End of the Year – Trying to finish it off!

Shavuos is behind us.  It was a beautiful 3 day holiday.  Sunny, hot and humid, however, even so, it was beautiful!  We enjoyed every minute of it, and like always, I’m sad when the holiday is over.  3 days of everyone home, Daddy was home, nice friends, and even some nice food. 🙂

However, it finally hit me.  I’m having a hard time finishing up the rest of the year.  This year was better than most, some years it is really bad.  It is not that I do not want to teach, it just happens that near the end of the year things do not go quite as smoothly as they usually do.  I am not sure how it happens for we have a schedule.  However, for whatever reason, things seem to break down near the end of the year.  Right now we have about 2-3 weeks of school left, but oftentimes things go wild 2 months before the end of the year.

I think part of my problem is that I’m thinking ahead.  It is about this time of year that I get really excited about the next year – all the ideas and changes and thoughts and wonderful things we are going to be doing, I just want to sit down and organize it all now.  Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful year, at least from my perspective, however I just get excited about the fresh start each year.  The last two years have been wonderfully amazing, and I can see how next year can be even better.

The new secular program we have been doing has been wonderful for us.  We have been doing a Charlotte Mason program – Ambleside Online.  There are several versions of Ms. Mason’s curriculum, and the version I have is an online version.  The perk to it being online is that most of what we use is available online, and they have made it very convenient and put links for all the available books.

There are two main reasons why I really love this program.

The first reason is that it is God based.  One could use it without religion if one desired as there are other reasons to use the curriculum even without religion, and one could very easily change it from a Christian based curriculum to a Jewish based curriculum like I did.  All I really need to do is remove the books that are not for me (i.e. Bible, Christian history) and replace them with what I want (i.e. Torah and Jewish history).  I have found the books that remain make it easier for me to include God in our entire schooling, not just in the “Jewish” part of it.  In our science when we are talking about volcanoes and earthquakes and the book mentions the “One Who create all but we are not going to know but you know Who it is” (and yes, this particular book words it this way, it is cute and I really like the book) to learning about Joan of Arc and we see the miracle of how the small French army wins over the larger English army, and how when they finally crowned the real King of France, we see how God runs the world and how the French coronation is actually very similar to how the Jewish kings were crowned.

The second reason I fell in love with the Charlotte Mason approach is because she focused on SHORT lessons.  The younger years (through year 3) have 10-15 minute lessons.  That is all!  Why? The child cannot sit for longer than that without getting bored and distracted.  Do not let the child get bored for you want to keep their interest. Older children can focus more so the older years have 30-45 minute lessons depending on the section/day.

There has been many times where I would stop reading right at the climax of a story.  Yes, I was a meany!!!  Oh, did they beg and plead with me to read more, but after I secretly read the ending I then, with a sneaky look on my face, closed the book shut and tell them next week!  The suspense was almost unbearable for them!  They are then so excited to come back next week to hear what happened.  It is a great way to keep the interest of an otherwise not so interesting book as well.  Oh, and yes, the next day they tried hard to tell me they did not read that book yet for the week. 😉

Another bonus to short lessons is that it is great for those of us who are teaching a dual curriculum.  You can actually teach all the subjects, in depth, AND teach another full curriculum!  And not only that, if there are multiple children you are teaching, hey, there is time enough for all of them, what more could I ask for?  God in all facets of life, and time to teach all my children.

It has been two years and I am very happy.  I still have not been able to include all I would like to include into our schedule, however, slow and steady wins the race they say.  We have done better this second year, and I am very confident that I will be able to do better this coming year.  Now, to try to focus for a few short weeks so we can get done!

2 thoughts on “End of the Year – Trying to finish it off!”

  1. I’m planning on using Ambleside Online myself. Other than the obvious changes (replacing church history, hymns, and Pilgrim’s Progress with more Jewish-appropriate fare), how are you finding the core materials to work within your hashkafa? Are there any books that are problematic (biographies, etc.) (The only I’d have a really hard time with is a reference to J* on every page.)

    1. Hello,
      I am hoping to do the next posting more in depth on AO, but I can answer your questions here.

      In history with the younger years you will find Christianity, but that is only because the British Kings and Queens were Christian and a lot of the disagreements and fightings arouse due to religion. There might have been a couple readings in each of year 1,2, and 3 where I modified/deleted a sentence, but that is all. I did have to explain some religious terms (Friar, Abbot, Abbey, etc.) but I have absolutely no issues with that. They were not “proselytizing,” just wrote it for the children of the time, whom most just happened to be Christian. With American history, you do not find very much religion at all, for that is not the main part of American history (1700’s+).

      In science, with the suggested readings, I found one paragraph in one book (that is used over 2 years) that I skipped over – the last paragraph in that chapter. I do not recall any other modifications that I needed to do. We did do Apologia Astronomy last year – an optional science series. It is an excellent book, however, I refused to let my boys look at the book without me. I had to read it. There were quotes from Psalms in English, which I read from our Tehillim, in English and Hebrew. Though I admit the ones we came across were pretty accurate, I just wanted my boys to understand that we should verify any English translations and told them why. There were often paragraphs that I skipped or modified, but all in all, it was a good book. I found a great review of it by another religious Jewish homeschooling parent on Amazon that I read before I bought it.

      Language Arts and Free Readings – no issues there, it is nice to find a nice list of good books that I do not have to worry about really.

      We have not done art analysis, and I probably will not do that.

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