I thought I had put up this term’s curriculum before. We’re already halfway through it. I like to wait a few weeks into it, though, before I post, so that I can note any adjustments I’ve made.
Note: This schedule is readings for Axa, who is five. She narrates after each reading. Raj Dominique, who is three, does not have a schedule, and is not required to narrate. However, he was dying for stories of his own, so he is reading from The Rainbow Book of Fairy Tales for Five-Year-Olds (he already finished the one for four-year-olds).
Bible – I’ve added a New Testament and Old Testament component to our studies. (We read the Book of Mormon as a family together in the mornings) I use Penny Gardner’s useful list of highlights from the Old and New Testaments. These are verses excerpted from the Bible (we use the King James Version). They focus on the stories, and omit the sorts of details I’m not ready to explain to my five-year-old yet. I would consider reading these, along with Greek and Roman mythology, the best possible preparation for visiting an art museum. We are continuing in our Old Testament reading (we’re now at Solomon), and beginning the New Testament. I decided it was good to read them simultaneously. I don’t co-ordinate history with Scripture study, not because I consider the Scriptures unhistorical, but simply because I don’t want to rush the Scripture study or slow down the history study, and the volume of material for different time periods from the sources I’ve chosen doesn’t match up well. However, On the Shores of the Great Sea, our history spine, does have frequent Biblical allusions.
World History - On the Shores of the Great Sea. We continue our reading in this excellent book. The first half of the term is more of Ancient Greece, and the second half details the history of Alexander the Great.
Greek History – Famous Men of Greece. One can never have too much Greek history! This gem of a book gives biographical sketches of the main players in Classical Greek history. Many are taken from Plutarch. Some curriculums spend a year on this book, but I think it fits nicely into a term. We read a chapter or two per week, which isn’t exactly frantic. Axa likes this book, although she considers it to be one of her more difficult readings. Her imagination is captured by the nobility and personal integrity of many of the Greek leaders.
Irish Literature – In Chimney Corners. This is a book of Irish fairy tales with names like Shan Ban and Ned Flynn or Murrgho-more and the Murrogho-beg. I like to have at least one book each term that directly addresses the culture of the place we’re living, so this is our Irish book. It’s a fun read, and the Irish character shines through. The poor are always outsmarting the rich.
Natural History – By Pond and River. This is a book that presents the characteristics, life-cycles, and habits of the animals in a wetlands habitat, all in story form. Axa enjoys this book, and this is the habit we observe on our daily canal walks. Some of these stories (combined with real animals she’s observed) have formed the subject matter of a series of spontaneous poems she’s been composing lately. You can find them on her nature blog at www.worldofsnails.blogspot.com.
Nature Tales – Among the Meadow People. The Victorians loved nothing better than a moral tale. However, many that have come down to us from Victorian days are so preachy as to be nigh unreadable. Not so Among the Meadow people. It is Axa’s favorite book this term (and last term too!) These stories are about little personified creatures from the meadow, like “A Puzzled Cicada” or “The Dignified Walking Sticks.” They don’t even really preach at all, they just explain the dreadful difficulties caused by the character flaws of the meadow people. Liked many living books, this one does double duty–natural history and character development in one. Not to mention great entertainment.
Poetry – Robert Louis Stevenson (A Child’s Garden of Verses). We have a version online (here). I had never fully appreciated the poem Bed in Summer. Now that we live in Ireland where it doesn’t get dark until 11 pm, I definitely relate to this poem.
Reading – The Primer. This is an absolute little gem of a book. Twaddle abounds these days, and beginning readers are the worst offenders of the lot. This book was published in 1910, and it is a collection of fairytales written for the youngest readers. They are stories like The Little Red Hen, Chicken Little, and the Gingerbread Boy, in good literary language, but easy enough to be sounded out and read by a beginner. What struck me about it is that these sorts of stories really lend themselves perfectly to beginning reading, because they are so repetitive. She gets practice sounding out the same words over and over, and the story is rewarding and interesting to her. The best thing is, after the primer come several readers. I am fairly confident that she’ll be reading quite well by the end of the series.
As to a method of teaching reading . . . I am afraid I must confess that I’ve read several and found them all too complicated. It was impossible for me to picture trying to teach Axa by using the various drills. And they involve so much work! Even Charlotte Mason’s method I found to involve such a deal of preparation I couldn’t psyche myself up to do it. Oh, dear, this is turning into confessions of a lazy homeschooling mother. I only got her the primer to try out, because she was reading road signs and salad dressing bottles, and I thought she might as well read something literary. Tony’s actually teaching her at quiet time. He just has her read through a few sentences every day in whatever chapter she’s on. She finishes approximately one chapter per week. He makes sure she really sounds the words out rather than just guessing from context and the initial consonant. And that’s it. I think she’s like me and naturally “sees” the words in her head, because I hear her practising sounding out words all the time when she doesn’t have them in front of her. Since seeing the word in your head is what Charlotte says will make for good readers and spellers, I guess she’s doing fine.
And then there is writing. Maybe someone has a suggestion for me here. Axa writes incessantly. She has several little notebooks and also writes on every stray scrap of paper that comes into her possession. She taught herself, so her method of letter formation is . . . unconventional. As is her spelling. I am not sure what to do about this, or whether anything ought to be done as of yet. She brought me a paper today on which she had written “Axa Raj Mome Dade maus cat lop dog” I mentioned casually today that I could teach her how to spell those words if she wanted. She replied that she liked how she spelt them, and we left it at that. She does sometimes ask me how to spell things, and I oblige her. I hate to intrude too much on her projects. I’ll probably just let her keep on as she is until the beginning of the year when she turns six.
Literature – Tony continues to go through the Little House books with them. Laura and Almanzo are just about to get married in These Happy Golden Years, so we are winding up our time with them. We’ve also been reading The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, which I love (I didn’t realise till we’d already begun it that it’s a free read for Ambleside Year 5. Oh, well).
Hymn Study – We have been practising the songs for the Primary Program. The Bobbles had three months of them in English, two in Italian, and now three more in English, but they will be in the Program in Italy, so we’re going to need to play some catch up so they’ll feel comfortable singing in Primary. The Church website has audio for the songs primary book in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, so we’re out of luck there. But we do have the Primary songbook in Italian, so we should be able to manage.
Handicrafts – The Bobbles are always making things and doing little projects. Axa’s latest thing is making little presents, purses, bags, bracelets and rings out of leaves and flowers. They are like little fairy-gifts. They fade away in the morning, but they are beautiful while they last.
Mathematics, Artist Study, Composer Study, Folksongs, Memory Work, and Foreign Language – have all kind of fallen by the wayside. We shall make a new start in Italy for Term 4.
And that’s it, folks! It’s not as comprehensive as I’d like, but considering all the craziness that’s been going on around here, I can be happy about it.