Finishing Well: Paring Down an AO Year

I wasn’t going to write this post. In a way it’s like going to a potluck and then listing all the wonderful things you chose not to eat. But I’ve observed I’m not the only one who sometimes runs out of months before running out of scheduled books.

So, it is August (or May) and you are supposed to start the next school year in September. You know you need X time off, whether that be two weeks or two months. Perhaps you also know next year will be crazy and there is no room to gently catch-up. The question of what to do was asked at the 2015 AO Retreat – and you really have two options:

  1. Stretch the books out, forget the calendar. Perhaps you’ll finish term three in September and start term one of the next year in late October.
  2. Drop some books and move others to free read status. Take your time off, start the “new” year in September as scheduled.

Some will say there is a third option – to speed up and get the books finished quickly. But cramming is not an option. The ladies at AO made that clear, and if you want to know why, watch this video by Julie Bogart of Bravewriter. Short version: cramming all the AO books into your child is like forcing your child to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at one meal.

There is nothing wrong with either of the above options. Even the AA members have different strategies. The goal is not to check boxes, it is to develop a person. Many people choose option one. I’m not one of them. And, because it is the first week of August, I’ve just had to take a hard look at my favorite curriculum.

So I thought I’d share what I did with my year 3 student (the one kayaking in the picture above). These are very personal decisions, and the variables will be different in every situation. The child in question does not dislike any of his AO books – he’s generally very happy (and hyper – which is why he is not sitting in the seat of the kayak … he’s leaning forward, going fast, and making engine sounds). So I considered all books to be equal from his point of view.

Note: Some of the year 3 books we have been (s-l-o-w-l-y) working through as a group, so they don’t appear in any schedule, including his, because such things make me crazy. The other books not mentioned here that are on the AO year 3 list we’ve either already finished or chosen not to use.

The Results (and Why)

  • An Island Story – dropped. This book is optional in years 4 plus, so I’ve decided to stop where we are.
  • This Country of Ours – kept. All the books marked ‘kept’ have been put in a list, pictured below. There are ~11 readings and we’ll finish those up over a couple weeks. If we do not read them all the remainder will be dropped, as I need a couple of weeks off between terms for planning and preparation.
  • CM’s Geography – kept, low priority. (The remaining lessons are about maps and plans, which he is already familiar with. If I stay on track, we’ll spend one of our reading sessions reviewing them.)
  • Marco Polo – kept.
  • Secrets of the Woods – free read. (After I finish the last pages of the Partridge chapter with him.)
  • Heroes – free read.
  • Tall Tales – kept.
  • Landing of the Pilgrims – daily read aloud. I’m hoping to finish this one, and there is a significant amount of book left.
  • The Second Jungle Book – free read.
(From my Bullet Journal) By dropping a few books and moving some others to free reads (especially some of the longer ones) I'm left with a manageable list to finish up in the next couple of weeks.
(From my Bullet Journal) By dropping a few books and moving some others to free reads (especially some of the longer ones) I’m left with a manageable list to finish up in the next couple of weeks.

The two I really hope to finish are Marco Polo and Landing of the Pilgrims. For the ones marked free read, it is really up to him if he finishes them (during our quiet reading time).

One thought on “Finishing Well: Paring Down an AO Year

  1. I am so encouraged by mommas who show me its OKAY to relax and enjoy the Feast, forgetting the check boxes – because children are more valuable than my to do list.

    I think most home schoolers are checkers, though, and it’s a tendency we truly have to fight against. It’s wonderful you are choosing to enjoy the Feast and taking part in beauty, truth, and goodness.

    I adore several other things about this post though… Hobbiton font (my blog is nerd-themed and so was my wedding – Shire) Bullet Journaling… but most importantly, the reminder that other families are successfully letting things go that don’t fit into creating an atmosphere of beauty, truth, and goodness.

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