Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This just in!

I know, I have never posted two posts in one day - we're lucky to get multiple posts in one week! (But I've been more in sync with blogging lately.)
I couldn't resist sharing.
I just got an email from the Vermont Home Study office - in response to our home schooling application.
This was the email:

Dear Sarah,

I have reviewed the home study enrollment notice you submitted for Noah.

It is complete and you will receive a letter soon.

The minimum course of study includes a wide variety of learning opportunities and is thoughtfully written.

I wish you all the best,

Yay! That's one big stress resolved!

For those interested this was the "curriculum" I sent in which was heavily influenced by Sandra Dodd's Unschooling Curriculum. And since writing this out some things have changed in my conceptualization of our days but I think that's okay. The general principals are there since this was left vague intentionally.

Noah will use a developmentally-appropriate, integrated curriculum. We will plan his learning together, based on his interests, so I can't state in advance which specific topical areas we will cover, however we expect to cover the following subjects.

He will be read to from self-chosen and parent-chosen literature on a daily basis. These pieces will include a range of genres including, fairytales, poetry, informational texts, children's magazines, lists, signs, labels, etc. He will engage in reflection on those literature pieces in one or many of the following ways: identifying characters, making predictions, conversations, and drama based on the books. My goal is for Noah to continue to enjoy reading, to learn to read for pleasure, and to gain exposure to a wide variety of genres. He will also continue to recognize rhyming pairs and create them, isolate sounds in a word, show right-to-left directionality, recognize all upper and lower case letters, connect letter names with corresponding letter sounds, etc.

Noah will be exposed to content-area non-fiction materials as needed to support his chosen areas of interest. He will reflect on these pieces in one, or many, of the following ways: drawing a picture to send to a family or friend explaining what he's learned, discussions, development of a scrapbook in an area of interest, drawing basic conclusions, making connections to other text material, personal experience, and prior knowledge. My goal is for Noah to learn to gather accessible information in text through pictures, charts and titles, to understand and be able to reflect on the materials he hears read and to be able to compare them to other sources of information, and to learn how and where to find written resources as needed.
Noah will study science as it relates to the areas of his interests by watching science videos, listening to read-alouds, related written materials, conducting scientific experiments, gardening, keeping journals, making and recording observations, visiting scientists in their work places, visiting museums such as The Echo Center, Shelburne Museum, Boston Children’s Museum, Boston Science Museum, Boston Aquarium. My goal is for Noah to experience a wide range of scientific exposure in his areas of interest, to develop a positive interest in science, to learn to think scientifically, to develop a respect for the work scientists do and to understand the importance science has in his daily life. Topics discussed will include the human body (heredity, health, human development, digestive system, 5 senses), physical science (motion, relationships between objects in space, sorting objects, identifying solids, liquids, and gasses, magnets, and energy sources, flow in an ecosystem and properties), Identifying similarities and differences between animals and plants, classifying animals and plants, and earth/space science (comparing night/day sky, sorting/comparing different rocks, weather observations, identifying natural resources).

Writing, spelling and grammar will be covered as part of Noah's writing processes. He will be given the opportunity to participate in a “writer's workshop style” session on a regular basis where he will be introduced to various concepts of story writing and encouraged to draw a picture and write a sentence sounding out the desired words in order to put his story idea in writing. Noah will be taught that every sentence and proper noun starts with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark. My goal is for Noah to enjoy writing, to gain skills in both the writing process and in technical skills required of an edited piece, and to develop a sense of power over the written word.

History and geography will be addressed by regular discussions placing our current time in historical perspective, speaking with family members and friends about their histories, differentiating between fact and opinion, creating a time line of Noah's personal history as well as family history, comparing life of past family members with Noah's life. Noah will verbalize his name and address, be able to identify property boundaries, identify a map and a globe, create and use a simple map, use vocabulary to describe object in space (near, far, up, down), identify ways we adapt to the environment, identify ways we can help our earth (recycling, composting, gardening, caring for farm in a sustainable manner). Noah will also learn about local history through field trips to the local historical society, visiting with older members of the community, observing older structures and newer ones, identifying how the characteristics of these structures have changed over time and why, in particular, barns. We will read stories from other cultures and discuss similarities and differences between the culture depicted in these stories and our own family life. Noah will identify groups he is part of and be given responsibilities in order to contribute to the groups he identifies with. Rules will be discussed in the context of our home, our farm, our community, and our world. Noah will be able to identify rules, create rules he thinks are important, and discuss why rules are necessary in our society. Noah will be able to identify important institutions in his community (post office, library, town clerks office, school, church). Noah will participate in the farmers market as a vendor, learning how people exchange money for goods, the importance of a strong local economy, and how to interact with various members of the community. Noah will also learn the difference between a “need” and a “want” and why people choose to spend, save, and share their money.

Health, physical education and safety will be continued as a part of our daily living skills. Noah will learn to care for his body and his physical environment through one or many of the following ways: shopping for and preparing food, discussing the necessity of a healthy diet, participation in fire drills and other emergency preparedness, exercise both as play and as part of a structured group experience, through gymnastics, tae-kwon-do, swimming lessons, or similar ventures. My goal is for Noah to appreciate the necessity of a healthy body and to learn to care for his body's needs as he understands them.

Noah will learn art and music through self-chosen methods of dance, fine art, and music. This may include watching a dance performance, dancing independently and in a group setting, mirroring, leading, following, moving to a steady beat, demonstrating a sequence, engaging in fantasy play, playing with props and costumes, creating 2-D and 3-D art, using various media (pencil, paint, clay, etc), participating in group art projects, reflecting and critiquing art.

Noah will learn math through participation in daily living—cooking, building, shopping, etc. He will gain understanding of one-to-one correspondence, place whole numbers in order up to 50, be able to add and subtract, recognize and name coins and their values, and make reasonable estimations. Noah will be able to recognize and name polygon shapes, identify appropriate measurement tool for task at hand (thermometer, clock, calendar, scale), find and name locations when provided relational terms such as above, below, etc, identify and create patterns, learn that the same answer can be found by multiple methods, and be able to organize and display data as well as interpret data. My goal is for Noah to gain conceptual knowledge of mathematics as well as an appreciation for the daily application of math in his life.

List of basic teaching materials.
reference books and materials ( such as textbooks, field guides, grammar books, timelines, globe maps, etc.)
magazines (including National Geographic for Kids, Highlights, Ranger Rick, Zoobooks, etc)
library loan books, tapes, magazines, etc.
educational games
educational computer software and on-line services
calculating and measuring tools and utensils
art, craft and writing supplies
musical instruments
audio-visual equipment and materials
science lab equipment
sports equipment
kitchen equipment
gardening tools
carpentry tools
home maintenance equipment
community resources (such as museums, stage performances, sports programs, private lessons, volunteer opportunities)
live animals—cats, cows, chickens, pigs etc
garden and yard

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