Planning, Part 2: Reworking

Now that I think about it, I don’t want to follow Y1 as written with the twins, nor do I want to do it as I did with the big kids. No, what I really want to do is coordinate their history with the big kids.

And I think the main reason I want to do that is to coordinate our art and music appreciation with the time period in history we are studying. It just makes so much more sense to illuminate the time period in history with the appropriate art and music than to just have it chosen in a random rotation. I understand why AO does it that way, but I don’t think it’s ideal. And if I’m willing to do just a bit more of the legwork myself (since I can’t always borrow someone else’s labor of gathering the appropriate pictures and music), I can have the ideal.

Also, DOB think it makes a lot of sense, and that’s a strong point in its favor, especially since he is most insightful at history conversations and every once in a while we toss around the idea of doing history as a family in the evenings. (And maybe if we could go six weeks without a new medical crisis, we would do it.) Since the twins inevitably listen to the big kids’ free reads (and vice versa) it just makes sense to be aiming for a similar timeframe. I can’t wait to do, say, Carry on Mr. Bowditch as a family. (Some people caution about the increasing maturity of the reads in upper years, but looking at the lists, I’m seeing very few things I would feel the need to wait on. Maybe my kids are just very insensitive. Or maybe they just are very used to eavesdropping on the big kids. Last week I read them all The Wanderings of Odysseus, complete with man-eating monsters and the slaying of the suitors and they all thought it was the greatest thing ever.)

As for changing the history rotation, it really will involve only a tiny tweak the first year–swapping out Fifty Famous Tales for something with a more early American focus (since that is what the big kids will be doing in Y4)–probably Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans. The existing biographies will be perfect. (I’ll probably still include a few tales of ancient Greece and Rome, especially those inspiring to the early Americans, like Cincinnatus.) Y2 will be a bit more, but I will use the same history books currently scheduled for those years, just different chapters. (Not sure if I will keep Little Duke or do it as a free read when they get back to that time period in Y4. On the other hand, Tree in the Trail and Seabird will actually fit, which may make them more comprehensible.) It will probably take the most reworking when the big kids are in HEO and the twins are still in the lower years, but once they all get to HEO it will be no big deal–the HEO years are a more “salad bar” approach, as they say, and I can easily just pick a lighter load of similar materials for the twins. The only challenge is, if I do this, I really should stick with it–it will rearrange the schedule sufficiently that it would be very hard to put the twins back in the usual sequence.

This next year it won’t change anything for the twins except that I’ll make sure to include some picture books that will go with the time period the big kids are doing. (OK, honestly I can’t think of any that will go with the very early explorers–except Columbus, which we just read–but Pocahontas and the wonderful photobooks from Plymouth Plantation will be ideal in Term 3.) And for the big kids it will mean that, instead of jumping all over, we will listen to Palestrina and Purcell and Handel, and look at Da Vinci and Raphael and Rembrandt. I also am going to include at least one folksong each term that is from the appropriate time period. (I finally discovered that folk songs by time period are listed on the HEO years, so I can take them off there.)

Another thing I am maybe thinking about changing is the way we do memory work. Since they were just preschoolers listening to me sing, I’ve done one set of memory work per month, changing to a completely new set at the beginning of each month, and reviewing one older item each day. It’s very simple for me to keep track of, which is why we have stuck with it. However, they really don’t need that long to learn most of the items (especially poetry and folk songs) while they may need much longer to learn, say, a longer Bible passage or a Spanish song. So it’s possible that a more varied rotation would be more effective. On the other hand, it’s also possible that if I try to do anything more complicated, I will lose my place and mess up what we have going, which is pretty decent. This needs more thought.

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