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Combining subjects for my 5th and 7th grader?

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    Combining subjects for my 5th and 7th grader?

    Hello!
    We have been a part of a classical university model for three years but this coming year we are planning to homeschool full time. We found MP and love it!

    I have 4 kids at home (7th, 5th, K and a 2 year old), planning to do MP for the 3 oldest ones. I would like to make life sane for me while I try to participate with all my kids in their reading assignments, help with the other skill subjects, house chores and make sure I don’t abandon my 2 year old in the process. Therefore, I am contemplating combining classical/Christian and geography/science downwards for my two oldest ones, meaning, have my 7th grader and 5th grader go through those two 5th grade subjects together. The plan would be to continue that way until my 7th grade graduates 12th grade, but hoping to have him catch up with the 11th and 12th grade books for these 2 subjects during the last 2 summers of high school.

    However, I noticed that my 7th grader will read The Trojan War which seems to tie nicely with the 7th grade classical curriculum which delves into Greece. I think I see the same pattern of linking Lit and Classical studies from grades 6th on. I love when curriculums tie different subjects together and give continuity so I would hate to disturb that for my 7th grader.

    I’d like to hear some thoughts from other MP experienced parents to see if this is done by MP by design (Literature tying in with the Classical studies piece,) and how horrible would it be to disturb that simbiosis, pulling from different grades for those 2 subjects. Would there be a lot of connections lost if we do it this way?

    Thanks in advance!
    EC

    #2
    Hello.

    Don't worry about classical/Christian studies matching literature because we really don't do that deliberately. At MP, we feel that students need to read classic literature, so our literature choices were made totally aside from history. We could easily have matched some Roman stories to the years we study Roman history, but very few if any of these stories would be considered classics. And we would miss the classic literature that we feel students need to have read, like Charlotte's Web, Anne of Green Gables, Lassie, etc. There are a couple of places where our literature happens to coincide with the time period we are studying though: 1) 6th grade is all medieval stories in the year that they are doing Famous Men of the Middle Ages. It really is a fun year. But it is also a coincidence that we felt this would be a good year for students to read Robin Hood and King Arthur. I will admit that it was great teaching those courses together though. 2) The Trojan War in 7th grade literature is there for the same reason we are studying Famous Men of Greece in 7th. We are preparing our students to read Homer in the 8th grade. We want them to have the mythology (which they get in D'Aulaires' Greek Myths in 3rd-4th grades), the history of Greece (FMG), and the story of the Iliad and Odyssey (The Trojan War). So when they get to the difficult prose of Homer, they are ready; even though very few students read Homer in 8th grade, we have prepared our students and they can do it.

    So don't worry about separating your literature from your classical studies. The goal is for students to be prepared to read Homer. It doesn't matter which order you prepare them in. Our students study Greek mythology years before they read Homer. And your 7th grader won't really be behind. If you look at our classical studies track, you will see that even without those 11th-12th grade books, your student will have read more than most of his peers going into college. So you don't get to metaphysics. Who gets to metaphysics in high school, right? Science would be the subject you need to be concerned with. He will definitely need to get biology and chemistry in. And depending on his major, he may need physics. So no worries about classical Christian studies, but keep an eye on science.

    Tanya

    Comment


      #3
      Tanya has given you a great explanation of how the curriculum has been put together, and has very briefly mentioned the need for your older child to hit high school science earlier than your 5th grader will need it. I would like to expand on this point from my own experience of having worked with a lot of families over the years. Most often, trying to combine children into a single grade is more trouble than it is worth. I know that goes against a lot of the advice you normally see in homeschooling circles, but it does very often hold true within MP circles. The thing is that MP has developed each of it's courses to really meet kids at the right maturity level. So courses that are normally done between 3-5th grades can easily be interchanged because they are all at the same level. If you want your kids within those grades to do Insects together, and then Mammals the next year, and then Astronomy the year after that, there's really no trouble with that at all. But the difficulty happens when you have an older child who is really ready for the advanced concepts and workload of an older age range than a younger sibling, such as when an oldest child hits the upper school years (7th+) but the younger sibling is still in grammar school (3rd-6th). Then there is a real challenge, because your older student really should be moving on to working on a different class of skills than the younger one, such as what Tanya highlighted about science. Very soon, your older child will be ready for high school level work in many content areas, as well as needing to work on advanced thinking skills because of his or her advanced maturity that you can't really expect from the younger sibling.

