We finally got started with homeschool a little over a week ago and it is going ___.
Yes, I didn’t include an adverb at the end of that sentence because, I am trying my best to wait 6 weeks to evaluate how it is going! I will let you know when we get through our first 6 weeks!
But I thought I would share the thinking behind our homeschool kindergarten choices for G (5-years-old as of June 2016). I know that every family is different and each child is unique. So, I am just putting out there our choices for our girl. And a little bit of the reasoning behind the choices. You will see the subjects are planning to cover, followed by my goal for the year and the plan for teaching/learning it.
We have decided to give Classical Conversations a go. We bought-in and are excited about the process. That said, the beginning stages of Classical Conversations (CC) are not greatly demanding on kids. We will do the memory work each week and participate in a weekly community day (Wednesdays, for us). The memory work is the springboard for our week’s work in each discipline, as you will see.
To foster G’s love of reading. To read as many books as she would like to read in every way she would like to read them. To encourage her to slow down and enjoy reading for comprehension.
G started reading just before her 4th birthday (I KNOW!) and she has a passion for reading that is unparalleled. She reads at night instead of sleeping. Throughout the day, she reads whenever she feels like it. She will sit with me and read books for HOURS! She will read ahead in her chapter books and will tell me, “I don’t want to tell you what happens, but…” So, comprehension is there, too!
It is a JOY! It is also a little bit difficult to know where to go with her. She taught herself to read with a combination of phonics and sight-words – I guess how most people learn to read. I did not have much to do with her learning to read other than providing the books and reading aloud from an early age. She did the rest.
But my educator’s heart is concerned that she is going to miss out on a key building block that will help her later in life. I don’t want her to struggle with writing and spelling (I seriously struggled with spelling). I want her to understand the building blocks of English.
After considering what options were available and keeping in mind that I didn’t want to bore her to tears, I came up with a clever solution. I am going to sneak in review (or teaching) of the basics of reading by having G teach her sister, W, to read!
As she told me when I mentioned it to her, “But Mom, I have already been teaching her to read.” Indeed, she has! They will sit side by side for entire books with G saying a word in the book and W repeating it. They work their way through all the words, all the sentences, the entire book. It is so cute.
I chose to work through The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading with both girls this year. The idea is for G to sit on one side of me and W to sit on the other side and for us to work through this simple approach to teaching reading together. G will be hearing the basics of reading verbalized for the first time (and so will I!) while we talk with W through the process of learning to read.
Note: W already knows all her letters and is working on their sounds. She is dying to read like her big sister. She will be 4 in October!
To free up G to be creative in writing (stories, letters, etc.).
G also knows how to write all of her letters with very few errors. She struggles with writing numbers – so we will be working on that, too! What I hope for her is to be able to write whatever is in her heart and head.
We decided to work through Handwriting Without Tears this year. We did not buy the entire “kit.” I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on it. We just bought the teacher work book and the student workbooks: Letters and Numbers for Me & Draw and Write Notebook. I will be making some manipulatives for the girls to work with during our writing instruction sessions.
Since G has started reading books that have included cursive and print letters and she has been interested in reading in cursive, I picked up a very basic cursive work book from CC that will give her the most basic introduction to this type of lettering and includes some coloring pages. I will use this as a supplement during free time, if she likes.
To work on the very basics of math without boring G too much.
Math is NOT my thing. Not by a long shot. It is not that I cannot do math, it is that it takes me longer than the average person to arrive at the right answer. Some of the most basic things of math are things I still struggle with to this day (knowing right from left, and reading an analog clock). So, I want G to excel at math where I don’t – instant recall.
She is also a very hands-on learner. Despite her love of reading, she is an extremely active kid and wants to be doing something all the time. She thrives in a projects/activity driven environment.
This was the hardest choice for me because I just don’t know where to begin. But based on the recommendation of my sister-in-law, I decided to work through Making Math Meaningful with G. I have been reading through the work book and I feel it will be a challenge for me. The hope is that I will discover just how quickly we will be able to work through the concepts included there. I don’t want to rush, but I also don’t want to bore her.
As a fun addition to our math choice, I decided to pick up Life of Fred Apples. We have an odd day on Tuesdays (because I teach Bible study in the morning) and I want to have a little bit of school in the afternoon. This is when we will do Life of Fred. The combination of chapter book and math book will hopefully delight G.
We will also be working on the math memory work for CC in fun and interesting ways to help her increase her numeracy. And I will be working in some activities for learning to tell time, count money, and read the calendar (all areas where she needs some help).
Kindergarten Social Studies/Science
To create a spark of interest for G in learning about the world around her, both its history and how it works. I want her to use these disciplines as a way to know God and praise Him for who He is (and what He has done).
I am a history buff. But science and I do not get along. It is not that I don’t find it fascinating, though. It is that my knowledge base is very tiny. I hope to learn alongside G as she discovers things related to science. And I hope to impart to her a love of history. With these things in mind, we will not be doing a social study and or science every homeschool day. There will be plenty of time for the more intricate stuff in the future.
We did not pick up a specific science curriculum for this year. I do, however, have a number of activities planned to work in some simple science for her. We did purchase The Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages and the Story of the World Activity Book. The story book will be something that hopefully appeals to G during our read aloud sessions. And she will likely LOVE the activities I have planned for us.
Other Kindergarten Things
Learning will be going on here even when “school” is not in session. We are going to weave in some other disciplines throughout the year: art, music, computer literacy, etc. We are also going to work through a morning Bible time and work on memorizing verses. With the exception of our Bible studies, we will not be working on each of these things every day (or even every week). We will fit things in where opportunities present themselves. We will also be participating in a homeschool park and picnic day each week and will continue AWANA this year.
As I look over our plans for this school year, I notice our focus leaning toward literature. I think it fits our home and our girl. I hope to continue to foster her love of reading while showing her the delights of learning. We hope to constantly be pointing her to Jesus. And the rest is just bonus stuff.
As I said at the outset, I hope to evaluate things at 6 week intervals. Making adjustments along the way, adding and subtracting where necessary, will help us to tailor her schooling to her abilities. I really like some of the practical principles I found in Sarah Mackenzie’s book Teaching from Rest – more of my thoughts on that book here.
That’s it! Our year’s hopes and goals in written form. Here’s hoping…