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Going with the Flow: Mid-Year Changes in Elementary Science and High School Bible, Lit, and History

We rarely make major curriculum adjustments partway through the school year.  This year, however, we made two huge changes that, so far, are going well.  The Little Misses have changed science programs, and Mr. 16 has switched to Veritas Press’s Omnibus for most of his Bible, history, and literature.

Elementary Science Changes

The Little Misses had finished their science book, Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, which they studied together.  We had to choose something new for both girls.

Miss 11 was eager to try A Beka 6 science. After a few years of studying Jeannie Fulbright’s one-topic courses, a broad overview is a good idea for her.  First she’s doing the health component of the A Beka course, and then the science component.  For each chapter, she’s spending one week reading it, and one week either designing and doing a project or answering the text questions.  (Miss 14 did the same several years ago, and her projects often involved making beautiful diagrams.)  For the first chapter Miss 11 chose to answer the textbook questions.  Right now she’s taking a nature walk with the dogs and deciding what her chapter 2 project will be.  Notice that, as usual, we avoid using the textbook traditionally.  During the elementary years we’ve always tried to minimize tests, workbooks, and worksheets and to encourage independent projects.

Miss 9, who’s a hands-on girl, is eager to work through Considering God’s Creation,  a multi-grade curriculum.  It’s full of craft projects, some of which she tried years ago when the older children studied it.  It involves a lot of Mama-time, which she loves.

All this, of course, means that the Little Misses no longer study science together.  It works out well since Miss 11 hates hands-on projects, and Miss 9 is too young for A Beka 6 science.  Surprisingly, there has been no increase in my workload, and it’s good to see Miss 11 challenged beyond what Miss 9 could manage.

Omnibus

Mr. 16 needed a significant change in his studies. He had finished some of his books (Promise and Deliverance, vol 4 for Bible and Sproul’s Consequences of Ideas for worldview studies), disliked his history text (Speilvogel’s The Human Odyssey is so politically correct), and was dissatisfied with his English (BJUP’s American Literature and several other books on writing and grammar). He also detested the feeling of fragmentation that came from studying several different books per subject.  I researched, prayed, and covered my desk with books and catalogues.  We discussed various options.  Finally we remembered the Omnibus volumes languishing on a shelf upstairs.

Mr. 16 was intrigued with what he saw in Omnibus volumes 1-3, even though he realized that his work load would not be reduced by the change.  I’m pleased with Omnibus because it provides a Reformed viewpoint on many classics. We tentatively plan to study all three volumes in the last year and a half of high school. Here, again, we’re tweaking an excellent curriculum to meet our goals.

Technically, Omnibus 1 is meant for grade 7 students.  My husband and I find that a ridiculous idea because of the subject matter involved.  Sure, preteens can read the words and parrot back ideas, but they cannot adequately understand the complexities of the subject matter discussed.  Studying concepts far beyond them will either overwhelm students or, more likely, give them a false confidence that they actually understand the ideas. Furthermore, we believe that some of the topics discussed in detail are not suitable for youngsters.

The next question is, of course: Will this be too easy for a 16 year-old? We think not.

  • First of all, many of the materials covered (the Bible, ancient classics, theological works, and more) have traditionally been considered adult material.  Even though some of the Omnibus 1 discussion is fairly low level, there’s enough high-level thought that with a bit of tweaking this will make an excellent and challenging  program for grade 11.
  • Secondly, since Mr. 16 is a quick reader, has been exposed to most of the literature involved, and is used to thinking deeply, he is able to study it at twice the recommended speed.  In this way, he will be able to complete one Omnibus history cycle (volumes 1-3) in the next year and a half.  It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s a great solution in our circumstances.

These major changes have improved the children’s learning as well as the flow of our days. My workload is heavier since I try to keep up with Mr. 16’s readings, but when I cannot, the Omnibus answer key is more than adequate.

We pray that these mid-year changes will be a blessing to our family.  So far they seem to be.

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One Comment

  1. JoAnn says:

    Hope the changes go well for you. We try not to make big changes mid-year either, but sometimes it just has to be done. 🙂

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