As we continue to plow through the fourth quarter of this school year, my mind continues to wander to the next school year. I am pretty sure we will once again take a "summer break" for the months of July and August and begin again around Labor day.
Before I get too ahead of myself, however, I need to take a look at is what is going well and what is not with how we do things currently.
I originally intended to transition to a four-day school week. This simply did not work for many reasons. Suffice it to say, our overall rhythm is better with a five-day school week.
We remain pretty relaxed in our overall approach, but we have found it works best when we incorporate a certain amount of structured study each day. We don't cover every subject every day, but we do try to spend a set amount of time, roughly the same time each day, on formal lessons.
I tried to keep our "curriculum" mostly the same for Agent E (grade 3) and Agent J (grade 1) and adjust as needed (mostly for math and language arts). However, this did not really go as smoothly as I hoped, and I will probably need to do more separate planning for them going forward.
Agent E is definitely ready for and capable of more independent work. This didn't really happen until about midway through this year. Agent J needs a bit more hands-on direction at this point, and I'm guessing that will be the case until at least the middle of third for her as well.
We kept our focus on the three R's, and this seemed to work well for their ages. Of course, we still incorporated studies of geography, history, science, art, and music, but for the younger grades I believe most of this should be presented in a fun and engaging way through reading stories and visiting interesting places.
Some subjects just always seem to get the short end of the stick, and one idea I have for next year is to combine these into unit studies. Right now I'm looking at changing up geography, art, and music so we tie them together and provide a bit more continuity instead of just looking at random places and things.
We've explored a lot of interesting science and history topics, but not in a really cohesive fashion. I think Agent E in particular is ready for more of a timeline approach so she can start fitting things together properly.
I often ask Agent E to help her little sister with schoolwork, and despite some occasional grumbling, this ends up being advantageous for both of them. Even if I end up planning much of their day-to-day work separately, I will still encourage this next year as well.
One final change would be to limit the number of specific topics in each subject area and do fewer in depth studies instead. At first glance I didn't think this made sense in the younger grades, and that I should aim to introduce a wide variety of ideas even if it meant skimming some. However, I have reconsidered this, and I realize we may have been spreading ourselves too thin with some areas.