So I haven’t had this implemented for a long time yet, but I’ve given it a try two days and I think it’s going to work. The challenge has been how to keep three-year-old twins (Dot and Dash) busy and happy while providing some concentrated work time for the oldest two (Duchess, 7, and Deux, nearly 6). We’re using a modified version of Ambleside Year 1 for the oldest two (the main change is starting from the beginning of A Child’s History of the World as our main history read).
The goal is to start at 9, after breakfast and cleanup.
15 minutes: “Singing Time” (also known as “Morning Time” and “Circle Time”, but this is what my kids call it): Bible passage, hymn, folksong, Spanish song, and a poem to memorize–we change these out monthly, and I’m hoping to add review this year.
15 minutes: Big kids do free reading from a basket of books related to our topics for the week. Twins do a “lesson” with me. I try to keep this flexible as I find it works better with three year olds to follow their cues, but we will be making alphabet books this year, as well as counting, playing with manipulatives, cutting with scissors, etc.
10 minutes: Handwriting for everyone. I use personal whiteboards (grids for the big kids, blank for the twins) and dry erase markers. One day a week we will focus on letter formation, one day a week on word building/spelling, and the rest we will do copywork from our readings, which includes both spelling and handwriting, as well as basic mechanics (capitalization and punctuation) for Duchess, who can copy a whole sentence. (This is the one area they are differentiated–Deux is still working on writing his lowercase letters.) The twins just draw, but they feel included.
10 minutes: Kids read aloud. One of them reads to me (from the Treadwell Readers), the other reads to the twins from whatever picture book they agree on.
15 minutes: I read aloud. This is when we do our core reading from the Ambleside list, generally History on Mondays, Aesop on Tuesdays (they read this to themselves), Nature study on Wednesdays (Burgess Bird Book, Parables from Nature, sometimes James Herriot when it doesn’t fit elsewhere); Geography on Thursdays (Paddle to the Sea); Literature on Fridays (Blue Fairy Book, Just So Stories, Herriot when it fits). They narrate back and we refer to maps or charts as needed. The twins can play quietly with manipulatives, draw, or go off to play, as they prefer. (Actually I’m realizing that the twins and big kids will probably want to do the same thing, so today they all strung beads and if I have coloring papers to go with the reading, I’ve made four copies.)
15 minutes: Project time. This generally correlates somewhat to the reading, so on Monday we will usually work on maps or timeline figures or a simple history-related activity. Tuesdays is our library and shopping day, no projects. Wednesday we will go on a nature walk (hopefully with friends) and draw in our nature notebooks. Thursday’s geography reading is very short, so even with map work we will have plenty of time for a math game and doing a math page. Friday will be art or handcrafts. The twins can participate in most of these.
So moving along at a brisk clip, we should be done by 10:30 or 11 if we’re going slow, with plenty of time to play before lunch, unless we’re doing something like a nature walk or art that can keep going as long as they want to participate.
Other things will sneak into other times of the day: We do our Bible reading during breakfast, and I plan to start playing our music selections after that. Art selections are hanging on the wall, and I plan to do a little extra look at it once a week during Singing Time. Our math program (The Arithmetic Primer) emphasizes oral work, so we will do that daily over lunch, as well as practicing a bit of conversational Spanish. (They also watch a Spanish video twice a week and we include Spanish picture books from the library in our free reads.) Poetry and free reads we will do during our read-aloud time before afternoon naps. (Actually only Dash naps anymore, but we try to at least have some quiet.)