In trying to decide what to do for our kindergarten year I’ve gone back and forth A LOT. I have a little bit of a problem making decisions because there are so many cool things we could possibly do. I’ve also had a hard time pinpointing my approach. Do I want to take an academic approach and start kindergarten by focusing on just the basics- reading, writing, and math? Or do I want less structure, to follow a more un-schooly approach, and just follow Porter’s interests? I’ve read so much on the benefits of delayed academics (especially for boys) and the importance of play and just experiencing the world. On the other hand, can I let go of the public school mindset enough to let go and trust so completely in the process?
Let me share a secret: I still don’t know. I really have no idea what I’m doing.
But I had to stop obsessing about different approaches and just choose something. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. We can try something different. That’s part of the beauty of homeschooling.
What I have decided is that for our kindergarten year I don’t want to focus too heavily on academics. I want our priorities to be establishing a routine, building our relationships with each other, and having fun together through learning experiences. I’m doing some math and language arts, but those are secondary.
What this looks like day-to-day and week-to-week is a simple routine. Four days a week we do morning time, table time, and work on a project. After lunch Wyatt does quiet time and Porter and I spend a few minutes reading aloud from a chapter book. Once a week we get together with friends, go on a field-trip, do a poetry tea time, and get outside for a nature walk.
*Actually now that I’ve typed it all up, its quite long and seems convoluted, but in the whole routine takes only 1.5-2 hours in the morning, plus any additional time for outside the house activities.
Every day after breakfast we get out our morning basket, which is filled with things we can all do together. It includes our scripture and character study, loads of picture books, and some type of game or hands-on activity to do once or twice during the week. Let me explain each of these and share what resources I use in a little more detail.
- Scripture and character study we work through a loop in this order: read the scripture story from ‘Who’s Your Hero’ (which I LOVE) ⇒ read through the application section of the book ⇒ read an article from the Friend magazine ⇒ read a story or poem (or two) from The Children’s Book of Virtues.
- Read a few pictures books: so far we’ve chosen 2-4 depending on the day. I plan a few weeks ahead of time, choosing books that go along with other things we’re learning, or just books I want us to read together, and put all the books we’ll need on hold at the library so they’re ready each week.
- A game or other hands on activity: I have a small collection of children’s board games that we can all play together, but I’ve also pinned some ideas for gross-motor activities that we can add in there as well. We don’t do this every day, but its a fun addition.
- Wyatt will sometimes join us for the stories and sometimes not. I have a basket in the living room with toys for him to play with during this time, but on a bad day we resort to the iPad.
This is when we sit down and do our math and language arts learning. Here is what I’m using:
- Math/Science: I’m using the integrated math/science that came with our Blossom and Root kindergarten curriculum. Its so much fun, and probably the thing I’m most excited about! She’s created a pretend year-long journey to outer-space, where each week we go on a “mission” that includes some basic math and science concepts. This week Porter was asked for help from Zoola, an alien living on planet L21, with a space expedition to learn about planet Earth. Next week our mission includes listing all the things we’ll need to take into space to keep ourselves healthy (science), and a few weeks later we actually build a cardboard space ship and decorate it with specific patterns and shapes (math). It sounds like so much fun and I think Porter is going to love it. I’m so excited to work out way through it together!
- Extra math: because Porter seems to have a natural knack for numbers (today he corrected my multiplication skills…) I wanted to add in a little more structure to our math learning. I’m using a free workbook I found here along with activities from this website. Both use Cuisinaire Rods, which we already have.
- Language Arts: here is where I’m a little stuck. Turns out Porter isn’t quite at the level of the Blossom and Roots Language Arts that I bought, so now I’ve got to find something else for him to do. I have a few things in mind, but right now we’re mostly just reading books, practicing letter recognition, and some other phonological awareness skills.
- During this time Wyatt has a few things he can do. I got him some simple activity books because he really seems to enjoy them. He has a few sticker books, a coloring book, and a tracing book. He also loves Dot-a-dot markers, so I print out pages I find on Pinterest for him.
This is my most recently tweaked area. I decided to scale back both our math and language arts so we have more time for this, which I really feel like is the fun part, and aligns with my low-academic, have-fun-through-learning-experiences approach. During this time we’ll do art projects, science experiments, STEM learning activities, and any other fun hands-on thing I can think of. I have a stack of books I’m rotating through in a loop schedule just like I do with our gospel study resources during morning time, all pictured above.
On our fourth day (or whatever day we have the best weather) our regular routine changes a bit, and instead of doing table time and project time we do a nature study. For this I’m using the Nature Study component of Blossom and Root. This is our first week doing this one, so I’m not sure how this will work out in the future, or how much tweaking it will need, but I’m excited to try it out.
- For the Nature Study, we usually read or listen to a chapter from Thornton Burgess’ Animal Book for Children, do the corresponding outdoor activity, and fill out the notebook pages that go along with it. This week we read about Peter Rabbit, explored out “outdoor classroom”, aka backyard, and then drew a picture of it in our notebook.
After we finish lunch and Wyatt goes upstairs for quiet time or nap, Porter and I snuggle on the couch for a few chapters of whatever read aloud we have going on. So far we’ve read through a few Magic Treehouse books, which Porter loves. This week we started “My Fathers Dragon” and will follow up with the other two in the series.
That’s it! I’m sure I’ll tweak this as the year goes on and I learn more about what works best for us, and as I find something to do for our language arts learning time. Thanks for reading!
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