What We’re Doing Now: Homeschooling Kindergarten

Homeschooling kindergarten first quarterIn my last post about homeschooling, I shared what we had been doing, and promised a future post about what we were going to do for what I’m calling G’s Kindergarten year (he turns 5 in July). H turns 3 this month, so she’s mostly just tagging along with whatever big brother is doing. ๐Ÿ™‚

As I write this, we’re wrapping up our seventh week of the Kindergarten curriculum. Which really only means anything as far as the Sonlight instructor’s guide for the P4/5 program goes – everything else I’m just winging it as far as how much to do in a week.

We got an early start on the year, because of the baby arriving in August. If I tried to follow the local school calendar I’d be starting right as I’m having the baby, and that seemed like a bad idea. So we started earlier, and will take a break for as long as I need. The advantage of it “only” being Kindergarten!

So, anyway, the basis of the plan this year is Sonlight’s P4/5 core. That’s history, reading, and even science.

Science – he loves it!

Science is technically covered in the core, and the first book from it they’ve both loved – The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and NatureThe Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature (Dover Children's Science Books) by Stan & Jan Berenstain we read way faster than the schedule called for, but they both were so excited by it, so we sped through it, and now we’re reading it again. I say “technically covered” because that was all I was planning on doing with him, but as I’ve mentioned before, he loves learning about the solar system and planets, so I got him the Apologia Exploring Creation through Astronomy book (in addition to several library books), and we are slowly working through that text.

Math – so far it’s all lots of fun to him. Will that continue??

For math G’s already finished Singapore Early Bird A, and is cruising through Mathematical Reasoning 2. I have Singapore Early Bird B and Miquon Orange and Red waiting for him, but at his current pace I may need to get something else before with finish the P 4/5 guide.

Geography

I also added in some more Geography – another topic he’s fascinated by. I got him the Basic Geography workbook Timberdoodle includes in their Kindergarten core, and he’s enjoying it. I keep forgetting to get a globe, but I think he’ll love that if I ever do. He loves looking at maps, and I’d also like to get a huge one we can hang on the wall for him to examine as much as he’d like.

He raced through the Lift-the-Flap Picture Atlas, which is what prompted me to go looking for some more geography items. He still likes going back to that atlas and finding places on the map.

Reading and Language Arts – I may be doing too much?

We were doing the All About Reading Pre-reading level, but set it aside without finishing it. We went through the upper and lower case letters, but skipped the letter sounds section. G already knows them all, and was getting so bored with it. He loves the games, and playing with Ziggy, but it seemed somewhat pointless – he’s ready for Level 1, and it’s on the way. It should arrive next week and we’ll get started on it. We were still using The Reading Lesson, but AAR is more fun for him, and that’s very motivating. I’ll probably let The Reading Lesson disappear off the shelf once AAR Level 1 arrives.

Another very recent addition is First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 1First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 1 (Second Edition)  (First Language Lessons) by Jessie Wise. Maybe this is totally unnecessary? I kind of have an obsession with Peace Hill Press materials and it’s by them. It was also inexpensive enough I didn’t mind getting it to just look at and consider. It’s supposedly a first grade level book, so I’m not sure if I’m being overly ambitious with it or not. I am going on the assumption that trying it can’t hurt, and I can always put it aside if it’s not working. Looking ahead, I think the biggest potential issue with it will be the handwriting, so it may require modification if not completely delaying it. And that’s because …

Handwriting is definitely his least favorite subject. He’s never liked coloring either – wonder if that’s related? His fine motor skills are good when it comes to things like using tweezers to pick up small items and doing mazes or dot-to-dot puzzles; he just hates to write. We’re working through Handwriting without Tears, following the schedule Sonlight included with Language Arts K. It’s one letter a week, and that’s manageable for him.

The hardest part isn’t very. At least right now.

