Growing, Growing, Strong Review
Growing, Growing Strong, A Whole Health Curriculum for Young Children, is the book Oak Meadow recommends for health for grades K-3. It's one book that you're supposed to pick and choose from and stretch out on your own to cover four years worth of health.
Upon receiving it and flipping through it in a cursory manner, my first impression was not all that favorable. Mostly because this is a book that seems very obviously geared toward teachers in a CLASSROOM and I couldn't understand why it was being recommended for a HOMESCHOOL program.
Apparently, other people I 'know' on my homeschool message board who are also using Oak Meadow felt the same way, and so several of us started telling others who inquired that they need not bother purchasing this book, that they could put together their own health curriculum or go with something else that was less geared toward a classroom or group of kids.
But recently, while putting together my son's Kindergarten schedule for the fall, I decided to look through it again and see what I could piece together for his health curriculum, being as I already had the book sitting here on my shelf anyway.
And in doing so, I've decided that I was too quick to negatively judge this book.
In actuality, while it IS directed to classroom teachers, it DOES contain useful information for the homeschooling parent. And each topic has a section called "Family Information & Activity Bulletin," and each of those gives some fun ideas for things you can do with your children at home pertaining to the topic at hand.
So, for example, take Chapter 1- "My Wonderful Body." There's a section talking about childhood development, on addressing diversity, especially in the classroom, and words you can use to stimulate ideas for follow up activities. There's a page devoted to what "Learning Center Materials" the classroom could have.
Then it moves on to individual "topics" within the given chapter. Topic 1 is called "My Body Parts."
There are "Learning Objectives," i.e. "Children will identify body parts by correct names. Children will identify and accept differences in individual appearances. Children will state or show how to take care of their bodies. Children will practice behavior that protects specific body parts."
There's some more information for the person reading the book, a section on "creating the environment" and an "Evaluation" section.
Then it gets to the Family Information & Activity Bulletin.
It tells the parent how they can play games to help children learn the correct names of body parts, to use correct terms, to protect their body parts, etc. It lists "family activities," such as using "a tape measure, scales or other measuring instrument to see how tall each family member is, how long their feet are, and how much they weigh. Show your child the protective gear used by family members, such as sunglasses or goggles, ear plugs, helmets, hard hats, boots, knee pads, and gloves."
It then lists a bunch of activities that you can do with your children. And you can pick which one or ones you want to implement. Some of the activities for this topic were:
Talking about bodies and their differences, visiting a museum to see skeletons and bones, helping children use their bodies to make sounds, going on a "body tour" and visiting places where you can see different representations of bodies (it suggests an art shop or museum with sculptures, photographs, drawings and paintings; an art class with work in progress; lawn and garden store with statues, water fountains and plaques; clothing stores with mannequins; doll stores; gift stores with figurines; dance studios or recitals).
Asking children how a stuffed animal's body parts are like their own, visiting places to see animal bodies (zoo, human society, pet stores), reading specific books, visiting a car garage or body shop and talking about the different car bodies and parts.
Making bodies (letting the kids help figure out how you can make one),
Creating a video or book to show what the kids have learned about bodies,
So while some of the things were things that would be best suited to a classroom, there were plenty of good ideas that I was able to separate for use here at home- things I thought would be educational and fun for my young son and easy enough for me to do with him.
I can't tell yet if I can realistically stretch this out over four years- I put together what I wanted to do on a one time per week basis for Kindergarten, certainly not being excessive in regard to amount of work or time required, and made it to page 85 of the book. There are 218 pages. There'd need to be like 340 pages if 85 pages per year is a reasonable schedule. But we'll see what happens. I've already planned out Kindergarten- I'm sure I can at least plan out first grade and probably second, too, before running out of material. And if we end up needing to figure out something else on or own for third grade, so be it.
In the meanwhile, I have everything pretty much laid out for me here to choose from, including book titles, activity ideas, necessary materials and so on, and I've found enough material to keep my Kindergartener occupied for his first school year and beyond, so I'm going to just go with it for as long as I can.
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