Last week marked the halfway point of our first term working through B’s Charlotte Mason-inspired kindergarten curriculum, so I thought it might be time for an update as well as a link to Term 2!
What Has Worked
I think, for the most part, everything has worked for us extremely well. The majority of the readings have been a success so far with just a few exceptions that I had a problem with instead of him. He at least hasn’t complained about any of them, and usually looks forward to the reading time as he draws in his nature sketchbook (usually just stuff from his head rather than the beautiful nature books I got for him ) while he listens. He thinks the smiling bean in Seed Babies is hilarious, and has been especially attentive during all of the stories of The Irish Twins so far. He loved the Winnie-the-Pooh and Beatrix Potter stories when he was younger and that hasn’t changed at all. He has also enjoyed Old Mother West Wind so much that we started reading the other Thornton Burgess books (that aren’t in the later AO curriculum – all free for Kindle) and those have been a huge hit as well.
I’ve tried some narration with him just to get him used to that, but not a whole lot as I don’t really think it’s necessary right now. I can often tell just by the way he listens whether or not he is actually listening, and for the most part, he is.
His handwriting has also improved a lot already with the copywork, and it’s nice to have a visual record of how it evolved just these last few weeks. I also love our new math program (read more about that change below) as that gives me another visual record of what he’s been doing so far. I think being able to look back on his little math and handwriting activities when he’s older will be fun.
We have our regular “school” time four mornings per week (usually Monday through Thursday unless something else comes up), and then Fridays we try to go for a nature walk. Each school time lasts about 45 minutes (including “morning time” – see below for that – so the part listed in the curriculum below is probably only about 25 – 30 minutes), which is just about the perfect amount of time for B to sit still. Sometimes he likes to keep drawing in his nature sketchbook after he finishes his copywork (and I keep our composer on the radio), and sometimes he’s ready to do something else at that point. Ultimately, the short lessons and limited school time have been pretty perfect for us.
What Hasn’t Worked
The original math book I had picked out, Arithmetic for Young Children, was more difficult to work with than I had anticipated and I found that I needed more direction. Before starting the term, I had debated between that book and MEP, but E said he liked the book better and he’s the “math person” (being an engineer and all) of the family, so I deferred to him. It ended up being 15 minutes of me just asking B question after question after question, with some of them not making much sense to either one of us and I think we were both a little frustrated.
Right around this same time, a blog post about MEP that was written last year by one of the AO Auxiliary members, Brandy Vencel (who has an incredibly helpful Charlotte Mason blog) happened to show up in my Facebook feed and that sealed the deal for me. We made the switch, I haven’t looked back, and I’m excited to keep going with this math program through elementary school. As I mentioned earlier, I love the little activities the program offers, that I have a little record of what he has been up to this year, and that’s it’s free.
I also switched out The Eskimo Twins after a somewhat graphic description of a bear-hunting trip and what the Inuit did with the carcass. Not that it was offensive in any way as I appreciate the fact that they were respectful to the animal and realize that many of their customs come from that respect. But it just wasn’t something I wanted to be reading to my son at this age. When he’s older, I can definitely see it being a good discussion book. This is yet another thing where you’re the best judge of what to read to your kids and maybe this is something that wouldn’t be an issue for you.
We exchanged that for The Irish Twins which has been a lot more innocent, though I do read through these chapters myself before we go through them during school time just so I know what to expect as there have been a few paragraphs I’ve needed to modify as I go.
I also changed out one of The Children’s Treasury of Virtues readings (“Boy Wanted”) because I didn’t care for the overall message or the language. Your mileage, again, my vary!
We’ve also not done well with handicrafts. Honestly, if I don’t have time scheduled for something, it just doesn’t happen, so I think I may have to be more intentional about that going forward. He pulled out his lap loom in September and was working on that for a while, so maybe I can get away with that…maybe? There was no finished product, though, so maybe not….
I did update the downloadable curriculum to reflect all of these changes as well.
One thing I didn’t mention when I posted the first term curriculum was “morning time,” because I hadn’t planned on doing it at that time. AO recommends a hymn and a folksong each month, but I wasn’t sure where to fit that in and if it was even appropriate at this age, so I left them out. But then, as I listened to The Mason Jar Podcast and this concept of morning time (where some parents include the hymn and the folksong) was mentioned a few times, I decided to look into it more.
Essentially, how I’ve heard it described is that it’s a sort of “catch-all,” especially if you’re educating more than one student, where you can make sure you cover all of the readings/songs/poems/etc. that might otherwise be lost. You can also throw in there anything that you think might be important for your family. So, for instance, our morning time looks like this:
- Bible Story (from The Jesus Storybook Bible)
- Nicene Creed (we recite this in church so I thought it might be good to hear it every day so we can memorize it)
- Art (we take a pretty quick look at whatever our art piece is – this is probably B’s least favorite part)
- Folksong (this is from AO, though we have substituted as necessary – last month we did Shoo Fly instead of Blow the Man Down)
- Hymn (also from AO, but we substituted this month Take My Life and Let It Be instead of Jesus, Lover of My Soul)
- Poem (this is something I pick randomly – last month we did The Mist and All and this month we’re doing A Bed in the Leaves)
- Doxology (again, something we recite/sing in church, so I’m including it to memorize it)
I download the two songs (if I don’t already have them) from Amazon or iTunes and we sing along with the music. For the poetry, I just find a poem that I think will be seasonally relevant and these two pieces are the kids’ favorite parts. B hides under the table and hums or sings along to the music (shy) and C belts out the words she knows…usually the last two or three of each line (not shy).
It’s fun to have them both be able to participate in some aspect of it since C isn’t all that interested in the math and reading time later on unless there are gratuitous pictures in the stories. As I mentioned, a few of these are things we do in church on Sundays so it’s not all that unique for morning time, but I like them, so I included them based on things that other parents using morning time had brought home from their churches.
I’m sure this will evolve as it’s extremely short right now (only about 10-15 minutes, depending on how long the songs are) and I’ve read that some other morning times last upwards of 2 hours, but it suits us for now.
And so, without further ado, here is term 2! It’s almost identical to term 1 except I added a pre-reading element. I was able to find the BOB Books Pre-Reading set at Costco for $11, so I decided to include those (though we’re definitely not adding any formal reading instruction right now). It’ll all pretty much be review for B since he knows his alphabet very well and all of the sounds the letters make, but I think it’ll be good to get us used to using the BOB Books as that’s the reading method we’ll be using next year.
The only new books other than the BOB Books, are Science in Seconds in the science section, and The Artful Year in handicrafts. Otherwise, you can refer to the original curriculum post for links to the rest of the books.
Again, if anyone finds this useful or has feedback, feel free to leave a comment!