A few weeks ago, I wrote about why we use a cyber school program, but I didn’t give you a full picture of how we’re homeschooling kindergarten.
The cyber school’s stuff is the tip of the iceberg. I plan for our school time to be around 90 minutes, and we cover that stuff in around 10. (It isn’t meant to be covered in 10 minutes a day. More on that later.) The rest of the time may be spent on other subjects, reading, drawing, or playing Barbies.
While I was working on my first education degree, I learned about interdisciplinary, child-led studies. In short, that’s a fancy way to say that all of the subjects are taught together, and the students’ interests guide the topics studied. There’s no need to learn science separately from social studies and reading separately from math since they are all mashed up together in real life. They can be mashed up together in learning, too, and students have better retention and understanding in both the short- and long-term.
I guess all that means that I lean toward unschooling, but I really hesitate to classify myself into any one part of homeschooling. We just do what feels right for Grace.
Because Grace is so little (just a month past her fifth birthday) and has such varied interests (kindergarteners are supposed to), we do a little of this and a little of that and a lot of learning disguised as cool and fun activities. We also do a lot of school at times outside of our daily school time. Grace likes it that way, and I like whatever gets Grace excited about learning.
Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum
1. Calvert’s kindergarten curriculum
We get Calvert free from our cyberschool. Like any curriculum, Calvert has advantages and disadvantages. We used it in its entirety when we first started, but I quickly dropped entire subjects. The first to go was science (not enough substance) and technology quickly followed (Grace can use a laptop and iPad; she doesn’t need instruction on how to click a mouse). Before long, we ditched sight words and writing and social studies, and then reading comprehension and phonics.
I feel like the kindergarten curriculum is more politically correct (teaching about pollution and self awareness) than it is real teaching and learning (real science and historical situations). There’s a lot of repetition, not so much analysis and evaluation.
To be fair, I am teaching an exceptional student whose needs and abilities are very different from an average kid.
Also, I haven’t been reading over all of the subjects since the third month, so I can’t say what they’re like at the halfway mark.
We could go on like this for a few years. Grace really likes Calvert’s math workbooks. On the other hand, if the cyber school weren’t saving me so much time and energy related to paperwork and organization, I would quit using Calvert all together.At this point, we primarily use Calvert’s math (although I do drop weeks at a time because Grace is too advanced for whole units), writing fluency (we do a lot of their journaling activities), arts and crafts, and physical education activities. I skip everything else unless we have to turn something in to Grace’s teacher.
I love, love, love The Logic of English. The Logic of English makes our language make sense. Instead of being a language of exceptions and confusion, The Logic of English makes it a language of order and predictability.
The Language of English is an intensive phonics approach, teaching the 74 basic phonograms and their sounds for reading and writing. There are also 30 spelling rules. Together, they simplify and explain our entire language.
I stay up late at night reading Uncovering the Logic of English because
I’m a nerd it makes sense of a subject that has always vexed me, and Grace asks to do The Logic of English every day.
We use the entire Logic of English curriculum – cursive handwriting, phonics, reading, spelling, and grammar. Or, rather, we will use them all once Grace learns all of the phonograms.
With five- and six-year-olds, Denise Eide, author of The Logic of English, recommends spending 30 lessons learning the phonograms before beginning the actual curriculum, so that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. We haven’t even looked at Lesson 1 yet, but we have learned all four phonogram sounds for the letters i and u, all three phonogram sounds for the letter a, and the sounds for j, p, s (there are two!), r, t, d, and m.
Each day, we go through the phonogram flashcards that Grace already knows, add 2 new phonograms, and we practice writing some letters in cursive.
I hate flashcards for young children, and I am not afraid to admit that. I couldn’t come up with any other way to teach Grace these phonograms, so I reluctantly began using them a couple at a time. By the second day, Grace was asking to do the flashcards. So. We’re doing the flashcards regularly, almost every day.
Only I would have a kid who loves to drill and practice with flashcards. She even pretends she’s the teacher and quizzes me on the phonograms.
I’m learning a great deal, and she is, too.
Grace is obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. She thinks about Laura and Mary all day, every day. We play Mary and Laura all day, every day. (Although, we’ve gotten to the place in the story where Mary is away at the college for the blind and Laura has met Almanzo, so we mostly play Laura and Almanzo these days.)
Her obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder began with my attempts to force a rest time after she quit taking an afternoon nap. I’d read to her, and she’d lie down and listen for an hour. It was beautiful. We still do that when she’s overtired or just needing a break.
Most of the time, we have school time in the afternoon, and we save Mary and Laura for bedtime. We end up reading three or four days a week. We’ve worked our way through all of the books up to Little Town on the Prairie, and we have only two chapters left in that. I think there are only two books left after this one, so I’m not sure what we’ll do next.
I suspect Grace will want to go back to the beginning and start over.
Little House on the Prairie has spurred almost all of our learning for the last seven months. I’ve purchased a few unit studies from Currclick, but mostly I’ve made things up as we’ve gone along.
Social studies – Grace has learned a lot of history through the Little House books. We’ve talked about the pioneers and the Indians and the Oregon Trail. We’ve done a lot of geography while we traced the Ingalls’ family’s travels. I’m really excited to dig into All American History 2 Junior, an American history curriculum for young elementary kids. I think Grace will love it.
Science – The science connection isn’t at first as clear as the social studies connection, but we have learned about all kinds of plants and animals that were inspired by our books. We did a lapbook on plants. We started another lapbook on animals of the midwest. We’ve talked about weather quite a bit, especially during The Long Winter, but we haven’t done any real studying there yet.
Crafts & hands-on learning – We made a yarn doll, and Grace and her dad made a log cabin out of pretzel rods. We also have done many things that Mary and Laura would have done, including picking cherries and then making them into a pie. That’s the picture at the top of this post.
4. Discoveries in Reading from Calvert School
This enrichment box from Calvert includes 24 mini unit studies. Each unit study is based on a book that’s included in the kit. It’s an easy and interesting addition to our homeschool day, and Grace really likes it.
5. We Choose Virtues
I’ve written before about We Choose Virtues. I really love it.
Each day, Grace and I go over the VirtueVille kid we’re currently studying. It takes 2 minutes, but it has set the stage for some serious virtue discussions at other times. Those kids have also been a source of pride for Grace as she models her behavior after theirs.
6. The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas
I love this little book. It’s like an art teacher in printed form, explaining techniques and materials and how to work with them. We use this during school time, but I also use it once Grace is in bed, to give myself time to wind down and do something that isn’t work-related.
We sponsor girls in Ghana, Ecuador, and Brazil. We just finished a lapbook about Ghana and the child we sponsor there. We are starting on Brazil next, and we’ve worked through some of the lessons on Compassion’s website.
That’s pretty much what we’re doing for kindergarten. We read other books every day, mostly picture books and treasures from the public library.
What resources do you use to homeschool kindergarten?
Disclosure – When I realized I wanted to use the above curricula, I reached out to publishers. Some agreed to give me a copy of their full curriculum in exchange for inclusion in my curriculum guide. If they had not agreed, I would have purchased it on my own. I believe in it that much.
© 2012 – 2013, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.