Homeschooling Update: Looking Back at Kindergarten

Last month we ended H’s official Kindergarten year (we’re doing some “fun school” over the summer).


I’m not sure how to describe our year of reading instruction. While “resistant” isn’t exactly right, it may be the closest term I can come up with to describe how she generally responded to lessons.

I know she’s young, so I didn’t want to push her, and if it hadn’t been for her saying that she wanted to learn to read, I’d have dropped any lessons completely As it was, I would end up trying a lesson with her, going until she got … emotional/uncooperative, and then I’d back off for a time (sometimes a few days, sometimes a week, sometimes a month), until she requested more.

However, I discovered Teach Your Monster to Read and she LOVED playing that game on the computer, and it helped her realize she could read some things, which was nice as she wants so much to read.

She does not like following the scripted lessons from All About Reading 1 the same way G did for Kindergarten, so I’m having to be a little more inventive. I was hoping it would work just like it did for G, but no such luck. I’m expecting that she’s close to really becoming a reader, and will start back up attempting lessons with her in August.

Math & Science & More

She enjoyed math, which was Mathematical Reasoning, and then some random workbooks, and then we had just started Math Mammoth 1A, getting about halfway through the first (long) chapter before breaking for the summer.

Science was probably her favorite: Sonlight’s P 4/5 has lots of fun science books to read, like the beloved Big Book of Science and Nature, and I supplemented with extra books from my Usborne collection, and from the library. Favorites included Wild Animal Atlas, First Big Book of Animals, First Big Book of Why, and Q & A About Animals.

She usually liked handwriting, and her favorite thing of all is probably art, and she’d like it if I would include that every day. While she’s always welcome to do art on her own each day, she’d like me to do it with her every day and that doesn’t always happen.

I think it’s funny how much she looooves workbooks right now, and I’m catering to that love by getting her some extra ones. Those random math books I mentioned, plus some Kindergarten-level activity books I found on Amazon, Explode the Code primer books A, B, and C, an easy Geography workbook. She loves them all.


She also generally loved read-aloud time. Her favorite books from the year were:
The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook (and More Milly-Molly-Mandy), A Doctor Like Papa, Stories from Around the World, Beginners World Atlas, Street Through Time, and What Do People Do All Day.

Extra Activities

PE was taken care of through taekwondo (she received her brown belt right before her 6th birthday; she’s by far the youngest in the advanced classes now, but she loves it), as well as soccer and softball. She’s asked to play basketball this year as well, as she was disappointed that it wasn’t offered for Kindergarteners. She amazes me with her athleticism and drive to be the best on her teams. I was not that way. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Her other activity for the year was Awana, which she loved. She worked very hard to finish her book for the year, and then made it through a second time to get the review patch.

I was thinking it was a really light year, and it felt like that during the year, but looking back at the year she actually covered quite a bit. Yes, she’s still not reading fluently like they’d expect her to be doing if she was in the public school here, but I know she’ll figure it out soon enough and catch up. She’s excited about moving on to her first-grade materials, and I’m happy she’s still enthusiastic about school.

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Homeschooling Update: One Month In to the 2016 – 2017 Year

We’re roughly one month into the new school year, and that’s been enough time to give some evaluation to how things are going.

So far, overall I’m fairly pleased with things. I still need to finish adding in a few subjects (like spelling for G), and I want to give H some more focused time on reading instruction. We’ve started that for her, but she wants more than she’s gotten so far. She seems ready to begin All About Reading 1 so it’s time to pull that out!

Last week was almost entirely half days – there was a dentist’s visit and two other days with doctor’s appointments. Tuesday was the only day that we did a full school day. I guess that happens at “real” school too.

Kindergarten Book StackAlthough I have a schedule for H to follow, we haven’t been following it that much. Instead I’m just pulling together a stack of books each day and doing the next thing in each one.

G sticks with the Sonlight schedule more, but I still find that I’m completely off track as far as where we are with various components. Week 8 in Science, week 19 in History, and I don’t even know in Language Arts.

