One of the advantages of homeschooling children that are only 17 months apart is the ability to combine them for many subjects. I've combined Robert and Ruthie for history and science since we first started homeschooling. It has made life easier in many ways.
However, I'm running into a few problems for next year.
- Robert will be in 6th grade, which is middle school here. I am feeling the need to ramp up my expectations of him. Combining has often meant bring him down to Ruthie's level. That's got to change.
- Ruthie will be attending a day of enrichment classes every Wednesday, which will mean a 4-day week for her. As long as they are doing things together, it also means a 4-day week for Robert. I'm not sure I want this.
- They have different interests in school. Ruthie is much more interested in the arts. Robert is much more interested in science.
- Speaking of science, Robert needs to be ready for Apologia General Science (or whatever formal science we decide on) in another year. Ruthie does not.
- I plan to return to Ambleside Online after Sonlight Core 5. Looking at their schedule, Robert would not reach a study of the 20th century in high school if he does Sonlight next year. I'm not absolutely sure we will homeschool the high school years, but I need to plan like we will.
So (deep breath here), I've made a decision. Ruthie will do Sonlight Core 5 next year. Robert will do Ambleside Online's Year 5. I am also separating them for science. I'm not sure exactly what I will do with Robert's science, but Ruthie will have a much more relaxed year in that subject. She will be doing some science in her enrichment classes, so I might let that be the bulk of it and just fill the rest in with library books.
I've talked to the kids about it and they are thrilled. I think they want their "own" schoolwork, rather than sharing everything. We will still do some subjects together (composer and artist study, read-alouds, etc.), but they are looking forward to the separation.
I'm a bit nervous about this. (okay, more than a bit) It will mean more work on my part. In some ways, though, it will be oddly easier, if that makes any sense. Combining them is too much like multi-tasking, and I don't multi-task well. I do better with separation and clearly defined lines. So, bring it on.
Disclaimer: I reserve the right to, at any point next year, throw up my hands in defeat and go back to combining them without anybody saying, "I told you so."