Usually, I am screaming "SHUT UP ABOUT BACK TO SCHOOL ALREADY" at this time of the year. Usually, I am elbow deep in tomato sauce cooking and green bean canning and have squash exploding around me. Usually, I can not even BEGIN TO THINK about starting school back up until the very last week of September when my children are BEGGING me to start school. Usually, my start date is scheduled for the beginning 2 weeks of OCTOBER!!!
Well, this year is a REALLY WEIRD CREATURE TO ME!!!
This year our gardens did not do that swell. I do not have produce up to my eyeballs. This is something to both lament (lack of food stores for the year = more money will be needed on groceries) and something to rejoice (I am not processing food right now).
It's leaving me in a really strange state: BACK TO SCHOOL PREPARATIONS!!
I really thought I had everything figured out last spring.
Until I realized, I have everything figured out for my 3rd grader, OTTO!
This is Abram's Kindergarten year. He turns 6 in mid-November.
This is Gracie's preschool year. She turns 4 in mid-November but would not be old enough for Jr. Kindergarten in the public schools.
Despite the 2 years difference in these two I have decided to attempt a Kindergarten routine with them both at the same time.
My expectations are that Abram is old enough now to perform (last year he had not an ounce of interest in writing, coloring and cutting). He, however, knows his letter sounds and this spring and summer he BEGGED me to teach him reading. I will present the materials and then expect him to master the seat work side of things.
Gracie has not yet mastered her letter sounds and recognition but she too wants to read and write. Since the Kindy programs that I want to use essentially walk through the letters (albeit never in the same order as any other program) I will just work on letter sound and recognition with her while we perfect it and learn handwriting with her brother.
I will not expect Gracie to keep up with her brother....
YET.... it all honestly I would not be surprised if she did keep up!
We shall see.
Meanwhile, this weekend has been filled with thinking through how to use the curriculum that I have. I will admit, I think I have TOO MUCH curriculum. Yet, because I can not bear to not use GOOD STUFF that I spent so many pinched pennies on I think I have figured out a way to use much of most of it.
Here is what I have for these two this year:
Veritas Press Phonics Museum
I love AND hate this curriculum. I used the entire Kindy program with Otto. He is my guinea pig first child. He already knew his letters and letter sounds but I was afraid of that ever looming guilt inducing thought: the fear of him having GAPS or MISSING SOMETHING. <
> In hindsight with Otto, it was not a wasted year but instead we just VERY STRONGLY reinforced the phonemes and he was able to learn some fun history and art lessons as he read the Primers. I have been debating if I wanted to just pack up this big box and sell it to recover some of what I spent on it used 3 years ago.
Now, I think I will use this as my spine curriculum, letting it guide the rest of our work. However, I do not like all of the components so I need to find time this week to sit down and write out a list of the activities I do plan on doing and what to substitute where. I HATE de-Neilian handwriting which is what P.M. uses. So for each handwriting page we will substitute Handwriting Without Tears or a page from our "Everything for Early Learning" book. I love how P.M. plays games to reinforce phoneme listening skills. The worksheets that teach letter recognition and thinking skills are super fun as well. They use old fashioned art work which I think helps expand visual horizons. The arts and crafts in the book correspond with the letter being studied but they are not "over-the-top." They are very simple and I found them to be low stress. Examples would be coloring a mask or dipping a cut apple into paint to make an apple stamp. (I love to craft myself for relaxation but to do it with my children feels like torture.) P.M. incorporates fun stories and cutting activities. I will keep most of these, substitute the handwriting, skip the flashcards and confusing board game and will only randomly set up our "letter museum" of found artifacts that start with the current letter being learned.
Handwriting Without Tears: My Printing Book
This is actually the 1st grade book. I do not have a Kindy writing book but figured we can use the books we have, I can make up extra practice sheets and we can use our chalk boards and white erase boards. I have two of these books and each page of each book is covered with a sheet protector. (I love horizontal books because it is so easy to do this!) Instead of writing on the paper we write on the clear sheet protector with dry erase markers or dry erase crayons and then when we are finished we wipe it off and it is like new. :) If we need to do the book again next year we have that option without spending extra money.
