Homeschooling Kindergarten: The First Month in Review

Despite being pregnant, the first month of homeschooling kindergarten has gone pretty well.  I feel like homeschooling is one of the only things I can actually do right now!  I’m sure we will have to slow down for a few weeks as the baby will be here next Friday, but I’m so glad we got started in early August to get a good routine down before the big change.

Since I know other homeschoolers enjoy seeing what other families are doing…This is what we are doing for Kindergarten.  Technically, this would be considered advanced/accelerated Kindergarten, but nonetheless my son is registered for “Kindergarten” this year.

So the first thing I have been doing each day is writing out our agenda for the day.  We check it off as the day goes.  So the lists below are exactly what I put on the daily agenda for my son.   We don’t always get to do “read aloud” during the school day, but we have three different books going right now so reading gets done at some point.  My husband is reading The Horse and His Boy to our son when he puts him to bed, I am reading Little House in the Big Woods to our son when we do read aloud or I put him to bed (can’t always now due to pregnancy symptoms), and my son himself is reading Farmer Boy (also by Laura Ingalls Wilder) but will ask me to read to him from that too.    We each have our own book to be in charge of…strange, but true!

The first book we read and finished during school was Mr. Poppers Penguins.  We were doing this each day for read aloud until my pregnancy got a bit harder and we had less time.  Initially, I had printed out a study guide to go with it and my son was also doing out loud comprehension questions about each chapter, but I decided to get rid of that because we do that already for Writing With Ease 1 (narration every other day) and I didn’t want him to get burnt out.  So now we just read together.

Schedule on Monday / Wednesday / Friday (These are our “full” school days. Also, transition time and getting my son to focus makes things take way longer sometimes.  A few times, I’ve been surprised at how quickly we got it all done.)

  • Breakfast
  • Prayers
  • Brush Teeth / Get Dressed
  • Start School (School Prayer, Saint’s Life (one from Prologue of Ohrid), Bible Memory Verse) (10 min)
  • Geography (Classical Conversations weekly review )(5 min)
  • Handwriting (Getty Dubay Italic Book B) (5 min)
  • First Language Lessons 1 (5 to 10 min)
  • Writing With Ease 1 (5 to 15 min)
  • All About Spelling  (10 min)
  • Break / Lunch or Lunch /Break depending on time
  • MCP Plaid Phonics Level B worksheet (5 min)
  • Rod and Staff Math Level 1(10 to 20 min) – supplementing with Horizons and Singapore 1 workbooks
  • Read Aloud sometime during the rest of the day
  • Piano Practice sometime during rest of the day but not on Fridays (10 min)

Tuesday

  • Classical Conversations
  • Math (10 to 20 min)
  • Piano Practice (10 min)
  • Read aloud

Thursday (This is also a shorter day due to afternoon activities, but what we do might vary)

  • Breakfast
  • Prayers
  • Brush Teeth / Get Dressed
  • Start School (School Prayer, Saint’s Life (one from Prologue of Ohrid), Bible Memory Verse) (10 min)
  • Handwriting
  • All About Spelling 1
  • Phonics
  • Math
  • Piano Lesson
  • Little Gym

Once my son gets in the routine of homeschool kindergarten and things are taking less time, we will add in some more “elective” subjects such as art, science, and foreign language.  My son asks to do science and I keep telling him I will buy him a curriculum in December if he does a good with the first half of the year.  When I first started homeschooling my son…just starting school, which included a short school prayer, reading a Saints Life and doing a Bible Memory verse could seriously take up to 30 minutes due to his distractibility.  Now it only takes 5 to 10 minutes so I know as time goes on we will finish our subjects more quickly and have time for more “fun” subjects.

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Getting Ready for our first “official” school year!

