Shavuos is behind us. It was a beautiful 3 day holiday. Sunny, hot and humid, however, even so, it was beautiful! We enjoyed every minute of it, and like always, I’m sad when the holiday is over. 3 days of everyone home, Daddy was home, nice friends, and even some nice food. 🙂
However, it finally hit me. I’m having a hard time finishing up the rest of the year. This year was better than most, some years it is really bad. It is not that I do not want to teach, it just happens that near the end of the year things do not go quite as smoothly as they usually do. I am not sure how it happens for we have a schedule. However, for whatever reason, things seem to break down near the end of the year. Right now we have about 2-3 weeks of school left, but oftentimes things go wild 2 months before the end of the year.
I think part of my problem is that I’m thinking ahead. It is about this time of year that I get really excited about the next year – all the ideas and changes and thoughts and wonderful things we are going to be doing, I just want to sit down and organize it all now. Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful year, at least from my perspective, however I just get excited about the fresh start each year. The last two years have been wonderfully amazing, and I can see how next year can be even better.
The new secular program we have been doing has been wonderful for us. We have been doing a Charlotte Mason program – Ambleside Online. There are several versions of Ms. Mason’s curriculum, and the version I have is an online version. The perk to it being online is that most of what we use is available online, and they have made it very convenient and put links for all the available books.
There are two main reasons why I really love this program.
The first reason is that it is God based. One could use it without religion if one desired as there are other reasons to use the curriculum even without religion, and one could very easily change it from a Christian based curriculum to a Jewish based curriculum like I did. All I really need to do is remove the books that are not for me (i.e. Bible, Christian history) and replace them with what I want (i.e. Torah and Jewish history). I have found the books that remain make it easier for me to include God in our entire schooling, not just in the “Jewish” part of it. In our science when we are talking about volcanoes and earthquakes and the book mentions the “One Who create all but we are not going to know but you know Who it is” (and yes, this particular book words it this way, it is cute and I really like the book) to learning about Joan of Arc and we see the miracle of how the small French army wins over the larger English army, and how when they finally crowned the real King of France, we see how God runs the world and how the French coronation is actually very similar to how the Jewish kings were crowned.
The second reason I fell in love with the Charlotte Mason approach is because she focused on SHORT lessons. The younger years (through year 3) have 10-15 minute lessons. That is all! Why? The child cannot sit for longer than that without getting bored and distracted. Do not let the child get bored for you want to keep their interest. Older children can focus more so the older years have 30-45 minute lessons depending on the section/day.
There has been many times where I would stop reading right at the climax of a story. Yes, I was a meany!!! Oh, did they beg and plead with me to read more, but after I secretly read the ending I then, with a sneaky look on my face, closed the book shut and tell them next week! The suspense was almost unbearable for them! They are then so excited to come back next week to hear what happened. It is a great way to keep the interest of an otherwise not so interesting book as well. Oh, and yes, the next day they tried hard to tell me they did not read that book yet for the week. 😉
Another bonus to short lessons is that it is great for those of us who are teaching a dual curriculum. You can actually teach all the subjects, in depth, AND teach another full curriculum! And not only that, if there are multiple children you are teaching, hey, there is time enough for all of them, what more could I ask for? God in all facets of life, and time to teach all my children.
It has been two years and I am very happy. I still have not been able to include all I would like to include into our schedule, however, slow and steady wins the race they say. We have done better this second year, and I am very confident that I will be able to do better this coming year. Now, to try to focus for a few short weeks so we can get done!