This week G also finished up his Mathematical Reasoning book. I haven’t gotten the next one in the series – as much as I (we) loved those books in the younger levels, I don’t think they’re as good at older grades. I’m going to try to use Beast Academy (which we already have the first book) as his secondary math now. He does really well having two to flip between, so I want to keep that option, at least for now. That’s also likely to change as he keeps moving along.

Beast Academy 3AH is also almost done with her Mathematical Reasoning book – she should finish it next week. That’ll be about 5 weeks to complete the Pre-K book, and then I have the Kindergarten book ready to go. I like starting the kids at the lower level first, because it ends up being really easy for them, and they have fun with it and feel super confident. Not a bad way to start their math journey!

Awana starts up this weekend, so both kids will be back in the habit of scripture memory. Neither of them have done it at all since it ended last May. I’m ok with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

7 Quick Takes: All About The Kids

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

School started earlier in August, and I wasn’t entirely sure how things would go, since this is my first year having two official students, plus the baby is much more … troublesome … than she was when she was an actual baby. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So far, I’d have to say that things are going fairly well. My biggest issue currently is that I wish I had a bigger bookcase on the porch where we do most of our schooling. Two students in literature-based curriculum = twice as many books. Turns out we’re overflowing with books and other materials.

Kindergarten Book StackPartial Kindergarten Book Stack

— 2 —

G had a Cub Scout introductory meeting last night. Since I’m writing the post Thursday afternoon he hasn’t had the meeting yet and I have no idea how it’s going to go, what they would do, if if he’ll end up joining. But by the time you read this we should know all of that. Ok, maybe we won’t have decided about joining yet, but we’ll at least have the info to make that decision! He’s really excited about finding out about it at least.

— 3 —

H wants to join scouts too, so I need to get moving on finding out about something for her. Cub Scouts made it easy with signs by the local elementary school. Girl Scouts hasn’t done that, but I have a couple of emails out asking for info. ๐Ÿ˜‰

— 4 —

As I figure out how best to do school with two students and three kids, I’m tweaking things from last year. This week I’ve been splitting up their work into two groups, and doing mini sessions with each. That way they both get a break in the middle, and can do their own thing for a bit while I work with the other one. M also gets her school time – she knows to ask for it (her school time consists of sitting on my lap and listening to me read her books).

Things aren’t as polished as I’d like; I’m hoping we can to get a little bit faster with everything. My preference would be to finish all of school and have lunch eaten and cleaned up before M goes down for a nap at 1:30. We’re making it now, but we also haven’t added in everything I want to do for the year.

It’ll also be a change once the weather isn’t as nice to allow outside playtime. That’s been helpful right now, and I know we’ll miss it this winter. All the more reason to take advantage of it while we can!

School OutsideTaking Advantage of a Beautiful Day to Do Math Outside

— 5 —

The two big kids had dentist appointments this week, and luckily for me R ended up taking the day off of work, so I was able to leave M with him and just take the patients with me. So much easier than keeping her contained and out of trouble during their appointments!

G is going back next week for sealant on his molars and I’ve got my fingers crossed that R can take a longer lunch and come home and watch both girls while I run G over to that appointment. Assuming no crisis pops up that morning he should be able to do that, but I’m trying not to totally be counting on it.

— 6 —

We’ve had a super rainy start to soccer – they actually played their first game without having had a practice because of all the rain-outs. This week they had practice and once again I find myself amazed at my good fortune. Both practices are at the exact same time and location, and they even practice on back-to-back fields. I was able to set my chair in between the fields and swivel my head to watch both of them. I’m going to enjoy that this season, because I don’t imagine I’ll ever get so lucky again with concurrent practices. Or if I do they’ll be at different locations and I’ll be scrambling to get them both where they need to be!

Post Rainy Soccer GameAfter Her First (Very Rainy) Soccer Game

— 7 —

We had roughly a month-long break with chapter book readalouds, and now we’re back into the routine of reading them daily. We’ve recently finished up The Year of the Dog (we all loved it), Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #1 (H loved it), and Gone Fishing (G & I loved it, and I’ve already gushed about it on Instagram I thought so much of it.).

