We have just about finished up our second 12-week term of the school year, with a few things to catch up on over this break week. For some reason I get antsy to start planning the next school year around this time of year, even though it’s months off. I’ve already been looking over the four (!) AmblesideOnline years I’ll be administering come September, thinking about any changes I want to make, and even ordering some books (that’s the really fun part 😉 ). So I thought I would share some of the highlights and struggles of the past term, as well as a bit of what I’m considering for the fall.
There was quite a bit of sickness going around our home during Term 2. I was sick for the better part of five weeks with various things, ending with a nasty case of influenza. I was very thankful that the three older kids could keep up with most of their individual work. Morning Time and Little L’s reading lessons were dropped when I was too sick, but I don’t feel behind if we can keep up with our AO readings. 🙂
St. Patrick’s Day was a fun highlight: we read about St. Patrick himself, as well as few Irish legends (L listened to Jim Weiss’ Celtic Treasures during Quiet Time). We enjoyed Irish bangers and gravy, champ (buttermilk mashed potatoes), peas, Irish soda bread, and a bit of mint dark chocolate for dessert (made in Ireland for Trader Joe’s). Then we watched Darby O’Gill and the Little People, which was scarier than I had anticipated!
Mr. D has really enjoyed watching a couple of free online classes from Supercharged Science, which I found out about through the HSLDA email and Facebook. He and Mr. E built a working robot during the first one. The second one was about marine biology and underwater robots, and a good supplement to one of his current science reads, The Sea Around Us. I think he especially appreciates all the hands-on activities, and we’ll be using more of their materials in the future.
I mentioned last Monday that I was rethinking writing in our homeschool. In fact, I have decided to have Miss A work through Brave Writer’s Help for Highschool instead of The Lost Tools of Writing. LTOW is an excellent program, but even with the teacher’s guide and videos, I just don’t feel competent to teach it. If I attended a teacher training session, or enrolled her in an online class, it might be different. But I’ve felt drawn to Brave Writer for a while now, and I think I need to follow my heart and learn more about it. And I think Miss A, who is a natural writer, will do well with Help for Highschool, which is written to the student. For now, D and E will continue with Writing & Rhetoric as it’s been a good fit – we shall see if anything changes as I work my way through The Writer’s Jungle.
One other recent highlight: we finally made it to art class again last Wednesday, and I got to teach it using the ebook A Seasonal Start in Chalk Pastels. The kids drew chicks, rainbows, and nests, and then enjoyed some outdoor play on a lovely spring day. 🙂
As I start to think about the 2017-2018 school year, the word that comes to mind is prioritze. I will have four students in AO Years 1, 5, 7, and 10, and the Year 1 student will need a lot of my attention. As I’ve looked at the booklist for Year 1, there are a couple of books that I’d prefer to defer to a later year (Trial and Triumph and Parables from Nature). Also several of the free reads are not to be missed and I want to read them to L myself, especially Charlotte’s Web and Pinocchio. So I will be adjusting the schedule to reflect those priorities.
I’m also prioritizing what my Year 7 student will read, as he is not the avid reader my oldest is and tends to gravitate to non-fiction in his free time. I also have content issues with The Once and Future King. The AmblesideOnline Advisory has good reasons for including the first two books in Year 7, and they do list some problematic passages, but Miss A and I were not fans. I think we made it through The Sword in the Stone, switching between the version in the The Once and Future King and the illustrated one (there are differences). I don’t think we even attempted the second book, which has much darker content, as we found the first one very strange, and one passage in particular with a badger was quite irreverent (even if he was trying to make a point). So I am strongly considering having Mr. D just read the illustrated The Sword in the Stone, reading along with him to discuss. Several of the Year 7 free reads, especially Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, are important and beautiful works of literaure, so I will be adding them to the schedule to ensure he reads them.
Year 10 is just totally overwhelming, but with God’s help I’ll figure it out. Starting to plan early gives me time to research and deliberate. 🙂