After having unofficially homeschooled my son since last August (but in some ways longer than that!), I am very excited to officially register my son for homeschool next month for Kindergarten!  I have a lot of things to consider for this first official year…

Not the least of which is, after 3.5 years of infertility and believing we could have no more children, I am now 21 weeks pregnant with a little boy!  I am very excited -we are all every excited! However, I’ll be the first to admit that pregnancy is not what I’d call “fun” by any stretch of the means (and sometimes its very hard) though I hear it is fun for a few people out there!  I’m feeling baby move a bit, but I have an anterior placenta yet again so it might be a few more weeks before I can really feel him move.

So in August when we start up at Classical Conversations again, I’ll be 36 weeks pregnant…I was only able to keep working with my first son until 37 weeks, so I’m wondering how I’ll keep up with my 5 year old for those last few weeks! (Having considered my options and risk, I’ll be having a repeat C-section unless baby comes early so I’ll know it will just be a few weeks at that point!).

So this summer, I need to get a nursery ready and a homeschool curriculum ready!.  I found a core subjects list from the Well Trained Mind website that I found helpful…so I am going to start using this post as my working list to make sure I have all my bases covered for the upcoming year.  (We will still do some school during the summer like most homeschooling families do, but ramp it up come the school year and make it daily for the first time.)

Subject List, Work-in-Progress

Orthodoxy: Morning Prayer, Weekly Bible Verse, Daily Saints Life, Potamitis Publishing coloring books, Children’s Bible stories that make sense given church calendar, etc.

Math – finish Rod & Staff 1 as base, with supplement of Singapore/Mammoth Math.  Recently used Life of Fred- Apples. Loved it!  We will continue with Rod & Staff 2 after 1 and then supplement with Life of Fred, Singapore/Mammoth Math.

History – Being Kindergarten, I’ll make it simple and follow the Classical Conversations curriculum for upcoming Cycle 3 and just do history once a week or so, this year providing brief context and maybe coloring sheet for the week’s history sentence. (Honestly, I’m not crazy about Classical Conversations but while we are paying for it for a least one more year, I’ll use it as a guide for a few subjects.)

Geography – Review Memory work for Classical Conversations Cycle 3 with Trivium at the Table Placements.  (The geography portion of CC is one part of the memory work  I really like).

Science – To go with Cycle 3, I purchased an Anatomy game used and will use the simple anatomy workbook recommended by CC.  I don’t think we will do a full science curriculum this year.

Phonics: Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Level B

Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 1 (by Well Trained Mind) and Rod & Staff English 2 (since I obtained it at a curriculum sale…we will not write out all the exercises.)

Writing: Writing With Ease Level

Spelling: All About Spelling Level 1

Reading/Literature/Comprehension:  Read alouds/free time reading/not sure- I might have to put something myself together for this that fits his reading level and his maturity level

Handwriting/Copywork: Saints of the Church copywork by Paidea Classics and Getty Dubay Italic Program starting with book B

Spanish:  CD to listen to in the car, like SongSchool Spanish

Music: Piano Lessons

Art: Discovering Great Artists book and art projects as time allows

Physical Education:  Hopefully continuing in boys gymnastics

I’m not sure how it will all play out with a new baby and doing first grade level work with a kindergarten attention span…but I’m sure we won’t do all of the subjects every day in the least, aside from Math and Spelling/Phonics.

Remembering Why I’m Homeschooling…

monk-on-canalBeing a new homeschooling mom, I had no idea how easy it was to get lost amidst all of the curriculum choices and start to lose sight of why I wanted to homeschool in the first place.

If anyone had asked me in the last couple of years why I wanted to  homeschool my son, my answer would usually be a polite way of saying that I wanted to protect my son from worldly, liberal values.  (Especially when we lived in California…Thank you God for bringing us to Northwest Arkansas!).

Academics or his future career was actually a small factor for me.  I simply wanted his soul to be properly watered and immersed in the Orthodox Christian lifestyle.  And I still do…but then you take a mom, who hasn’t had a job for almost 5 years and give her a focus other than her son (even if it has to do with her son) then you’ve got a mom who has started to lose focus and is spending way too much time researching and debating between curriculum! And for no reason really.  My son is completely on track…I almost forget my son is technically in his “Pre-K” year, but we are doing work for K/1st grade.   And besides, what I think might be right for him in six months, will probably change by the time we get there.

