Today begins our first day of Year 5 with Ambleside Online. It may be the first half of May but as we school year round we do not have a planned Summer Break which begins at a certain point. When we end one thing we seamlessly transition to the next, so this start of a “new” school year really is arbitrary. Their grade levels are updated in August to keep everything in line with the majority of Public School aligned thinking and age ranges.
The past several days have been spent coordinating books and pages with a calendar, with a sprinkling of gardening to keep me sane and laundry to keep us in clean clothes. There are a few changes I made to the recommended AO curriculum plan as this school year I aim to conclude in less than 36 weeks. Additionally, The Sea Around Us from AO Yr 6’s schedule is being read currently in conjunction with another family while The Complete Book of Marvels from Yr 5’s schedule is planned to begin after this particular book ends. Swapping out one book for another will make the next few months more science heavy and then geography heavy the months following but I think the trade-off of joining in with another family or two for these subjects is worth it.
Over the past year one of my kids has really taken off in his reading and comprehension skills. After thinking through it the past month or so I believe he is ready to read more on his own.
The other child has the desire but is not quite there yet. He has a tougher time with reading, though his comprehension is fine. Often I have him read out loud to me so I can help with any words he stumbles over. I have also tested him out on listening to an audio book while following along with an in-print book. This really is the best method as he sees, reads, and hears the proper words. My goal is for him to read on his own, but for now this is our home school version of an IEP accommodation.
How does this variance in their skills affect the upcoming daily school plan when both are in the same Ambleside Online year? For starters, I try to have two copies of a book we are reading or one in-print copy and one digital. (Except for most of our free reads which I really do alternate who is doing what.) I tried having them share one copy of a book while doing their subjects in different orders. After much trial and error I agreed it was not working. They read at different speeds, are impatient for the other to finish, move book marks, and compare themselves to the other too much. It was not worth the few dollars to purchase another book.
Not only do we have individual copies of books but if there is an audio book available for the one child that is the one he will be using. Last month we began reading the free read book Lassie Come Home round robin style via the internet with our co-op. At the suggestion of one of the moms we all used the same copy, found for free at archive.org. It was through setting the kids up to read that I saw the little speaker button at the bottom of the screen. Sure enough, a computer voice came on and began to read the page. This was exactly what I had been hoping for to include in our school work. As a bonus, it highlights the section it is reading so no more losing his place. My reader who needs extra support could suddenly do more of his work on his own, hearing and seeing the texts without losing his place.
An interesting turn of events came out of this find – my stronger reader feels like he is getting the short end of the stick as “it isn’t fair that he gets to listen to the book and I have to read it.” Yet he is the one who has been complaining about his brother’s slow reading when we take turns reading out loud. I finally had to explain to him that his brother deals with verbal apraxia and dyslexia, then explain what those terms mean. It was not till this past fall that I actually had to explain why his brother was in speech therapy for so long, nor why he has trouble with is words. We do not usually use the clinical terms around here, though I make adjustments for them, only point out that we all have struggles and strengths.
He still thinks it is unfair that his brother gets to have the “easy” way.
FlyLady will also be making an appearance via their own Student Control Journals. It became exceedingly obvious to me that one of my kids could not follow the instruction to “clear off your dresser top.” He froze up with indecision. It happens so very often around here you would think by now he would have figured out a way to unfreeze. But alas it took me asking him, from a different room on a different floor of the house, what was thop of his dresser. As he told me what was there I would tell him to put the (first thing) away. Then the (next thing). Then the (next) and (next) things. He really could not see his way through this random pile of items in any organized fashion. It was after this that I made the comment to myself, “I feel like a Fly List.” To put it nicely, “Well, duh. That is what he needs!”
Our first ‘day’ of AO YR 5 was already going to be focused more on picking up a few certain rooms to help bring order to C.H.A.O.S., math, and preparation work for co-op. Adding in creating their own Homeschool Student Control Journals will be perfect. (Here is the non-homeschool Student Control Journal.)
Another addition we are trying is using digital lists to add some independence and responsibility to their work. This has been tried before in a variety of ways though none seem to have stuck. I am not completely comfortable giving them a digital list even though they will need to access certain resources online. If it turns out they can not handle a digital list we will go back to paper for a while. Or perhaps we will start with paper, work our way to digital, then backtrack to paper if needed or preferred.
There are still a few minor details I need to work out but will take them one at a time. This week I still need to do the reading and preparation for a book study over 2 chapters in Charlotte Mason’s Volume 3, participate in an online support group for foster/adoptive families, join our local county bee association’s meeting, put together next week’s astronomy lesson for our co-op, finish planting items in the garden, straighten our school papers and books, go through kids’ clothes, and implement the new school year’s plan. Adding to our plan which folk songs and hymns to do each week for the next several months can wait a day or two.