We want to introduce the Nelson family today, who would like to share with you the details of how they implement AO Year 3 in their homeschool. The Nelson family has three children -- all boys -- and they've been homeschooling with AO for three years, using Years 1, 2, and 3. Diana Nelson blogs at http://takingjoyblog.wordpress.com/ You'll want to bookmark that and follow her blog.
We are so thrilled to be able to share this post with you. It is the first in a new series we hope will grow- guest posts by AO users on how AO works for them. We are so thankful that Diana graciously shared this post with us to use on the blog, and thus with all of you.
We hope her generosity and spirit of sharing freely encourages and inspires others the same way she has blessed us. So without anymore fanfare- here's Diana on year 3:
As my oldest is about to enter Year 4 (we'll probably start the first Monday in August), I find myself looking for advice from Year 4 veterans. And, since we are just finishing up Year 3, I thought I'd offer that type of advice to those about to begin Year 3. First, and this is in no way scientific, here is a list of Year 3 Books in order of hardest to easiest (those in bold above the line are books I might allow my son to read independently occasionally; those in bold below the line are books he actually did read independently by the end of the year):
- The Heroes by Charles Kingsley (Literature)
- Marco Polo’s Adventures in China by Milton Rugoff (Geography)
- Parables of Nature (AO’s paraphrased edition) by Margaret Gatty (Literature)
- This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall (History)
- Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula (History Tales / Biography)
- Bible: New King James Version (Bible)
- An / Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall (History)
- *Shakespeare for Everyone: Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It (Literature)
- Children of the New Forest by F. Marryat (Literature)
- The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (Literature)
- The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (Literature)
- Pagoo by Holling C. Holling (Natural History/Science)
- Secrets of the Woods by William J. Long (Natural History/Science)
- Leonardo Da Vinci by Emily Hahn (History Tales / Biography)
- American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenberg (Literature)
- Child's History of the World by Virgil Hillyer (History)
- Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty (History Tales / Biography)
- **[all Year 3 poetry] William Blake, Sara Teasdale, Hilda Conkling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Bard of Avon by Peter Vennema and Diane Stanley (History Tales / Biography)
- Good Queen Bess by Diane Stanley (History Tales / Biography)
- Science Lab in a Supermarket by Robert Friedhoffer (Natural History/Science)
- A Drop of Water by Walter Wick (Natural History/Science)
*Our family does Shakespeare together in morning time. We have substituted Shakespeare for Everyone in place of Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare – a personal preference.
**We do poetry in morning time or at "tea time," which is why he did not read independently.
Specific Scheduled Book Advice Even though A9 can read several of the history / biography books on his own, I was hesitant to just hand it all over to him because we are still doing a mommy-and-me style timeline. A9 is probably an above average reader (he was an early reader), but he's still a reluctant one. He's the type to skim rather than read carefully, so we chose to read aloud more than was probably necessary.
This Country of Ours starts out overlapping the timeline in An Island Story, so even though the chapters are longer, An Island Story has brought us up to this point.
Child's History of the World is another book that overlaps. It's by far the easiest reading level of the three main history books scheduled in Year 3.
The historical biographies are all fairly easy reads. We did Leonardo Da Vinci as a read aloud just because in Term 1 our son was not quite mature enough to read independently AND give a good narration. (Plus, it's a little boring.) A lot of maturing happened this year! By the end of the year I was able to transition more and more over to A9.
We started American Tall Tales as a read aloud, but he was able to read the second half independently with good oral narrations.
The most challenging book in Year 3 is The Heroes by Charles Kingsley. Not only is it an elevated prose, but also my son was only slightly familiar with Greek gods and goddesses. A9 picked up Percy Jackson: The Lightening Thief at the library around the middle of Term 2 -- purely coincidentally -- and I think that helped him relate to The Heroes a little better.
Parables of Nature is another old friend. I would almost be tempted to let A9 read one of these stories independently, but frankly we just enjoy these together way too much. They are a time investment, but when we settle in to these stories we always have deep conversations.
Even though Trial and Triumph is familiar from Years 1 and 2, I still read this one aloud just in case it raises any questions. There's a lot of death -- and church history (obviously) -- that I want to help A9 interpret. I've seen Catholic AO users say this book is very protestant, and I've seen protestant AO users say this book is very Catholic. I think the book does a fairly good job walking that line (we are protestant), and I can see why the AO Advisory has chosen it. Still, I find this book needs a chaperone.
