Lesson Plans: January 2014


Hello, January. Here is what we’re up to.

Vincent, 12 years old, grade 6: Vincent will begin the new year with a block on geometry that will include both geometric drawing and history. I am using Melisa Nielsen’s geometry curriculum for grades 5-7 as my guide and I have found it to be exactly what I need. Melisa and I really gel when it comes to math. I highly (highly) recommend her math book for grades 1-5, especially if you are coming to Waldorf late. Her geometry book continues where her math book leaves off with the same simple clarity and full-scale lessons. I am starting Vincent with the Grade 5 lessons, as I think they provide a solid foundation, not to mention they will be challenging enough for both of us. To augment this practical and artistic study, we are also going to read the illuminating String, Straightedge and Shadow by Julia E. Diggins. This is a fascinating book about the philosophical foundations of mathematics in general and geometry in specific and also a wonderful continuation of The Library at Alexandria by Kelly Trumble that we read back in the fall with Rome.

Jude, 8 years old, grade 2: Jude will be exploring geometry as well, using Eric Fairman’s excellent guide Path of Discovery: Volume Two. I remember perusing this book back in the summer when I was doing my initial planning. I kept checking the cover to make sure what I was reading was really for a second grader. It was, and a lot of the same concepts are echoed in Donna Simmons’ Second Grade Mathematics as well. In addition to drawing the circle, square and triangle, we will also freehand an octagon and a hexagon. We will explore how triangles and squares relate, which will lead into a lesson on square and triangular numbers. The afternoons will find us all listening to the second book of the Little House series, Little House on the Prairie. This has become a tradition to start the new year with the Ingalls family. I buy the audio cds and we periodically revisit them throughout the year. (I think we listened to Little House in the Big Woods about five times last year.) We have gotten away from afternoon storytime and I am looking forward to having this quiet, intentional hour to sit, listen and sip tea.

Sheila, just about 44: January is a funny month. Usually chock-full of sweeping declarations and virtuous resolutions, it can be somewhat of a bust. Coming off December, which is always funky in some form or fashion, I usually try to start in slow this month: take stock and assess the first semester; get back to rhythm; plot out the remainder of the year. This is a lot, and yet, I normally see January as a place of prolonged paralysis. We don’t have the fresh energy that begins the new year, nor the downward momentum that kicks in around March or April. Last year, this led to serious thoughts of doubt (you can read about that here and here). Rather than staring wide-eyed at the next two months, viewing them as a dead-zone full of mental and emotional land mines, I am trying to reframe the picture and change my thinking. January and February are the fulcrum of our school year. They are a place of balanced rest. With this in the forefront of my mind, I’m going to use the next 60 days to collect my energy, make some adjustments and continue down the path. Thanks for walking with me.

6 thoughts on “Lesson Plans: January 2014

  1. Oh, I’m SO like you in my thoughts and feelings about January! I don’t use the word fulcrum enough (ever?), and I should. I like it. And I think it’s the perfect way to describe how to view this time of year. That said, today is going to be an extension of our holiday break. The extreme cold here has us feeling like we’re deserving of one more day of quiet and playtime.

    Oh! I’d love to hear more about your reading/tea time. Are you all at the table? Paint me a picture, pretty please? :-)

    • I am REALLY trying to not extend our break one more day. But it is freezing here and Tom is working from home. If we can just do a little bit of what I have planned I will be satisfied.

      A picture hmmm . . . have you read this back post? https://sureastheworld.com/2012/04/04/story-time/
      That is pretty much what it looks like, but it is not every afternoon now. You can see the books we have read over the years by looking under the heading “Reading Lists” in the bar beneath my header.

  2. Thanks for being so open about your path. It’s a gift, especially on this rainy January Monday. We had a family talk last night about what we’ve each been grateful for in 2013 and what we each want to revise or change in 2014. It was actually enlightening to hear from A & A about what they think is working well in homeschooling and what’s not. Very different perspectives. Time to adjust…

    I’m really looking forward to your #44 celebration! Will you be Reggie Jackson this year?!

    • LOL Maybe an afro and some aviator sunglasses are in my future! Hello Mrs. October!

      We started today . . . Jean used the phrase “a soft start” in her blog this morning and I like that a lot.

      Interested to hear about your adjustments.

      Keeping warm up there??

      • Yes love the “soft start” concept. We did that too with the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas today. Our stove has been simmering “Mrs. October’s Sausage and Kale Soup” all afternoon. Trying to keep warm with these record breaking temperatures.

        Our 6th grader is asking for spelling tests on Fridays…easy adjustment! More later

  3. After 4 years of home education I’m still trying to figure out and work through my motivation and energy issues which seem to rear up at the end of autumn and mid spring. Our school year is a bit different down here. We start back while it is still summer and have 3 x 2-week breaks dividing the year into 4 terms. The summer break is about 6 weeks long, one week of which is Christmas. In a nutshell, term one I am fired up with excitement, term 2 the novelty has worn off, the weather is dreary and I am wondering when it will end, term 3 I’ve readjusted my expectations, gritted my teeth, dug deep and resolved to get over myself – plus the days are getting longer and brighter and that always lifts my spirits. Then term 4 comes along and I wonder what will happen first, the end of the year or my collapse?

    Right now I am planning out my next school year and wondering if perhaps more breaks would be a better idea. A week (or maybe 2) between each block perhaps? That would only leave me with 8 blocks per year, so then it would come down to the question of what do we leave out? Whilst I like the idea of more breaks, I find it so hard to let go of any part of the curriculum. It all seems so interesting and connected together.

    How do we decide what it most important and what can be left?

    I will be reading with interest how January and February unfold for you this year. I absolutely agree – how we label our experience has a huge impact, and seeing the experience from a different perspective can potentially shift everything. Good luck!

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