Well, this is what I was actually going to write about when I started my post about New Year's planning. As usual, I got a bit side-tracked and longwinded. And out of order. Before I started tweaking the schedule, the kids needed something to work on.
We're beginning First Form Latin, and Katydid -- having learned the basics of long division and multiplying two digit x two digit numbers -- is ready to move on to Saxon 6/5. Farmerboy is nearly done with his handwriting book and wants to learn cursive, and I'm debating whether to stick with Handwriting Without Tears or go with New American Cursive, Memoria Press' new program designed to teach cursive to first graders.
Beyond that, I also had to make some more complicated plans for my older two.
Gareth -- 7th grade
Over the past year, I have been noodling around with the idea of using Ambleside Online's Year 7. Last spring I bought some of the books to preview them for this year. I bought How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books by Joan Bodger, which I never finished because I am not well-read enough, and frankly, does not seem to be the kind of book I could get Gareth to read at all. (Katydid will be another story, but Gareth -- not so much.) I bought Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, which is an amazing, amazing book that I love, but -- not so sure about Gareth there either. Gareth himself snatched up Watership Down last spring and gulped it down, no narrations of course, and not as a school book. (This was the same time he read Animal Farm -- sans reading guide, book reports, or narrations either.) And then I kind of let things drop as we got into other "stuff" at the beginning of this school year.
Unfortunately, the chart I made for Gareth at the beginning of the year mostly bombed. He read a few of the books I had listed because they were sitting in a basket on the couch, I think. He did not want to do many of the projects. Sitting down each week to plan from the chart was a nightmare for both of us. The book report I had him write on Out of the Silent Planet using Kolbe's Junior High Literature Guide sapped the joy from the book for him -- and for me, too.
We picked up medieval history as a family beginning in early November and that seemed to ignite a few sparks for him. I had decided to use Our Island Story, another Ambleside Online selection from earlier years, as a spine and family read aloud. By this point, we had also switched grammar books to use Our Mother Tongue: An Introductory Guide to English Grammar, also recommended in AO Year 7. Remembering that AO Year 7 matched up with the medieval material and that I had been thinking about using it... I went back and looked at the booklist.
It made a lot more sense this time. And I had to scratch my head as to why I had picked up the books I had when obviously it was the history books that would make the big hit. And Beowulf. And maybe even Idylls of the King. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that he had read a number of books from the Year 7 Free Reading List. In the past year, growing from 12 to a few months past 13, he has also matured quite a bit. So it seemed like a good fit.
So now one can often find Gareth happily ensconced on the couch reading Winston Churchill, or Seamus Haney's translation of Beowulf, or practicing his Old English. He probably won't be reading every single book on AO's booklist, simply because there are A LOT of books, and also because AO is a Protestant curriculum and we would need to substitute the appropriate Catholic books for the Suggested Devotional Reading List. I haven't planned out his reading to a great extent, but I have begun making up weekly to-do lists for him:
We're still getting up to speed on these lists, and he doesn't really want to write twice a week, but so far I think they have proved to be a workable guide. Although Gareth likes choice, he also needs structure. For the moment, I think we've hit on a decent compromise. Did he finish everything on this list last week? No. But he did accomplish a decent amount of work, and he didn't complain about much of it.
Katydid -- 5th grade
Katydid has enjoyed working with Literature for a Young Lady this year and finished up with our version of the Sunflower Basket in the fall. During Advent and Christmas, she attempted our version of the Literature for a Young Lady Advent plans. (I say "attempted" because December was a bit rough around here.) So with the start of a new quarter, she was also ready for some new work. Fortunately I had made a bunch of hand written notes on the Ivy Basket back in November, so -- feeling somewhat less green by January -- I could finally sit down and add my notes to the Word chart which Jen so thoughtfully included in the plans. I had to make some fairly substantial tweaks in some instances -- to the literature section, because Katydid is 10 not 12 or 13, and because she has read the first three Anne of Green Gables books many, many times already; and also to the bits that were written with fall in mind, or a winter less snow-covered than ours.
(Did I make any of you cringe with my creative use of punctuation? Mmm. Sorry. I am overly fond of semi-colons.)
If you're curious, here is Katydid's version of the Ivy Basket:
I'm not sure if Katydid will do everything listed for this basket, as she didn't do everything for her Sunflower basket, and some of the books have been carried over. We usually sit down Monday morning and write out a list of what she wants to work on over the course of the week, along with the daily work that I want her to do (math, Latin, grammar 3x a week). We don't map out page numbers or set specific goals or assign tasks (like reading Little Men or taking a nature walk) to specific days. When we tried that what invariably happened is that I would find her sitting down with her watercolors for a couple of hours on the day that she had written she would be working on Apologia Botany ch. 2 and reading In the Days of Queen Victoria. And if I suggested before she had a chance to start her work that today was the day she had decided to do xyz, she would sigh and huff. But if we just write a loose list for the week, she usually works her way enthusiastically through most of it.
The picture I put at the top of my Part 1 post?
Those are Katydid's books.