I am having to pay more attention to library holds lists and pickup times, because adding an extra person I’m trying to intentionally select readalouds for, timed to school topics, is still something I’m getting used to. It’s one thing when I’m getting books for her but it doesn’t matter when they arrive, and another when I want them at particular times, or to be sure I’m getting a balance of topics.

Gone Fishing

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
Three years ago: Cooking the Book: Trader Joeโ€™s Vegetarian Cookbook

Homeschooling Kindergarten, Round Two: The Plans

This August will mark something new: my first time officially homeschooling TWO students.

The Familiar

Sonlight Core P 4 5While I already have the same Sonlight material I used so successfully with my oldest for his Kindergarten year, I was not completely enthusiastic about doing it again exactly the same. Apparently I get bored easily. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, in the interests of keeping my interest level high, I’m making some adaptations for my daughter’s year. Here’s the plan:

I will still be doing Sonlight’s P 4/5 level, more or less. I will almost certainly skip the Uncle Wiggly book again – while I’d like to say that I’ll try it and see if H likes it more than G did, I probably won’t because *I* hated reading the book so much. Sorry kiddo! I have the sequel to Milly Molly Mandy and will add it in instead.

I will skip some of the Children’s Book of Virtues – I really liked some of the stories and poems in the book, and really disliked others, so I’ll stick to the ones I enjoyed and skip the ones I didn’t.

The New

BYL K Around the WorldThe plan (this could change if things do not go well, or if life gets overwhelming) is to add in the Build Your Library Kindergarten schedule, more or less. It’s a round-the-world plan, which looks fun, and I already owned several of the books. I like the idea of spending some time in each continent, and we can add extra picture books from the library. It has a few simple crafts projects, and they may even be simple enough for me to manage them. It also schedules in cooking projects, and the kids are SUPER excited about that.

It’s unlikely I would have added this in if it wasn’t such an inexpensive option – I spotted it during a sale and so got it for under $20. I did spend a bit more adding some of the books for it (the spines for the year; the others I’ll get from the library) but they’re all really nice books I don’t mind adding to my collection.

Language Arts

AAR 1 Activity BookFor reading instruction, I’ll follow H’s lead. She says she wants to learn how to, but I’ve tried All About Reading Level 1 with her and she wasn’t quite ready back in February when she first asked. I would rather not push her at all and wait until she really is ready. I expect once that happens she’ll fly through it like her brother did.

Just to try something new, I got her the Reason for Handwriting book. I suspect not having her do everything exactly like her brother did will be a good thing for her, and handwriting is an easy one to vary. Her handwriting is already far ahead of where his was at that age, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if she passes him this year.


I’ve got the same Mathematical Reasoning books I used with G waiting for her as well, and she’s been happily using some of the Preschool ones from them. Since I already have Miquon books, I may give them another try and let her play with them a bit.


Berenstain Bear's Big Book of Science and NatureIt’s already included in both the Sonlight P 4/5 guide and BYL K guide, and I’ll likely do both, since it’s almost entirely reading science books. The Sonlight books were some of our favorites for that entire year, and I know she’s going to love hearing them – my son saw the Berenstain Bears and How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World books in the pile I was showing her and got so excited for her that she was going to get to hear them. Plus I’m a big fan of the Robert Wells books included (and I bought a couple extras from that series I like them so much). I’m halfway considering adding another science curriculum to the mix, again, just to keep from doing the exact same things as I did with her brother. That’s a big “maybe.”


Sonlight schedules the 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible, and I’ll probably read those and then move into another story Bible when we finish that one. I think with her brother the next one we read was the Jesus Storybook Bible (love that one!) and I may do the same with her. Or I’m considering a curriculum I can do with both of them together, but that’s still up in the air a bit as I haven’t found anything that looks like what I want and is appropriate for their ages.


The Deliberate Reader US and Canada GeoPuzzleShe’s continuing with taekwondo, and is currently a senior orange belt. Awana will start up again in September, and it’ll be her first year in Sparks – she is *so* excited about that!

She’s asked to do soccer in the fall, so I’m looking into that possibility. She also desperately wants to take dance lessons, so it’s another option I’ve got to investigate.

