Thursday, January 24, 2013

The 4-year History Cycle

I've been contemplating history curriculum for next year and beyond. For this year, I've been reading out of Hillyer's A Child's History of the World, doing some Intellego unit studies (we finished government for K-2 last semester, and plan to do economics choices and resources for K-2 this semester), and we've just added an Evan-Moor History Pocket for Ancient Civilizations. We've added in a few other books here and there, like Archaeologists Dig for Clues. Oh, and we've just finished up Evan-Moor's Beginning Geography for K-2.

This year has been loosely based on Sonlight's Core B, but I didn't want to buy and do a full-blown history curriculum with just my oldest. I figured I'd wait until the 2 younger ones are ready to do more listening as well, like 1.5 years from now, when my middle child is almost 7 and the youngest is almost 6 (but technically, probably, in K still). I figured we'd start with ancient history again that year, when my oldest is in 4th grade. So this year, I thought I'd try to read through Hillyer's ancient and middle ages time frame, and continue with early modern and modern times next year.

Well, now I think I'm going to stretch it out even another year, and wait to do a full-blown ancient history study until the kids are in 1st, 2nd/3rd, and 5th grades (not sure yet what grade I'll technically call my middle child, since she may be a bit ahead of her age).  Looking back, I suppose I could have started my oldest on ancient history last year, done middle ages this year, early modern next year, and modern the year after, and be ready to start back in ancient her 5th grade year.

But, of course, I didn't do that. I wanted to try Sonlight Core A last year, which is mostly cultures. I'm still glad we did, since she learned a lot and had fun. Plus, I don't think she would have retained too much of ancient history last year. I might have been surprised, but I'm beginning to think that it's probably not necessary to spend too much money on a history curriculum for these first few grade levels. I do like the idea of a 4-year cycle, but I don't think it's necessary to start in 1st grade and do the cycle 3 whole times. I know other people say that too, and that even if you aim to do it 3 times, you probably won't make it completely, and the repetition means that you'll at least get some of each time period by the time you graduate.

So we're not even going to aim at doing the cycle 3 times. I do like the way we're doing a "light" version now - just reading through Hillyer. I'll continue doing that through the rest of this year, next year, and the year after - however long it takes to get through it. I will supplement with the craft projects in the History Pockets as appropriate (she really likes those), and with some readers or read-alouds that match, but not as many as might be listed in a Sonlight Core or some other such curriculum. I just want to do enough to have an underlying background for my daughter, to have some sense of world history as a baseline in the first few years. I don't see us ever using history as the core for all our other studies, but just as another subject.

I also want to do Beautiful Feet's History of the Horse next year. My daughter loves horses (as do I), and I think that will be a perfect fit next year. It might be more natural science (animals) and art (drawing) than history, but still good. I also like CLE's 3rd and 4th grade social studies programs. 3rd grade is only a half year, and covers communities, mostly Biblical and Israeli. I think I would like to do that as well as the horse study next year, considering that the CLE study is somewhat of a geography and Bible study too. I know - it may be overkill for 3rd grade, but if we have time for it, I think they will all be fun choices. Then for 4th grade, we'll continue with Hillyer, but add CLE's 4th grade course, which is mostly geography. Maybe we'll add in the Evan-Moor Daily Geography workbooks too, mostly for terminology.

Then, in 5th grade, we will do a full-blown ancient history course. Right now, I'm thinking I'll use History Odyssey, Level 2. At the same time, I can do Level 1 with the younger two. I do also like the Beautiful Feet history courses, so I may change my mind. Despite my love for Sonlight's philosophy, their courses just don't line up exactly with how I want to do things. I do really want to do their Core F, Eastern Hemisphere, program though, so I think I will slip that in between Middle Ages and Early Modern. My oldest can do Core F in her 7th grade, while the younger two can do the CLE 4th grade geography course. I'll have the younger two do Core F a few years later, when my oldest will be more independent. Throwing in Core F means I won't have time to do even 2 full 4-year cycles with my oldest, and we may shrink the final cycle to 3 years, but we'll see. If we continue on through summers, we may still have time for it all!

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