First, you are probably asking, "what does 'ronin' mean?" During the feudal period the word Ronin referred to a samurai without a lord or master. Samurai's who learned from many different forms, arts, and masters. When it comes to our educational philosophy, we are essentially ronin. We don't follow one form, rather we take advantage of the strengths from within many different disciplines.
When we started in September we tried a curriculum guided route, and it didn't work for us. So we switched, we created our own 'curriculum' - we went ronin. We took some time to think what we wanted to see developed in our kids in the way of soft and hard skills, did the research, and then put together our own curriculum to suit our goals.
- Ashton and Eden: Ashton and Eden are one grade apart, so their homemade curriculum looks very similar. We did the following for them:
- Math: we are using Adapted Mind
- Grammar: we are using No Red Ink and Grammarly.
- Reading: We are allowing the kids to read what they want, as long as they are reading and comprehending. At this point in the game we want reading to be enjoyable, as we want to create a healthy reading habit and turn reading into something they love. As long as they are reading at or above their recommended grade level, we allow them to read what they want.
- History & Science: These are very different subjects, but we wanted to combine them for the year. One of our guiding factors this year has been the idea of story, and while science claims to deal with facts, empirical evidence and the like, these facts and provable ideas are situated within the story of the universe, the story which we humans find ourselves. So this year, we are using the Big History Project as our source, and then after threshold 6, collective learning, and before threshold 7, agriculture, we veered off to watch, take notes on, and then write about the Mankind series. Along with this, many know we have traveled pretty extensively for the past year and use our travel adventures for times of learning as well, be it local museums, nature walks, hikes, or national parks... everything can be an opportunity to learn.
- Elie: Elie, ironically has been the most difficult simply because of her age and therefore her attention needs. For Elie we are using Adapted mind as well, along with the writing and typing program, Writing without Tears. We are a little more structured in her phonics and reading and are using the Primary Phonics readers and handbooks along with the Adapted Mind reading program, which deals more with comprehension and spelling. Then honestly, Elie is learning a lot simply by being around three older siblings who are learning a lot. She is absorbing her environment - but don't let this sound too pretty, it has not been without its challenges.
- Serena: Because we are not sure what next year holds and Serena may want to enter the more traditional model of schooling or at least some sort of hybrid, we have been using Keystone College Prep for Math and English (Critical Analysis of popular literature).
When it comes to resources, we have invested in Google Chrome computers for each of the kids, in order to utilize the benefits of technology. We rely on the natural environment when needed. We incorporate Socratic method as a means to help the kids learn how to learn and think more critically about what they are learning. We set weekly goals rather than daily to help the kids learn time-management skills, and at the same time allow them to feel the consequences of making poor decisions with their time. And most of all, their learning is integrated into their life, it is not a compartmentalized thing they do and then check out.