Ok, for history, we haven't started the BJU heritage studies videos yet, but we probably will watch them in our 2nd "semester". For now, we will continue with our US state study, though without so much focus on Cheney's Our 50 States book - it's just too much over all their heads for right now, with all the details and dates. We'll stick to coloring books, locating the states on the map, and putting the state flag stickers into our little booklet. I won't be scheduling it in really either, but just doing it whenever we have some free time and they want something to do.
I can tell already that the BJU courses will more than cover everything I want the kids to learn about the states, geography, etc., so I don't feel a need to add in anything else. Trying to add in more to the so-complete BJU courses is just adding complexity and hassle that isn't needed (not to mention wasting playtime!). I don't like just throwing out the Evan-Moor geography workbook I had been using, but Rebekah didn't like it at all, and pouted when I brought it out, so I'm just going to stop using it. All the things I bought and tried to use earlier, we will just count as a learning experience, and either use partially during summers as a review or try to resell what we can!
I have to admit I am still adding in art - which we'll do on Saturdays - and some music, plus doing science separately. And adding in some Sonlight, which I describe below. But science is a substitution for BJU science due to worldview differences, art and music are things not covered by BJU videos, and the Sonlight is quite short and either expands the BJU 1-semester history courses to a full year, or will replace parts of BJU history in the future.
On a slightly side note, we've been using the BJU videos for a week or so now, and I have to say that Rebekah's attitude has greatly improved. I am not scolding her hardly at all, she's not pouting about doing school, and even though she's spending a little more time doing schoolwork, she is enjoying her days more! I can see already that BJU distance learning is really the right choice for us. I love being able to get some work done around the house, plus play with the little ones, while Rebekah is learning away!
I've let Reanna try a little of the K5 classes, and while she loves doing the worksheets with the video teachers, her attention span is not quite long enough for a full video in one sitting yet. I will hold off on her classes for another month or two, I believe. Right now, Rebekah prefers listening to her videos without the headset most of the time, so it might get tricky when I have 2 of them listening to videos at the same time (not to mention 3 kids). Reanna loves her headset though.
So, we have also started Sonlight's Core A, at least partially, instead of waiting until next year for that. I've thought of several ways to combine 2 or 3 of my kids in history, but have decided with the videos, it's best to keep them all at their grade levels, and just try to combine some of the outside reading. We aren't doing the SL Bible part, since we're using BJU videos for that, and we aren't doing SL readers for 1st grade (too boring at her reading level right now, and too much to add to the BJU reading lessons). I am just reading the history/geography/cultural books and the read-alouds to the girls in the early afternoons after Ryan starts his naptime. We are reading the Boxcar Children right now, and Rebekah begs to hear more of it when we finish the day's chapter! Reanna, however, is quite fidgety and hard to keep still long enough to listen to it all.
I know many parents enjoy the "cuddle" time of read-alouds, but I have to say that it's not my favorite thing, all smushed together on the couch with one or both girls fidgeting so much that they keep kicking, pinching, or pushing each other (and me, stuck in the middle between them). It may get better as they grow older, but as they learn to read better, I am pretty sure we will switch to them reading by themselves more (ala Robinson curriculum), adding in Sonlight books as they fit with the kids' current reading level rather than as read-alouds. I will wait and see as we go whether to keep adding in Sonlight books, or just stick with the BJU history courses. BJU English also has book lists for reading outside of the videos, so whether I use their choices or (a small portion of) Sonlight's choices, I'm sure we'll do some outside reading.
If anything, I think it might work well to just read a little bit one-on-one with each one, instead of all of us together, giving each child a special Mom-and-me time. Today actually worked well when I let Rebekah color while I read, and Reanna just played nearby. However, Ryan has not taken a good nap for the past 3 days, so I am wondering if he is about to stop taking naps. That might throw a kink into our schedule all around!