About

About The Awakening Wonder Approach

(The following is a draft. Please excuse our dust while we’re under construction.)

Please Note: The author makes no guarantees about the suitablilty of these materials for any individual student or family, or about the results to be expected from their use.

Awakening Wonder

Awakening Wonder is a multi-level approach to science at home with the goal of giving students a firm grounding in the basics of modern science while awakening in each family member a sense of curiosity and wonder as they explore the amazing world in which we live. Students learn by reading about science topics and exploring them through hands-on activities, and solidify their knowledge by writing about what they have learned.

Multilevel Family Education

Awakening Wonder materials are designed to coordinate study of a particular subject by students working at different academic levels, such as in a home school or family setting. We carefully select and coordinate materials so that all of your students will be studying the same general topics at the same time, but each will use materials suitable to his or her level of ability and understanding. Our level designations are similar to those used in a classical education model and are as follows:

Advanced Level materials are most suitable for students in about grades 9-12, as well as adult self-education.
Intermediate Level materials are targeted toward students in approximately 5th through 8th grades.
Primary Level materials are intended for use by students in about 1st through 4th grades.
Junior Level materials are mostly coloring pages suitable for preschool-aged children and those in Kindergarten who are following along with the “big kids” in their studies.

Studying the same topic at the same time allows students to participate in group discussions, even though students are learning at different levels. Younger students will benefit by hearing the insights shared by older students and catching intriguing glimpses of the larger body of knowledge waiting out there for them as they progress. Teaching others is an exceptional way to help cement understanding, and older students will benefit from this experience as they help explain concepts and answer questions asked by the younger students in the group.  Multilevel learning also allows all students to work together on the same hands-on projects and activities; older students can take notes and measurements and record and report data, while younger students discuss their observations and make predictions about what might happen.

Combining students of differing levels also reduces preparation time for the parent or instructor, who no longer needs to prepare different lessons on different topics for each grade level. Costs are also reduced, as students can share many materials and work together on projects.

Structure

We believe that having an overall structure in one’s approach to education helps with setting and meeting appropriate educational goals for each child, gives the parent instructor an effective way to plan and to evaluate progress, and simplifies record-keeping. Our approach is to begin with a high level subject, such as history or science, and break it down into four categories. Each category is further divided into smaller topics, and each of these is divided into study segments. (See “Flexibility” below for scheduling options.)

For example, the high level subject “Science” is broken down into four main categories:

Earth and Space
Biology
Chemistry
Physics

The category “Earth and Space” is further divided into smaller topics:

Space
Planet Earth
Wind, Water, and Weather
Climate and Ecology

The “Space” study unit will contain study segments with coordinating materials for students at each level on the following:

The Universe
Galaxies
Stars
Observation Techniques in Space
The Sun and Solar System
The Inner Planets and Asteroid Belt
The Outer Planets and Other Objects in the Solar System
Space Travel

Additional “Special Topics” units will also be developed for further study in areas of particular interest. An example is our “Prehistory Study” unit.

Flexibility

Awakening Wonder materials are also designed to incorporate as much flexibility as possible, for individualized learning. Our materials are intended to be tools that enable and empower you as the parent instructor, not as rigid requirements.

Flexible Instructional Materials

We make recommendations for books and other study materials for your convenience. However, we believe that you are ultimately the one responsible for choosing the materials you will use with your family. You might choose to use all the materials we recommend. You might decide to use only a few of our recommendations so that your study will better fit within the limitations of your budget, or so that you have more time to spend on another subject where a student is struggling. You might even substitute or add in another book or resource on the topic that you’ve always wanted to use, but that isn’t in our schedule–just coordinate your resource’s table of contents with the main topics listed in the Awakening Wonder study, and it will be coordinated with our recommended resources and printable pages. Awakening Wonder is intended as a sort of educational buffet from which you choose the resources that will work for your students and construct an educational plan that’s tailored to your own family’s circumstances.

Scheduling

Scheduling is extremely flexible with Awakening Wonder materials.

If you spend approximately one week on each segment of a study unit, you will finish the unit in about eight or nine weeks, which roughly corresponds to one quarter of a school year. At that rate, you would finish four units during a school year. You could choose to go all the way through one division of a subject, such as “Earth and Space” or “Biology” in science during one school year. Or, if you prefer more variety, you could choose one unit from “Earth and Space”, one from “Biology”, one from “Chemistry” and one from “Physics”, and spend a quarter in each discipline. With either of these approaches you would finish all four science disciplines in four years. You could then revisit each, with students working at a higher academic level with more advanced materials. However, if you schedule one segment per day, using fewer materials, you could work through a unit with less depth in only a couple of weeks. Conversely, you could spread out your study and spend a whole school year working through one study unit if you choose. You could even combine these approaches, skimming through some topics at a more basic level of understanding, an then spending several weeks going in depth on topics of particular interest to your family. One class session on volcanoes might be plenty for some students, whereas others might long to spend a month building a detailed model in the back yard.

Learning Styles and Differences

Parents can tailor Awakening Wonder to better fit each student’s learning style and other individual learning differences. The balance between time spent on reading, writing, and hands-on activities can be easily adjusted. A student who learns best by reading might be given recommended reading from more than one level, along with several biographies of scientists in the current field of study, and perhaps some library books, while only doing one or two hands-on activities for the unit. A more kinesthetic learner might need smaller reading assignments, but benefit from additional hands-on experience with the topic. Again, pick and choose from the recommendations the materials and activities that best suit your goals for your child’s education.

 Academic Level

Flexibility is vital when working with students who don’t fit neatly into academic levels, such as gifted students, or those with learning delays. A multi-level approach makes it easy to adjust the level of challenge up or down without having to reschedule an entire subject for the whole year–just shift the student into materials a level higher or lower, and keep going with the next segment on your list. A student might even do work from several levels at a time; for example, a strong reader who struggles with writing might do the Intermediate-level reading assignments, but use the Primary-level writing materials.

Fun!

Awakening Wonder is intended to help families have a positive experience with science education, not to weigh you down with pressure to perform at a certain level or to check off a laundry list of assignments. The structure of having a plan helps the parent feel confident and be prepared, but please RELAX and have a good time too! We want you to see that wonderful glow of amazement and curiosity light up your children’s eyes. We want your child to know that science is about asking questions and seeking out the answers, not just about memorizing boring lists of facts. Science is an adventure! Welcome aboard.

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