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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A student's (my daughter's) thoughts on the Oak Meadow homeschool Curriculum

As parents, we can observe our children, watch their behaviors and mannerisms and basically try to guess how they truly feel about something they are experiencing. Sure we can ask them honest questions, but deep down, we know there’s a chance the answer being given is the one our children assume we want to hear.
Often our children might not know their inner truths themselves.
In my own experience, it is only in the still of the night, when all is calm, that I can quietly feel my way to how things are unfolding for my children and if there’s any new ways I can support them.
Early on this year in one of these moments, I suddenly found myself feeling the need to help our, then 13 year old, daughter, Gia, and I’m so glad that once we acknowledged the issue, we were able to allow in such a glorious solution.
January 2016 was a strange month in our homeschooling journey. She’d pushed herself through some painful lessons on line before Christmas the month before, had plowed through a workbook that had given her no joy. Our Gia is our natural joy-lover. She has always loved to have fun, to create, to play… and to explore the world with a passion. I’ve struggled in meeting this need over her years of homeschooling, since I’ve never been fully able to break the belief of schoolwork being something you just “had to do” and not enjoy. But, for Gia, this had to be different.
Her older sister has always loved the challenge of pushing herself, of the challenge. She was teaching herself to read by the time she was 3 and now at 15 finds university courses exciting. Gia, who’s only 10 months younger, has always been pulled between her natural tendency to play as a process to learn and the pursuit of changing her natural ways of learning to “catch up” to her ambitious sister.
I was becoming more and more aware of how this inner battle was affecting Gia’s confidence and sense of self, and so, with that I reached out to Oak Meadow.
10 months later, having just completed her grade 7 curriculum in the program, Gia will admit to feeling completely different
​. The other day, as we were discussing 2017, she described the year as the one where she woke up and became sure of herself. Not only did she complete her year’s work (something that usually has had to fall to the sidelines for her own sense of sanity) it also helped her gain the focus and clarity to launch her own stop motion Youtube channel, where she’s now helping other kids all over the world make their own movies in this patience demanding artform.
We decided that it was important to wrap up the year properly, and as a final project for 2017 Gia has written a review of the Oak Meadow Grade 7 curriculum to share with you. It’s really exciting for me to have her here, expressing in her own words what I’ve been trying to articulate for awhile. Anyway, enjoy!

I’m Gia and I’ve been homeschooled my entire life.
Up until this last year, I’ve felt very unorganized and I didn’t like schoolwork. I always felt so stressed when trying it and I often ended up quitting a curriculum, meaning I would only do schoolwork in little batches. If I had a workbook or more traditional curriculum I felt that they gave me the information and gave me the questions I had to answer but they didn’t explain it in a way I understood so I never knew what I was doing.
Oak Meadow’s grade 7 curriculum has kept me interested all year. There were days when I’d think I wouldn’t be interested, but then when I got into it I would enjoy it. Ever since starting Oak Meadow I’ve become really confident in my writing and essays. I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be with my age, which I was struggling with for awhile.

It understood me from a level that no other curriculum did. Other curriculums taught me like I was at school and made me extra stressed. I never absorbed any of the information, but Oak Meadow met me on a more personal level, using examples from real life and allowing me to write stories around the topics, so I feel them rather than just have to memorize facts and data.

What was my favorite project?
I was so proud of my automobile project, which was kind of surprising. I really pushed myself and made a great presentation of the information. I learned about how the automobiles changed over time and about the fuel through history. I never thought that was something I would be interested in, but I was!

What was my favorite topic and what did I learn?
My favorite topic was World History, which was also really surprising, since I’ve never been interested in history. I liked the structure of it. I liked how I would read about something, then do a project about it, and then go back to reading more in detail. It kept me interested and really built upon the topic.
The last project was really cool. I went back through the whole curriculum and reviewed all the projects. I got to pick out influential people from history and expand on them. I picked Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, because the project was how the world be without their work and they made such a difference in the world we live in today.

The Grade 7 English section made me feel more confident in my writing since it had a section on writing mistakes and what they were and why people got afraid to make mistakes. They gave guidelines on how avoid the mistakes and I became a lot more confident in using those guidelines. I looked back at all my work since the start of the Grade 7 year and I could see myself get significantly better.
I read a number of books with the Grade 7 curriculum, both fiction and non-fiction. My favorite fiction book was Summer of The Monkeys, which was a fun book. (a few of the other books were quite serious and sad, which I don’t usually read because they make me uncomfortable. I usually avoid them, but I still read the ones offered in OM.) My favorite non-fiction book was the one on Amelia Earhart, because I learned a lot about her and now I feel quite educated in her life story and in early flight.

I now know the life cycle of stars!
I loved how I was able to write stories in the Science Curriculum as well, as that’s a really good way for me to learn. Whenever I write my stories I really felt I followed the guidelines of the curriculum completely and that makes me feel really proud of my work.
(I’ve never felt proud of my work in any other curriculum! When I completed a project in this year of Oak Meadow it made me feel so satisfied.)

I’m still finishing the math section, because I fell a little behind in that topic so I could really dive into the World History and English curriculum which was exciting to me. (I love how I didn’t have to go in order, I could work topic by topic if I wanted to.)Math has always been a struggle for me, and although Oak Meadow helps me understand it better than other workbooks. I still have to take it slowly. I do love how they offer the workbook with the test and practice pages separate from the guidebook.

What I learned about myself?

In some projects I feel I didn’t put enough energy in them, especially in the beginning ones. It was like I didn’t quite get how it worked, but then it clicked. I think I needed to be reprogrammed, because I had to change my view of schoolwork as a painful thing I had to do into a learning experience which could actually involved learning stuff and being interested instead of being in constant pain!

The Grade 7 curriculum also made me more independent when using it. At first I didn’t feel confident enough to take the lessons into my own hands so my mom helped me plan everything out each week, but gradually I was able to do it all by myself, planning out and scheduling out each week. It made me feel so much better in what I do now and gave me life skills for planning and organizing. I now use those skills in other things that I do, which makes life so much easier. (I can’t stand it when things aren’t organized, which I didn’t want to admit until I started to work with Oak Meadow. The grade 7 curriculum gave me the tools I needed to really shine.)

I would suggest Oak Meadow to anyone who is having trouble with schoolwork that follows a core-curriculum, because it reprograms the mind to be open to learning in a fun and interesting way.

Gia is 14 years old. Feel free to visit (and subscribe to) her youtube channel where she artistically (and patiently) creates and shares her Ever After High Stop Motion videos as Everstone Studios.

NOTE- As a Canadian, I can totally understand the extra stress of dealing with shipping and the exchange rate... that's why I was so excited to find out that Oak Meadow is having a boxing day sale to include Canada. The sale offers 10% off everything in the bookstore (including curriculum) + $1 shipping!
​Use the code: 2017BoxingDay

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