And of course I’ve got all the fun Timberdoodle games and materials that I used with her brother at this age. I know I’ll pull out the GeoPuzzles (these are SO AWESOME) and Lift the Flap Picture Atlas as we go to each new continent. She’s also wanting to use the Look Inside Your Body they include in their Kindergarten kits, and I may get her some of the art items for her birthday – she LOVES art. I did get her a world coloring book to add in with her geography studies – it was so inexpensive I couldn’t resist.

That’s the plan for the year, but I’m sure there will be some modifications as we go. I have no idea how it will really be doing school with two, but I anticipate the real challenge coming from the youngest, who will turn two right after we start back to school.

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Homeschooling Update: Finished Our Awana Year

Sparks HangGlider HandbookLast week we wrapped up our Awana year, and unlike last year when I was kind of sad to see it end this year I am so ready for the break. It was much harder this year with three kids, and the late bedtime that those evenings always brought.

That said, it was a good year – G loved being a Spark, and loved memorizing his verses. He flew through his book and was thrilled to earn all of his “gems.” He already is looking forward to next year’s book. I was really impressed with how hard he worked at it, and how much he took ownership of learning his verses. Every day I might have to remind him to work on them, but that was it – he’d grab his book and go. (Well, once his reading got to the point where he could do that. Initially I had to read the verse to him the first time, and occasionally throughout the year there might be a word or two he’d need help with initially.)

Cubbies HoneyComb HandbookH didn’t like being a Cubbie as much, and I’m reminding myself that G didn’t always enjoy his first year either. However, there was one week where G wasn’t going, and I gave her the option of going or staying home and she was insistent that she wanted to go. So it must not have been that bad for her, even if she did have some issues some weeks.

I’m still not sure what we’ll do next year. We could return to the same place, or I could look for another Awana program. I think H might do better somewhere else (because of those unspecified issues mentioned above), but G really likes where he is. I would kind of like to move to a Sunday night program, instead of the Wednesday night one we’re on, so that would be a reason to switch programs. Decisions, decisions.

All in all though, I’m really happy that we’ve found Awana, and am glad my kids participate in it. It’s been a great program for them, and a nice supplement to our homeschooling year!

Finished with Kindergarten’s Core

Core P4/5 IGI’ve already mentioned that we’ve completed our Kindergarten plans – Sonlight’s P4/5 Core. My son kind of flew through those last weeks, both because he was excited to get to the next Core, and because he’d been promised a new Lego set when he finished. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Curious as to what we thought about the rest of the core? I wrote about the first quarter, second quarter, and third quarter previously.)

Here’s what we thought about the books we started in this core:

New Titles This Quarter

How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the WorldHow to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the WorldHow to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Marc Simont by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Marc Simont

My son LOVED this book. LOVED it. Was obsessed with it. We read it over and over and over again, and I found him talking to daddy about what he learned from it. Highly, highly recommended. He’s still talking about how “everything is up when you’re in the center of the Earth!”

The Classic Tales of Brer RabbitThe Classic Tales of Brer RabbitThe Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit by Joel Chandler Harris, illustrated by Don Daily by Joel Chandler Harris, illustrated by Don Daily

The illustrations are gorgeous in this edition, and my kids both enjoyed the stories – they were fascinated by that naughty, sneaky rabbit. The book also led to some fun discussions, especially about why did the rabbit always seem to get away with his antics? We read all but the last story multiple times.

Why Do Tigers Have StripesWhy Do Tigers Have Stripes?Why Do Tigers Have Stripes? (Starting Point Science)

Another huge hit with both kids, but of course it was – they’ve already shown themselves to be Usborne fans, especially the science titles. This was another one we read at a much faster pace than it was “assigned”, and we reread it a couple of times (so far – I’m sure there will be more still to come). Daddy also got to hear about some of the details gleaned from this title as well. Another highly recommended one.

The Complete Adventures of Peter RabbitThe Complete Adventures of Peter RabbitThe Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter by Beatrix Potter

They liked this one, but didn’t love it. We read it once, and they didn’t ask for it again, but they have *talked* about Peter Rabbit a handful of times since finishing it. That counts for something I suppose?

