This time in history is forcing us to consider new methods of living. We are looking at life through a new lens regarding our children, our jobs, travel, and outings to restaurants. How do we send our children, our treasures, to school safely? How does a 7-year-old understand social distancing? Does online learning engage children effectively? What will be required to be parent and teacher? Can children have a rich, satisfying learning experience at home? Is homeschooling a realistic option?
The answer is YES! The most powerful method of engaging your child(ren) is through thematic instruction, a holistic and an integrated approach to learning. Rather than presenting the subjects (reading, language arts, social studies, map skills, science) as separate components, they are woven into a cohesive story. The materials and concepts are organized in the context of an overarching theme.
Using beautiful award-winning literature, music, hands-on science and math, art, and foods, the child discovers the connections needed to learn. Through a curriculum utilizing sensory experiences with intellectual inquiry, children can experience the joy of exploration.
I entered the classroom in 1971 at Wells Elementary School in Tehachapi. I have always believed in experiential learning. Thirty years ago, when assigned a 2nd-3rd grade combination class at Tompkins, I developed a year’s plan of Traveling the World on the Magic School Bus, taking the students vicariously to the seven continents. She took on the persona of Ms. Frizzle with curly hair and Birkenstocks. The students had a wonderful year traveling the world. Ms. Frizzle became our science guide. The students built a "pyramid for two" that was used as a quiet reading spot; had a Medieval Feast to initiate our travels in Europe; measured, drew to scale, painted, and stuffed life-sized animals of Australia; and had a potluck to culminate the year where they brought dishes that represented their ancestry.
When I began working with families at Valley Oaks Charter School, I expanded the one-year program into two years, allowing for greater depth of study at each continent. Home school moms willing to try a different approach to teaching have successfully used the Magical Tapestry curriculum. Now, a manuscript has been written sharing ideas and strategies. It will be released July 29. A website explaining the program more fully is: magicaltapestry.com. Please peruse the website for more information. If any questions or interest in the curriculum, contact Linda at email@example.com.
Linda Smith is a Tehachapi resident and retired teacher.