I’m not sure what it is for other homeschool moms, but looking at homeschool curriculum is a lot of fun for me!  There is so much to read and learn about…different approaches, different options.  Even thinking about working in education someday when my son no longer has need of me for his teacher!   Even so…I could probably not look at curriculum again until May and be just fine.  Additionally, reading other homeschooling blogs and such is the nearly the closest thing I have to community.  There are no other homeschooling moms at my church and my Classical Conversations group does not talk curriculum very much.  (Or at least not with me since my son is only 4.5 and looks 3…and I always get told “at that age…you don’t really have to do much.” It is unusual to be homeschooling an only child, most of the children my son’s age are the youngest in a larger family and haven’t started academic work too much yet.)

I felt that we “needed” to start formal homeschooling early, kind of like when we “needed” to start potty training when my son was almost exactly two and started routinely taking his diapers off in his crib.  My son is strong-willed and intense, and has two parents that have been dedicated to him since birth.  As an only child, this means no other siblings to share with, to fight over activities with, to have to go along with another activity for, etc.  Try as we might, we cannot replace the tension caused by a sibling competing for parental attention.  (Due my son’s unique personality, it might be better this way and how God intended it…seeing as how he is still an only child…but it can be tough!  If you would like to read about my journey with secondary infertility, it can be found on my other blog.)  It just started to seem that allowing him to do nothing but mainly play for his 14 waking hours a day was not good for his soul anymore is his particular situation.  Our formal homeschooling time is basically a time where he gets focused time to learn he is not in charge!  I told a friend the other day that homeschooling him in this way was our antidote to spoiling.  An exclusively Charlotte Mason/un-school approach for younger children sounds great for a larger family, but not for our intense, strong-willed only child who would only love to call the shots all day!

Then there is the practical side of it.  As mentioned, I have an amazing and kind,  yet somewhat challenging and draining only child.  I have been doing some reading on the overexcitabilities of giftedness.   There is one type called psychomotor overexcitability that often gets confused with ADHD.  Seeing that ADHD runs in my family, my son could have both!   Maybe I think if I just find the right balance of curriculum that moves at just the right pace, everything will calm down a notch…but I need to remember that it won’t.  Its just how it is!   Sometimes I can see that it would be great to just put him in front of a math computer game and let him run with it…but we are pretty committed to low-tech in our house, until he is 7 or so.

But I digress…see how easily it happens!

I am blessed and grateful that God has allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom.

I am blessed and grateful that I live in a country that allows me to homeschool.

I am blessed and grateful that my son’s world is small for the time being and his values and the natural order of God’s creation are being firmly imprinted in his soul in his most formative years.

I am blessed and grateful that I can spend breakfast time with him…and lunch time…and snack time.

Does it really matter if I have the perfect phonics book?  Does it really matter if he learns to read words with the “nk” ending in January or in March or even May?

Does it really matter if my math course is incomplete and I have to remediate a couple of parts later on?

No, it does not.

What matters is that my son knows the Commandments and strives to follow them, that he learns that he honors God when he does his best work, that he learns to call upon Christ, the Theotokos and the Saints throughout his life, and many more.

This blog post is a reminder for myself.

I will still have curriculum reviews on this site because it is fun, but I needed to remind myself not to lose focus!

 

Orthodox Christian Homeschooling…

antique-writing-desk

I started to do some “formal” homeschooling with my son about two and half months ago. Over the past few weeks, I have found myself researching and researching curriculum, reviews, teaching methods, etc.  I felt like I needed an outlet for all of the input I was processing and decided to start a blog.  (Previously, I had the blog Ponderings About Orthodoxy but I decided to move on from that one.)

Most of what I have been thinking about I have built into the pages of the blog, but more is sure to come! Next, I plan to research how to teach and manage handwriting!