      There is so much development that happens from one year to the next. It's truly remarkable. Adjusting the work that you expect from your children in order to keep them within the same subjects is for your convenience, but I have rarely seen it work out as well as it seems to on paper. Very often the older children do not reach the levels they are capable of because they are being hampered by the needs of the younger siblings. I have seen much greater success for everyone when each child is able to be given the level of work that he or she needs. By each child having his or her own curriculum, it's a daily reminder for the parent to meet that particular child where he or she needs to be, and to have goals for each of them that are age-appropriate.

      I will also add that having each child in an individual grade level makes each child be accountable for his or her own work. They develop a greater sense of ownership and responsibility because they know it is their show - no competition with siblings, and no coasting to let the other person answer all the questions. You actually end up with less work because you are not having to try to add or subtract from the planned workload to better meet the needs of an older or younger child. You put each person where he or she needs to be, and then are able to just open the books each day and keep going.

      I will freely admit that I have a strong bias toward NOT combining. I have in fact known a handful of folks over the years who have successfully combined, at the very least in a subject or two. I even have two of my own kids right now that I have combined simply because that is how their levels have worked out (my older child has worked hard to get to be on target for her age, while her younger sister is much more advanced and is able to do the exact same work with little to no effort). So I am not completely against combining! But, I do feel obligated to share that for all the families I have met over the years, it has usually proven true that they achieved a better daily routine when they gave up the idea of combining and simply allowed each child to have his or her own level of work.

      Just more thoughts to think about!

      AMDG,
      Sarah
      2020-2021
      16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
      DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
      DS, 16
      DD, 14
      DD, 12
      DD, 10
      DD, 8
      DD, 6
      +DS+
      DS, 2

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you, Tanya and Sarah, for explaining and giving me your points of view! Definitely food for thought.

        Tanya, your point about science is a good one. That is a wrinkle in my plans for sure.

        Sarah, may I ask on what subjects are you combining your two oldest ones? Are you bringing up your youngest one to the oldest one’s level?

        Thank you again, ladies!

        Comment


          #5
          Also, are there any online gatherings for MP moms? I’d love to connect with someone to ask more questions on logistics on how to read so much material with so many children (I’d love to engage in conversations with them on what they’re reading) and doing everything else.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by ecarpenter View Post
            Also, are there any online gatherings for MP moms? I’d love to connect with someone to ask more questions on logistics on how to read so much material with so many children (I’d love to engage in conversations with them on what they’re reading) and doing everything else.
            Right now there isn't a formal thing, but I know some moms have just posted on the forum and picked a day/time and joined together in a zoom room.

            I will tell you that the teacher's guides from MP make it so that if you do not keep up on the reading with the kids, you will still be able to help them! My oldest is only going into 5th. I was able to keep up most of the time. However, there were cases where I was behind. I was still able to work through the guide with her If her answer did not resemble the teacher's guide, THAT is when we pulled out the book together and I had her read aloud the section the answer could be found in. This was very fruitful on many levels. At first "skimming" to find the answer was painful, but she did learn to do this. There were SO many times that she only had to read a few sentences, where it jogged her memory. I also got the bonus of hearing her read aloud. I would say most of the time she didn't get the answer because the paragraph contained a word she was unfamiliar with. She typically chooses to just "skip" that sentence! 😆. At this time, I also learned the words she didn't know! It takes a bit longer, but less time than if we read the book aloud together.

            Also, I do find having the book on audible helps me keep up to. I can do housework and listen to the book! (then it is on my own time and the child can learn to read independently)
            Christine

            (2019/2020)
            DD1 8/23/09 - SC5/6
            DS2 9/1/11 - SC3,4, 5/6 combo
            DD3 2/9/13 -SC2 to start, MP1 second semester

            Previous Years
            DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4’
            DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2)
            DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK)

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by ecarpenter View Post
              Thank you, Tanya and Sarah, for explaining and giving me your points of view! Definitely food for thought.

              ———-

              Sarah, may I ask on what subjects are you combining your two oldest ones? Are you bringing up your youngest one to the oldest one’s level?
              It is actually two of my younger ones who I am currently combining - my 8 year old and 6 year old, and this will probably be the last year I keep them together. They have both been together in the Primary curriculum for the last couple of years, which has been fine. The older of these two girls had a somewhat slower pace, and the younger of these two is just a firecracker when it comes to school. So it has been more of an unavoidable situation in order to let each child be where she needed to be - which just so happened to be at the same place!

              But what is going to happen (and I see happening already), is that my 8 year old is becoming a grammar-school-age kid. She will be nine in October. That’s a much different maturity level than a six/almost 7 year old. It’s not crucial yet, but it’s coming; I can see it.

