Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Deciding What to Combine in AO Years 3 and 1

As we begin this coming school year, SA(8) will be in Year 3 using Ambleside Online, and JJ(6) will be starting Year 1. I also have two preschoolers: MM(4) and AJ(1). I think I mentioned last time that planning for two official students seems like a huge thing for me. (Feel free to smile, you moms of many. Some day I will be where you are.) This process of deciding what to do together and what to do separately is a personal one. Some people combine, some don't, some just combine a few things. This is just my is prescriptive for no one but me!

Pre-Reading...The First Step When Choosing What to Combine
I started my planning by pre-reading week 1 of Year 3. Pre-reading is becoming more important now as I plan to have SA read more of his lessons on his own. (Narrations will still be oral, of course.) I am hoping to keep a few weeks ahead of him if I can. I take notes in my bullet journal that I can refer to as we set up the lessons...names to introduce, places to find on our maps, and words to define so they don't bring him to a screeching halt in the middle of a lesson (I try not to do more than three per lesson...many words are easily understood from their context.). I also jot down sentences that might be good choices for copywork.

Besides these things, pre-reading the first week of lessons before even beginning to think about scheduling allowed me to easily see which books might be good options to do with SA and JJ together, which books SA can probably read on his own, and which books I should continue to read aloud to him.

Some Obvious Things to Combine
There are some things that we have been doing together all along, and we will not change that. These things are:
  • Bible reading and narration (JJ will just begin to take his turn narrating along with SA.)
  • Pilgrim's Progress
  • Bible, hymn, and catechism memory work
  • Poetry reading and memorization
  • Folk songs
  • Picture study (again, JJ will begin to take his turn describing the pictures)
  • Music appreciation
  • Drawing lessons
  • Nature walks
  • Chores
  • French
  • Handicrafts
These things already have a place in our routines, and it will not take much to add one more "official" student to the mix.

Readings I'm Planning to Combine
This takes more thought. In the first place, having JJ participate in some of SA's Year 3 lessons means taking away some of the Year 1 lessons in order not to overload him. We might be able to circle back to some of them in the future, but it's hard to leave out books that I loved reading with SA in Year 1.

In the second place, I have been seriously thinking about beginning JJ's Year 1 with more of an emphasis on Canadian history, and less of an emphasis on British history. Canada is his own country, and he naturally has more of an interest in and relationship with Canada. I listened to the History podcasts (episodes 11, 12, 14, and 15) from A Delectable Education a few months ago and was quite convinced that learning about their own country was the way to go in the early years of a child's education. This actually works quite well when it comes to combining, as SA is just beginning Canadian history now in the AO history rotation.

So here are the books I'm planning to do together in the first term:
  • Pagoo (leaving out The Burgess Bird Book for JJ's Year 1. But I think I may come back to it, possibly when MM starts Year 1 in two years.)
  • Trial and Triumph (I'm planning to add this to our breakfast circle time, in rotation with Pilgrim's Progress and selections from Paterson-Smyth's commentary on Exodus. If I was doing Parables of Nature, I'd add it to this rotation, but I think I'll skip it again this year.)
  • Cartier Sails the St. Lawrence (A wonderful Canadian living book - will review soon! This actually has quite a few pages, and I'll regretfully have to take out both Benjamin Franklin and Our Island Story for this term.)
  • Tales from Shakespeare
Deciding Where to Plug Combined Readings into the Routine
For me, it makes the most sense to add these readings to activities in our routine that we're already doing together. Trial and Triumph will be added to our breakfast circle time (We have two circle times...Breakfast for Bible-related things, and Tea Time for poetry and art.). Pagoo, Cartier, and Shakespeare will all be added to our Tea Times.

This is as far as I have gotten in my planning. The next part is even harder... deciding how and when to do the lessons that will be done separately. Stay tuned!