A Major Changes for This Year

My oldest two children are 19 months apart. Both boys. So I’ve tried to school them together as much as I can. Last year, when my seven year old son was a first grader and the baby was a baby, that seemed to work. But this year it was not working. For starters, the baby is two. She is mobile and into everything! I was also dissatisfied with the amount of work I was doing to keep them together. I’ll admit it, I love to tweak, but there are only so many hours in a day! We follow a less-is-more, The Latin-Centered Curriculum philosophy. And for the nitty-gritty, we look to Charlotte Mason. So I kept looking for an easy, laid out solution, but the only multi-year curriculum I could find that I liked was Simply Charlotte Mason. A fine package, but after pouring over AO’s booklist, SCM seemed light. Why read “Detectives in Togas” when in AO they would read the “Tanglewood Tales” and then “The Heroes” by Charles Kingsley and then “The Age of Fable“? All by year six. Plus, AO actually has a LOT of classics built in: the previous books, Aesop’s tales, Plutarch. Sure, I could just add to SCM, but that seemed like work as well. Especially when AO fits so nicely in my budget because of it’s public domain, readily available books. SCM links to it’s own bookfinder, where you can buy books if you need to. I also started to wonder how many copies of each book would I need? I would almost always have two kids reading the same books, possibly three. Did that mean I’d have to buy three copies of each book, buy everyone a Kindle, or else spend all my time scheduling who got what book? I started to question if I really wanted to keep the kids together or if I should separate them? Somehow, I stumbled back onto the Charlotte Mason Help website. I’d been to it before, back when it was Higher Up and Further In (HUFI). This time I really read the articles. And I read on the Ambleside email groups. Many people listed advantages to having kids in their own years, especially after they could read independently. I realized I wanted them to love learning, and to not be spoon-fed by me. Reading on HUFI, I also realized I was not challenging my eldest enough. Sure, he has problems with reading, but his comprehension is well-developed, and was being left stagnant. His reading is coming along, as is his seven year old brother’s. I should have them both reading about half their own books by next year, barring a major incident. Which meant I would never be reading three years worth of curriculum aloud, even when my youngest son starts first grade next year. So I’m splitting them up, at least for the rest of this year. I can schedule one-on-one time with each boy, and I’ve noticed they pay more attention and narrate better. It’s like another mom said: I’m a better tutor than a classroom manager. And an added bonus: whichever older boy I’m not working with can play with his two year old sister! Plus an extra special bonus: I already own almost all the books we need for HUFI in hard copy or in ebook format! So I put my 9 year old in year 4 of HUFI, substituting a quick round of American history for the 20th century history. We can skip the non Indo-european cultures in year 5 and do the 20th century then. I put my 7 year old in year 2 of HUFI, and the only change was that I subbed the Burgess Animal Book (we’ve read most of it) for year 1’s natural history books. He loves James Herriot’s Treasury for Children. And that’s what we’ve been up to – swinging a bit the the Charlotte Mason side of the scale.

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