20 Oct 2010

Next year

Ambleside Online lulls you into a false sense of security, I reckon. You undergo a hugely steep learning curve in the beginning when you come to terms with the richness of a full Charlotte Mason curriculum, but that's okay because you've only just begun with homeschooling then, and you're obsessed with it, thinking it, reading it, breathing it, and so beginning AO, although a challenge, is a good one and you're ready for it - can't wait even - and you manage. Somehow.

Then you settle in. You start thinking of things that do not directly involve educating your progeny. You start washing again and ironing and making jam and bread and reading books and camping and bushwalking and taking holidays to Japan and Indonesia and Yemen and Bhutan. You start making time for your friends, and for your Church and for yourself. And still Ambleside Online bubbles away in the background, not sending too many challenges your way, slowly building on what you've already become comfortable with and can manage without really even thinking about it most days.

Then comes Year 4. Whammo. Kerpow. Straight between the eyes with a bang!!

You've been expecting it, of course, but not now. Year 4 is a long way away right?

Wrong. it is here.

AO 4 means Plutarch.

And Shakespeare.

And Latin.

And Studied Dictation.

And Written Narration.

And Grammar.

AO4 means doing things you've never done before. AO4 means getting out of your comfort zone. AO4 means work.

And AO4 is now only weeks away.

So I've started thinking about homeschooling again. Not the all consuming thinking of before, but thinking and pondering all the same.

And I've made some decisions. Which I'm going to share with you now. If you're interested that is. So this is how AO4 is looking for us:

We'll be using Minimus Latin, with the aim of advancing to the Cambridge Latin Course on its completion. Both Jemimah's Daddy and I grew up on intimate terms with Caecilius and Metella and their son, Quintus, and can't see why Jemimah shouldn't suffer with enjoy them with us. As a consequence of our classical education, both hubby and I prefer the Classical pronunciation of Latin over the Evangelical form used by the Catholic church.

We'll be using the wonderful Anne White's Plutarch studies initially, beginning with Poplicola. She has based this on Dryden's translation, so that's the one we'll begin with. You'll find Anne's studies at the Plutarch page on the AO website.

MTC have recently announced that they will be performing Hamlet as part of their 2011 season. We plan on attending this, as well as whatever Shakespeare play the Australian Shakespeare Company choose to perform 'under stars' over summer. In previous years this has often been A Midsummer Night's Dream, which would be a perfect introduction to the plays. Bell Shakespeare are performing Much Ado About Nothing in Melbourne in June, and Julius Caesar in September. A comedy sounds more our style, and so Much Ado it is. Because this is our first introduction to the Bard's actual words after reading Nesbit and Lamb's versions, we'll stick to attending the productions alone in 2011. There will be plenty of time for analysis in later years. To be honest, I will be happy if we manage one play in 2011, although we are planning for three at this stage.

Studied Dictation
After my mild panic over Jemimah's spelling, we introduced SCM's Spelling Wisdom with great results in Term 3 of AO3. We'll be continuing with this programme next year - two periods per week.

Written Narration
After much consideration we've decided to leave written narration until Jemimah is 10 in AO5. This will give her time to consolidate her spelling skills first. We'll continue with copywork and oral narration in AO4, and begin typing lessons, which will help when we do actually begin to write. I've not yet decided on a typing programme - any ideas?

We'll be using Karen Andreola's revision of Charlotte Mason's book, Simply Grammar. One lesson a week or so. No fuss.

Something else looms large on the horizon of AO4 as well: our history rotation finally arrives in the 1700s. Australia has been discovered, and with that our Australian History study begins in earnest. I'm thinking hard about our Australianisation of AO4 at the moment. We'll need to alter quite a lot of the American AO4 curriculum to make it relevant for the Antipodes, whilst still maintaining a similar workload.

I'll be planning our Aussie History and Literature choices in the coming weeks, and I'll post when I'm done...if you're interested in reading, of course.

So that's where my thinking and pondering is up to really. Maths will stay with MEP. We'll continue with French and begin some written language exercises. We'll try French narration. We'll begin a written Bible notebook for devotions. We'll do some nature drawing and some cooking and work in our kitchen garden. We'll play basketball, hockey, badminton and tennis, do athletics, swimming, dance and more - but not all at the same time and only for fun. We'll have picnics, go on nature rambles, hang out by the pool, sing songs, look at art and be a family.