The biggest challenge right now is juggling two children with it (I’ll pause while all the moms with 3 or more children laugh and laugh at me.) H is too young to do much for school, but she WANTS to, because she sees G working on it. Readalouds are fine – she sits with us and listens in. I can generally keep her happy with her own version of math and handwriting, but there are times when she really wants to do it just like he is. And she can’t quite manage that.

She has an area of the bookcase that’s just for her materials – lots of coloring books and sticker books and preschool-level workbooks. She loves them all. Making patterns with some of G’s math manipulative is another big favorite for her – that’s what’s in the box on the right on the top shelf, although the pattern book is mixed in with her workbooks.

Really, though, it’s not bad – it’s just the rest of it is going so smoothly that by default it’s been the biggest challenge. I’m a tiny bit scared that after writing all this down, I’ll have jinxed us. I’m feeling somewhat hopeful that homeschooling with a newborn won’t be too bad, at least once I’m out of the postpartum fog that I’ve had both times previously. Once the baby is older and no longer is content just being held/nursed all the time, I can see that getting a lot more difficult. No point in worrying about it right now though, so I’ll just enjoy the stage that we’re in for the rest of the time that it lasts.

Coming up in my next update

The next update I plan on sharing about some of the specific books from the Sonlight program that we’ll be in the midst of reading or will have finished. There have been some definite winners, and one that is not a hit. At all. So much so that I’ve stopped reading it entirely, and just skip it on the schedule. Mostly though, I am loving their program, both the books and the structure their Instructor Guide provides.

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Comments

  1. I’m so glad that I stumbled onto your blog…. I have two small children that I’m planning to homeschool ….my oldest is going to be 2 in August, so I still have some time, but Timberdoodle and SonLight are the two that I’m really considering. Are those the two main curriculum packages that you are using? I’m really looking forward to your opinion on these products. Special prayers for you and your family as you get ready to welcome your new addition. Congratulations!

    • Sonlight is the main one, supplementing from Timberdoodle to varying amounts. They seem to work together really well balancing their strengths.

      If you have any specific questions about any of the Sonlight or Timberdoodle items, just let me know – I’m planning on writing about homeschooling topics once a month, but doubt I’ll be mentioning everything we do or use in depth.

  2. For science doesn’t P4/5 include “Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?” and those books? There are a bunch of them. We read those along with the Bears book over and over again for PreK–I think it’s the re-reading that allows the concepts to really sink in. We still re-read those books pretty often! We have also done the Apologia Astronomy book and liked it. I think we did that Hannah’s K year or maybe when she was 1st and Jack was K…anyway, it’s fine for that age, but just be ok with the fact that you’ll probably want to circle back around to it when they are older.

    For grammar, you shouldn’t have any trouble with FLL1 for K. Sarah has been through it a couple of times and she was in PreK last year. She does write pretty well though so the copywork wasn’t an issue. Really the book is more about learning the parts of speech. I don’t think you can get too good at that. I have found that the FLL books are great because you can always go back and redo them. They are fun and not too lengthy, so if you get to the end and realize that something didn’t quite sink in, you can just begin again! I’m not sure if I will put Sarah back through FLL 1 for K or move on to FLL2.

    Anyway, the point of homeschooling is to go at your child’s pace and teach them on their own levels. It’s always so interesting to read about what other people are finding out with their homeschooling adventures!

    • Yes, the P 4/5 core has something like 6 of those books. We haven’t read any of them yet because we’re just going through the Berenstain book a second time. Just glancing at them though, I think G & H will both love them and we’ll end up reading them multiple times.

      I’m going on the assumption that everything will be cycled through at least one more time, because while H is listening, I know she’s not coming close to getting all of it. And G will get more with a repeat.

      The copywork is my main concern with FLL – G has all he wants to do with the HWT books and LAK sheets. I feel like if I pushed for any more from him it would backfire. Right now I’m holding off on starting FLL because the AAR Level 1 arrived, and adding that and the astronomy book (and experiments) is enough for me to work around all the other events going on currently. It may end up getting pushed back to post-baby entirely, but I don’t guess that’s the end of the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Actually, *that’s* probably the hardest thing about homeschooling right now – not being sure if I should be expecting more from him (like with handwriting), or am I better off in the long-term taking the approach I’m going with now, encouraging him to do his best, but not asking for more than a small amount of time on it each day, so it never becomes something he hates.

