Curriculum for 2015-2016

After weeks of having ideas in my head for what I want to do next year, I finally sat down today and wrote it all down on my google docs. I have no idea how to display a google doc in a non-hosted wordpress website, so I will link to it here.

It is very general.  I looked through the curriculum list from Garden of Francis because her albums are basically my albums except more detailed.  One thing I learned last year was that there are two types of albums, the more AMI bent one, which kind of says expose everything to the kids as they’re interested, with many things happening in 1st grade.  And then the more AMS bent one, which is way more detailed and sequenced slowly, kind of as if kids are starting Montessori as a kindergartener.  For example, my AMI-style album starts with multiplication.  The AMS albums I have seen starts with golden beads or stamp game with addition/subtraction.

Because I am more AMI-style trained, I think I’m more partial to that way of teaching, especially seeing it work in the classroom last year and feeling that giving the child what really interests them makes for great work.  On the other hand, it makes planning really hard and I felt at a loss most of the time.  So it is kind of nice just having the AMS style albums at hand to see the detailed and various presentations you *could* do, to give myself an idea of how I know when a child has mastered a concept.

(Please note that AMI vs AMS is just my interpretation.  I don’t know if it’s true or not.  It’s how I differentiate in my head.)

In any case, with that curriculum list and my own albums, I created a general plan, and then looked through the 2 other AMS album sources I have to fill in any blanks I see.

I looked at my plan from last year and I was surprised to see just how many of my items on my todo list I managed to hit, except for the science part.  For example, I had radicals, components, stroke order all in there and I actually did present some of those.  For Astroboy I had learning to count to 10, 20, and 100, and I hit all those too.  And all without consulting my plan after I wrote it down that one time!

In terms of Chinese, I have quite ambitious goals for both kids.  For Thumper I have:

  • Reading – 1200-1500 characters read (3-4 a day)
  • Writing – 500 characters write (2 a day)
  • Grammar – parts of speech
  • Writing practice, diff writing style
  • Spoken – Chinese poems, play?
  • Word study – (antonyms, synonyms?)
  • Radicals
  • review stroke order, components
  • Zhuyin – guided reading

For Astroboy:

  • Can read in zhuyin
  • Sagebooks 500
  • Introduction to stroke order
  • Introduction to compoments?

Ambitious plans are made to not be followed.  But it gives me a guideline of where to start.   I actually haven’t tested Thumper on how many characters she knows.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she knows 600-700 already and so our goal of 1200 is doable.  Something on my todo list to figure out.  I had to stop myself from saying 1500 characters for sure once I started doing some calculations and knew that she would balk at learning 5 characters a day.

Same for writing.  She doesn’t write enough compared with other children her age.  But I do want to note that seeing her write the other day I noticed that she naturally can write her Chinese characters in a good legible format.  Given that we have not done much writing this past year, nor practice writing, I was surprised and not surprised (because I’d read or seen somewhere that they start writing well at about 3rd grade).  I talked to a Chinese tutor and she agreed with me that it is a maturity issue, as in children naturally write better the older they get.  But that you cannot tell parents that because they want kids to practice writing.  So I’m saying it here and please no one bonk me for it.

It’s also time I start introducing grammar because it’s such a strong component in Montessori.  Though thinking about doing grammar in Chinese AND English gives me a headache.  Especially when I have not found ONE Chinese teacher who agrees with me that grammar needs to be taught to children this young.  And I’m not even sure myself.

Our big thing will be learning radicals and reading.  Hitting 1200 characters will get her at 3rd grade level, 91% of frequency coverage.  Hitting 1500 will give us almost 4th grade, and 95% frequency.   This will put Thumper at grade level or above for reading, depending on what grade I want her to be in.  I can then breath a sigh of relief next year when I know they will want us to really focus on English.

Looking back, I feel like the grasshopper who kind of wiled away his summer.  I know it is good for me in the long run not to push the kids so hard.  Because they keep showing me that developmentally they are ready to do certain things way later than I would have wanted them to learn.  But at the same time, I also think, “If we had learned concentrated on learning characters by age 7, we wouldn’t be playing catch up now….”  It’s my constant internal struggle, wanting to do things now now now, vs having the patience to wait for the kids to catch up.

As I said, the curriculum is very high overview.  There is also the daily schedule, teaching schedule, detailed monthly plans I need to work on (and may never get to).  Maybe this year I will refer to this a bit more.

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