Mostly we'll have fun, because that's what learning's all about in our peaceful home - AO4 will be no different there. We'll just be hanging out more with Quintus - and Cerberus the dog. That's all.

And declining verbs.

What fun.


  1. Just searching around for some Panadol. Surely, we have something stronger.....

  2. Haha, Ruby!
    You go Jeanne! You and Jemimah are going to have so much fun! Thanks for the Latin recommendation. I keep wanting to start it, but the programmes are all so expensive to order from overseas. I might check out Minimus.
    I have found Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing really good for the girls. Just need to allocate them some more computer time to do it.

  3. Enjoyed reading this. Always inspiring and fun. Right now though I am thinking about stopping school and going to hang down at the beach for a couple of hours because I'm tired. xxx

  4. Great post for me, who is at the verge of starting AO 1 next September, and already feel nervous about it. Will I be able to deliver_ Will my little girl understand and enjoy any of the readings? Will we be able to work out a schedule?
    It's almost a year before and I've been preparing for this moment two years, but lately I've been, like you, pondering much about what to add or change (I need to include Spanish whole books, maybe for the free readings). I'd like to do what you have done with Australian history but with Spanish books, if that makes any sense. And wow, Year 4 seems so far away but it'll come sooner than I thought.
    I think your decision to postpone writing dictation is very wise, and I'm glad to hear your good results with SCM grammar books. It's never too early to prepare for year four, right?
    I'm eager to hear about your next year. About Latin, I learned it in Spain and wasn't aware of different pronunciations. Our pronunciation sounds like Spanish or Italian to me, I've never heard an Anglo speaking more than a few words in Latin.
    My best wishes for YOU and your lovely DAUGHTER.
    You 'petra-ra' (translated, you "rock")

  5. sorry about this being the third comment, but when you learn Latin you will learn Spanish and French. Did you know that cancerbero means guardian in Spanish? And I believe can is the word for dog, where canine (canino in Spanish) comes from.

  6. I love your passion, of course, and cannot wait to see how you develop AO-4 for Jemimah! I'll be lurking... :)

    Glad to hear you've had success with SCM Spelling Wisdom. It took my son TWO terms to improve significantly, but the beauty is that he even he notices the improvement. Love that kind of encouragement, from the inside out!

    I'm off to look for that book now!

  7. Oh my, I just had to pop in and say I especially loved the first part of your post as I could relate to it. :)

    Your Australianised version of AO4 sounds wonderful... I'm looking forward to hearing more.

  8. AO4? Oh my, we will be graduating them soon, eh?

    I'm with Sarah. If I were anywhere near a beach we would write our latin in the sand.

    O made your bread recipe. I baked the last two loaves up today. Mmmm. No vegemite though - it was topped with rhubarb jam.


  9. Jeanne, I lapped this up:)
    I've been tempted to use AO next year and try it out for Rebekah:)
    I'm glad Jemimah is a little older than Rebekah purely for selfish reasons: I'll have her mum's vast resources to use in our homeschool:)
    btw, I know this is a hard question (as it's still a few years off and so many things can change) so you don't have to answer - are you planning on AO for Jemimah's high school as well? :)

  10. Glad to hear that O made the bread, Richele! Was the jam homemade as well? :)

    At this stage I don't see any reason to change from AO, Rosemary. It fits our family pretty well - so far! I'm an ostrich when it comes to secondary school though... You'll have to 'watch this space'!!

  11. Wow - year 4 already. I love that you are adding Latin, Plutarch, and grammar.

    When the boys were younger they did a bit of Latin. Quite enjoyable. My 13 year old just mentioned a couple of weeks ago how he loved to play Bingo for Latin. Fond memories.

    We have the Chloe Dolly officially doing grade 1 next year.

    The time just goes so quickly.

  12. Ooh, loved reading this post Jeanne and seeing just what you'll be doing next year. AO4 sounds exciting, if a little daunting!! Hmm...you've inspired me! (Off she goes to check out the AO site again!) As for the Shakespeare theatre, I'm there! Shall have to plan to be in Melbourne in June....want to catch up? Actually hope to be over before then - will get in touch if I am. :)

  13. Metella est mater! Yes! My own grade 10 Latin class, using dog-eared Cambridge booklets that had already been through at least a decade of students. Still remember that quite well. We're not quite so ambitious--settled on Our Roman Roots for this year, which does use the ecclesiastical pronunciation but seems to fit our girls' style fairly well.

