The academic curriculum we have chosen is based on Charlotte Mason’s approach to education, which emphasizes kindness, disciplined self-motivation, a love of learning, and a passion for nature.
The curriculum coursework for Ambleside provides:
• A wide and varied course of study
• An alternating plan for both the development of skills and the mastery of content
• An acquaintance with knowledge that is vital, fruitful, and interesting with its forming ideas
• The use of books characterized as “the best thought of the best writers”
• The use of materials that aid in understanding and explorations without diluting the thought of the discipline
We endeavour that the students should have relations of pleasure and intimacy established with as many as possible of the interests proper to him: not learning a slight or incomplete smattering about this or that subject, “but plunging into vital knowledge, with a great field before him which all his life he will not be able to fully explore” (Charlotte Mason). The courses of study vary between the grades, their time at school, and the depth at which they are encountered.
Narration is the basic methodology of Charlotte Mason education. Narration is an active retelling of what the student has heard and learned. Such a retelling requires the use of the child’s whole mind as well as their memory, and demands careful attention to a single reading of the source, without review and repetitions.
The Daniel Academy students do the scholar’s work of the first hand reading of primary sources of literary merit that present inspiring ideas in all subjects, not dry, pre-digested facts and texts. Their study also includes direct contact and observation of real objects from nature (plants, minerals, animals, the elements), and art, music, and other human discipline (maps, instruments, machines).
Disciplines of Study:
Unless otherwise specified, all students in primary and high school participate in the following disciplines every week:
Formal instruction in technique and various media is introduced throughout the grades, providing experience, observation, and study. This is included in Nature Study.
Readings are selected from the Old and New Testaments as well as Proverbs and Psalms, instructing in the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man.
Beginning in Grade four, students read about men and women in relationship with self and others in choosing the good and refusing the evil, as well as their contributions of service to society.
The students are acquainted with two classical composers and several of their works in every grade, cultivating taste and appreciation for classical music.
In the beginning years, students are solely acquainted with oral composition in the form of narration. Narration is continued daily throughout the grades as a method of assimilating information. Written composition is begun in Grade three with work in description, and continues throughout the grades, resulting in formal research projects.
Each week, students copy beautifully a well-written text, noting spelling, grammar, and punctuation from a classroom text or something studied. Later they are called upon to write a portion or the whole of what has been copied, as it is dictated to them.
The school aims to produce a play regularly involving all of the students.
Students are fully immersed in the language through class taught mainly in this language. The time spent in imitation, duplication, dialogues, and writing.
Atlases are used throughout the days as a reference in areas of study, as geography is naturally integrated into the curriculum. Geography is taught formally in grades five and six.
In the early years, students are introduced to the rules and regulations of our language by way of formal instruction. In the later years, instruction is based on addressing errors in usage.
Each year students undertake two handwork projects, such as stitchery, clay, and woodworking, taught by the classroom teacher or an artisan of the community.
In the early years, students master manuscript writing and then are introduced to Cursive writing, working out and practicing form, size, and style.
An introduction to history begins in grades one and two. Beginning in grade four, the history of South Africa and the world is taught each year through the twelfth grade.
We believe that physical fitness is an important part of life. Because education includes the relationship with ourselves, we encourage proper stewardship of our physical bodies.
At The Daniel Academy we encourage physical activities that are beneficial from a social aspect such as tennis, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, volley ball, and netball/basketball and as such some of these are included in the school day. This is specifically to encourage children to love and enjoy physical activity so that when they leave school they remain physically active and are able to enjoy social sports. We also have 2 slack lines available for building core strength and balance.
Any competitive sports that gifted children wish to take part in will be done after 3pm, when school ends.
A variety of living books of different genres are selected each year, some to correlate with history and science, and others are chosen because they have stood the test of time.
Beginning with arithmetic, students master the art of computation in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in the primary grades. The high school studies other branches consisting of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus.
Each student keeps a nature journal in which weekly entries are added to include drawings and descriptions. The students become acquainted with their natural surroundings, as well as two other classes of nature, such as birds, butterflies, herbs.
Phonics and Reading:
In grades one and two, students go through a formal program of sight and sound correspondence to develop skills in pronunciation and spelling. Phonics rules are introduced and learned for application, not drill. Beginning phonetic readers are used to reinforce these developing skills.
Students are made familiar with two artists a year and four to six of their significant works. They also experience the style and technique of the artist through reproducing one of their works.