New Toes for TiaNew Toes for Tia by Larry Dinkins

This one seemed very similar to The Gods Must Be Angry, in approach and style. Just like that one, the kids listened and discussed it, but didn’t request a repeat.

Reading & Spelling

We wrapped up All About Reading Level 2, and began All About Reading Level 3, and all but finished All About Spelling Level 1 (review coming soon, as soon as we wrap up the final step).


We’ve began Math Mammoth 1A at the tail-end of P 4/5 and so far so good. He works one page each day we do school, and while he doesn’t love it, he doesn’t hate it, and he does seem to be learning.

Looking Ahead

I already shared our future plans, and we’ve begun working away through Core A. So far it’s a hit with both kids – they’ve both happily listened to all that we’ve read.

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Homeschool Update: 3/4 of the Way Through Kindergarten’s Core

Core P4/5 IGJust before we took our Christmas break we finished up the third quarter of Sonlight’s P4/5 core. It made for a very satisfying stopping point for me, although I don’t think my son cared.

(Curious as to what we thought about the first half of the core? I wrote about the first quarter and second quarter previously.)

New Titles This Quarter

The Milly Molly Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley by Joyce Lankester Brisley
We’re not done with this one, but it’s been a hit, although not such a big one that he’s pushing hard for more than what’s scheduled each day. That’s ok – he’s happy to read each chapter, and it makes an impression on him, as we talk about events that have taken place in the book.

Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There IsIs a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Wells of Knowledge Science) by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells
As expected, both kids loved this one. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve read it, but it’s been quite popular.

How Do You Lift a LionHow Do You Lift a Lion?How Do You Lift a Lion? (Wells of Knowledge Science Series) by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells
Maybe just a smidge less beloved by my son than the Blue Whale one mentioned above, if only because the blue whale one ends up talking about planets and outer space. This is another one we’ve read again and again – my kids adore all the Wells books we’ve tried, both from Sonlight and from the library.

The Gods Must Be AngryThe Gods Must Be AngryThe Gods Must Be Angry by Sheila Miller and Ian Murray by Sheila Miller and Ian Murray
G liked it but didn’t love it. It does give a lot of great openings for discussion, so I’m glad we read it. H (3 1/2) listens to most of the reading we do, and this one did not keep her interest at all. Sometimes it’s quite obvious that she’s below the recommended age for this core!

PeoplePeoplePeople by Peter Spier by Peter Spier
It’s driving me crazy that this book reminded me so much of another one we read from the library, and I apparently never recorded it. Now I can’t remember the title, and my forgetfulness is aggravating. This one is fine; both kids listened and looked at the pictures, but neither of them wanted to look at it a second time.

Then and NowThen and NowThen and Now
I expected G to be somewhat neutral towards this title, but to my surprise he loves it. We read about half the book the first time we picked it up, instead of the two pages assigned for that day. He’s clearly a major Usborne fan!


Reading continues to go very well – we finished All About Reading Level 2 (I’ll share a full review of it in the next homeschooling update). The last 10 lessons took about three days G was so determined to finish so I’d order Level 3 and he could get started on it! We did take about a month’s break from lessons because of Christmas, and I just had him read other materials to keep in practice. We’re back at the lessons now though, and are working through Level 3.


As mentioned in my math update, I did give RightStart B a good try, but I continued to dislike teaching it, and G continued to dislike using it (except for the abacus; he loves that!). I’ll be returning it to my friend with thanks for saving me spending the money on an expensive curriculum that doesn’t work for us. I took advantage of a special sale on Math Mammoth over New Years, and got the entire Light Blue series for 40% off. That gave me Levels 1 – 7A for under $100. With three kids, I’m feeling confident I’ll get that much use out of it, even if it never is our main curriculum.

Looking Ahead

I’m starting to make plans for what we’ll do once P 4/5 is finished. That’ll be a separate post probably next month. Barring illness or other disruptions I don’t think it’ll take us 9 calendar weeks to finish the remaining 9 core weeks. G seems like he’s motivated to finish it up and move on to what’s next. We’ll see – I won’t be pushing him, but if he wants to do extra in a day, I’m not going to hold him back if I’ve got time and energy to work with him.

