I’m trying to plan Term 2 now. I had aggrandized notions of planning Term 2 and Term 3 in a leisurely fashion over Christmas break, but instead I’m cramming to get Term 2 done before Monday. This is mostly because I was doing other things, though. I think it takes me about 12 hours to plan and print out a term, which seems pretty reasonable when you consider that’s 12 weeks of education at 2 hours a day, and it’s open-and-go at that point. (So about 1 hour of planning for 10 hours of education–pretty good return on time invested.) I still want to work in some science lessons and find printables to go with each week, and then I need to finish printing, but the laying-out is done.
While I’m planning I’ve also been thinking ahead to next year. My original idea for school was to create my own stuff, using a four-year history cycle and using Ambleside Online as a booklist and resource. This year I’ve done a slightly modified Ambleside Online, mainly changing the history to a more complete Ancients year. However, the more I use Ambleside, the more I like it. There were a few factors nudging me away from doing it totally:
- With a four-year cycle, the twins would stay at the same point in history as the older kids.
- DOB favored a four-year cycle, believing that six years would provide insufficient review.
- I enjoy the process of curriculum creation.
On further consideration, though:
- If I keep the twins four years behind the older kids, they won’t start Year 1 until 7. Given that they can listen to, understand, quote, and discuss books like Winnie-the-Pooh and Little House on the Prairie at three, I think they’ll be quite ready by six for Year 1. Now, granted, I don’t think the Duchess was damaged by waiting a year, but it’s not something I would have done without a good reason.
- DOB, having seen how the ducklings interact with the stories, continue to explore their own topics, and generally maintain connections with the larger scheme of things, thinks a six year cycle will work fine. He was envisioning each topic being studied and then abandoned entirely until it was scheduled again. Quite the contrary, they have continued their obsession with the Middle Ages and dabbled in American History while we study ancient Egypt and Greece.
- By the time the twins are ready to start Year 1, the older kids will be 10 and 9 and starting Year 4. They should be predominantly independent in their work at that point, freeing me up to work with the twins. It shouldn’t matter that they are studying different time periods–indeed, that may promote interesting discussions.
- When I envisioned doing so much curriculum creation for myself, I didn’t have many–shall we say–intellectual outlets. Now I’m trying to practice law, I want to get back to writing . . . I have a lot to think about and a lot of time on the computer. I don’t feel the need to create everything from scratch just to give myself something to do with my brain. Where there’s a need for tweaking, I enjoy it, but I don’t really want to spend the time making everything from scratch anymore.
And I’ve been very happy with how Ambleside is designed. It gives a high quality education while leaving the kids plenty of time to explore their own interests. I’m sure I’ll need to keep making adjustments as I go. (Like what am I going to do about using Robin Hood next year when the ducklings practically memorized it last year?) But I’m happy with the decision to make that our core and tweak rather than make up my own core.