Summer Activities, Future Plans

Well, it’s been over a month. We have moved. The twins are potty-trained. (Wonder of wonders.) I didn’t plan to do both at the same time, but they decided to. Also, my aunt’s death a week ago has left DOB and me reeling. She was a special friend to both of us.

But, this is the school blog. For school, we have, as planned, done nothing. We are loving our new backyard, which is huge and neglected enough to be a popular resort for wildlife. (Ironically, the first house we bid on is now under contract for $15K less than the price the seller wouldn’t take from us. It was much bigger inside, but had very little yard.) One visitor we have seen several times and identified is a yellow-shafted flicker. I was quite impressed when D2 pointed out, as we watched it, that it seemed like a kind of woodpecker. I wasn’t sure because it was also hopping on the ground, which I had never seen another kind of woodpecker do. Sure enough, it’s the only woodpecker that also feeds on the ground.

We are doing the summer library reading program, which meets my criteria in that it counts hours, not pages (thus not giving an incentive for easy books) and the primary reward is a new book (thus not creating false incentives–reading is its own reward). D1 has already completed the core 10 hours, mostly reading The Violet Fairy Book. D2 finally made it through The Sword in the Tree and enjoyed it; he’s also been reading some Beatrix Potter. I’m trying to get him to give Encyclopedia Brown a try. (However, I’ll admit, neither child is much interested in stories of ordinary modern children. Adventure and magic are what they’re after.) Aloud, I’m trying out The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, after an irresistible endorsement by Semicolon.

The twins have, as mentioned afore, potty-trained, day and night, with a few minor lapses here and there and the awkward issue that what finally worked for D4 was going in the grass outside, and now I can’t persuade him to use the actual toilet except when absolutely necessary. I’m hoping he will grow enough to stand at a full-sized toilet soon or at the worst that it will get cold enough in the fall to persuade him to come indoors.

Slowly, slowly I am still working on moving in and organizing and establishing household routines and getting chores going. We are making some progress. D1 likes to help with the planning and is really getting to the point where she can make life easier. D2 is maturing greatly in his ability to tackle a job.

I’m thinking about fall. And now, after all, I’m starting to look a lot harder at Ambleside Year 1 again. I think I will wind up modifying it less–or at least differently–than I had thought. I’m seeing more value in the wide variety of topics and slow pace, I know the kids will love most if not all of the books, and I just feel a need for a little more structure and balance. DOB opines that this is because everything else in my life is chaotic. Maybe so. Anyway, it’s worth a try.

I probably will drastically alter the history. I don’t plan to get Trial and Triumph, 50 Famous Tales would provide a lot of duplication with Tales from Long Ago that we did last year. I’d like to do a true Ancients year. So what I’m going to try is using A Child’s History of the World. It works out pretty neatly to one chapter a week to cover Egypt through Rome, which would put us ready to pick up the Middle Ages in Year 2 as scheduled (although we’ll need some more modifications there, since they already have Pyle’s Robin Hood memorized.) I might supplement with An Island Story in the third term. Probably save Viking Tales to read over the summer. And on the “Yesterday’s Classics” special I downloaded for my nook there’s a nice collection of stories of saints, which I will probably use as well.

The literature will stand pretty much as is, except that I’ll rearrange the schedule to accomodate the ones we need to borrow from the library, skip some of the fairy tales we’ve already read and add in selections from the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Nature study and the Burgess Bird Book sound good, although I’ll still be using Building a Foundation for Scientific Understanding for reference and guidance. (Plus I still haven’t found the box with Handbook of Nature Study in it.) Paddle to the Sea we’ll do as is.

So I guess that is a bit of modification. I’m having fun playing with a schedule, though. It’s kind of funny because there are always a few moms on the AO groups who are adamant: DO NOT combine children, DO NOT modify the schedules, they are so great as they are. But oh well. I really can’t imagine separating D1 and D2–they do everything together. And D2 is more than ready to handle Year 1. And I could not deal with doing two separate years for them while I still need to read aloud many of the books. (Well, D1 could read most Y1 selections to herself, but she couldn’t do Y2 by herself and what would be the point of having her read Y1 to herself while I read Y1 to D2?) And I *like* playing with resources and schedules.

Still not sure how the twins will handle a more formal school schedule. I’ve been working on independence with them, I plan to integrate a few activities for them. (They’re old enough to enjoy alphabet books now.) Still, I can see why people resort to preschool or videos. But I’d like to find a better way.

My other big concern is the degree of freedom the kids have had up until this time–how to still allow them choices and yet deal with the logistics of planning. I feel like we could operate at a much higher level if I had time to prepare, but I can’t do that and have them pick everything at the last minute (the picking itself taking an awfully long time!) I’m hoping that we can get through scheduled stuff quickly and still have plenty of time for free study.

The Y1 schedule is pretty light. It averages out to one required reading a day. My thought is to have that be the one I read to them, then they each have time to read aloud (their choice entirely), then they each have time to read to themselves and then come narrate (their choice from approved selections connected to other studies).  Add in singing/memory time, copywork, and perhaps a math game–can I keep it all under two hours and leave time to get outside? Somehow things always take so much longer than it seems like they ought to.

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