Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Homeschooling Kindergarten

Quick like a wink!

I've got dinner in the slow cooker (go me) and I'm ignoring my children (I can mostly hear them, so obviously no one is shaving the dog or dumping the trash into the toilet), so let's talk about my first year teaching kindergarten.

Or rather "teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaching" kindergarten.  Say it like that, with really big air quotes.  Because really, what do they have to learn  in kinder?  Read something, write something, add something, subtract something.  Wait your turn.  Don't punch people.  Don't pee your pants.  Put away your cars.  Amiright?

Oh, and the calendar!  That really was a new thing and holy moly the boy just ate it up.  Let me see if I can find a photo of our only schoolish looking wall....

Okay, I couldn't find it.  But it's behind these two kids and this photo is HILARIOUS, so I'm going to pretend it's useful to you.

We've had a lot of fun with this calendar.  Paul, and mostly even Cecilia, knows the days of the week, the months of the year.  And the fact that there's so much counting involved is good for kinder math skillzzz (sequence and all that jazz), of course.  Now this set is VERY AFFORDABLE because none of the the anythings have velcro on the back. There is no way to affix the numbers or the words to the calendar.  Is that dumb or what?  Dumb!  But, I still loved it because I bought these snazzy adhesive velcro dudes and put my big kids to work before school started and everything was hunky dory.


The boy is a study in stereotypes.  He is obsessed with numbers.  When this chart came, he thought Christmas had arrived early.  See how you can follow the blues to count by 5s and the right column to count by 10s?  And if you follow the yellow columns, you're counting by 2s?  That's why I picked this chart.  It was affordable, simple, and made sense.

I'm "meh" about this one.  I don't like how they write the lowercase -a- and if you follow the arrows for -M- and -N- and -W- , it'll take you half an hour to write the words "mini wok".  But I put it up anyway because I can still use it to teach Cecilia the alphabet someday.  For this year though, it was essentially schooly looking artwork.

World Map
We've got a map of the world on the wall and another up in Katie's room.  But really they don't get used ever since we got our GLOBE!  GLORIOUS GLOBE!.  Clicky that link right there to read all about how if you get nothing else, get a globe.  The boy turned 5 in August, so he is still five and the other day pointed to the outline of a country drawn on a crossword puzzle and said "Look, it's Japan.  And there's India.  Oh, and Italy too!"  Y'all, it was some kind of weird miraculous miracle.  I didn't teach him that stuff!  I bow to thee, globe of wonderment....

At first, we had a whole collection of various kinder math workbooks around, so we just did those until they were finished.  Then I got foolish and was like "I'll get the 1st grade Singapore Math books for him!"  No.  Wrong.  Too much too fast.  So then I got this book from MCP and everything was hunky dory.

Because we started this in the middle of the year, we skipped a LOT of pages.  Not just in the beginning, but randomly throughout.  Remember the thing about his love for numbers?  A lot of the practicing was unnecessary for Paul, so if I knew he understood the concept, we just skipped forward to the next thing so he wouldn't get bored.  Homeschooling is fab like that.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons: this book has been around FOREVER, so you can get used copies super cheap.  Super cheap is my favorite.

We got to about lesson 40 on this and then put it on the shelf.  I'll pick it back up next year to move forward from there.  See, Paul is not as interested in reading as he is in math, so once we got a basic handle on simple phonics (he did already know his letters and sounds at the beginning.  You can't use this book without those first), we just practiced a little bit for the rest of the year with random words from favorite stories during read aloud times.  The kid is a boy and a very young kindergartner, you know?  Now is not the time for me to push him too hard or sour him on the idea of school work in general.  He still has such a voracious appetite for learning.  I don't want to be the one to crush that.

We started with this book for practicing letter formation...

and once we finished it, we used a blank notebook with the proper width lines to practice.  Paul would draw a picture and tell me about it.  I would write a sentence based on what he said, then he would read the sentence back to me and copy it.  Super easy, low stress!

Besides this, we didn't really do much of anything else "schoolish" with him.  We keep a lot of books around.  He sat in on Katie and Lizzy's science class.  He watched big kid documentaries with us.  He played Starfall.  On Wednesdays he went to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd classes at our parish.  Done and done.

Alright, people screaming.  Oven timer beeping.  Almost dinner time.  Let me know if you have any questions!

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  1. I don´t homeschool but I do have a boy (6) who is also obsessed with numbers. He is also obsessed with calendars. He has copied some months on sheets of paper and he also likes to know on which day of the week each of our birthdays fall.

  2. This is so helpful for me! I will be homeschooling for the first time next year - 4th gr, 2nd gr, kindergarten, and PreK4. Any and all tips from Catholic homeschooling moms are so welcome!

  3. This is a great list! I don't exactly need it yet, but I bookmarked it anyway. :) Your blog is always so fabulous!

  4. Dwija, how did you know I needed this info??? I was just starting to think about what to do for my soon-to-be kindergartner and, lo, you answer my unasked questions. You're the best.

