I’ve been mulling over where we are and where I want to go from here with the kids. There are a few areas I’m very dissatisfied with. One is the area of Bible stories, which we just flat out aren’t doing. The other is read-alouds in general–between the turmoil of moving, the constantly changing schedule, the influx of new people and places in their lives, and above all the impossibility of reading with twin toddlers in the room, we’re not reading that much together anymore. I don’t like that.
Some areas are going great: we are spending loads of time out-of-doors, even in January and February. I saw someone reference gardening as a handcraft–in that case, we’ve got handcrafts covered for the year. They are making rapid progress in reading and writing. They show good and growing understanding of math. They are still enthused about school, probably because we seldom get to do it more than twice a week.
There are a few areas that I feel need a little improvement. I’d like to get to Spanish more often, but I fear they will tire of it quickly. They just don’t get the point of learning different words for everything. I think we need to focus a little more on letter formation now that they are both writing so much. I feel like they need a bit wider variety of "mental food" than they have been getting–some new ideas to infuse into their play.
D1 will be 6 in September, D2 will be turning 5. I don’t think we should start Ambleside Year 1 then; D2 will still be awfully young, even though he’s pretty sharp for his age. But D1 certainly doesn’t need to wait around doing nothing for another year or more. Besides, DOB thinks it would be more fun to run on calendar years. I’ve looked at some of the Year .5 ideas, but didn’t find them that appealing. (And I’ll be modifying Year 1 drastically anyway.) Everybody says to focus on the basics at this age, but the basics are exactly what I don’t see any point in focusing on: they’re learning them just fine incidentally, as a part of learning more interesting things.
So, some changes I want to make: I printed back out my sequential Bible story outline I made a couple of years ago. I will put it by my bed and try to read and prepare a story each night to be told the following day while they are eating breakfast or lunch. This will allow me to include the babies at a time they are not usually too noisy.
I printed out new sheets for handwriting in their notebook and will try to find the write on/wipe off markers so they can practice them. I think they will be excited about this and want to do it on their own. I also am going to require air writing on a regular basis to practice letter directions and build perception skills.
I think having a plan and theme for reading aloud will help me put a higher priority on it, so I’m going back to my old idea of doing an Around the World theme. We’ll have to approach it in a fairly low-key way, because "school" is so sporadic and I don’t want to override their free-choice reading with me until they are able to read independently.
So I’m going to try to choose an appropriate chapter book for a theme, then hunt up a variety of related picture book resources (fiction and non-fiction) that they can browse through at their leisure or request me to read to them. I’ll think of some simple activities that could go along with it and suggest those on days when they are looking for things to do. I’ll provide materials for their own interaction with the ideas.
Maps and travel are still a big deal for them, and I think this will grow pretty naturally out of their existing interests. I’m going to see if they would enjoy The Story of Doctor Dolittle as a travel-themed chapter book. We’ll get some picture books on maps and provide materials for drawing them. We’ll also get some general picture books on travel and different peoples of the world to whet their appetite for more specific studies.
I wish I had the globe fixed, and I wonder where all my maps are and where all the other books I can think of that would be good are, but there’s no point waiting around all your life for things to be just so.
I imagine going through the different continents will take us most of the rest of this calendar year. Perhaps around next January we’ll be ready to start chronological history, and by the time we get to Greece (which is the furthest back AO Year 1 recommendations go) D1 and D2 will be closer to 6 and 7.