeschooling. My girl is an academic who enjoys lessons, grades, and TESTS. As for me? I would call myself a relaxed homeschooler. Somewhere in the middle is where we meet and spend our days.
In the interest of this month’s Curriculum Fair, I’ll focus this post on what we have used this year for our formal curriculum. This includes pre-packaged curriculum as well as various resources that are of high quality and see regular use in our homeschool.
A brief background: My daughter spent her elementary years attending a private Montessori school where learning was celebrated and the idea of school was very positive. Each child felt successful and confident as a contributing member of the classroom community. We did not decide to homeschool because school didn’t work out. We chose it because after graduating from that special school, nothing else could possibly compare.
So, we decided to homeschool.
Funny thing though, Maria Montessori thought children aged 12-15 were better suited for farm work than high intellectual calling. Really!
“The Montessori program for the young adult from age twelve to fifteen is very different from that of traditional school. Dr. Montessori felt that because of the rapid growth, the increased need for sleep, and hormonal changes, it is useless to try to force the adolescent to concentrate on intellectual work. She recommended an Erdkinder, or Earth school, where children would live close to nature, eat fresh farm products, and carry on practical work related to the economics of supplying food, shelter, transportation, and so forth. Intellectual work is still done, following the child’s interests, but without pressure.”
It’s something to think about, isn’t it? This age is so distinct, unlike any other in the human experience – and yet too often, we lump the challenges of adolescence into “being a teenager.” But really, at thirteen you know everything and nothing at the same time.
It’s my job to make sure my daughter has certain academic goals met, but also to provide space and encouragement for her to be her age. There will be days where she needs to sleep a little extra, stare at the wall, explore photography, play basketball for two hours in the middle of the day, or type out another 1,000 words on her novel. Even though none of those things are officially part of “school.”
This is a practical program and I don’t see it mentioned often so I’ll explain it briefly. Math Mammoth is affordable and downloadable to your computer, so you can print as needed. It is written by a math teacher turned homeschool mom. It is a fine program in many ways, but math is not my strong suit so my husband handles these lessons. We’ve found his schedule to be too unpredictable for consistency, so we are switching to Teaching Textbooks next year.
Quite a mix! Oak Meadow grade 8 (included in this are Strunk & White and Writing For 100 Days). I like the literature selections, the use of 100 Days, and something they call Writer’s Rant. Grade 8 focuses pretty heavily on writing so would work best for those with that interest in mind.
This is a language arts program designed to develop language fluency in reading, writing and speaking. (It works!)
Rip the Page!
A fun book of creative writing prompts and exercises. We each have our own copy and do this together. We picked up special journals for this hip and cool book; it’s the sort of thing we can take down to the cafe to mix up the day a little.
Like many of Oak Meadow’s offerings, this is an integrated curriculum combining history with literature and fine arts.
I am so glad we decided to double up and do two Social Studies courses. Civics wound up being our everyday lesson–we do World History a couple times a week. My plan is to use the World History for two years instead of rushing through it. Civics is such an important topic, and middle school is not too young to get acquainted with the subject.
We recently attended a homeschool convention (met up with Jamie for a quick hello!), and came home with Rosetta Stone, Spanish I. I was a little nervous about this as the critical reviews I’ve read express not enough grammar and mechanical understanding of the language.
We’ve been using it for a few weeks and it’s amazing how quickly my daughter is picking up on the language. And when we all spoke our first sentences as blossoming toddlers, did we know what a preposition was?
Additional Resources and Activities
Aside from these very measurable areas of study, we are busy with other things as well. Some are child initiated, some are highly encouraged by the parents. But all are in the name of making the most of the wide open opportunity we have each day.
- Weekly Home Ec class with friends.
- Monthly Knitting Group in our home.
- A volunteer job for my daughter.
- Various team sports, type of sport depends on the season.
- New York Times Learning Network – lesson plans and activities tied to current events.
- Shmoop – Resource for literature selections, study guides, writing labs. So much here!
- The Library – a homeschooler’s most affordable best friend.
- Netflix – Many PBS, BBC, and National Geographic movies can be instantly streamed by members.
- Weekly hikes as a family in the woods. Thank you Renee for the inspiration!
On paper it seems rather ambitious, but this is the nature of our daughter, and it has felt really good for us to provide the kind of learning that she enjoys.
We have a deal… if I keep the lessons and quizzes coming, she’ll heed my reminders to slow down, be a kid, and pretend to farm once in awhile. I think Maria Montessori would be pleased.
Do you find as your children get older you are more inclined to add formal curricula to their days? What feels like the right balance for you?