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Homeschooling Math: It Shouldn’t Be This Hard in Kindergarten

Homeschooling Math Current Programs and Ideas for LaterIn last month’s update I avoided discussing math, instead promising that it would get its own post.

I’m not completely happy/content/certain/what have you when it comes to math for G. On one hand, he’s 5, and I know there are studies that show some benefits to delaying formal math instruction. On the other hand, we don’t live in an area where that is commonly done, and if he were to need to go into public school, I don’t want him to be too far off track of what is being done there. So I’m not completely comfortable delaying, despite those studies.

However, making math a BIG DEAL with lots of drill and repetition seems to be going too far in the other direction and risks making him hate math and school. And possibly me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mathematical Reasoning Level AI don’t want to bounce around between programs; I’d prefer to find something and stick with it, on the assumption that that will minimize gaps. My early math education ran into that when we moved to different states a couple of times during my elementary school years. I’d be ahead on some things, behind on others, and wound up never covering certain topics at all.

Despite this desire to pick something and stay with it, I’ve somehow managed to accumulate and (partially) use a variety of programs and items. And yet I’m still not sure what I want to use next year and in the more distant future!

What We’ve Tried

Singapore Earlybird AWe started with Critical Thinking Mathematical Reasoning books. These are super colorful and fun, and the early ones especially aren’t workbook-like at all. Even though they are workbooks – they were fun enough for G, and easy enough, that he’d quickly blast through 10 to 20 pages at a time, and ask for more.

Interspersed with those books were Singapore Early Bird. We both preferred the Critical Thinking books, which seemed to cover just as much, without being as repetitive or boring.

RightStart Math Level BAfter much online reading and forum-stalking I became very intersted in the approach of RightStart. Turns out a friend had level B and wasn’t using it, so she’s loaned it to me to try it. I want to love it – I love the background behind it’s creation, I love the idea of it, and I love the strong math foundation I think it’d give G. We had a glorious honeymoon with it for about 2 weeks, and then he hit one concept that didn’t come instantaneously, and has avoided it ever since. Teaching it is also much more of a hassle than pulling out the CT books, so I haven’t really encouraged another try at it.

I also don’t like how the books are structured, and find it hard to teach from them. The way the math is done is different enough that I do need to use the books; it’s not like I can just wing it even though it’s elementary-level math. I’ve done some reading online and apparently the second edition is better for that, so maybe I’d be better off getting the newer version? Or maybe I should accept that this isn’t going to be the best solution for us?

Miquon OrangeIn the “I keep forgetting I even have this corner” I’ve also got the Miquon books and Cuisenaire Rods.Learning Resources Cuisenaire Rods Introductory Set: Connecting Why did I get them? They’re so cheap! But they’re so confusing for me to teach – the books seem so random, and what exactly am I supposed to be doing with the rods? We’ve done almost nothing with these, so I guess I’m extra glad that they were inexpensive. I probably should just sell them, but I hold on to them thinking maybe I’ll figure them out to use with one of the younger kids. The rods at least are a hit with my 5 and 3 year olds, although they don’t really use them for anything math-like beyond lining them up in rows.

Looking Ahead

Teaching Textbooks 3Long term, I don’t know what we’ll do. The CT books claim to be a complete curriculum. Do they give enough practice though? Does it matter at this age? At what point does practice become an issue? I read great reviews about Teaching Textbooks, but I also read that they’re way behind grade level, and don’t go into enough depth to provide for a strong math background looking ahead to college and some careers. I’ve also read the same about Math-U-See, and the way it’s structured feels like I’d really be locking us into continuing with it so it’s not one I considered for long.

What I want is a program that teaches what he needs to know, in order to not close off any options that he may want later. I want him to be able to go into any career he wants, and not be limited based on what I did or didn’t do for him educationally. I want to set him up for success. His dad is really good at math, and uses it every day in his work. He definitely wants all the kids to have a great math education. (I’ve been saying “him” only because I’m not yet doing anything for my girls, not because I think math only matters for boys. Not at all!)

