At Layers of Learning we use a four cycle to structure our curriculum. This is an element of classical style education. It means that children study all of world history in four years and then start over again at the beginning, learning about world history three times at ever increasing levels of difficulty before they graduate.
The four year cycle is a method of organizing a curriculum or school course. Students learn the entire scope of history, geography, science, and arts over a four year period, then they repeat their studies twice more before graduation.
The benefit of this method is that children study the same subjects, concepts, and facts repeatedly, really cementing the information. The fact that it is naturally at increasing depth as the child matures means that before they are analyzing why Rome fell, they already have the basic facts about Ancient Rome from which to form their ideas. Before they are asked to come up with creating their own science experiment they have the background scientific knowledge and have practiced the form of a good scientific experiment.
Makes Family School Possible
Another benefit is that with a four year cycle it is easy to have all of your kids on the same subject at the same time. At age 6, 8, and 11 all of your kids can be studying Ancient History, People & Planet geography, Earth & Space science, and Art Beginnings. It doesn’t matter if when they began at age 6 they were not at the beginning of the cycle. The nature of a cycle is that it all comes around again.
The four year cycle also provides an organized framework that allows for spontaneity, rabbit trails, and your own personal pacing. It is a vehicle keeping you on track so you don’t miss things or leave big gaps in your child’s education.
We begin in the first year learning about ancient history from the earliest civilizations at about 3500 BC until the fall of the Roman Empire. Then we learn about Middle Ages history around the globe. Next is colonial history from the Age of Exploration to the American War of Independence. And last students learn about modern history up to the early 21st century.
Geography is a little different because there is no strict chronological progression and we like to hit on many different parts of the globe each year. So we spend the first year learning about the continents in turn along with the physical earth. The second year is spent on different regions of the world, looking at countries in depth in each region and on mapping skills. The third year is spent on regions and then culture and how it shapes us. Finally, the last year is a visit to regions around the world and the political systems that we all live under.
Layers of Learning science is organized by the four branches: earth & space, biology, chemistry, and physics being studied in turn. Each of these courses has explorations and experiments that are suited for multiple ages. While little ones can learn a great deal and have lots of fun, the units are also rigorous and cover high school and some college level concepts.
Layers of Learning Arts tracks with the history, studying art development, artists, and art movements through time. The first year of art also spends several units on learning how art works, the tools artists use, the principles of art and so on. It is a combined art history and practical art class.
We chose the four year cycle, first, because it is organized. Second because it is thorough, letting kids study at increasing levels of depth. And finally because it allows for family school, with everybody on the same subject at the same time.
First Year of the Cycle
These are the first four courses. They make up the Year One cycle. Each course can be used with all ages from 6 to 18 so that you can family school with everyone together. In four years you will use these course books again, your second time through the cycle.
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