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As of last Friday, we are done with B’s kindergarten year. It didn’t really hit me until later in the week that that was a bit of a milestone…..that he would never be a kindergartner ever again. That all of a sudden I had a first grader and a week after we start that, he’ll be getting his license and moving out….
Okay, maybe not. But we did finish and, overall, I think the year was a success. My goal was to get us into a good rhythm for when we started a “real” curriculum and to see if I could actually manage to do this homeschooling thing for real. Putting it down on paper and making plans and setting up a homeschooling area is all fine and good, but when actually putting it into practice, I was a little intimidated. I discovered, though, that I thrive in all the putting it down on paper and making plans and setting up a homeschooling area and actually implementing all of it in real life. This was good to learn and gave me confidence for the years to come.
In all, we covered eleven areas, including:
- American History
- Nature Study
- Reading Instruction
And we read part of or all of 24 books:
- Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans
- How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning
- The Irish Twins
- The Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball that Floats in the Air
- Rookie Read-About Geography
- Old Mother West Wind
- Seed Babies
- One Small Square
- Beatrix Potter
- The Children’s Treasury of Virtues
- Favorite Poems, Old and New
- Science in Seconds
- The Boy Who Drew Birds
- Bob Pre-Reader Collection
For the most part, we followed the kindergarten curriculum exactly, with only a few minor adjustments here and there (after the larger change of math curriculum in the fall). I will be posting a new kindergarten curriculum for this coming fall hopefully soon. In the meantime, here are a few thoughts and what we learned.
Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans was just okay. There were definitely stories that either didn’t hold B’s attention or required a lot of editing as the language and/or attitudes toward people of color were pretty archaic. I have a feeling we may run into this quite often with some of the older books we’ll be reading, so it was a good reminder to me that pre-reading is important. For the most part, it wasn’t a bad book, but I may look at a few others over the summer to see what other options there are.
How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning and The Boy Who Drew Birds were both great, but I’m not sure they were necessary as an addition to Stories of Great Americans, so I may take them out of the curriculum but mention them as additional reading that might be fun.
There were parts of The Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball that Floats in the Air that we really liked (in particular, Gemila of the desert) and there were definitely parts I didn’t like (in particular, aspects of Manenko’s story). I may look for alternatives, but I’ll probably end up keeping this one in the curriculum since parts of it really were very good, but add some notes about wording that might want to be addressed before reading it to your child. Also, I think some of these chapters were awfully long to read in one sitting, so I’m going to add a note suggesting breaking them up over two days.
All of the Rookie Read-About Geography books were just right in terms of length and content and those are definitely staying.
Of course our maps (picked up at Costco) and the globe were essential in this area also as we were able to look a place up on both of them any time something was mentioned in any subject we covered.
I’ve discovered that I’m not a huge Thornton Burgess fan in all of this, though I would definitely say that B is. His books aren’t bad at all, but when it comes to these types of stories and their “educational value,” I actually thought Clara Dillingham Pierson’s Among the … People series was much better. B has enjoyed both authors equally, especially the more serial nature of the Burgess books, but because Burgess is used quite a bit in the Ambleside Online curriculum, I’m planning on replacing Old Mother West Wind with one of Pierson’s books just to offer a little exposure to her as well.
Seed Babies was absolutely perfect, and would be even better if you play along at home and soak some seeds in a paper towel to see the process for yourself. Talking seeds for kindergartners? You can’t go wrong there. 🙂
I think all of the books here worked really well. The One Small Square books are just so well done in general with beautiful illustrations and engaging (and short!) descriptions for each topic covered. B especially liked going over all of the little asides for each of the images. I do wish I had made more of an effort to get to a local pond when we were reading that one so he could see these things for himself, but hopefully we’ll have some opportunities to do that this summer.
Science in Seconds was also very good, though definitely did require some prep work. I found that if I didn’t read and prep for those in advance, they did not get done when I had them on the schedule so I had to rearrange things a little and scramble to put something together later in the week. On the next curriculum, I’m planning to go through and suggest an activity for each week with notes about any supplies needed so there isn’t too much prep work involved.
Winnie-the-Pooh and Beatrix Potter have been favorites since B was tiny, so these weren’t new to us, but we still enjoyed reading them again. These are definitely staying.
The Children’s Treasury of Virtues was also a good choice and B especially liked some of the longer stories and illustrations. I, on the other hand, didn’t care for some of the stories/poems for the message they portrayed, so I’ll be reviewing this part and modifying some of the listed readings.