Math Mammoth 1ATwo other ones I’ve been eyeing are Math Mammoth, which he could begin immediately, and Beast Academy, which starts with third grade. Math Mammoth is inexpensive, so I might end up giving it a try if I need something beyond RightStart. Beast Academy might be what I work toward for him; it’s colorful and looks like it’d be fun, and yet it’s put out by the Art of Problem Solving people, so I’ve got no worries about its rigor. That would also set him up to move into AoPS books when he’s in middle school and high school. Assuming his talents point in that direction. ๐Ÿ™‚

Beast AcademyOne thing I have decided, after writing all this out, is to get back to RightStart and give it another try. As I write this we’ve got 11 weeks of Sonlight left, and if I stick with RS during all of that, it should be a good enough trial run to determine if it’s a program that will work for us at least short term, or if I should return it to my friend and move on to something else (like Math Mammoth) for 1st and 2nd grade. And maybe I’ll try and find some tips on using Miquon as well, before completely writing that off as a possibility.

I never expected math to be such an issue, especially at this young age!

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Homeschooling Update: Over Halfway through Kindergarten

Core P45 IGA belated update, as we’re well past week 18, but for future reference here’s our thoughts on the second quarter of homeschooling Kindergarten with Sonlight’s P4/5 core. This nine weeks took a lot more than nine calendar weeks, thanks to home renovations, house guests, and especially adding a new baby to the family and the recovery that comes along with a c-section. I’m very glad I started it “early” so the routine was well-established, and it made it much easier to get back to it once I felt up to it with the baby.

Overall, I’m still really happy with this core, and using it as the framework for our year. I’ve added to it in an attempt to stretch things out a bit more, to change the approach, and to round out the curriculum.

I shared our thoughts on the books we were using for the first quarter already, and overall his opinions are generally still the same. He still loves the Developing the Early Learner books, and the The Berenstain Bear’s Big Book of Science and Nature might be the biggest hit for the entire year. Things People Do is finished, but he likes to look through it on his own still.

The Children’s Book of Virtues is very hit-or-miss. Some stories he likes, and I like. Others… well, the illustrations are all beautiful at least! We’re doing better with 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible, and will finish it. Maybe it was just a developmental thing for him, or maybe it was just a rough stretch there with some of the earlier stories?

New this quarter were three titles:

What's Under the SeaG *loved* What’s Under the Sea – I know some families don’t like Usborne titles because of the way they are formatted, but my kids adore them. We finished this book in maybe three days, and G would have been happy to finish it in one session if I’d have been able to keep reading it.

Stories from AfricaI wasn’t sure how well Stories from Africa would be received – there aren’t that many pictures, and the ones that are there are black and white and very simple (they look like coloring book illustrations, and if G liked to color I’m sure he’d have been adding his own touch to them all). I’m so glad I didn’t let the blah appearance keep me from trying the stories with him however – he really enjoyed most of them! They were surprisingly engaging, and he would ask to hear the week’s story whenever he’d see it in the stack of options. The one exception was the last story in the book – it was much longer than the others, and didn’t have the same compelling storyline. We got through it, but I’m glad it wasn’t the first story in the book, or G would never have wanted to try a second.

The Year at Maple Hill FarmThe Year at Maple Hill Farm was so-so. They both listened to it, and we talked about the illustrations and concepts, but G had no interest in reading more each day, or in revisiting it after we finished it.

Adding All About Reading (AAR) has been very successful, and I’ve got some Bob books that I use for practice as well. Those are so easy for him, but it’s nice having something that is easy – it helps show him how much progress he’s made. All About Spelling Level 1 has been super easy as well – the spelling concepts have all been reviewing things he’s learned in AAR.

