Friday, May 25, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: Starting Kindergarten

As most kids, many homeschoolers included, are winding down the school year, this week has been our first week of Kindergarten, aka formal lessons with a purpose.  I didn't want to just stop reading instruction right now because "school is supposed to be out", but I kept thinking it was weird to start the school year in the summer.  Then I remembered...we homeschool for a LOT of different reasons.  Being able to work at our own pace is one of them.  Elliott asks for school, and is able to focus on short lessons, and for many personal reasons, I felt like it would be better for us to work through the summer so we can afford to take some time off around and after the holidays.  It just made sense to start the year now...this will be the beginning of formal lessons, and I will be keeping the weeks short and stretching the "year" out a little longer.  With the summer weather upon us, we've just flip flopped our days around a little.  We go outside directly after breakfast now, and do our indoor activities inside in the afternoons while it's hot, and then evenings are open for going back outside!

I outlined some of the materials we will be trying for Kindergarten in the post Curriculum 2012.  We only did "school" for three days this week, but that doesn't include our other educational activities like read-alouds and nature study.

Bible and Poetry were read over lunch, and we did a little art.  The first lesson with stick-laying in Primer of Industry was a big hit.  We also read a history story from Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans that he was mildly interested in.

The boys have been fascinated with insects this week.  This was an indoor catch, outdoor release...

...and as I mentioned in N is for Nature Study, they're completely fascinated with ants right now.

We started the week by taking a Math Placement on K5 Learning.  We are currently doing a free trial; I will post a more comprehensive review when we are complete.  While it is not a true diagnostic test, and the website is very clear about this (the assessment is to place the child in skill appropriate lessons that are not too easy or too hard), I was surprised, but not surprised at the results, if that makes any sense.

Math Placement (Instruction)
 Number and Operations Low 1st
 Measurement Low 1st
 Geometry Low 1st

We just finished up a very informal Pre-K year and he has never had any preschool classes, math instruction or formal lessons of any kind, so I guess I was expecting K range.  At the same time, though, I can tell he seems to be more mathematically minded.  I have really struggled with what to do about his math curriculum for this reason.  I want to keep it light and informal (CM style) but he also gets bored when activities are too easy.  I originally purchased Singapore's Essential Math Kindergarten, A and B.  Level A is far too easy, so I shelved it.  Another homeschooling mother said that Essential Math seems to be a mixture of Singapore's other K program and their 1A program, and I keep reading that their "levels" are slightly more advanced than public school grades.  So after much deliberation (and knowing I want to slow things down December-February), I decided to go ahead and do Level B with him, since I already have it.  Some of it is "easy," but hopefully I can keep it interesting enough not to bore him.  Plus, I take comfort in the fact that it should get solidified this summer, and we can begin 1A later this fall.  From previews, it looks like the beginning of 1A will be a review again, which will make things easier at that time of the year.

Sight Words
Elliott suddenly decided he doesn't like reading; he says it is too hard.  I'm not sure it really is "hard" for him.  He does well and is making steady progress, but I think he is frustrated that it does not come as easily to him as numbers do.  It's the opposite for me, but I can understand that frustration.  So right now we're just doing reviews and keeping it simple to build his confidence back up.   We played on K5 a little, and worked on sight words this week (and a few words that he chose) with UpWords tiles.

I have a thing for buying games that are different and unique.  There's nothing wrong with Candy Land and Hi-Ho Cherry-O!  I just like to look for games that offer different educational incentives.  I sometimes go to the thrift store to look for nice copies of books that we might be able to add to our curriculum, and then find their games and puzzles.  I made a point to go the week following a community yard sale, and was not disappointed.  Many of the games I found are older, and I've never heard of them, but they offer something unique nonetheless.  This was one of the many I found that week.  It's called Leverage.  While the goal is to move your pieces strategically to tip your opponent's side down, I have not taught the boys how to play yet.

They had a lot of fun playing around with it.  Elliott understands the concept, so I think he will catch on to the strategy of it once he learns the rules, but for now I just let them play around with balancing and tipping it.  I like that the pieces are various sizes and weights, and will also work well in our balancing scale.

Other than nature study, our science is just a weekly reading from a living book.  I chose Seed-Babies because it seemed appropriate for the spring/summer season, and I think it will still allow relative hands-on exploration.

I read aloud Uncle Remus Initiates the Little Boy from The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus but Elliott didn't seem interested.  I can recall hearing the stories in school and visiting the Wren's Nest (home of Joel Chandler Harris) on a field trip to hear storytellers, and perhaps that will be a future field trip when they're more familiar with the stories.  I think I'm going to repeat the story with a Librivox recording a day or two later, and see how he responds to someone else reading the story.  I don't think he liked my attempt at the dialect.  ;-)

We've read a few short pictures books this week, but for the most part we've been reading one story each night from Thornton Burgess Bedtime Stories.  Each story is an excerpt from his original books, but both of the boys enjoy it, and one or both of them ask for it every night.

We started the free Salsa Spanish episodes, and both boys have enjoyed these.  So far we've only watched the first two a couple times, but the repetition is good for them.  Even Emory is picking things up; I head him saying "Hasta Luego" during play the other day!

Tot School Tag Along
For the most part, Emory wasn't interested beyond literature, Spanish, Mother Goose and outdoor play, and that is FINE with me.  However, he did want to play with the counting bears.  There were good guys, bad guys and "Hold on buddy, I'm coming to help you" scenarios going on!


  1. "I didn't want to just stop reading instruction right now because "school is supposed to be out" <~ I couldn't agree more!!!

    That is why we homeschool year round. We just feel that learning is something that should never stop and that taking time off should be done when you need it or want it ;) We also are starting a new "school year" too. My son is starting 1st grade in his Time4Learning and my daughter is 4th grade in the program now.
    Anyways, I Hope you enjoy your sunny school year start!

  2. I totally agree. We aren't stopping for summer. My oldest is an eager learning, and I'd rather keep going while he is enjoying it. Besides, this gives us flexibility for sickness and vacations. (Not to mention with four young kids I might have days where I need a teaching break.) In public school, the first few months cover a lot of review. I figure if we work year round we won't need to "waste" time relearning.

  3. Hurray for starting the homeschool journey! And for remembering that you can do it any way you like!! :)

    We'll be taking a couple of weeks off, then starting my high schooler back up (because she has some catching up to do this year), then my younger daughter a few weeks after that.

  4. I'll be starting in a few weeks too. I love having the flexibility through the year. It will be nice to take the whole month of December off so we can really enjoy the holidays! My daughter just loves 'doing school' and I want to take full advantage of her excitement!

  5. That Leverage game looks fun {one of my girls is sitting next to me as I'm reading through your post and she said the same}. :)

    And I laughed out loud at your 'indoor catch, outdoor release' comment ~ love it. :)

  6. What a great blog post!

    I have emailed you regarding your Schoolhouse Review Crew application. It may have gone into your spam filter so keep an eye out for it!

    I hope to hear from you.


    Kate Kessler
    Product Reviews Director
    Schoolhouse Review Crew