I’m the worst kind of mail-stalker. We don’t get mail at our homes here. In order to check, I have to load all three kids in the car, take them on post, find parking (an impossible task here), lug them inside the post office, open my combination lock (which inevitably takes 3 tries), pray for a package slip….. take said package slip to a different room in the post office. Stand in line with 10 other people, shuffling my feet as I hope this package is the one package I’ve been waiting for…. And THEN hand the package slip to the wonderful mail man who goes and gets the box from the back. It’s a whole big fat hairy ordeal, and I’ve been doing it daily waiting on this package; sometimes twice a day, because maybe they got a new shipment in between 10 and 3.
I needed this Box Day, so I was willing to make the trek to the mail box daily until it was hot in my hands. (My husband would interject here to tell you I’m being hyperbolic because I often begged HIM to stop by the post office after work, and I did not, in fact, check daily. But someone did. For me. Semantics, I say!)
I’ve been telling you how I am a little burnt out, wondering what *spark* we’ve been missing, and am in serious need of a re-vamp for my homeschool. There is something special about Box Day. Box Day is all about hope that things are going to change, and the possibility of new and wonderful school days to come.
I would be lying if I told you I didn’t hold my breath just a little when I opened the box from Oak Meadow. I had only seen an Oak Meadow Syllabus one time before this, and it was so briefly, so I couldn’t get a handle on what the materials were really like, or how it would work in my homeschool. I was blown away when I started taking book after book from Oak Meadow’s Grade 3 program out of the box.
These are the literature selections and folk tales that make up the reading material for the year. The stories chosen are high quality children’s classics, and folk tales from around the world. Bug is thrilled that they are “real books” and they are all for him!
This is what Bug is most excited to start- the Recorder! The craft kit came with two, one for me and one for him so I can teach him by playing with him. What a clever idea!
Art and Crafts for the year are covered in the curriculum, and with the craft kit. (Doesn’t it look fun? We’ll be painting, woodworking, marbling paper and bookbinding with this curriculum!)
And, the core of the program: The Heart of Learning, the Home Teacher’s Process Manual, and the Third Grade Syllabus. The syllabus is beautiful. It is spiral bound, with high quality glossy white paper, and full color illustrations and photographs. Each lesson contains your tasks for the week broken down by subject. I love as a home teacher that I can see easily what is planned for the week, and still maintain the flexibility of determining when I do each part of the lesson. I think this is going to work really well with our on-the-go lifestyle especially.
Normally, Hubby doesn’t look twice when I open up a box of materials, but he knew how excited I was to be trying this program and hovered over my shoulder as Bug and I pulled out all the goodies. He was so impressed with the quality of all the materials. The books are all made of high quality paper, the art supplies are well done, and even the recorder is a fantastic quality little instrument.
After I unpacked everything, I sat down to look at the syllabus more closely. The thing I am looking for the most out of the program is a way to “ground” my homeschool. We need a routine and a rhythm for our family. The syllabus opens with a recommendation on how to establish that rhythm and routine that I am craving so much.
The program itself is set up in such a way that it works with the ebb and flow of family life. For example, each day will start with circle time, as a way to signal that the school day is starting. The syllabus includes verses and finger plays as well as active activities to do at this time, which I plan on doing with ALL the children together.
They recommend you break the school day itself down into two sessions, one in the morning and afternoon, and not overlook the natural learning that comes with play and imitation. This means that they recommend chore time happen with the children, so they can imitate your behavior and learn from it.
Instruction happens at bedtime too- Oak Meadow actually incorporates the bedtime routine and reading/story telling with your child right into the curriculum. For example, I would tell a folk tale before bed, which would then be the feature of our language arts lesson the next day.
This is the kind of gold I was looking for!
We are starting Monday, and I am really looking forward to using this with my kids. I’m a little nervous because it does seem so different than a lot of the programs we have tried in the past, but I am ready and excited to do something different. This program approaches homeschooling and learning organically, working with your home and family life rather than against it. I’m ready to take back these little years, establish some routines and traditions, and gain some peace of mind. I am so thrilled to be doing this review, and can’t wait to tell you so much more about Oak Meadow, and how it works as we use it in our home!
Oak Meadow is still running a wonderful sale- everything in their book store is still 20% off through May 31, 2013. Check it out!