              This is the same thing that I was describing in my post as being something that you have going on as well. You have a child entering the upper school years, who will gradually be developing a much different mental maturity level than your fifth grader - a difference that will continue to widen in the next two years, rather than close up. My 14 year old daughter loves to argue with her 16 year old brother, but it’s always an extreme frustration that she can’t get his goat - at all, ever. He’s like a rock, mentally and physically, and she can’t get at him. Maybe when they are both past their teens, I don’t know. But it irks her that he keeps going ahead too - because all she wants to do is catch up to him, and she just can’t.

              This is why I say that it works so much better to give each one his or her own age, and space to be that age. If you try to raise a younger one up too far too fast, you risk them loosing confidence in their own abilities - when really, it’s that the expectations are too high. And if you hold the older one down to the younger one’s level, it can be a real cause of frustration for them, too. And picking a middle ground just means that neither of them is appropriately placed.

              These decisions can get messy this way, and are why I encourage moms that each child is happier when he or she gets to be placed right where he or she needs to be. Because happier kids make for happier moms!

              AMDG,
              Sarah



              2020-2021
              16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
              DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
              DS, 16
              DD, 14
              DD, 12
              DD, 10
              DD, 8
              DD, 6
              +DS+
              DS, 2

              Comment


                #8
                I’m just going to “ditto” Sarah’s advice on not combining. I have normally had a lot of different levels going, and it was easier to keep each kid on their own developmentally appropriate track than to customize daily lessons for different abilities. (My rule is that if a student can’t do the work independently, then they are not ready for that level. I’ll hold them back and remediate rather than move them to a higher level. This was especially necessary when I had a new learning-to-read student about every two years.) It also eliminated the temptation to cheat and their tendency to be competitive. I have boys that are two years apart, and they needed those boundaries to keep the peace around here.

                Blessings,
                Jude
                DD 23 College grad, married, employed.
                DS 20 Autistic, beautiful, unemployable.
                DS 17 HS grad. Twelve years of MP. Hopes to be a chess-playing priest.
                DS 15 Teaching me to give up the reins. Does MP work when not in ballet classes, at rehearsals, stretching or playing chess.
                DD 13 Nine years of MP. Chess player, marksman, WSJ fan.
                DS 11 Six years of MP. Chess player, ballet dancer, archer.
                DD 8 Four years of MP. Chess player, occasional dancer. Actually gets to write in the Student Guides.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Ladies,

                  i appreciate so so much your comments! Thank you for the guidance! I was tempted at some point to go Charlotte Mason so that we could subjects together but you have inspired me to push ourselves and go MP with the appropriate levels. (And, push myself to read all these wonderful books in the evening!)

                  One last question - What reading subjects do you find most fruitful in conversations to do with your child? I assume that with multiple children at home I will not be able to sit with them for all of them.

                  Ps - thanks for the encouragement and inspiration!

                  Blessings!
                  Elibeth

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by ecarpenter View Post
                    Ladies,

                    i appreciate so so much your comments! Thank you for the guidance! I was tempted at some point to go Charlotte Mason so that we could subjects together but you have inspired me to push ourselves and go MP with the appropriate levels. (And, push myself to read all these wonderful books in the evening!)

                    One last question - What reading subjects do you find most fruitful in conversations to do with your child? I assume that with multiple children at home I will not be able to sit with them for all of them.

                    Ps - thanks for the encouragement and inspiration!

                    Blessings!
                    Elibeth
                    Hi Elibeth!

                    I am happy that you have felt helped and supported, and I am hopeful that your decisions will serve you guys well. I just wanted to share that you are not alone in being tempted by the suggested pattern of the CM approach for being able to complete subjects together. That is very often something a lot of us have tried ourselves, and has actually been a big part of what has drawn us toward MP. If you search through old threads, there have been a lot of conversations and questions about that very thing! I know that when my first children were really little, I had beautiful visions of how homeschooling would be, and yes, sharing in wonderful read aloud times together was a big, big part of those visions.

