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Curriculum advice: artistic, multilingual, highly curious 7th grader near London

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Oh, sometimes it's so difficult to create a subject line!


I have a bicultural, fully bilingual-with-four-other-languages-learned-along-the-way 7th grade daughter who:  gets ridiculously excited about science, robotics, rocketry, the universe; who is an excellent artist (drawing); who has read every book every English teacher tries to propose to her; who is an incredibly poetic and insightful writer (teachers say she's TAG; I most definitely could not write like she does at age 12); who does well in math (As) if given lots of support; and who obviously picks up languages quite easily, German being her absolute favorite (would be in her third year).




What scares me about purchasing a set curriculum is mainly the literature part as she has often read many of the books suggested.  But I really would like something structured (not something I throw together).


Does anyone know of a great curriculum that would fit this child?  Does anyone know of a good homeschooling German program?

Edited by MamaOutThere - 1/14/14 at 6:09am
post #2 of 11

Have you checked into the iCademy with K12? I hear it is wonderful and used with children all over the world. Go to www.k12.com for more info.

post #3 of 11

I don't have any specific recommendations, but as a parent to gifted curious kids with all sorts of passions and interests, I would steer very much clear of anything as structured, conventional and grade-levelled as K12. It has a reputation for being rather dry, incremental and for including lots of busywork. If you're purchasing it independently rather than using it through a school, you are free to skip over whatever seems excessive and to substitute for the dull stuff, but personally if I'm going to spend money on curriculum, I'd like it to feel like it fits my child. I don't think K12 is known for being a good fit for gifted, intuitive, curious high achieving kids.


I have a 9-year-old who, except for the multi-lingual bit (we are an Anglo family in a rural area with no second language offerings) sounds a lot like your dd. She is a natural unschooler, except that she likes structure. So our unschooling -- which to me means learning what and how the child desires -- includes a lot of the structure she wants. We have two academic blocks per day, and use interest-led curricular or reference resources to fill that time. She has a number of externally scheduled activities, replete with expectations and accountability that she likes. For instance, she logs her kilometres and attends group runs as part of a trail-running club, she has to practice for her weekly violin lessons and her chamber music trio rehearsals, she participates in an annual science fair, does a weekly math-focused art class, and is involved in a moot court later this month in a civics class. 


We've looked at all sorts of comprehensive curricula over the years, but nothing has really looked like it would fit my asynchronous and precocious kids. What we always fell back to was eclectic stuff, creating whatever structure around that my kids request. 


I highly doubt you'll find a German homeschooling curriculum as homeschooling is illegal in Germany and almost illegal in Switzerland.



post #4 of 11
Loved reading your post, Miranda, as I have a highly motivated learner who craves structure and have finally figured out how best to merge the two in our homeschool smile.gif
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the recommendation lalovelady. 


Moominmomma -- I am not looking for a German curriculum based on German or Swiss schooling (my dd is a Swiss citizen, amongst other nationalities) but a curriculum or course for learning German at a third-year level -- beyond German for travellers, let's say.


I see what you mean about your method of homeschooling; we did the same for one year when dd was 10 and it gave her a wonderful education based on her interests -- besides teaching her to think. 


My main concern is that we really don't seem to have the opportunities you have.  We have just moved here so I am still exploring.  But I seem to keep coming to dead ends.  She has joined the Scouts but that's about all I've found for her.  She was previously on a robotics team that was winning European tournaments, involved in an animation club and participating on a Mathcounts team.  I haven't found anything of the sort around here.  And I can't take her into London every day due to finances.  The two closest home education groups are a half-hour train ride away.  The closest French Saturday School is equally distant, if not farther.  (Yes, I'm considering a move from this particular area)


Is there anyone following a Waldorf homeschooling curriculum with a bright kid who has a passion for the sciences?  Anyone learning languages?  Bilingual?

post #6 of 11
Originally Posted by MamaOutThere View Post

My main concern is that we really don't seem to have the opportunities you have.  


I don't have any experience with moving to a new community and trying to make contacts and find activities. I certainly don't want to underestimate the challenges. But just so you have some context, you should know that we live in a community of 600 in the middle of nowhere, an hour and a half from the nearest town with a department store, indoor pool or fast food place, and eight hours from the nearest city with a symphony hall or sports arena. We've haven't been able to approach the offerings with a check-list of opportunities we want. Instead we've had to look realistically at what resources and opportunities we can dredge up from within the community, and get excited about some of what's available. 


In your situation I would probably look for a German language tutor/mentor, rather than a program. Someone who would be willing to play board games, read aloud and converse, for ninety minutes a couple of times a week, as well as suggesting some reading material and other real-life resources. duolingo.com is free and offers German. I can't vouch for its efficacy, though.



post #7 of 11

I am a uk based homeschooler, and I know London very well as I am from there and take my kids back around every 6 weeks. 


I think Moominmamma is spot on, one thing you realise quite quickly once you start homeschooling is just how much in the way of opportunities there are, almost anywhere. But the thing is you have to be prepared to ferret them out, develop them and sometimes even create them. I'm not sure where you are exactly, but if you are close to London I cannot believe that there will not be things going on. They may take a while to find, that's all. The thing about homeschooling is that relatively little is handed to you on a plate, you have to be persistent, follow leads, make contacts. This is true x 100 as the kids get older, I find. You also have to make do a lot. I am afraid that two groups within half an hour is pretty good, at least you have some choice! Once you get into the homeschooling scene you may also either discover other groups or others near you keen to start a group, get together to hire a tutor, or what have you. One thing to warn you of in case you are not aware already: UK homeschool groups aren't usually about learning but about socialising. There might be a few activities but these are normally about having a focal point. Also, there is a real drop off as kids get older so by your daughter's age there might not be that many kids, which means, aside from the friendship thing, the homeschooling scene may not cater for her that well.