The one aspect that I’ve been underwhelmed with has been Sonlight’s Language Arts. I’m using LA K, but since we’ve been using AAR the phonics instruction and readers have been too simple. I’m unimpressed with the Learning and Thinking for Young Children book (maybe because I’ve read Ruth Beechick’s The Three R’sThe Three R's by Ruth Beechick, and Barbara Curtis’ Mommy, Teach Me: Preparing Your Preschool Child for a Lifetime of LearningMommy, Teach Me: Preparing Your Preschool Child for a Lifetime of Learning by Barbara Curtis and Mommy, Teach Me to Read: A Complete and Easy-to-Use Home Reading ProgramMommy, Teach Me to Read: A Complete and Easy-to-Use Home Reading Program by Barbara Curtis books as well as others; nothing in this book seemed like new information or ideas). We do the copywork from it, and follow the handwriting schedule. We mostly skip the creative writing assignments.

Math deserves it’s own post, so I think I’ll save that for next month’s update. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Homeschooling Update: Back in the Groove. Maybe

Homeschooling October updateSince my last real update in August we’ve:

  • Started back at Awana (yay for that! Thank you all Awana volunteers, you are so appreciated.)
  • Made more “official” progress than I expected as far as our schedule goes, and that’s the whole reason I got an early start on it. We did school almost all summer long, so a mid-August to mid-September break is no big deal, and still keeps us on track to finish this year well before we need to.
  • Finished All About Reading Level 1, and are about a quarter of the way through Level 2.
  • Began All About Spelling (and so far, it’s a hit).
  • Started RightStart Math (the first edition, level B).
  • Passed the halfway point of our Sonlight core.
  • Had a baby, the reason for bullet point #2. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re now getting back into our school routine. We’re doing better when I just give G a handwriting page and tell him to work on that while I get ready for whatever we’re going to do next/finish cleaning up from breakfast/feed the baby/get H started with something/take care of some other need of the moment. He does it, and then we move on with the rest of the routine.

I’ve been trying something new as far as the rest of our routine goes – prompted in part by something I read on the Sonlight forums, which gave me an idea for how to modify it for us. I took five index cards and labeled them “reading,” “math,” “spelling,” “table work,” and “mama reads.” G gets to pick the order, and while we always do “mama reads,” the others may vary. He has to pick two cards for each day we do school (usually he picks three if not all four), and we do each one for at least 15 minutes. Some days it’s a lot longer than 15 minutes for each area, but that keeps him from getting aggravated/bored/what have you when all it has to be is 15 minutes.

(And he can’t continually pick the same two – whatever gets picked is “retired” until he goes through all four areas, then it’s up for grabs again.)

We’ve been trying out a new math program, so lately that’s been the first thing he wants to try, whenever it’s an option. Then it’s spelling or reading. Table work (which is the Developing the Early Learner workbooks and his geography workbook – things he does like once he gets started on it) is his last pick. The DEL books used to be his first choice, so it’s funny to me how things change.

Read alouds (a.k.a. “mama reads” happen on the couch, and the timing is almost entirely baby-dependent. It’s a lot easier to read while feeding/holding her, so when she’s napping is when we’re trying to do the other areas. I’m sure this is the sort of thing that will change as she gets older and becomes mobile.

We’ve done science projects once since having the baby, and that’s something I do hope to get back to semi-regularly soon. Right now the weather’s still been nice enough for the kids to play outside most afternoons with the neighbors, so I’m encouraging that. I can imagine some of that time will go to science and art projects once the weather keeps us inside later.

I got away from a true afternoon quiet time during the pregnancy, instead relying on the television to keep them occupied while I rested. I’ve got energy back now (usually) and am working to re-establish that habit. It’s going better than I expected! While I do have to police them a bit, generally they play quietly in a room for 45 minutes now. We started with 10 minutes, so stretching it to 45 has been good progress! I’m hoping to get it to 60, and have that really be 60 minutes of quiet time, not quiet time with lots of “is quiet time over yet?” questions plus interruptions where they fuss at each other in the doorways/stealth raids into the other’s room when they should be in their room etc. We’re getting there! And if I can someday get their quiet time to coordinate with the baby’s nap time, that would be glorious. She doesn’t have a good routine yet so I’m not even trying to match them up yet. I’ll just concentrate on getting the big kids to an hour of true quiet time first and then try and get it timed to M’s sleeping times!