January 23, 2016

Kindergarten

My sister, Lindsay, has decided to homeschool her kindergartener this next school year.  I am impressed by her decision because she has absolutely zero interest in homeschooling.  However, like moms have done since the beginning of time she is choosing to do what she thinks is best for her daughter instead of what she thinks is best for herself.

I have absolutely no delusions that Lindsay will actually homeschool the way I do as we all adapt homeschooling to our own personalities and the personalities of our children, but I had so much fun daydreaming about just having a kindergartener again (of school age--she has two younger kids as well) that I decided to post how I would homeschool in that situation.  It is essentially how I did homeschool Miriam, with a few tweaks that I would make as I have more experience now. 

Subjects I would teach: penmanship, math, reading prep/reading, history!!!, science. 

Things I would buy:
Letters and Numbers for Me by Handwriting Without Tears.
 I See Sam Phonics Set One black and white edition.  Color would be fine, but my kids didn't mind the black and white, it is cheaper, and if your kids want to color the pages you can photocopy them easily. 
The Letter Factory.  It is only $6.00 on amazon and I used it to teach all my kids their letters and sounds. 

Other than that, I would use the library and internet for everything.  If you felt that you absolutely had to have a math book I would definitely go with The Critical Thinking Co Mathematical Reasoning Level A.  I think most people would be better off not using a math book but it doesn't do any damage and some kids (like all my weirdos) love worksheet type stuff.  Plus, it does provide peace of mind to those who are new at homeschooling that they are adequately covering the basics.  We use Critical Thinking Co for all our math books. We have used the kindergarten book before and it was just as good as the others. 

I teach (or I did, before the last two babies) by units and I really think that is the way to go for the younger crowd.  I would pull out my calendar and plan out what units I wanted to teach in four week on, one week off, increments. I know I usually do a six week on plan, but if you only have a kindergartener than a shorter unit is probably wise.  Then I would teach whatever I thought my child would love best.  Definitely an animal unit or two thrown in (what kids don't love learning about animals??), a history unit about something really fun like ancient Egyptians or slavery in America or exploring the world.  I'd probably throw in a geography unit--use the one I created for the Babies documentary or create something that interested my child.  Maybe a science unit on weather or magnets.  That is always fun.

So let's say I decided to start with a unit on mammals.  I would go to my library website and reserve a bunch of kids' books about mammals.  Then I would reserve a bunch of books about numbers and counting.  Then I would create a basic lesson outline for each of the weeks after reading through all the books and taking back the ones that are less good.  It would look something like this:

Unit One: Mammals and Counting

Week One: Horses and Identifying the Numbers 1-5

Monday: Morning Devotional (read an article in the Friend, memorize something, morning prayers), read ______________ (a book about counting) then put up numbers around the walls, call out a number and have the kids smack that number with a fly swatter or their hands.  Read ____________ (a book about horses) and read  ____________ (another book about horses).  Color and cut out several pictures of horses.  Count how many legs one has and then how many more you have when you add another horse and then if you add another horse.  How many heads?  How many tails?  What else can you count?  Do any of the horses have spots?  Etc.  Complete one page in your penmanship book. 

During naptime, snuggle with kindergartner on the couch with a white board and marker and have her write "at" and make the word "cat" by adding a "c" and then make the words bat, sat, hat, fat, rat.  Put the first six letters of the alphabet in order (get some alphabet cards).  Only read phonics books when the child already understands how to sound out and that every letter makes a sound. 

And that's it for day one.  Day two would be similar with different books and a different horse craft or maybe an education horse movie on youtube.  Or maybe look at pictures of different kinds of horses in a horse encyclopedia, or look at all the pictures of Grandpa's horses, maybe pick names for the horses you colored.  There are lots of counting activities you can look up online. 

One day could be the care of horses, anatomy of horses, match the baby mammals with their mom, what makes a horse a mammal . . . that kind of thing.  What can we count around the house?  How many toes do we have individually and how many do we have altogether?  Let's group the straws by color.  Which groups have five straws?  Which groups have three?  Then just make sure you're reading a bunch of books. 

The next unit might be a geography unit. 

Unit Two: Denmark, Germany (we have ancestry from both countries) and Addition

Do the whole thing again.  Get the books from the library, put together some fun craft and lesson ideas.  Everyone loves coloring maps, so print off maps.  There are lots of educational videos about every country under the sun on youtube or available from the library.  You can make food from those countries, which is great for math.  Teaching kindergarten should be fun, fun, fun, and cheap. 

Definitely include a graphing/data gathering math unit.  Miriam was so cute calling her relatives to ask what their favorite dessert was and tallying how many red cars there were in the parking lot vs. blue cars.

One last note.  I would also have my kids listening to books on tape whenever we're in the car.  I've done that for years and I think it really helped with comprehension--especially for my son who struggles with reading.  He can't decode quite at level (he's made such huge improvements this year though!!) but his comprehension is way above level.  Books on tape are AWESOME.  My sisters have pointed out that I need to organize my book posts better and have a separate category for books on tape.  I probably won't ever get around to that, but I have a ton of audio book recommendations on the blog. 

And that's how I would do it. 


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