I think, near London, you will have a lot going on once you look. And presumably you can sometimes go into London as well, which has an immense amount happening. 


How about killing two birds with one stone? There are loads and loads of German speakers milling through Steiner House, in London. Trainee teachers and so on. Why not see if you can get one to come and talk and play and do art or similar with your daughter? 


I've looked at the Waldorf curriculum, I've had kids in steiner school and grew up in that tradition myself and my experience was that it actually isn't a great match for an artistic, scientific, or gifted/academic child. But the one most UK homeschoolers seem to use is Christopherus. The only homeschoolers I know who use a full curriculum are very religious ones using a US highly religious curriculum like sonlight.

Edited by Fillyjonk - 11/8/12 at 1:01pm
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Fillyjonk, it is nice to hear from a UK home educator.  Thank you for taking the time to reply.  Your advice about Steiner House is great to hear, as well your personal experience with Waldorf -- and London.  Thank you again.  It is precisely the kind of information I was hoping for.


It is hard to provide so many details about everything but I did unschool this dd three years ago for one year in a tiny nonEnglish-speaking country where there was not a lot going on at all.  We ended up quite happy with what we could "ferret out," as you say.


We are in a small town in Essex, which seems to me, so far, not exactly a hotbed of homeschoolers.  There is a group in Southend and a group at Forest Gate, in London.  And, yes, of course there is London.  I must préciser (dang I cannot think of a word in English for that...) that we are very, very poor right now.  Even with a Family & Friends railcard it costs us 15 quid to get to London.  We do not have a car, we have London area rent, a mortgage to pay, and contractor taxes to pay.  So I really needed to find some things around here and I am really not finding them for now.


But the point of my post was more about curriculum recommendations, precisely to fill that gap, that lack of clubs or classes (though I am still on the lookout for those).  Like I said, I have done the unschooling and I am looking for something else.  It's okay if nobody knows of anything to recommend; I will keep on looking.  But I will most definitely have a chat with someone at Steiner House.


Thanks everyone!

post #9 of 11

I believe Steiner house actually used to have a kids art class for home educated kids.Give them a call and see what they can do. Be a bit persistent because it can be a bit random depending on who answers the phone!


I honestly think your best bet is to find your local group and post on there and explain your situation. Not all HErs go to groups, by a long stretch, and you may well find you have people quite locally. Also if you explain you have transport issues someone will often offer a lift, even if you don't know anyone, that's just what we do. But don't be limited by what they believe to be possible (no offence to anyone!) its just we get stuck in our ways sometimes and sometimes it takes a new person coming in with fresh eyes to get a few new things off the ground. 


I understand that you want curriculum reccomndations but I also see that money is tight. Especially as your daughter is especially strong in some areas, could another possibility be to put together your own curriculum, based largely on Steiner pedagogy but tailored to your child? I know this is doable for primary school aged kids because I've seen it done very sucessfully, I don't know if it could work for you? One thing we have in the UK, as I am sure you are aware, is an amazing lack of accountability regarding kids education. There are complicating factors, like that its not straightforward to access exams and so on to get to university (possible but can be harder). Just thought I'd mention that in case it was at the back of your mind that you had to justify yourself to anyone else. You really don't. And while I know that some people have had difficulty with the LEA I have to say that I never have, I've been polite and courteous and firm where need be and so have they.


Oh ETA if you are thinking of moving, home educators in the areas around Steiner schools are often more steinery, simply because their kids have often used the kindergarten to age 7, and/or because of that influence. I'm guessing you're up against a commute into London which is why you are where you are? But if you have any choice, I know, for example, the Hemel Hempsted area has a lot of home educators, as well as a Steiner school. Steiner schools in the UK seem remarkably resistant to getting a bit of extra cash by running classes or what have you for state-schooled kids and/or homeedders. Not sure why, and I think for moral and financial reasons they should be doing this!

Edited by Fillyjonk - 11/9/12 at 12:50am
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well, I actually took to heart your statement that Waldorf wouldn't fit my child, as you seem to have extensive experience with it.  But the Steiner House for German could be a good lead.


I did decide this morning that I would just have to construct my own curriculum with some sort of IB'ish/Waldorf'ish mix.


Hemel Hempstead would be good for rental prices, and I have considered it, but the train goes into Euston and we need something into Liverpool St or, better, Moorgate (the day my dh went in for his first day of work they announced a move to Old Street!).  But I will check it out.  After all, if things are much better there, dh can survive 9 mins on the tube.


Steiner schools seem to have remarkably bad reputation in the UK, so it might be good for them to open up to the public!

post #11 of 11

There are a couple of state steiner schools now but none near London. 


I think the approach has strengths, my issue is that it has a very rigid idea of what kids can and should do at certain ages. I also think that the science teaching can be very poor, but I also think its very teacher dependent.I think there are aspects of Waldorf that are great but I find the overall philosophy far too constricting. I think they have some really good insights but Waldorf has always been about group learning and development of the class rather than the individual so my feeling is that it could never be a perfect fit.


Hemel you'd go into a Euston and then get yourself on the Tube (or walk to Euston Square and get the Tube from there) to Liverpool Street. Actually though could another option for you be Watford or anywhere else on the Metropolitan line-Tube prices are much less than train prices and kids are free, giving you access to London too.



I know there is a good yahoo group covering Hemel and that area.


Good luck! I can only imagine how hard this must all be and I hope something comes together.

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