My kiddo is so familiar with the New King James Version of the Bible that I find that he gives excellent narrations. In fact, A9 asked to begin a written narration on New Testament reading assignments. Sometimes we also read the same selection out of The Message or the English Standard Version if the selection is particularly challenging (more typically in the Old Testament).
As already noted, we traded Lamb's Shakespeare for a line of books called Shakespeare for Everyone. I found the Georgian / Victorian language used in Lamb's only confused Shakespeare's Elizabethan era plays, so we opted for a modern retelling followed by film viewings. Because we do Shakespeare as a family, we had our own rotation going rather than juggling Year 1 and Year 3 assignments. Now I see that AO has moved to a Shakespeare rotation, we will probably try to jump on board (so long as we don't repeat what we've done recently).
I turned over three of the literature selections (by MacDonald, Marryat, and Kipling) for Dear Husband to read to A9 in the evenings. They were all tackled at bedtime with very little involvement from me.
They read Little Pilgrim's Progress by Helen Taylor last year in Year 2. DH says he thinks A9 could have read these independently, but we thought it best to have Daddy pronouncing the words properly and doing character voices.
Pagoo and Secrets of the Woods for Natural History / Science were reserved as read alouds so we could reinforce the science involved. Rather than giving these over to A9, we checked out additional picture books from the library that involved sea life and woodland creatures to support the scheduled books.
The other two Natural History / Science books (by Science Lab in a Supermarket and A Drop of Water) were both books I felt I could hand to A9 and he would run with it. We did the experiments together, but really he required hardly any guidance at all.
Free Reads A9 would not read any of the free reads unless made to do so. He would be much more likely to choose a book from the library based on his own interests (and he frequently does), so we compromised. A9 has assigned free read time during which I set a timer for 20 minutes, and he reads a Year 3 free read of his choosing. So far, in Year 3 he has read:
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
- Through the Looking Glass
- Swallows and Amazons
- King of the Wind
Various Daily Instruction
In Term 3 of Year 3, A9 began learning typing / keyboarding online at www.typing.com, which is a free program that saves his progress. We are still plugging away at Copy Work, but this child is perpetually behind in that department. Even though his handwriting is atrocious, his spelling and grammar are naturally exceptional (I mean that in a good way). I expect dictation in Year 4 to be a breeze.
Weekly Instruction Subjects We very closely follow AO's artist, composer, and folksong/hymn study rotations, utilizing morning time to do this as a family. Additionally, I have taken A9 and L6 to a couple local symphony performances for a little in-person music appreciation. A9 and L6 both take piano lessons from me at home, and A9 took a guitar class and belongs to a community boys choir, which performs many folk songs and spirituals.
We also learn about nature topics in morning time, according to my own reading of the Handbook of Nature Study by by Anna Botsford Comstock, various picture books, and field guides. A9 and L6 both sketch in nature journals, and we belong to a weekly hiking group for kids (taking its cue from the Wild and Free movement). Oh, and all three boys are involved in Cub Scouts. We also attend a local school co op one day a week, which gives the boys 4 hours of classroom experience each week. In order to fit this in, we stretch the 12 week AO terms into 15 week intervals.
Sports and Recreation
The boys all take a swim class designed for homeschoolers at a local indoor pool. During the winter, A9 played Upward Basketball and participated in an archery for kids program. All three boys are now playing Little League Baseball, and I think A9 and L6 might be interested in track next spring (2018). Probably our best source of recreation, though, is living in a cul de sac where the boys ride their bikes and scooters up and down the street.
Whew! Man, that sounds like a lot, but remember we're not doing all of it every day. Also, A9 is an extreme extrovert. L6 is much more introverted, so I'm hoping he's going to take it easy on me. J4 seems to be somewhere in the middle. I hope this record of how our Year 3 played out helps someone out there.
Until next week (or so).
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (audio book)
- The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (Family read aloud)
- Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
- Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (Reading along with CiRCE’s Close Reads podcast)
- Mind to Mind: An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education by Karen Glass
- For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay in conjunction with Brandy Vencel’s Start Here study (for my CM study group)