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    School Prep 2014: AO Year Four Planning Notes

    August 4, 2014 by Brandy Vencel
    I'm done planning for my Ambleside Online Year Four student. Here are my notes.

    This year’s Year Four student is the one I wrote about two years ago in my post AO with the Less Academic Child. She is still my “less academic child,” in a sense. She’d rather be outside. She’s offended by school; it gets in the way of her private plans.

    But she’s also blossoming into herself, and it’s a beautiful thing. Right now, she has a collection of grasshoppers. She learned all sorts of things about them I never knew, all through her unfailing observation. That child can stare at an ant hill for hours.

    We’ve started calling her The Naturalist. Because of her resistance to formal academics, thinking of her a “science” person doesn’t come naturally to me, but the more I read biographies of pre-Darwin scientists, the more I realize that she has the heart of science inside of her in every way.

    So this year, I’m adding some of the things that are usual to add in Year Four — Shakespeare and Plutarch come to mind. We’re also waiting on some things, such as Latin. And, of course, I’m trying to make sure that the hours she requires for her outdoor adventures remain.

    This post is just what I called it: a collection of my planning notes.

    • I’m using a weekly template for my spreadsheets this year. Here’s a copy of hers:
    I'm done planning for my Ambleside Online Year Four student. Here are my notes.

    The one thing that isn’t on here are afternoon things {such as piano practice}. I do have a template for that {lower down on the page}, but I tend to tinker with those things more from week to week once I look at that particular week on the Sunday before I print this out. For example, if I know we aren’t going to be home on a particular afternoon, I delete those activities entirely.

    Also, anything that I included in Circle Time isn’t here, either.

    This is what it looks like filled in:

    I'm done planning for my Ambleside Online Year Four student. Here are my notes.

    {Note that the format matches up with our Average Day Chart.} I hope to keep bookmarks in each book so that I don’t have to note where we are each week, but I do have a couple starting chapters listed. There was only enough Bible assigned to do two slots in Week 1. I never worry about that because we do Bible in Circle Time and this is extra. I don’t want to give up reading the Bible as a group, but I don’t know how to train the children to read their Bibles daily except to…wait for it!…have them read their Bibles daily. Also, I put Robinson Crusoe into a history slot because I didn’t actually need that slot for history, and I know from experience that Robinson Crusoe takes a lot of time, so why not start off spending some extra time on it?

    • Do you see how using a template can save time? That’s my real point. It is worth the mind-numbing activity of pasting it into 36 separate tabs. For three children. {I don’t need a spreadsheet for Kindergarten.} At least, I think it was. At the time it was really annoying.
    • I’m postponing Madam How and Lady Why. I absolutely adore the book, so we’re definitely not skipping it. But I already have some natural history that we’re doing in Circle Time, and Daughter A. isn’t ready for it yet anyhow. My plan is to wait until Daughter Q. is in Year Four, and then combine the two of them for it.
    • I’m taking out Age of Fable indefinitely. Now, you know that I love mythology. But when this child came to me and talked to me about her relationship with mythology, it became evident that she needed to not be reading it at this time. I think I’ve said before that while I can make an argument for Christians reading mythology in general, that doesn’t mean that all Christians should read it. I was torn about this at first, but in the end decided that the grossest sin is violating a child’s conscience, not sending a child out into the world with the inability to comprehend Milton.
    • I dropped This Country of Ours for terms 2 and 3. That was the hardest call I’ve had to make so far this planning season. There simply wasn’t the time on the schedule, and I know trying to add to the schedule wouldn’t work. I know that George Washington’s World is better than This Country of Ours for this child, and covers a lot more history, and so I made the cut. It’s a bit of a bummer, because my oldest child did both, but this child cannot read everything on her own like he did, so readings take a lot more time. The Average Day Chart really gives me a dose of reality — I start to see what can’t fit and then I make the hard choices. But making them early on is easier than feeling like a failure at the end because I wasn’t able to do the impossible, OR I was mean to the children in order to get it all done.
    • Notice that I’ve actually added in more drawing and handicrafts. This is more like what one would expect for a Form I student, rather than a Form II student. The fact of the matter is that this particular child has been a bit behind on her small motor skills, and so she tends to avoid the things that children her age would likely do on their own. So I’ve scheduled that part of her day. I am doing these things with my younger children anyhow, so she’ll just be joining us. It’s not any extra time spent on my part. Frankly, I think she’s finally ready and will finally enjoy it, whereas before it was a bit of a struggle.
    I'm done planning for my Ambleside Online Year Four student. Here are my notes.