Two poets and their works are introduced to the students each year. The students are given a volume of their works and memorize poems individually and corporately for personal enjoyment and formal recitation.
Teachers and students share in the delight of a book that is chosen for the sole reason that we would not want them to miss the opportunity of the joy of reading this book aloud.
This time is used to rehearse passages and verses from Scripture, poetry, or history that the students are responsible for keeping in their hearts and minds.
In grade three students are acquainted with animals and fossils through readings, drawings, and hands-on activities. Beginning in grade four through the middle grades, branches of physical, earth, and life sciences are taught each year. Through these varied branches, students are introduced to the principles of science, observation, and demonstration. In the upper grades, the sciences of biology, chemistry, physics, and human behaviour are studied in a more comprehensive manner.
These extra sustainable subjects, will be taught over the lifetime of school attendance and not necessarily each year. The curriculum and activities will be adapted and be relevant to each age.
Wind and solar energy
Living off the grid
Sustainable food production and diet
Repairing and maintenance
Each grade will have a turn to make all school snacks and meals, as well as do catering for school functions. The idea is to give children from a young age the confidence and skill to make healthy, delicious, natural meals and snacks. True self-confidence comes from completing tasks and becoming a contributing member of the family and community.
School fees include all snacks and a lunch meal on a daily basis. No food will be brought to school.Filtered (cooled/room temperature) water is available at school.
Vegetable and fruit growing
From garden to table, developing land, timing the crop, companion planting and rotation. Seasonal and local eating.
Using product from garden in the kitchen.
Planning your food production for a whole year based on seasons.
Carbon footprint of using out of season and shipped in goods.
Children will be shown how to keep bees. They will explore the many products developed from bees from candle, soap and skin care production to uses & benefits of honey, propolis, pollen and Royal Jelly.
Starting a business with no money and without borrowing
Children will be taught how the world financial system works and be able to explore alternate systems for funding and starting businesses from crowd funding to allowing natural organic growth, word of mouth and excellent service delivery.
The Business of food
Costing, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, packaging and sales.
Developing new products.
Students will be taught how to develop new products for the market and then be taught how to market that product.
Creating new menu items to rival old unhealthy ones at their favourite restaurants.
All preparation, cleaning, costing, shopping, marketing and design will be done by students.
Life lessons from foot up and bicycle trials
Learning to balance your life on bicycles and motorbikes. Teaching basic road skills and balance, to prepare children for when they will have to drive a car or motorcycle.
How to write a book, from start to finish:
Students will choose their topic, which will be related to a natural lifestyle, be it fiction for children, food, health, gardening, sustainable living, bee keeping, music, business etc.
As a corporate fund raising project, the entire school will be involved in producing a recipe book, on a regular basis, which will be sold to raise funds for the school.
Non-competitive games and activities will be encouraged like swimming, hiking, mountain biking & volley ball.
Board games will be encouraged like chess and scrabble. Electronic games will not be allowed on the school premises, neither will cell phones or other electronic equipment be allowed at the school. All cell phones or electronic devices will be confiscated and a fine or a work task imposed.
Charlotte Mason encourged children to spend at least 6 hours a day outdoors. The school activities and curicula will be proactive in encouraging this – weather permitting.
Learning the basics and reading musical notes. No music ability required – for Dummies and the tone deaf. Using music as a form of relaxation & stress release.
A separate music school is on the premises and available for piano, guitar, drumming and singing lessons.
First Aid is essential for life in general and imperative training for life. We will look at natural products that can replace the more harmful ones used. The lessons will be age appropriate
Basics in Natural Health:
A foundation in natural health is needed as part of life skills. This program is based on current nutritional research by the industries top scientists and will be taught while preparing food.
Environmental Sustainability Project:
Making a useful (in a home or restaurant) item from recycled materials like a wooden pallet.
Choose a community project and teach a sustainable skill and basic healthy living for a year. This activity is a team/class project.
Running a natural & organic market
Students will also design & set up and manage an organic food market and develop new food items to sell there. This will be done at the premises in Gordon’s Bay. This will be on set Sundays at the premises 2-4 times a year depending on the students. Presently we do it once a year.
All profits will go to the school funds and no fund raising will be required from parents i.e. no cake sales or raffles or any other form of fund raising will be required of parents. Students will manage this entirely. This is to help them understand economics and apply math to real life. Costing of producing and setting up the market will be incorporated.