      • I think handwriting might be a boy issue–I’ve heard that from lots of moms. Jack was really a reluctant writer too. In fact, at the start of last year (he turned six at the end of May so it was his first grade year) I had him doing alphabet tracing and it was still pulling teeth just to get half a page with maybe six letters on it. However, mid year he decided he wanted to learn cursive and he took off with that. One thing that really helped too was using All About Spelling (same company that does AAR). At first he did all of his AAS on a magnet board using the letter tiles, but then gradually I moved him to a notebook and by the end of first grade he was comfortable writing words and sentences. Then when I layered in copywork and dictation from FLL2 and WWE2 he was able to do it with no problem.

        You are wise to just take it in little bits and not make it something G hates. Often I feel like we are moving at a glacial pace with something and then I look back a year later and am amazed at how much progress has actually been made.

        Side note: you can absolutely do FLL with NO copywork. I had Jack go through FLL1 without doing any of the copywork. The main point of it is to learn the parts of speech, so if you’re getting writing elsewhere no need to beat a dead horse. Copywork has virtues apart from handwriting, but those can be achieved in later grades when writing is not such a chore, IMO. Does AAR cover grammar too? I haven’t seen it in person.

        • Side note, I meant he turned six at the end of May before the last school year. He turned seven this May, so will be in second grade this year. That was sort of confusingly put, sorry. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • I understood what you meant – I know that Jack is basically 2 years older than G, and for whatever reason that sticks with me.

            If AAR covers grammar, I haven’t seen it yet, but that may not mean much. We have just started Level 1, and I haven’t previewed any of the later lessons. So through lesson 3, no grammar. I vaguely think I remember reading on a review of it that it doesn’t include it at all though.

            I’ve got my eye on AAS, as I think it’d be one that G especially would like. They recommend finishing AAR1 first though before adding in AAS, so I’ve told myself to stop thinking about it until we get much closer to the end of AAR1. ๐Ÿ™‚

            So far I avoid extra writing for him by using post-it notes with numbers on them (for him to put in answer boxes in his math book), or letting him build words using Bananagram tiles. He has fun with both of those methods.

            I’m actually glad to hear that about Jack and other boys and writing – I did kind of wonder if that might be part of it. If enthusiasm for coloring is any indicator, H will take to handwriting much more easily and quickly than G did. I have no idea if that is any sort of indicator however. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’m kind of late here commenting ๐Ÿ™‚
        From my perspective: it’s amazing how much structured homeschooling you have done and are doing already, and G is only about to turn 5. (We only got started with any kinds of workbooks etc. at that age. Of course there was a lot of reading aloud, learning about things, counting etc., but not structured. And even so, by starting with ‘preschool’ workbooks at age 5, we were starting a year earlier than the Finnish school system…)

        Handwriting: you are absolutely right taking it easy! You have many years ahead of you, there will be lots of time to practise. And it’s a bit of a ‘boy thing’ to develop slowly in handwriting… I’ve been told that at the first stages, where you are now, the important thing to watch is that he get used to holding the pencil right, because having the correct grip will make it easier for him in the long run. Maybe the materials you use already address this?

  3. I love reading through your honest thoughts and worries. My girl is a ways off from kindergarten, but I still wonder and think about homeschooling. Seeing your thoughts, tools, etc is so helpful. And encouraging! Please, continue sharing, even if you dont think you have anything to share!!

    • Thank you! I’m sure I will keep sharing about it, if only because it’s so much on my mind right now, and such a part of our routine.

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  1. […] Berenstain Bear’s Big Book of Science and Nature I already mentioned this one last month, but I can’t leave it out as it was definitely a highlight of these weeks. This one will […]

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