Learning Plan for Cassius 2007
Cassius is seven years old. He has lived in Vancouver all his life with his mom and dad. His dad, Tyler, works as a Props Master in film. His mom, Jasmine (that’s me), is a full time mom, and part time Doula. Cassius has a two year old brother named Paris.
Cassius is very close to his Grandparents. He is also very close to his Aunt Tara and Uncle Mat. He was present at his cousin Kaia’s birth two years ago, as well as his brother’s. Cassius still misses Orlando, our Jack Russell, who sadly died when Cassius was four.
Interests & Strengths
Many of Cassius’ interests focus around stories, imagination & nature. He is fascinated with and wants to understand everything about the world around him. Communication and relating to people are two of his strong points. Cassius is sensitive, loving, empathic and artistic. He loves beautiful things. He is also very imaginative and loves listening to stories and thinking up his own. He is introspective and thinks about things deeply. He wonders about why we are alive and what happens when we die.
Cassius is an oral learner. He could spell words out loud long before he could recognize them in print. He learns a lot from talking out loud about what he’s thinking and asking questions. He learned to talk very early and when he was two years old he would memorize and recite nursery rhymes. He has loved books and stories since he was a baby. He is always imitating accents and he has a great ear for music.
Cassius has very high expectations of himself. He expects to be perfect at what he does and does not like to make mistakes or be wrong. For example, violin lessons were a disaster. He really enjoyed them at first, but after a month he refused to play a single note for the teacher. He couldn’t stand not sounding perfect. He knew what good music sounded like and that’s what he wanted to sound like right away.
I try to encourage him to keep trying when he finds something difficult. We talk about how when you work at something you get better at it. I try to show him concrete examples of this in the things he does. For example, I’ll show him some printing or drawing he did a year ago, so he can see how much he’s improved.
Philosophy or Structure of the Learning Environment
We follow an Unschooling approach to learning. To me unschooling is trusting that children know best what they need to learn and how to best learn it. I see myself as more of a facilitator than a teacher. I make as much information about the world as I can available to Cassius, and then follow his lead. I answer his questions and help him find answers when I don’t know them. I let him follow his interests and encourage his talents. I also sometimes push him to do things he finds difficult – but often I find he does this himself.
After doing a mind map, Cassius decided he would like to focus on the following areas:
Reading Out Loud together
Cassius thinks he is bad at reading because he can’t read everything. (I think he is actually is making huge leaps in his reading all the time). I told him a good way to get better at reading is to read out loud, because it is harder than reading to yourself. So we are going to try to spend a little time every day reading together.
Penmanship & Typing
Cassius would like to get better at writing things down so he can write some of his ideas and stories down himself. He wants to learn how to type, because he likes how it feels.
Mathematics (Our Main Focus is going to be on Money and Games.)
Cassius is baffled as to why we use money; He thinks if we had no money we would have no poverty. He would like to explore this question more. We are also going to work on reading and counting money.
We are going to try to play more games. This is a challenge I’m afraid because of Cassius’ little brother. Card games might be something we can focus on, that Paris can’t disrupt too much. Whenever I ask Cassius if he wants to work on math he says he wants to play games, so I think this would be a good way for us to approach math. I’m going to check out some math sites on the web, because often these feel like games to Cassius.
I have mentioned to Cassius that if he wants to get better at games, a good thing to do is get better at reading and math. He agrees that this is true, so I think he would be responsive to working on some math basics. The reason I would like him to do this is that I see him getting frustrated when he has to read numbers and add them etc. The Noble Knights of Knowledge math curriculum is great, but an ordeal to set up. Also we can only do it when Paris is asleep, so I am looking for something simpler that we can work through. I’m not going to push this and don’t really think it’s necessary too. I found last year, when we worked only a couple of hours a month on math, Cassius would talk and think about it all the time.
Animals & Nature
Animals are a big passion for Cassius. He really loves them and they mean a lot to him. He told me his pet geckos are the number one important things to him. It is wonderful to see how caring and sensitive he is towards animals. One thing he wants to be when he grows up is an animal protector.I try to write down questions he has that I can’t answer. Looking them over I realized they all have to do with animals or nature. He wants to know more than what his books tell him. I think we need to do more than just read about animals, but I’m not sure what. We are going to continue to take care of the chickens every week.
Also we would like to use our microscopes more, which help satisfy some of his curiosity. We would like to get a digital Microscope.
Classes & Social Activities
I have signed Cassius up for a cartooning class, theater class, and swordplay class, since he has identified these things as important to him. Cassius’ dad is going to take him swimming & skateboarding. We will make trips to the library so he has plenty of books and tape books.
I run the weekly Vancouver Homelearners Drop-in at Strathcona Community Centre. Many weeks we have organized learning activities; sometimes the kids just play. Also we go on fieldtrips and other get togethers with The Vancouver Homelearners Group. One of the things Cassius mentioned was important him is playing with his friends.
Cassius enjoys learning French. He attended French camp last summer for two weeks and then wanted to do it for another two weeks! He really loved his teacher and helped sparked an interest in him.We used Rosetta Stone through Mission Homelearners last year and really enjoyed it. Fortunately I have just found out we can do it free through Richmond Library, so we are going to try that.
Cassius’ Step Grandmother is From Hong Kong and teaches Cassius a little Mandarin every time we see her.
Expectations for Learning Consultant
I look at Cassius’ learning consultant as someone who can suggest good resources or activities that might interest Cassius or help him reach his goals. I also see her as someone who could suggest possible solutions if he runs into difficulty with anything he is learning. The fresh ideas and point of view from someone as interested in learning as I am is very inspiring!
Assessment / Evaluation
I evaluate and assess Cassius’ learning achievements and difficulties everyday, automatically and subconsciously. I spend so much time with him, it is easy for me to see what he is good at, what he knows, and what he needs to work at. I just have to listen to Cassius and often he will tell me himself straight out – “I really enjoy this” or “I wish I was better at this”. I think a lot of learning is actually unobservable. Sometimes when it appears that Cassius is doing nothing, he is learning the most. Out of nowhere he will suddenly have a new skill.
Cassius enjoyed doing the mind map and it defiantly helped us set some goals. I think I would like to keep assessment more on these terms of helping Cassius assess and set goals for himself. Although, I think it is useful on some levels for Cassius to investigate and evaluate his learning, I don’t want him to become self-conscious of his process. I think this will evolve naturally the older he gets.