The days are getting longer and warmer. The school year’s goals are almost met, and if you are a homeschooling parent like me, you are already getting ideas for creative lesson plans for next year.
As I consider tweaks in our homeschool curriculum and schedules, I am drawn to the age-old conundrum regarding daily schedules. Do I want to frame our school time around a traditional school day? Take advantage of block learning? Or maybe—a mix of both. I can do that with Journeys-in-Film curriculum
The Pros and Cons of Traditional Learning
Traditional learning has some great advantages for schedule-oriented people. With this type of learning the homeschool curriculum covers every subject on a daily basis.
Every day you:
• Know what topics to hit
• Know how much time each topic is going to take
• Can guarantee each subject will be covered in its entirety over the course of the year when broken up according to the time frame
Another benefit of traditional scheduling, according to advocates of the style, is the exposure of students to time-management skills.
While many find this comfortable and helpful, others find that traditional learning can stifle creative lesson plans and inhibit learning. If a student struggles with a concept, it throws the homeschool curriculum schedule off for the year. Also, some feel as if this style encourages pushing through content without delving in deeper for true understanding.
The Pros and Cons of Block Learning
Block learning, on the other hand, allows students to immerse themselves into a few subjects each day. Since there are no time constraints, students can participate in projects and in-depth studies. This style of learning appeals to many who appreciate freedom in the homeschool curriculum. The block learners, in my experience, find they have the time to explore creative lesson plans that extend beyond the structured curriculum.
There are cons to this type of learning, according to traditional learning advocates. With block learning, there is sometimes a loss in continuity. Core standards slip through the cracks, and students lose retention if they take regular breaks from a subject
Merging Block and Traditional
This is where curriculum such as the Journeys in Film curriculum comes in. The curriculum takes issues pertinent to our middle schoolers’ world and teaches about the issues in a variety of subjects. The standards-based curricula developed through the Journeys in Film program help parents and teachers meet core curriculum requirements, teaching core subjects like math, language arts, social studies, and music, while cultivating interest among students in the world beyond what they already know.
Journeys in Film offers subjects which range from politics in China to discovering what really makes people happy all around the world. The middle school curriculum is available to educators year-round. Many of the resources available to teachers are free (http://journeysinfilm.org/for-educators/the-store/).
As I experiment with traditional structure, block structure and a mix of the two, curriculum choice is no longer an issue. The Journeys in Film curriculum works with any style, and students become immersed in learning no matter which option I choose. As a parent and educator, I appreciate that.
It seems that there are some definite benefits to both styles. Structure is important, but so is immersion and freedom to explore what we are learning. Perhaps the key lies in finding curriculum that interweaves itself throughout all the subjects we offer our students.