So, now I can finally start planning for NEXT year with a clear conscience. And I shall start with some general logistics. Because it’s the first day of summer and I don’t want to get up and get dressed and clear the breakfast dishes.
The first question I should probably ask myself for each year is: Does it still make sense to keep Duchess and Deux working together? On the continuum between siblings who sit together reading aloud to each other and siblings who are acutely competitive, they are somewhere in the middle. I do think they will continue to benefit from working on the same material for the most part, but I suspect I need to continue nudging them towards working on their own with it. I’m still stymied by how to do things like group discussions while they read individually. I do feel very much like Duchess needs some extra challenge in the verbal department, so I will give her some extra/different assignments this year (dictation, French, typing, more biographies) to keep her challenged, but I think it will be fine to keep the core materials the same.
Second question is: should I do a Kindergarten year with the twins, who are turning five this summer? Ambleside doesn’t encourage anything resembling formal Kindergarten. On the other hand, the twins are showing signs of needing a little extra attention and my attempt to spend some time just playing with them during the big kids’ school time did not pan out. If I am doing something that remotely resembles “school” I think the big kids will be motivated to be doing their own independent work. They–or at least Duchess–seem to see great logic in the idea that they must rise to the challenge of self-teaching so that I can give the twins extra attention for the introductory years of school. If they were drastically unready it would be one thing, but they do know their letters, can sound out short words, write most letters, do simple math, and sit for a twenty minute read-aloud. So setting a time to do these things instead of doing it catch-as-a-catch-can is probably not going to be harmful. Then I will have to face the challenge of trying to teach two children to read at once, which is not something commonly addressed in homeschooling materials.
Third question is whether we need to stretch out school. Up until this point, we have been doing four-day weeks (with a tiny bit on our outing day). It worked fine for Year 1; we got a little behind in Year 2; and I’m thinking it’s not going to be enough for Year 3. Apparently six-day weeks were more common in CM schools. I’m not willing to go there, but since DOB almost always works out at the gym Saturday morning, it might be doable to do school on Saturdays and make our outing day school-free. (Unless we start doing the whole family at the Y on Saturdays again, which I am not very enthusiastic about, because I hate going to the Y.) I’d like to keep things going at a brisk enough pace to squeeze in exam weeks this year, something I’ve never yet managed.
Another thing I need to decide on is whether I want to follow Year 1 as I modified it for the big kids with the twins, or whether I want to go closer to the Ambleside schedule, and if so, how to allow for that this year. I liked some of the ways I moved things around (for instance, having the books scheduled more frequently and then done sooner, more like the later years and handier for borrowing things from the library), but I don’t know about the big change I made, doing Child’s History of the World for history. I’m thinking about sticking to the AOY1 history schedule and doing CHOW over the summer between Y1 and Y2. In that case, the only thing I will need to do this year to prepare is starting the Burgess Bird Book next spring so that we can go through it seasonally and cover all the chapters.