With the graduation of Gentle Giant this past year, I now only have 4 little ones to homeschool (Spunky is pursuing an alternate education plan this year). Delightful, 7, is my only full-time student. Ever since she began school, she has always asked me to put things like art, music, physed, nature study, French, etc. on her schedule. In the past, I have scheduled these in but then treated them like extracurricular activities. We didn’t always get all of them done every week.
As I planned Delightful’s schedule for Grade 3 this year, though, I began thinking about tweaking our homeschool a bit to accommodate Delightful’s interests, which can include our younger kids, and still follow a relaxed classical approach à la Robinson Curriculum. That’s when I really started looking at Ambleside Online. I have drawn from Ambleside’s booklists for years, but this year I think I finally “get” how to fit all of those subjects into a week without overwhelming our family. The key is short lessons and not scheduling every subject every day.
I worked out an “ideal” schedule and started partly implementing it this summer. These were the “subjects” we studied this past summer that could incorporate everyone’s needs and abilities:
- Family Worship, including memory work (verses, Lord’s Prayer, Apostle’s Creed), psalm singing, prayer, and devotion
- Music (we just used What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know to get everyone’s feet wet)
- Music Appreciation (classical music at dinnertime plus lunchtime music in the categories of bible, folk songs, or lyrical science)
- Physed (using Home School Family Fitness)
- Handicrafts (Delightful chose sewing)
- Outdoor Play
- Nature Study
- Folk Songs (using the What Your ___ Needs to Know series)
- Art Appreciation (using the What Your ___ Needs to Know series)
- Catechism (Westminster Children’s Catechism)
- Memory Time (days of the week, months of the year, address, phone number, etc. — more for our little kids than Delightful)
- Poetry (A Child’s Treasury of Nursery Rhymes and Where the Sidewalk Ends)
- Literature – Read Alouds
- Little Kid Skills (workbooks, phonics)
- Bible Stories (done at bedtime with Dad)
Now, we did not study these subjects in an entirely Charlotte Mason way. For one thing, we are all veeeeery slow to get moving in the morning, so I scheduled stuff like outdoor play, nature study, etc. for our mornings. My goal was to have most of the above list done by 1 pm, including eating lunch. On most days, we succeeded. Afternoons were spent napping (baby and sometimes Enigma, 3) or playing with friends (Delightful, 7, and Feisty, 5). It worked really well and our days did not feel rushed or stressed in any way. I found the short lessons idea refreshing since it is always easy to squeeze something in here or there when it’s convenient. We even car-schooled some days so the kids could stay occupied and happy while Mr. Chivalry was running errands!
For this new year, I also need to fit in Bible, Math (this will still be done the Robinson way), Logic, History, French, Literature, Copywork/Dictation, Science, and Piano Lessons for Delightful. I am confident we can get this all done in the afternoons since the little ones will be having naps/quiet time for part of that time, leaving me free to assist Delightful where needed. Since we are starting school this week, I will know better after a few days as to whether or not this is doable for our family and what, if anything, needs to be tweaked.
All in all, I am happy with the learning and growing we did this past summer. I will be posting pictures from our nature study in upcoming weeks so you can see some of what we discovered.