    I really like your Year 4 plans!

  14. Bethie enjoyed Minimus. We also have Prima Latina and Latin Christiana 1. Minimus was way more fun. Prima is mostly prayers. Still, the this cd is so beautiful it's worth buying!
    (The cd goes with Lingua Angelica I link here http://www.memoriapress.com/descriptions/lingua1.html). So many good books in year 4--Bethie loved the mythology [listened to much of it a librivox]. Patrick enjoyed Bambi--once he got over the "stigma" of having to read a "Disney" book! Bethany, at 14, is reading Johnny Tremain in history this year. There is an excellent BBC version of Railway Children as a treat, though the newest Kidnapped is way beyond anything you'd want Jemima to watch at her age. The Incredible Journey is an all-time favorite. And until the last few generations [mine still did] everyone can recite the first part of Paul REvere's ride! "Listen my children...." It's a great year. Plutarch--for me--was GREATLY helped by the now defunct Home Educator's Magazine, which broke it up into such nice, manageable bits. We choose to start Shakespeare with Lamb's and I don't regret it. When we went to see the plays live, it all made sense to her.

    Sciene is where AO and I don't get along well. We really enjoyed the Friedhoffer books, but I returned the Fulbright books I ordered without using them. There is other stuff out there--some even Project Gutenberg--that does as well for Botany. I will say though that no one enjoyed Madam How--groans every time! We read it, but did as much hands on science as possible. Read about volcanos, for example, then made one and shot it off outside! I highlight in their memories of that year! [I have links to stuff if you want them...]

    Whew! Long comment! I can't wait to read about you Australian books for year 4!

  15. Ugh! Lost my comment. Oh well I just told you what we loved from Year 4 and hated [the science] and that I'm not wild about Fulbright's Exploring Creation series. Also, that we loved Minimus! [There's a user group on Yahoo you can get the Teacher's book from] You will love the cd with Lingua Angelica here: http://www.memoriapress.com/descriptions/lingua1.html
    Lots more.....sigh.......hate lots posts!

  16. So glad your long comment didn't disappear, Lisa. I'll come and check your archive for AO4 related posts. Thanks for the heads-up re the Minimus Yahoo group. I'll join that. We tried Exploring Creation with Astronomy in AO2, and didn't find it a good fit for us either. People seem to either love or hate Madam How...

    I'll check out the Lingua Angelica CD.

    Thanks again.

  17. So glad AO4 meets your approval, so far, Mama Squirrel. Are you doing Plutarch with Crayons this year? I'll take a look at Our Roman Roots as well.

  18. AOy4 was such a jump for us that we were kind of sketchy on adding in all those things at once. :) We did our best. After that year and AOy5 we are finally REALLY all enjoying Shakespeare (we all had kind of a tough time adjusting to the language). Also Plutarch. I've really enjoyed watching my boys wade through Julius Caesar this year. We're actually reading it together.

    Also, we waited on written narration until AOy5 as well. I'm SO glad I did. The boys are just now in AOy6 writing 2 narrations a week only. I'm not really concerned with that, but will be pushing for some noticeable advancement this year.

    I told them this is the last year they can relax at all... it just gets MORE and more exciting! ;)

    amy in peru

  19. Jeanne

    Loved reading what you have planned:) Yikes, I need to start planning soon myself, last term we purchased Spelling Wisdom and I can't rave about it enough. We have always done dictation but SW has made my job so much easier.

    Love to hear your Aussie plans, a subject near and dear to my heart, I have started writing some titles up here
    although my Aust resource pages are rather a mess and needing an overhaul.

  20. What fun and interesting comments!

    Jam was homemade but by my mother, not me. O made apple chutney, apple jam, plum jelly and wild grape jelly with the boys this fall. Guess he was tired of waiting for me to do it. I don't even know what I was doing :)

    I'm afraid of the outcome if I spend the winter eating homemade bread and jam in front of the fire.

  21. Hi Jeanne,
    Loved your post. Your confidence encourages me. I'll be staying tuned for your Australianised AO4.


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