When I was homeschooling Ashlyn through the early elementary grades, I did everything just as the instructor guide told me to. I didn't use any other curricula in my mix, I just did what I was told to do.
And it worked-Ashlyn is a great student.
However, with Hope now at this stage, I'm doing things a little differently. Not because the first way was wrong or ineffective, that's not it at all. It mostly has to do with two factors:
*More confidence that just comes with experience
*Less time (more children).
I now have no trouble at all using my favorite science curriculum (Apologia elementary science) instead of Sonlight's science. It works best with my style & our family. I also use Math U See after trying several other math programs. While I'm not a curriculum junkie, I now have the confidence to try out other methods or curricula if I need to.
But the less time thing is what I specifically want to address today. I realized as I brought out our Core 1 for Hope this year that much to my dismay, Ashlyn doesn't even remember a big part of what we studied back then. Even our favorite books were forgotten. I was both saddened and enlightened. If Ashlyn doesn't even recall our beloved stories, then why am I even doing this?
We do it to build a foundation. To teach our young ones that learning is satisfying and good. It's not content mastery we're after, it's familiarity. Working through an introduction to World History with an eight year old is about building concepts of a much larger world than our little town, a time period before us, people who lived--and live--differently than us. It's about introducing words like Europe, Asian, dynasty, and Pharaoh. We're also training learning habits and listening skills.
What's all this mean in terms of hitting every topic and book on the schedule?
Don't sweat it. So we skipped Henry Huggins for lack of time (we may add it as a book on CD though since I found it at the library). We switched out history spines but are not stressing about how the order falls, as long as we're generally in the same time period.
There is a place for more precise schooling (and that place may very well only be with the first born!) but early elementary is not it (exceptions may be with math & handwriting to a degree). Until then, teach good habits, enjoy learning, dig into the good books and don't beat yourself up about a skipped lesson or two...or an entire book or two!