I need to find an acronym for this book. This is not an in-depth, all encompassing curriculum but it has about 3 pages per letter (a lower case writing page, a page to color with pictures that begin with that letter and a maze, matching activity or some other fun activity page). Before I decided to use Phonics Museum I thought this would be enough. Now, it might be more busy work but Abram and Gracie REALLY are loving it so I will use it to supplement their handwriting practice and to give them extra pages to color and problem solve with.
These two books provide a ton of cutting, pasting, puzzle solving, matching, thinking and fun pages. They will help my little people work on their cutting and gluing skills while they learn to match shadows, shapes, letters, words, word order. They will trace lines, write letters, do dot-to-dots. They will order pictures, put a picture together in the right order (jig-saw puzzle like), they will answer questions, match what items are similar or different. Finding the answers has many, many pages asking questions about animals what they eat, where they live, how they move, how they are alike or different. This book alone is full of critical thinking activities that should be a blast to color, cut and glue.
I have NO idea where in our schedule we will fit these, but I REALLY think they are valuable books.
Number Writing: My homemade number writing book using Rod and Staff: Counting with Numbers and Everywhere We Go
I need an acronym or name for this one too. This is a small 1/2 inch three ring binder of copied pages from miscellaneous places (mostly the books above) that I made to teach Otto how to write his numbers and cement his number recognition skills. Again, I need to plan out my week so that I hit this book once a week at least to teach the writing and recognition of numbers 1-10. It is mostly writing with some coloring, cutting and gluing along the way. Numbers are not really included in any of the other books, which is why I pulled this together for Otto years ago.
Preschool curriculum makes me want to pull my hair out because EVERYONE has a different idea of how to teach, what letters, and in what order they should go. No one uses the same order and EVERYONE thinks their way is best.
I used The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading to teach reading to Otto. I like it. Otto thrived from the non-picture containing instruction. I found it to be very thorough but SUPER SLOW. Each short vowel C-V-C pattern has at least 3-4 pages. The book is so big and heavy I took it to an office store and had them chop the spine off so I could put it into a 3 ring binder and only pull out one page at a time. Otto needed the extra practice that this book provided. Abram does not. He "gets it" and the extra work just feeds his "Captain Distractable" traits.
This year I will be using the above as a supplement with Abram but hope to use Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
with both Abram and Gracie. It works on letter sounds, letter recognition, incorporates how to write the letters and moves much faster through the actual reading. I would LOVE if this book teaches Gracie to read and moves Abram through the lessons fast enough for him to start reading more independently. He doesn't struggle nearly as much as Otto, he is VERY eager and I think he has the potential to really fly with a curriculum that moves quickly.
Gracie does not yet know all of her letter sounds but I think this book will teach those along the way instead of all together. The glories of homeschooling is that each child is different and they all soar at their own rate in their own areas and we parent teachers often have no idea where that will be until we are there. There are surprises around every corner.
All three children are working through Sonlight Science B.
Once we master writing and number recognition I will jump full footed into Saxon 1.
Along the way we will do some simple addition and subtraction using dominoes and other manipulatives. Abram also can tell time to the hour and 1/2 hour so we will keep working with time and money at random as well.
We will work on Artistic Pursuits Book 1 all together this year.
We will be attending Physical Education class at the University again this year. I THINK that all 3 children will be able to attend this year. Of course, that assumes that Gracie will de-cling herself from me. Perhaps the lure of never being able to go in and play in the past will make it exciting but Abram moves up to the next age level, so we shall see.
We are through DVD #1 in the KinderBach series and will soon begin DVD #2. You can read more about KinderBach here on my review. We loved it so much we went out and purchased ALL the DVDs!! I can not say enough good things about this program for young children!
Now, my challenge is to fit all of that into our weekly schedule on a somewhat regular basis so that we are sure to hit it all. It's like a big ol puzzle. Did you know I HATE PUZZLES!! :)
Here's to a good year!