I think I agree with the others, not to skip Matthew this year. I'm wondering if I can say "why" I feel it's important?
* Matthew is the "sending gospel" and ties in with the theme of going out into the world.
* Matthew sets the tone for studying the world in light of God's word.
* Matthew connects God's word to the world you are studying in ECC better than Genesis would.
* Matthew brings kids into the Bible because they aren't skipping around & lost in the Bible. They are opening their Bibles to the very first gospel, reading it line by line, and proceeding from start to finish. They know just where each line is in the Bible, both in terms of chapter & verse but more importantly in terms of context & setting. Maybe they are doing this in their Genesis class, but this was the main thing that drew me to MFW.
* The Bible in ECC has the them of love & God's hope for the world
* The Bible in ECC was the reason that the following year my 4th grader would respond to the gods of Egypt & such -- not with intrigue & confusion -- but with sadness for them & prayer
* Bible with the family is different than Bible with a group
I'm going to assume you weren't planning to skip the other parts of "Bible time," but -
* Praying for the world is the way to make sense of history once you start it next year. You need a good year of praying for the world before you start in on the history cycle! It puts all the "bad stuff" in context of God's love & hope for redemption.
* Learning character traits sets a foundation for your kids discern as they start learning about the people of the world. Both in Hero Tales and the missionary biographies, they will start to see that a "true hero" isn't exactly the same as what they've seen on TV
Parts of Bible time that I might consider optional?
* Coloring the John 3:16 pages -- definitely read them & maybe use some stickers or something to decorate the costumes, but we don't always do coloring at our house.
* Like Crystal said, maybe some of the "language arts" uses of Matthew could be skipped, depending on their needs in that area.
* Kingdom Tales - that wasn't around when we did ECC & we still had a great year. Maybe it would fit in during RTR or something as an alternative? But if you look around the boards for posts on this book, it sounds reaaaally good......
I like Tabatha's idea of doing more things at bedtime. And remember, if plan A doesn't work, you can always change it up to plan B
Have fun - I always like when co-ops do PE!
P.S. Also, if you are busy from the start, then I would plan to take more than 2 weeks to accomplish the first two weeks of ECC. Those first two weeks of "general geography skills" are a little more packed than the rest of the year. Actually, we kept super-busy in ECC all the way through North America, but that was probably my fault for adding in too much - it was a big election year & there was so muuuuuch I wanted to share