Having given the background to how we got to where we are now, I thought I would go through what we are actually up to this year. As we are nearing the end of the school year and I am in a reflective mood, I may also highlight what has and hasn’t worked for us, so that I can remember for future reference – bearing in mind that I will be walking this path with two more children!
I mentioned that we use the Ambleside Online curriculum, and are following Year 1, so you will see a lot of the following on their booklist.
We have an awful lot of reading in our day – wonderful! At the moment, I am reading anything school-related out aloud, but this should change in the next couple of years as LissaLou takes on her own reading by about the age of 10. All three are very happy lone readers, and will pick up a book during the day (JoJo just ‘reads’ the pictures for now!), LissaLou has been working through the Famous Five series (finally at the end!) and CassCass has a very eclectic approach! I also try to read before bed.
We do a lot of reading together, and I love how much the younger ones take in, despite the comparatively advanced level. We are reading a chapter of the original Pinocchio by Carlo Colludi each morning and they love this one, despite it being so different from the Disney version. We found a lovely hardback copy in the charity shop with beautiful pictures which add to their enjoyment.
Every breakfast time Bertie reads us a section from the Bible in English – we are working our way through Matthew right now. Then for our Circle Time, we read another story from one of our Children’s Bibles. For our poem a day, we really loved the Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa. Not only are the poems beautiful and varied, so are the accompanying pictures. We also enjoyed Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and are currently reading through When We Were Very Young by AA Milne. Sometimes the girls read, and whilst it comes naturally for LissaLou, CassCass has been working a lot harder to pronounce all the letters and read clearly and loudly.
Other books we have read together this year include the Little House in the Big Woods, the Little House on the Prairie and By the Banks of Plum Creek. All marvellous! Some of my favourite books from my childhood are Enid Blyton’s trio: The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, The Children of Willow Farm and More Adventures on Willow Farm. They were my source of learning about the countryside and farming (uneducated city girl that I was!) and have been equally informative to my three city children. We have nearly finished the second, but disaster struck in Scotland when we left it on the bus. We hastily ordered a replacement and were so relieved when it arrived, thanks Amazon!
We recently read The Velveteen Rabbit which CassCass particularly enjoyed. It reminds me of LissaLou and her little dog Hamy who she is devoted to, as it is all about a rabbit who becomes ‘real’ by being loved, then real by magic at the end. Definitely one that has me sniffing and surreptiously wiping my eyes towards the end!
A recent addition was Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L Taylor, which we are keeping as a Sunday evening treat. The chapters are really short and accessible for children and it is a great read. Woe betide me if I forget to get it out!
LissaLou and I read through several of the CS Lewis Narnia series, I think we are up to the Voyage of the Dawn Treader but are just taking a rest from it. We also enjoyed Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome last summer, though all the nautical language was very hard going, and I have Swallowdale ready for this summer.
Finally for now, another must-read author, Patricia St John, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and getting her autograph when I was at Spring Harvest as a ten year old! LissaLou and I have enjoyed Rainbow Garden, all about a girl who is shifted to rural Wales from London to cope with life in a large family having been a rather spoilt only child, and her discovery of faith and gradual transformation. I have really appreciated Patricia St John’s beautiful detailed descriptions of nature in her books, which I must have glossed over in the speed reading of my youth. A definite advantage of reading out aloud!
Now we are enjoying Treasures of the Snow, which is possibly even better, set in the Swiss Alps and all about forgiveness and transformation. I gave a copy as a Confirmation present recently, I hope that the recipient enjoys it as much as we are!
To finish, I always think how nice it would be to have kept a record of all the books I have read, so I have started this with the girls and they can decide whether to keep it up in their adult years. We just write the year and then the title and author, with a tick if it was by themselves. I am keeping it to proper chapter books, but CassCass has slipped a few others in!