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  • Reply Laura in Ontario February 4, 2022 at 6:47 am

    Brandy, this post is quite old and you may not see this comment…but I wanted to ask, if you don’t mind, about the point you made about dropping Age of Fable for your daughter. You said it became evident to you that she needed to not be reading it at that time. I wonder if you would be able to elaborate on that a bit? I currently am doing AO Year 4 with my youngest child, who is 10, and Age of Fable is the one book I sometimes wonder if I should drop. It’s difficult, and the stories are sometimes so tragic, or even immoral…I know all the reasons for doing mythology but for some reason it doesn’t feel right with this child, I feel like I’m damaging her innocence with some of the stories. Anyway, if you see this I would love to know your reasoning in dropping the book. Thanks so much!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 4, 2022 at 11:50 am

      Sure I can elaborate! πŸ™‚

      One of my daughters went through a stage (surely related to her neurological damage, which has healed greatly over the years) where she was unsure about reality. If she read too much mythology, for example, she started to wonder where it was *real* and she was shaken in a way that was definitely not healthy. When she was in junior high, I read the Odyssey aloud to her, so she’s definitely been exposed to some of those stories since then, but at the time it just wasn’t safe for her spiritual or mental health. It’s honestly a peculiar situation that I doubt many come up against.

      • Reply Laura in Ontario February 4, 2022 at 6:20 pm

        Thank you Brandy! I appreciate the response. It sounds like you definitely make the right decision there. God bless.

  • Reply School Prep 2014: Year Seven Planning Notes | Afterthoughts July 5, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    […] AO Year Four Planning Notes […]

  • Reply Betty March 4, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Brandy, I’m planning out Y4 for my less academic daughter who’s had learning struggles. I will call her the Distracted Performer–pretty much sums up her personality. I’ve read most f her Y3 books and used audio books to help –I listen with her. So, now I’m planning Y4 and trying to slowly transition her to reading some of her own books.

    I’m switching out Robinson Crusoe for Little Women (this girl would fizzle out with that story though its great). I thought she could do SOS , Minn, and the free reads. We would read together Abigail Adams, the history, and MHLW–this is still a lot of reading for me. I think with her I will just have to read more to her for a while.

    Any suggestions in transitioning her to her own schooling? We have not started a BOC and may wait for Y6 for that. We are still working on her narrations and copy work and started a bit of dictation with All About Spelling which she loves. She does Teaching Textbook math (a year behind). I want to give her a rich CM education, but want her to own more of her schooling as well. I’d love to know your thought process in choosing what to pull and what to push.

    Also, you said you all were doing some natural history in Circle Time so you felt like your daughter could hold off on MHLW, which book is that? Thanks for your blog!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 4, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      Well, I am still reading a LOT aloud. My rule of thumb is that if she can read it and narrate it well, she can do it herself. If not, I need to read it aloud. I didn’t switch on Robinson Crusoe, but read it aloud, which I think means we’ll end up only doing 2 of the 3 lit selections because it just takes longer to read things aloud {as you well know!}.

      I put Minn into CT, and my Y2 daughter is doing it with us. We’ve also been slowly going through a book called Nature’s Weather Forecasters. And I did NOT pay $100 for the book. πŸ™‚ I bought it a little over a year ago when it was less than ten bucks including shipping. Anyhow, it’s a little book that has lots of ideas, so we’re reading it slowly through CT. We’d already be done except that I haven’t done as much CT during Term 2 due to various things, such as me having laryngitis for almost three weeks.

      But that’s another story. πŸ™‚

      Anyhow, I have found that many {but not all} chapters of GWW can be read on her own. Almost all of SBoS. Trying to think what else….Anyhow, I also try to add whatever I can to her plate along the way. Her ability to read is going way up so we started with her only reading SBoS on her own and have added things as she’s been able. Honestly, even if there is a single reading that I think she can do, I give it to her, even if the rest of the book has to be read by me. So I’m doing it one a case by case, chapter by chapter basis with a lot of things.

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