Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sophie's Learning Plan 2008-9

Grade 5, I guess that would be. She's still 9 for almost 3 more months, but in BC she'd be in Grade 5 starting next week. Today we went to Panini Café for lunch and tossed around some ideas and wishes. At this point, here's what looks practical:

Biographical sketch / past learning successes and challenges / goals etc.
Sophie is a 9-year-old girl who lives just outside a rural village of 600 in the BC Interior. She has an older sister, a younger sister and an older brother and a close homeschooled friend who lives nearby and shares several of her interests. She enjoys playing the violin, working with animals, reading and being a self-directed learner of academics. She is remarkable for her broad range of interests and willingness to try new things. She is very skilled as a violinist and is finding that this ability is carrying over into a remarkable ability to self-teach on piano.

Sophie has recently been very successful in learning French. She expressed an interest in French language study early in the summer. She identified a particular curriculum resource that she would like and patiently reminded her parents until it was ordered. When it arrived, during a very busy part of the family's summer, she delved in with no guidance and independently utilized various resources available around the home since her parents were not available to help. She made excellent progress through the program, improving her French and her handwriting, and felt very successful in managing all this single-handedly. This is typical of her cheerful independence in systematic learning.

One of Sophie's learning challenges has been in the realm of her violin learning this past year. While she plays very well and has very good musical instincts, she is at a level where lots of careful analytical work is required as she practices. She often finds that the more she thinks carefully about her violin playing, the more difficult it gets for her to play with fluid confidence and showmanship. Turning on her intuitiveness and energy after the tricky intellectual detail work has been done is something that has not come naturally and she has had to learn how to do this at a conscious level. It has been a struggle but she is getting much better at not letting her thinking interfere with her music once it has served its use.

Sophie has a couple of discrete learning goals. She wants to compete a review of pre-algebraic math and move further ahead in her study of Algebra this year, and wants to achieve her yellow belt in Aikido.

Sophie will continue with Aikido, a martial art that demands a lot of grace, co-ordination, strength and co-operation. She enjoys the congenial non-competitive nature of aikido and hopes to earn her first colour belt (yellow) this year.She would be very interested in gymnastics if we could find a way for her to participate in this, though it seems unlikely. She is not willing to travel to Nelson an extra day a week for this, but if there was something available on Tuesdays, or closer to home, she would be very interested. Sophie is keen to build on her swimming skills whenever the opportunity to swim in a pool presents itself. She will enjoy skating on the family's backyard rink this winter and will attend the community gym with her family on a semi-regular basis through the winter.

Sophie is a passionate reader and enjoys listening to challenging novels of a variety of genres read aloud. Both these are daily activities. She would like to improve the fluidity, ease and speed of her cursive handwriting this year. She plans to complete the Getty-Dubay Level E workbook and will then continue with copywork in a journal where she will collect favourite poems. Sophie's spelling skills are very strong and will no doubt continue to improve with her copious reading. She may be interested in keeping a personal blog, and will try to contribute a paragraph or story to at least every second O4L report this year.

Family travel through Canada's heartland and visits to museums and other sites of cultural importance in Western Canada will provide lots of opportunity for Sophie to develop interests in Canadian history and geography. Interests will be further developed using a variety of resources as appropriate, drawing on reference books, websites, documentaries and historical fiction. Sophie particularly enjoys travelogue-style documentaries as a way of learning about other cultures, and her elder sister's two months of travel to SouthEast Asia this winter will help her learn about the culture and geography of that region. She would also like to continue the family's hobby of geocaching this year, managing the GPS receiver herself as she gains experience.

Second Language
Sophie has developed a strong self-motivated interest in an academic approach to the French language this summer and would like to continue with this. She makes use of a French picture dictionary, a standard French-English dictionary and L'Art de Lire curriculum books and audio tracks. She would like to augment this learning with the more aural immersion-like approach offered by Rosetta Stone, as well as continuing with L'Art de Lire levels 2, 3 and 4. We will investigate the availability of appropriate French-language-learning podcasts.

Mathematics / Logic
Sophie's intermittent approach to math over the last year has resulted in a little less than her usual total retention of concepts from Grade 5, 6 and 7 level math. As a result, her enthusiasm for math has waned a little. She would like to win back her confidence and motivation, as she is very interested in moving ahead into deeper study of Algebra. She would like to do a brief review of fractions, decimals and percents, as well as improving her speed of recall of multiplication facts. She may do some of this as a prelude to diving into Algebra, but she may choose to do some of it concurrently. Resources will include Singapore Primary Math level 6 review exercises, AlgeTiles manipulatives, the Math in Minutes program for memorization, plus "Life of Fred Beginning Algebra" or an alternative algebra or Grade 8 math text.

Sophie continues to be very interested in the academic study of biology. She would like to gradually read through Neil Campbell's "Biology: Concepts and Connections" college-level intro biology text, using it as an opportunity to learn to make summary notes and subsequently self-assessing using the CD-ROM assessment quizzes. She may also work through the RealScience4Kids Chemistry 1 program. In addition, viewing science-related documentaries, particular those pertaining to the natural world, will be a potent source of learning, as will her participation in caring for animals (rabbits, cat and laying hens at home, as well as small and large farm animals at our neighbours' homestead) and in family vegetable gardening.

Sophie will continue to study violin, with weekly private lessons, biweekly group classes, biweekly orchestra rehearsals, biweekly Summit Strings (violin chamber ensemble) rehearsals and daily practicing. She will take part in a workshop in November designed to help young string players learn to work with an accompanist and will participate in a variety of performances of a solo and ensemble nature. She hopes to gradually move forward in Suzuki Violin Book 6 as the year goes on. She will continue to dabble in music theory study as her interests and inclinations dictate. She would like to be involved in a choir if the opportunity presents itself as it did last winter. She would like to continue self-teaching on piano, by working through the Alfred Primer 2B level. In terms of other creativity pursuits, she would like to continue to explore stop-motion animation using clay and alternative media, and she will continue to explore various arts and crafts. Currently her particular interests are in origami, folded fabric design and drawing.


  1. I'm curious about something. Are the headings in your learning plan required - as in are they given you by whoever it is you have to pass the learning plan in to, or did you come up with them on your own because these are the areas you want to emphasize?

  2. Hi Jacqueline. The headings are simplified distillations of seven of the ones given by SelfDesign. There are some more touchy-feely ones where we don't usually need to table specific plans -- like "SelfDesign Praxis Planning – Learning to learn– Systemic Thinking," for which I usually jot a few bits of flowery language about 'self-awareness' and about the recognition and application of learning strategies. And the headings I wrote are more bare-bones than those we're actually given, which are more descriptive. For instance, Languaging is actually given as "Languaging Communication- Writing/Reading-Media
    Languaging and Communication
    (conversations and discussions at (mealtimes etc.) reading, writing and journaling, media presentations, movies and film analysis." They're trying to encourage parents who aren't thinking laterally to do so, and to make clear their acceptance of things like blogging or telling one's family the plot of a TV show you liked as part of a child's language-learning experience.

  3. Thanks for the explanation, Miranda!


This blog is moving to archive-only status. Please consider posting comments instead at the active version of the blog at

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.