                    The thing was that our experience never lived up to what was promised by the descriptions of that pedagogical method. Yes, my kids love being read to, they love playing outside, they love being creative, and they love making music. But for most of these things are for fun; they do not need to be for school. I could draw this out quite a long way, but the simple point I had to learn the hard way and then accept was that there is only so much time in a day. When we were trying to do things in a CM manner, there was a lot of time spent on things for which very little was actually retained or stored within their long-term memories. There was simply no way to help it get there. Yes, there is a lot of reading together, then discussing, then possibly writing down a narration. There is a great emphasis on providing a lot, without requiring a lot. But what then? The next day, the pattern continues again...and very often, the kids can't remember what they heard or observed the day before; or two or three days before; let alone, a week or a month before. They might remember it better by reading through their narrations, but even then, its a hazy recollection of something that they once heard or saw, not a retrieval of something that was stored there on purpose. This is just one of the significant differences that have really mattered to parents when they have made the transition over from CM. Another is a lack of directed, concerted effort to learn specific skills, or to make the amount of progress that they expect at certain ages and benchmarks. Where CM seeks to provide a feast that lacks much actual sustenance, MP seeks to provide a limited amount of content that truly satisfies a child's desire to know because it is learned to the pitch of mastery.

                    But giving up on the model does not mean that you have to give up on all of the principles from within the model that are very good in and of themselves. We very often talk about using CM as good parenting advice, but choosing MP as our actual curriculum. Many of us choose the parts that we love the most and make sure to still incorporate those things into our days or our weeks at some point. This is easier to do after you get a bit of experience with MP, when you can see where to make those things work.

                    As for sharing in their readings...again, if you are able to keep up by reading in the evenings or on weekends, this would be fantastic, and would add greatly to your ability to discuss well with your children. One strategy you can take is to pick the oldest child and start with his/her curriculum to study for yourself. That way, when the next child reaches that grade, you do have a bit of experience under your belt. Another way you can go is to pick one content area - such as literature - that you decide to keep up with. The fact that MP keeps the number of novels to such a low number each year means that we do actually stand a chance of keeping up with them! Or at least, of being able to ready many of them in the summer before the school year begins. But I want to also make sure you know that this is not a requirement. Our homes are busy. Our kids are growing quickly. Many of us are very grateful for the well-written teacher's manuals that MP provides for the very reason that we are able to draw on the material there to spare us from having to study the entire course along with our kids! It definitely keeps things moving along well even when life is taking place all around us.

                    So on that note, to answer what you specifically asked...I personally love to discuss literature with my kids. The guides are incredibly helpful for that. Most of the books are ones I had read beforehand, at some point in my life, but I definitely still rely on the guides to refresh my memory as there is no way I could reread every thing for every child.

                    But the other thing that is cool about MP (but that you won't notice for a couple of years) is that when you start using the grade levels, each child spends the first year learning a lot of material. Then a second year of that goes by. And then, usually by a third year, you have things starting to repeat. Your 5th grader will be doing things your 7th grader remembers. He or she will make comments all throughout the year of stuff that was learned, loved, thought was cool, or hated. There will be knowing glances, conversation between the two of them, and perhaps, even dinner conversation that you all get to take part in. Then imagine when child number 3 gets to that same place, and the older two get to revisit the entire curriculum through the experience of the younger sibling. It's magical. It becomes a shared culture that the entire family possesses, and it is so fun. THOSE are the conversations that I love the best...when you have kids who have all done the exact same things starting to share their experiences and reflections. AND ARGUE! Gosh...I love the arguing the best (thankfully, it's usually good-natured!).

                    You don't get that when you're all trying to learn it at the same time from the same books. You get that from each child having learned something, that then gets revisited again and again as it goes through the family. It would be easy to only look at what you might be giving up by not going with a CM approach; but I wanted to make sure that you understood you are also making a choice FOR something that is perhaps even better.

                    AMDG,
                    Sarah
                    2020-2021
                    16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                    DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                    DS, 16
                    DD, 14
                    DD, 12
                    DD, 10
                    DD, 8
                    DD, 6
                    +DS+
                    DS, 2

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Sarah,
                      Wow - Thank you so much for your comments! They are gold. I especially appreciate the explanation on how MP and CM are different, that’s where I was stuck. I’ll search the forum to find more threads about CM; this is really an interesting topic for me, especially since I have a good friend that has swears by CM.

                      I will go ahead and buy the books now and get my summer reading started I’ll also try relax, use the teacher manuals and enjoy the ride.

                      Blessings!
                      Elibeth

                      Comment


                        #12
                        It is completely my pleasure.

                        Happy (restful) reading!

                        AMDG,
                        Sarah
                        2020-2021
                        16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                        DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                        DS, 16
                        DD, 14
                        DD, 12
                        DD, 10
                        DD, 8
                        DD, 6
                        +DS+
                        DS, 2

                        Comment

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