It is a resounding thumbs up for Galore Park here; this is a set of text books created for prep school by teachers sick of the sight of dumbed down National Curriculum tat. From what we’ve used so far, they resemble most closely the books i used in Junior School and the early part of Senior school and seem to manage to be interesting, thought provoking and useful in equal measure. The format is pleasing to the eye, the ideas are captivating in their own right but more than that, they’ve been inspiring further conversation and ideas very naturally. So far we’ve made a conscious effort to use the English and History book but i think we’ll very shortly be getting the Maths (a bit of a departure from Singapore which is pleasing me less these days), French and Science too.
This isn’t about having a curriculum and people sat down at a table more, this is more about having a wider variety of things available for the time we already do relatively formal work. The English in particular has been great; Fran this week has done work on obesity and a snippet of “Oliver Twist” and has had a chance to do some creative work about both those things. Her current affairs interest is spectacularly wide, so having a chance to mull over much of what she has learned through Newsround and put it into thoughtful writing has been excellent. As they are doing an Oliver Twist workshop next week, the timing has been excellent. Each chapter is structured so that there is comprehension, creative writing, further reading suggestions, technical skills, grammar and more woven into it, with a theme to the topic. Taken slowly, you could cheerfully spend a month on the chapter and feel like lots had been achieved within it without it feeling laborious at all. Fran has written diary entries, Maddy had a ball with a Dick King Smith excerpt about a badger; as well as doing dictionary work, writing and comprehension, she had to write the story from the badgers point of view. To help her, i got her to draw the story first in 6 cartoon pieces; i laughed at them so much that i had a nose bleed! Then she dictated her story to me and wrote it out herself.
The 2 history books start similarly with an overview of how to find out about history; this week we used the younger version and talked about sources, evidence, archaeologists and time lines. Conversation diverted into time capsules and today we are going to make a capsule for each of them to open on their 18th birthday. “Archaeologists Dig for Clues” also came out for a second viewing!
Overall i’d say they’ve been a great (small) investment. I’m far happier with a framework and i far prefer to do an easy hit of something meaningful when people are not otherwise occupied. I’d recommend taking a look at the site, there are lots of sample chapters to download.
There has also been lots of maths (Fran has forgotten how to divide 🙄 ) and lots of music. Plenty of reading (War Horse, Horrible Histories, Fairy Books, Winnie the Pooh) and lots of stories. But more than that, they’ve done a heap of playing out with the 8-10 kids who live round here. It has been like “The Red Hand Gang” that used to be on; every time i look out of the window there is a succession of small children screeching round the corner on bikes. Very sweet.