Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Homeschooling A Kindergartner

We have been doing pretty well with our consistency this week for homeschooling. The week before was The Week Of The Vomiting and the week before that was The Week Of The Carpet People. And so this week has just been a normal week. Thank the Lord! I needed a normal week.

Not that any of my weeks are really normal. So take that for what it means. Normal is a relative term, as we all know.

Right now I am supposed to be showering and making cinnamon bread to take to our very first ever meeting of our small group tonight. Instead, I am sitting here writing this post and reading various other blogs. Because I got my son Bee Movie at the video store today and he begged to watch it. And even though we haven't done school today, I relented. Because I figure that he is learning about insects after all. And that's worth something. I mean the movie opens up with a quote about how bees are not aerodynamically supposed to be able to fly. See? Educational.

So instead of actually homeschooling, I am going to write about what we have been doing. Because one of you might want to know. And I realize that one is a pretty optimistic number.

So, here goes: The Kindergarten Report

Homeschooling one kindergartner is not hard. That is the first thing I will say. Now, for those of you who are just embarking on this homeschooling journey, do not let that statement put you off. I remember laboriously searching out curriculum and planning elaborate lessons when my firstborn was a kindergartner. But that was long ago and many children ago. Now that same kindergartner is 15 and I have gained some perspective. Schooling the upper grades is hard, because there is no time to waste and you can't count things like park days and Bee Movies as school anymore. You have to actually do stuff. Educational stuff. You don't hardly ever get to play around and call it learning.

So I have enjoyed this time with my little five year old son. I have noticed how much learning does take place in the course of a day spent with him. Today he helped me make egg salad. A life skill that some people value. Later we might do his "official school stuff." Might. Depends on his mood and my energy level. Not that I am playing fast and loose with his education. But I am also not hyperventilating about every moment anymore. Because one thing about kindergartners-- they have nothing but time. What they don't get this year, they can always catch the next year. As the years go by, you get to a place where you can't say that anymore. And therein lies the pressure I was feeling last year when I suffered a complete and total case of burnout.

This year, then, is about healing and perspective.

To that end, here is what we are doing this week:

  • Reading through Stories That Jesus Told: Parables Retold For Children by Patricia St. John (This is in preparation for our Easter study, which we will dive into next week. I am posting separately about those plans, as I know that one person who wants to know is out there, somewhere.)
  • Reading Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose Treasury (both the kindergartner and his two year old sister love this!). I will admit that I feel compelled to organize a unit or go purchase a whole workbook on Mother Goose, but I am resisting. Because that compulsion is, I think, what drove me to quit homeschooling in the first place.
  • Working in his Number Skills Practice book on beginning addition
  • Doing simple drawing assignments in his Baby Lambs book
  • Working on a few pages a day of Explode The Code, Book One (I keep reminding him that his siblings did this book in the first grade, just so I can see that little smile/smurk of pride cross his face again)
  • Doing a page of I'm Going To Read Sight Words
  • Doing a lesson in Simply Phonics
  • Doing multiple pages of Can You Find Me? (I think he would do this all day long, but I get bored after about twenty pages.)
This week I have gone through and made a list of the books we have on our shelves that I would like to read aloud to the two year old and five year old that I am quite sure they have never heard. These are the books that were read to their older siblings back in the day that I don't want to make the mistake of overlooking just because I have read them before. What I did for one, I try to do for all. That includes introducing them to a love of books and literature. It includes taking time to read aloud often-- because I have never regretted spending my time doing this. Though there are a lot of things I can say I have regretted spending my valuable time on, reading aloud is not one of them. And the cozy, peaceful feeling I get when I am snuggled on the couch with one of these two on either side of me is about as close to perfect as I think I am ever going to see this side of heaven.

Here is what we are going to attempt to read through the rest of this year, starting with the Mother Goose Treasury and moving on to:

The Read Aloud Treasury
The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter
Mad About Madeline
A 20th Century Children's Book Treasury
Poems To Read To The Very Young
Read Aloud Rhymes For the Very Young
Eric Carle's Animals, Animals

If reading aloud appeals to you, check out Cay Gibson's book
A Picture Perfect Childhood
I highly recommend this book so pick up a copy-- this one isn't just for homeschoolers. It is designed for all parents who want to capture every moment possible to indulge in books with their kids, building a lifetime of memorable moments spent reading together.
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Jennifer said...

"...I feel compelled to organize a unit or go purchase a whole workbook on Mother Goose, but I am resisting. Because that compulsion is, I think, what drove me to quit homeschooling in the first place."

---I definitely can relate to that! Why do I feel this pressure to buy more stuff when reading aloud is really enough? But those lapbooks look like fun...!


Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

As me and my littles read Stories that Jesus Told this week, we'll be thinking of you and yours.

A privilege to walk this way with you, Marybeth...

Celly B said...

Wow, Marybeth, I'll have to check out A Picture-Perfect Childhood. I have a well-worn copy of Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, so I'd love to have a new reference book on reading aloud.

It's funny that you've mentioned reading aloud this week. I've been on a kick to find great old-fashioned chapter books to read aloud. My daughter is just beginning to have the attention span for chapter books, but we also still love reading picture books. I've been trying to create an annotated bibliography of chapter books and picture books to read later and mark them when they've been read. I was hoping that others might find this useful, too, so I've been considering placing it on my blog.
Anyway, happy reading!

Jenny said...

Thank you for blogging about this. I will begin homeschooling my oldest son who will be in kindergarten this fall. I am very excited, but have been overwhelmed by curriculum choices. I want to use the best of this and the best of that!!! Your post helped me realize that keeping it simple is what is necessary. Thanks!
P.S. I love reading your blog!!!