2020-2021 Curriculum Planning

Here we go – while we’ve jumped into homeschool on a last minute decision, in my head I’d been planning for this all along and had a fair idea of what we’d use. Bones for the academic year are planned, but I do have some holes to fill in as we move along – I’m trying to leave holes for developing interests and studies as inspiration hits.

Our Schedule
We’ve worked hard over the past 5 months, with 21 full weeks of homeschool. For most of that time we worked 9-11:30, focusing on language and math, though we worked through the Great Lessons and completed a human body unit study. Over the last 6 weeks of the summer, with our friends in tow, we added another 40-60 minutes in the afternoon, alternating between Writer’s Workshop and science.

The “plan” is to slow down! Math-wise, Funball is finished with her third grade Montessori/Common Core hybrid she’d experience at school, and Daisy is well into the second half of the Kinder curriculum. Both read above grade level so we have some time. While the weather is good, I plan to focus on core subjects 3 days per week, with the other two open to get outside! We will hike, bike, and spend time in local parks. We might nature study, we might take our Writer’s Workshop outside, we might take books, we might take sewing (both girls have requested lessons. We might also stay home and do something else. There will be learning, but it will be more relaxed.
*Of course, 2020 being what it is, my plan has been thwarted in our very first week with runs of over 100 degree temperatures and wild fires making the air quality too bad to go outside. So we start back with a full 5-day week.

Cosmic Education
Cosmic education is at the heart of Montessori. There are five Great Lessons – stories designed to give an overview of the entirety of time, space, evolution, human knowledge…everything. They are brief and are designed to spark interests – everything else stems from the Great Lessons. I’m early in my Montessori journey so it’s hard to just trust the process and go with it. I’m going to try, but since I’m not totally prepared myself, this year will have to be a hybrid approach.

I am mostly following the Cultivating Dharma free math and geometry albums. I have a second Geometry album I somehow downloaded from the Institute of Montessori Education that I refer too also. For Daisy, infomontessori.com and montessorialbum.com still have value, while for Funball I also refer to some randomly downloaded Scope and Sequence documents for inspiration, and once a month or so browse through the scope and sequence on MontessoriCompass to plan out our next topics.

Daisy is very much working on operations. She has been introduced to the stamp game for addition, is working on golden bead multiplication and subtraction but we have not tackled golden bead division yet. She’s worked with the addition strip boards and is doing well memorizing her addition facts, but needs to formally work through subtraction facts, and start work on multiplication and division boards. We are also working on the bead chains and simple fraction operations. I think this will serve as our focus for much of the year. We have been working with the constructive triangles from the Primary sequence, and will delve into some geometry too.

Funball has completed the multiplication sequence. She is not particularly enamored with division work. We’ll take a break and circle back as the year progresses. She has never enjoyed the “big” materials – golden beads or stamp game – so I find that after some experience with those materials she takes a break and we then move very quickly to abstraction. However, now that multiplication is accomplished, the scope of what she can work on is much wider. We are currently working on decimal fraction operations (not division!), study of angles, fraction operations and need to spend more time on factors,GCM/LCM. We will begin study of squares and cubes this year, and see where else the year takes us. Area and circles are in progress/on the horizon too.

Both girls will work through the Montessori grammar and language mechanics sequences, as are appropriate to their level. We’ll be keeping up with a writer’s workshop model for their writing work. I’ve found some school district curricula online and bought a couple of things from Teachers Pay Teachers…and some books too, so I think we’ll be off to a good start.

Both girls read well for their age. I don’t have a formal reading comprehension plan in place yet, but will implement something once we settle down. I hope Funball will want to do non-fiction research, and since I’ll be reading to both of them, we can have discussions about all types of books that we read.

We are teaming up with another family for science, and will be using the Astronomy lessons from Pandia Press. I used a free sample of their Earth Science curriculum over the summer and liked it, so I think it’ll be a good fit. I also plan to have science explorations, research, and activities available as they come up through the year, based on the girls’ interests.

For the past several months we’ve been looking at a particular country each week, reading a book or two, locating it on our map with a toothpick flag, watching travel/history videos, and writing up a travel brochure for each country. It’s not an in depth study, but a broad survey of the rest of the world. We’ll continue with this, and also dive into the Montessori geography curriculum after our First Great Lesson work.

Daisy also wants to study deserts, so I purchased WASECA’s curriculum ($12 for the digital version!!!) and we’ll be starting there.

Funball wants to study Vikings this year. I don’t have the capacity to take it on at the moment, so we’re delaying. Probably until after we get to the Third Great Lesson and do some work on Fundamental Needs of Humans.

I think I’d also like to start study of early civilizations (Vikings are middle…) and use one of the Pandia Press products there. They have two different ones, and I’m not sure which I’ll pick yet.

As mentioned above, we are combining Science and Art with another family. They are taking the lead on art, and we will do whatever they wish!

Both girls have requested sewing lessons as part of our curriculum this year. I have a lot of supplies and I think we’ll dabble in both practical and decorative sewing.

So – a lot of plans, but hopefully not too concrete. I want room for flexibility, I”m sure things will change, but this is our starting point.