If you are considering Oak Meadow (or, just totally love being a fly on the wall in a homeschool home) you should *love* this post. Every year, when we share our big nuts-and-bolts review of Oak Meadow, I always come back to show you what that curriculum looks like in practice. Curriculum always looks pretty when it’s sitting on the shelf or in our imaginations. In practice, it either works for us . . . or we realize three weeks in that we have made a horrible mistake and that expensive, shiny program just isn’t a fit for us.
I’ve had Oak Meadow Seven in my home for a while now. I was able to get my hands on it a bit earlier than I normally do, which was awesome because I have been struggling with my health a bit this winter, and I really needed the extra time to work with Bug. I was concerned that middle school would be a huge step up for him in terms of the expectations and workload. I was a typical nervous mom, which I think is understandable considering he is my first middle schooler.
Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. Oak Meadow has been a staple in our home since the third grade, and I know that they do a beautiful job at preparing kids to move on to the next grade level. The transition from sixth grade to seventh has been seamless. I do feel like there is more output required (more writing and more reading in particular) but not so much more that Bug is uncomfortable with the change.
Oak Meadow focuses on development, so the curriculum is pretty spot on for his needs currently. Number one, he wants to feel “grown up” and self-sufficient. Need number two? To have the tools and resources he needs to be self-sufficient. This level has all of that- plenty of room to write in the margins to take notes (if I would let him write in the books), planner pages (which I copy for him so he can write on them), and plenty of clear instructions within the text.
Anyways- on to our week. We still like to “block schedule” our Oak Meadow, which means he tends to do science in a day or two, and history in a day or two, and does the reading and math when and where it fits in. I’ve become less controlling as to when he does his work, letting him decide what he’s in the mood for at the moment. As long as everything is done at the end of the week, I am a happy mama! When he was younger, I had to be more of a cruise director, and needed to walk him through each lesson, but at this point, he does most of the work on his own and just shows me what he has completed, or comes to me with questions. It’s a pretty beautiful thing (although I really miss the days when lessons with him meant snuggling up at the table!).
All in all, he probably worked about 4 hours or so each day on the following activities:
Oak Meadow History
This week’s lesson was all about the Civil War. The curriculum balanced the assignments well. They suggested watching Ken Burn’s Civil War series, as well as read the text. The Civil War is a challenging topic to discuss with children- war on our soil is heavy. I found the curriculum to handle the horror of the battle field, the struggles of families divided and the conversation about slavery to be solid and well-presented.
This chapter also discussed Native Americans during the civil war, and how poorly they were treated. I was impressed that the teachers manual went in depth about many Native American tribes, so I could enjoy a conversation with Bug about their cultures, traditions and history. Finally, this chapter discussed some of the legislation that came out of the Civil War that affected these tribes.
I can see the change in the maturity level of the curriculum in this book. Bug was a bit horrified (as he should have been) about the massacres, battles and bloodshed during the civil war. However, I can see the change in his maturity level as well.
Since we live in the South right now, I took him to go see the Jefferson Davis home. This Civil War era mansion is preserved with period furniture and brought the era to life for the kids.
Oak Meadow Science
Science this week was amazing (as always). The lesson was about fossils, rock formations and carbon dating. Bug did an experiment to see how various types of fossils were formed. He made some fossils by making imprints in Plaster of Paris, and some by creating molds out of clay, and then filling those with plaster. The mold fossils in particular took some work to remove the clay once the plaster had dried, giving him a tiny taste of what it’s like for paleontologists when they clean fossils. He took his time to remove the clay with toothpicks and ended up with a hand full of beautiful “fossils.”
I took video of this activity and will share in in-depth how-to post soon!
Oak Meadow Math
This week in math, Bug has been working on order of operations. He’s worked ahead of the Oak Meadow math program for years- not because the program is behind, but because he’s always been very talented with math. He really enjoys Oak Meadow math due to it’s gentle nature- when it introduces a concept, it does so very simply, so it’s easy to understand how the process works. He blew through this week’s work, spending about 20 minutes a day on math. He would have done it all in one sitting if I let him! He did have a test this week which covered content from all the chapters before (10 in total) which he also completed quickly and easily. I love that this math program is tear-free for him, which is a blessing after a couple years of us trying to find just the right challenge level for him.
Oak Meadow English
Bug has been reading Lyddie in english this week. He tends to read through books like they’re candy, and Lyddie didn’t last more than a couple days. I really need to do a better job pacing him with his assigned reading, because he tends to finish it early, and then the assignments for the books are spread out a bit more. For the next book, I am going to help him decide how much to read each week so he doesn’t get ahead of the curriculum.
This week, he worked on vocabulary words, and practiced contractions. He’s working on making sure that he edits his written work, and types his final drafts without errors. He really doesn’t love this extra step, but it makes a huge difference in the quality of his work.
The curriculum also instructed us to do a spelling quiz . . . but I didn’t do that part with him. Make your curriculum work for you, right?
This week, we also had time to attend art and music at our local homeschool co-op, run to therapy appointments for Doodle, play outside for hours each day, and even hit the pool one day this week. I love how flexible the curriculum is and how it still allows us the freedom to do what we want and need to do throughout the week!
Bug also has been reading Sophie’s Choice, a novel that was recommended in a previous history lesson. I enjoy the additional reading recommendations for Bug considering how fast he reads through books!