Friday, December 9, 2011

A New Thought About History

I had a new thought yesterday, concerning our history curriculum. I really do want to use Sonlight for a good portion of our history, but have struggled about how to combine all 3 kids. They are 3 years and 3.5 months apart, which is just a slightly wider age gap than Sonlight recommends. I previously thought of letting my youngest just listen in on a core that the 2 girls are doing, and not require him to do all the work. But I just didn't think that would be quite fair to him, to do that all the way through school. I've read how being just a year or so older allows a child to grasp so much more from the material, and I didn't want to shortchange him - having him always being just at the edge of understanding it all.

So I thought it would be best to separate the kids, and teach my oldest with one core, and then teach the two younger ones together about 2 years behind her (since they are only 1 year apart). Doing 2 Sonlight cores might be time-consuming for me (and voice-consuming, since I tend to get a dry throat quickly with much reading aloud), but I figured that would be best to allow all my kids to get the most out of Sonlight.

Another option, which I've written about earlier (I think this past July), was to use the BJU Heritage Studies videos as the core of our history, each kid doing their own grade level, and just adding Sonlight books at the appropriate age/reading level. That would work, but I'm realizing, after a few months of doing BJU grade 1, that I really think the literature approach for history is much better, instead of using a textbook. Rebekah just doesn't get nearly as much out of the videos for history as she does from the books we're reading (I'm also doing Sonlight Core A with her right now - just the history and read-aloud portion). The videos do add some special interest clips, but not that much, really, for history - very little that we can't find on YouTube or somewhere else. And the skits seemed like a cute idea, but Rebekah views them more as entertainment and doesn't really get the point of them. Maybe she would as she grows older, but she's also getting a little tired of all the videos, and I'm thinking we're just going to stick with using the videos for English and math only (and maybe a little Bible thrown in, since she loves singing the hymns along with her teacher). Rebekah loves the independence of the videos (and the lack of frustration her video teachers' express compared to me!), but she misses the one-on-one time with me. I think the perfect balance would be to use videos for English and math, and for me to teach/read history and science directly. Bible we'll probably split half and half. (And while I'm discussing it, I'm not sure the videos will work best for my youngest 2 in any case - my son might not sit still through any of them, and my younger daughter seems to love workbook formats best.)

Anyway, so we're back to how to combine the kids with Sonlight. The thought I had yesterday, suddenly, was why not choose the core based on the 2 youngest ones' ages? That seems obvious, and I had considered it before, but had assumed that the core I chose that way would be too simplistic for my oldest, and plus, she wouldn't be able to go through all the cores before graduating. Well, I realized that I can much easier add material to the core for my oldest than take it away for my youngest. There is so much history material out there that I keep being drawn to, and this way I can add in some of it for my oldest to bring the lower cores up to her grade level. For instance, if we do core B when she's in 4th grade (and the younger 2 are in 1st and 2nd grades), then I could add some of the Greenleaf Press guides to the Famous Men series (e.g. Egypt, Greece, and Rome), or even some of the Sonlight books from core G. There're also the History Pockets books which Rebekah really liked in kindergarten (they have them for older grades too). It makes me excited to think about being able to do some of this other material too! I just love too much curriculum!

As for finishing all the cores before she graduates, well, I'd already decided that I loved the cores A-F, but after that, I probably would just do parts of the cores, adding in other choices instead of the Sonlight spines. If we do core B when Rebekah's in 4th grade, then she would make it through core F by 8th grade, and then have 4 years of high school left. There's plenty of other choices I have in mind for those 4 years, merging a few Sonlight cores, combining Sonlight with other things, or maybe even Oak Meadow history. The other 2 kids would have a few more years before high school to do more Sonlight or something else. Anyway, I've spent a lot of time today considering options, and I am really liking this scenario so far.

What this means is that Rebekah will have 2 more years after this one before we do Sonlight Core B. I could just have her use the BJU Heritage Studies videos, but I think we'll do something else instead. I have in mind some geography and government and economics unit studies for 2nd grade next year (maybe the Intellego Globetrotting studies too, like this one). Then for 3rd grade, I would love to use the Memoria Press D'Aulaire's Greek Myths set, and maybe some US Geography too (revisiting the US States study we started for 1st grade and never finished).

As for the literature side of Sonlight, I don't want to do double-English, making the kids do the BJU reading/literature courses as well as the Sonlight literature and writing material. Definitely too much. I do think BJU has a more thorough coverage of grammar and literary analysis, so I want to use them. However, I like having the kids read complete books (not excerpts) and I like Sonlight's book choices better for cultural awareness, etc. So I'll have the kids do the BJU work, but then have the Sonlight books for free reading, without requiring any reports or analysis of the Sonlight books. They'll be "just for fun" books.

Hopefully all my kids will like reading. ;-)

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