  5. 100 Easy Lessons really has been around forever--my mom used it to teach me to read, and I'm now 27. You should have seen what condition the book was in by the time she taught all six of us... no cover, held together with packing tape, etc. I wonder if she still has it... I'd love to use the same book to teach my own kids in a few years!

  6. Love love love Handwriting Without Tears! I am an OT and used it with the kiddos I worked with and begged the teachers to adopt it into their curriculum. My child isn't close to school-age but this list is going in my "time to learn my kid" folder.

  7. This is a lot of what I use for Kinder as well. I just started my 5-yo on HWT and Teach your child to read. I've also used MCP math quite a bit. And Starfall...always starfall.

  8. Bookmarking this for two..maybe three years from now. See ya then! (Well, I'll keep reading, of course.)

  9. We had a globe once. I'm not sure which kid smashed it.

    And everything you did, I swear they did in my kids' kindergarten classes. Ah-mazing. :)

    Also...I've never actually felt like I taught my kids to read. I think they just kind of started reading at some point? I mean, sure, we went over sounds, letters, and sound-it-out occasionally....but I just found out recently that my 4-year-old can read. Actually, he's probably been reading for about a year here and there.... I wish I knew what we did so I could get started on the baby. I figure the sooner they all read, the sooner I can be like, "bored? pshaw! go grab some books!!" :)

  10. We've been homeschooling for 13 years and kindergarten is my favorite, so much fun! We tried 100 Easy Lessons a few times because so many people had such great success with it, but it never really clicked with my kids. We eventually began using Reading Reflex (the Phono-Graphix Method) by the McGuinness's. I love it! It's very simple and straightforward and very intuitive. It's really the way I would naturally teach if I had no materials or guide to work with.

  11. Love your blog- I found it recently :-). You mention documentaries for kids in your post- any suggestions? I have been thinking about it for a while... Thanks!

  12. Your homeschool posts are the best!

  13. Sending this to a friend who's trying to decide if she should homeschool K next year....you're the best Dwija!

  14. good tips.
    I have a bunch of questions so I'll just email them--too many for a comment box :)

  15. That sounds a whole lot like my boys and our kindergarten homeschooling!! I used Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading, which is very similar to the one you use. Great stuff.

  16. My 5 year old Henry, who's life revolves around tying things up with rope and looking for his pliers, is going to be one tough cookie to teach....pre-school wasn't pre-school, it was books on tape with Cheez-its and monster trucks to crush the Cheez-its to make "dirt." I'm going to use a few of your tips for our K-school next year, Lord help me!

  17. Thank you! Thank you! We've been "doing" home pre-school for almost a year (he's almost 3) and I was starting to freak out. I LOVE structure and reading all about mom A & B ringing a bell at 8:30a for school to start and having something scheduled every 15 minutes sounds great, but really? My office / sewing room / craft room has to also be the classroom so it doesn't always work out perfect. And I've got a 1 year old getting into everything because he's learned to run. RUN!
    All my mommy friends want to home school and it can feel like there are too many resources out there. Or everyone wants to be Montessori certified.
    I love hearing about the "real world" classrooms!
    - Ella M

  18. Hey, Dweej! I'm a new reader and I'm already in love with your blog! I noticed you mentioned the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I've heard of that before; I'm going to be a Montessori teacher for kindergarten/grade school children, and all of the Catholic Montessori schools I've seen use the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. What do you think of it? I've never used it before.

  19. So timely! I'll be starting my 3rd child -- and 1st boy -- in K in the fall. Thanks for the tips! I need to get me a globe, stat. It's hard to teach the concept of the International Date Line w/o one. We have 2 maps on our dining room wall -- one of the world, one of the US. My 10yo decided to teach herself all the state capitals for fun. I love passive school! :)
    Have you seen the Bob books yet? My son (the soon-to-be kindergartener) loves them. They are simple, short, and easily doable. I never had much success with 100 Easy Lessons, but we have liked the Ordinary Parent's Guide.

  20. LOL
    We didn't say kindergarten for my little one. It was 'preeeety school' and all she wanted to do was take tea orders and serve high tea @ noon.

    We did use the MCP math and 100 easy lessons. Also, took the easy 100 in two parts. Shall we talk about 1st grade... LOL. At least we survived in one piece and laughing.

    Praying for you girl. Really praying hard.

  21. LOVE the calendar, the math chart (if I had that I would probably LIKE math!) and the neat books you recommend! Not that we will homeschool (not sure yet), but these would be handy to have regardless!

  22. I think home-schooling is always a great option for kids. I know my neighbor decided to home-school their daughter because she was having problems at school. They started her on a program early and she started getting better grades. She was able to learn new ways to stay focused so she was able to go to high school. However, when she graduated high school she decided to do online classes for college because she enjoyed learning at home.

  23. First of all, appreciate your lighthearted way of explaining a typical day. It's refreshing to know that there's somebody else out there just grabbing stuff as they go instead of using an expensive curriculum. Thanks!


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