Boy has this been a year of adjustment. As you know we changed our history plans last minute. I was and am still excited to be using Beautiful Feet Early American & World. I had the thought at first to skip the first 2 books in the plans as those would be review. I thought the review might be nice, so I decided to go ahead and use them at first. Here we are 3 weeks in. I realized very quickly that the reading load was far too much for my 7th grader especially coupled with the assignments. We left off last year at around 1700. The Columbus and John Smith books would have covered almost half of what we already covered last year. So, I decided to go ahead and ditch them. We had already decided to drop Carry on Mr. Bowditch as we already read it a few years ago.
The other thing I quickly realized was that the assignments in BF were a huge step up from oral and written narration. The questions aren't multiple choice type questions. I thought at first this would better direct my son's narrations. He can be all over the place with those sometimes. The BF assignments often ask for one to evaluate themselves in light of scripture and in comparison to the figures in the books, to do research or write opinion essays. These are all absolutely fabulous assignments, but they are also a little sophisticated for my 12 (almost 13 year old.) Too many of these assignments could be overwhelming for a less mature kid. They might, however, add just the right challenge for an older or more mature kid. I can see how he will grow into this in his own time. This guide is written for 7th to 9th grade, and now I'm seeing why.
After dropping the first two books I significantly dropped the reading load. Dropping the books I did will give us far more time to linger on events and figures. We will not be rushing through the readings and retaining little as there was too much to sift through - for my son anyway. This week we started with Poor Richard. I am having him do 1-2 of the questions or essays. I am more carefully selecting questions based on his skill level and not just because they are merely assigned. Instead of 3 chapters we will read 1-2 or instead of 30 pages we will read 6-10 tops. This is a big change for me from being told exactly what to do. It's been a great learning experience for me to learn where to stretch my son and where to slow down. I think we found our groove now. We checked out library books now that we have a little more time. I am also going to have him read a chapter of Mystery of History IV a week. I'm not expecting anything other than oral narrations for that. We will only read through half of it, and we will save the other half for next year.
The beauty of all this is that I can readjust. I didn't know how to do that before, or I wouldn't give myself permission to let things go that weren't working. Sometimes it feels wasteful to have bought something and to let it sit on the shelf, but for goodness sake, life is too short to not enjoy our studies. Separating out our subjects has given me the freedom to change if necessary. This year I wrote a weekly schedule, but I left off specific assignments for History and Literature on my main grid. I made a specific plan on a separate sheet of paper, so I wouldn't be a slave to getting things done on a specific date. That was one of the things that was leaving us harried and rushed last year.
So, friends -- If something isn't working...let it go. However, I will say that there are times that things are worth working through. Part of me was feeling like we may have a difficult time with completing our science we chose for this year. I'm so glad we decided to stick with it. We are learning a TON and having a lot of fun doing so. I think there is character building not only for our kids but ourselves when we work though the hard stuff. If things are completely just plain not working though, well, that is a different story. Hugs to you all as you find your new groove this year <3