We just read one poem per day and we both got a lot out of this, including finding a few new favorite poets. Some of them were a hit with B while others (ahemShakespeareahem) not so much, but the point was to just expose him to poetry and not necessarily to give him a love of all poets. Favorite Poems, Old and New was perfect.
Overall, I loved MEP Reception and am so glad we made the switch early on. B’s favorite parts, by far, were the games. He asked to play them over and over again when we came to game days and he enjoyed the crafts as well. For the most part I think he liked the more math-oriented activities, but when there got to be too many questions or he was struggling with them, he really, really didn’t like it (which is understandable). I think we both learned a lot here – me about how to HELP him learn, and him about math in general – and I am definitely keeping this part.
Over the course of this year, we studied Mary Cassatt, Giotto, and James McNeill Whistler and this was also an area of learning for both of us. Picture study actually started out as B’s least favorite part of our school time, which was hard for me to swallow, but also made me take a step back and try and figure out what I was doing wrong. Did he just not like art? I knew that wasn’t true because some art does resonate with him and he could sit and look at pictures in books for hours.
Ultimately, what helped us is that I stopped looking at this part of school time as an exam and treated it more like a conversation. When I told him the stories behind the paintings (if there was one) or just asked him simple questions (eg. if you were in this picture, what do you think you would hear? smell? feel? what do you think the person in the piece is thinking about/looking at? etc.), he was much more engaged as opposed to me asking him to describe it or tell me what stood out to him.
B is a bit of a perfectionist and I think he was always worried he’d give me the “wrong” answer when I was asking his opinion on something, so he didn’t answer at all. It also helped when I started doing the picture study aids which forced me to learn more about each piece rather than trying to rely on my art history degree and gave me more fodder to discuss. We’ve come a long way and by the time we were done with Whistler, our picture study time was a whole lot more productive and enjoyable for us both.
This is an area that probably needs some improvement, but we at least had exposure to music we had never listened to before. I even found some new favorites. Over the course of the year during copywork time and then randomly whenever we listed to our “school playlist,” we heard Dvorak, medieval era music (chanting and instrumental music), and von Dittersdorf, who, I’m ashamed to admit, I had never even heard of before. I heard of a few resources through The Mason Jar that I want to look into for future composer study, but I think this is probably okay for now.
We also sang various hymns and folk songs which got mixed reviews from B. Either way, I’m glad we have some music in our daily routine just to add variety.
I’ve gone very, very, v e r y slowly in this area as B has shown very little interest in learning to read and I don’t want to force it. I do know that he understands some of the basic concepts of reading as he often sounds words out to write on his own and he recognizes words that I’m reading. But when I ask him to try to read something for me from an early-reader book, he usually refuses. I picked up the BOB books for next year already at Costco and I did manage to get him to read the first book on his own, so it’s there. We just need to cultivate it a bit.
I think using the BOB Pre-Reader Collection did help. He loved these books and this was one of his favorite parts of school time. I’m hoping that bodes well for next year!
I had no idea how useful and helpful copywork would be, but now I’m so, so glad we did this. We started the year off by using the Simply Charlotte Mason copywork sheets which were great. But then midway through the first term, I found WorksheetWorks.com and started having him copy the poem we were memorizing in morning time. He did one page a day (usually only about 5-8 words) and then I’d read the whole thing after he added another sheet, essentially repeating it every day. In this way, we were not only reading the poem during morning time, but then we’d hear it repeated after copywork which made memorization go much more quickly. There was also a vast improvement in his handwriting, which was my main goal. I’m so glad we decided to do this for this year.
Handicrafts were a challenge and I never really got into a good pattern with them. We did do a few crafts, but for the most part, I usually found that I didn’t have the supplies I needed for a given activity when I needed them (there’s that pesky planning ahead again), so we just scrapped it. Nature hikes, too, were something that I wish we had done more of, but that I’m hoping to make up for this summer.
I did get him a nature journal and bought a few books for him to be able to copy from when we weren’t able to make it out for a nature hike (Animalium, Botanicum [both at Costco!], and Nature Anatomy), but he only did this a handful of times. He complained that the nature journal I bought for him was too small, so, lesson learned…next year he gets a bigger one.
I’ll be posting later this summer with our plans for Year 1, which I’m very excited about. I have all the books we’ll be reading all lined up on the shelf (thanks to Bookfinder and a very generous local friend who loaned her Y1 stash to me), we were just accepted into our local Charlotte Mason homeschool co-op this week (yay!), and I also enrolled B in an umbrella school, so we’re all set for the fall!
If anyone else used this kindergarten curriculum this year, I’d love to hear what you thought about it as well!