Friday, August 5, 2011

Around the World in 180 Days

There are 180 days in a standard school year. If you're teaching five days a week, then school will last for 36 weeks. I felt so enlightened when I discovered that. I can't plan 180 days of activities, but I can plan 36 sets of them.
That's how I've organized my curriculum: 36 sets of five days.
I sat down to estimate how many weeks I would spend in Africa, China, Australia, and so forth. Then I checked: did it add up?
That was my rough draft.

As I started working on it, I realized I needed more time in Britain and Continental Europe (can't forget the classic fairy tales!) and would have to spend a little less time in China than I had originally hoped for. Since one of the main focuses of a well-rounded education is to become "culturally literate," it's essential to keep the stories that, in our culture (I'm American) people may refer to without explaining. Sorry "Tongue-Cut Sparrow," (Japan) I can't cut-out Winnie-the-Pooh or the "Emperor's New Clothes."
That said, I believe my literature selection for kindergarten is the most cosmopolitan I've seen, despite the obvious favoring of Western countries (i.e.-U.S. and Europe), including:
Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales
Favorite Children's Stories from China and Tibet
Stories from the Billabong
 Then there's the music, art, almanac and mapwork. My only worry is that it might be too much too fast. Why? Well, when we were on the K12 curriculum a few years ago, we read each story 3 times (i.e.-3 days) before moving on to the next story. How can I be sure my child will remember all these stories if we only read them once. The answer, I believe, lies outside of the typed curriculum: reading time. Sure, read the assigned story for the day, but also reread one or two stories from before. If they're favorite stories, so much the better!

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