The day before Mother's Day, and I am finally getting around to a much needed "teacher work day". I envy those who take the unschooling approach and feel that their children will learn what they need to, when they need to. Although I am laid back, it's only in the area of organization! Ha, ha. There has been much reflection of late. Our children are first generation homeschoolers (in our families). This means that we are winging it as we go :-) Ok, not really. With all the available resources, conventions, online groups, local homeschool groups, no one really needs to wing it. But, it is still uncharted territory, as far as how I grew up.
We've taken a longer than anticipated spring break. We started falling behind on doing everything we really need to be doing on a regular basis (as far as the Charlotte Mason method goes). So, it was time for me to sit down and evaluate where we are, and who needs to be doing what, and how are we going to make this all happen. I was able to get a lot done, but more time will still be needed to really make this all come together as smoothly as possible.
I had some time to contemplate where we've been and where all the kiddos need to be. This year found Saoirse needing to take the extra (3.5) year with Ambleside. I was trying to have two children in the same year. One child behind a year, the other advanced a year. This has worked fine for Isabella and Moira so far, but has failed to work for Flannery and Saoirse. The 3.5 year in AO is kind of thrown together, the premise is you are waiting for your child to mature enough to handle year 4's advanced reading list. I've had time to re-evaluate Higher Up and Further In's (HUFI) schedules. There are a few books we've read on AO that do not show up on HUFI that I wouldn't want the kids to miss out on. It has been a time consuming process of figuring out where the 'missing' books would fit in on the HUFI schedules. The one thing I really like about HUFI is that they start with ancient history and work up, BUT they also do American history at the same time, working chronologically. Jeremiah wasn't a fan of carrying two lines of history throughout their schooling. But I realized that AO takes the same approach, but it isn't as noticeable until year 3 or 4. However AO does not cover ancient history (not that I have seen, yet). So what does this mean?
I will keep Isabella, Moira and Flannery on the AO schedules. I will also be separating Isabella and Moira by years as well. With graduation closing in on Isabella in the next 2.5 years she will need to skip year 8 and move into year 9. I have not seen how this will work for her, as I am only going on recommendations at this time. I may keep her in year 8 if there are things in there that I don't want her to miss out on. I was going to switch Flannery over to HUFI, but I think there would be too much history that would get lost if I did so. So she will continue on in her current level with AO. I've decided to start Saoirse in year 3, term 1 with HUFI. She will be a bit behind, but will eventually catch up in the coming years. This still leaves Flannery and Saoirse with a gap, missing out on ancient history. My solution is for them to get those readings in by reading it to their brothers. Jedidiah should have, age wise, started in year 1 this past September. There was just no way that he was ready for that kind of structure. I may start him on year 1 when the girls move on to their 3rd term for the year. This way he won't have to wait till next September and therefore will only be half a year behind. For his ancient history readings I will have Flannery read it to him, killing two birds with one stone. When it comes time for Jonah to start year 1 I will have Saoirse do his ancient history readings. This way both girls will get what they missed out on.
It certainly isn't perfect. I have to stop myself form wishing, wishing, wishing, that I had started CM at the get go. But I am where I am and I can't turn back the hands of time. It helps that one of our goals is to convey to our children that learning is a life long endeavor. There shouldn't be a time when their education is "done". If we manage to convey that, then I think we should be fine :-)
Right now, as I write this, my bed is a mess of scattered papers, binders, books and such. I have made a book list for what Saoirse will need to get started with year 3. Now I need to figure out what notebooks are needed. The girls really, REALLY need to be doing the small everyday things in CM. The wonderful thing with CM is that the lessons are short. You really do build little by little. But if you are not doing the "little" things....it shows! Not at first, since these skills build on each other, but give it a couple of years and oh, my! That is where I find myself. When we first started CM over two years ago it seemed so overwhelming. So I just stuck with the "basics". I left out what I thought were all the 'extras'. Come to find out that those little extras are pretty darn important. It is time to just put one foot in front of the other. Just pick up where we are and GO.
Now to try to convince my family how important diligence and consistency are going to be, now more than ever. I don't think any of us in our family has even a lick of a consistency bone in our body :-) Or diligence, for that matter. Between our mess of a 'school' and our mess of a house (lack of structure, good habits, etc.), well....things are pretty chaotic. I get one area cleaned up and the rest of the place is a disaster. I have a plan for that as well. I won't write out what it is yet, but will share when we actually put it into place. All I can say is that it is going to take MAJOR discipline on my part to see through with the plan. I don't see how I can continue on with the chaos that I live in now, so I don't have much of a choice, should I wish to stay out of the insane asylum ;-)
It is getting late and I need to get kiddos off to bed.