It is now mid May. My 6th grader and I are drawing his year's schooling to an end - next week is our last formal "school week". I thought I would share a few thoughts on how we have, in the past, brought each school year to a close and what we are doing this year.
Rudolf Steiner is clear that a teacher should endeavor to allow time at the end of each block or year to review what the children have achieved during that block or year. I think this is a wonderful idea, one we have embraced enthusiastically in our family. Though we rarely do this kind of a review at the end of a main lesson, we have always made sure to mark the end of the school year. My sons have always enjoyed making neat piles of their year's main lesson books, folders of other work, workbooks (!!), and art projects and having a special evening showing such work "to the family" - and this despite the fact that the family has all been involved in their on-going work! My husband has always worked from home and has always taught or been involved in some way in our boys' educations - so it's been quite touching when Daniel and Gabriel have wanted to make a big show of showing their work to their Dad. One especially memorable year my mother-in-law was with us from England - showing Granny the year's work was a real treat!
So each year we set aside some time to revisit main lessons - to talk about any field trips or special projects we did, to look at art projects, handwork and even fairly tedious pages of math drills from workbooks! ("Remember when I couldn't do these problems?!"). My sons have always had such a sense of accomplishment looking at their work.
My youngest, who playa the piano, usually likes to give a mini recital during these review evenings as well. In years past when both my sons were at home (the eldest now goes to a Waldorf-flavored high school) my husband would often lead them in a concert of all the recorder pieces they had learned that year, too.
This year my youngest is a big 6th grader so I suspect this year's end-of-year review might be somewhat different - but he still enjoys the process. This next week we are finishing our work: we are looking through a chemistry kit he got a year ago - I can't put him off any further!; we'll be finishing with some spelling and grammar work he's been going; we'll finish his work on Pascal's triangle.
My idea is that in a couple of weeks when my eldest finishes school we'll have our review evening - and also talk about what Daniel did in this past year at high school - I think he will enjoy and benefit from that as much as Gabriel. Also, my sons really like being involved in what each other does - so they will enjoy sharing together their thoughts and reflections on the past year. Obviously, when they were little, we just looked at their work - now that they are teens, we will discuss what they have done and what they think and how they feel about the past year. Part of this will also incorporate discussion of next year - what lessons I will want Gabriel to have for 7th grade and what he also wants to do. Daniel doesn't have a whole lot of choice as the curriculum is set at school - but he also works independently on his own fiction writing, so we will see what his plans are for that in the upcoming year.
And as he writes for his own pleasure, he will continue his work over the summer as well. Gabriel has been teaching himself Latin this year - I know he will carry over the summer and will probably continue with his German studies as well. Paul and I have asked him to become more involved in the running of Christopherus - he has been periodically learning book-keeping with his father (6th grade math is business math!) and will learn more about that over the summer months.