Last year, when I was researching homeschooling, I spent an inordinate amount of time reading through homeschooling blogs, trying to get a sense of what homeschooling really looks like. I was thrilled to stumble upon the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop, hosted last year by Darcy at My 3 Boybarians. This year, it's being hosted by Heart of the Matter, but the gist is the same -- each week, participating bloggers post about a particular theme related to their homeschool. And this year... um, I guess I have a homeschool. So here we go.
Curriculum week! Since I have been researching homeschooling in general and particular curricula for quite a while now, it was exciting to finally take the plunge and place those orders. Here is what we've decided to use for our kindergarten year.
(Please note: I do have a two-year-old at home as well, who is along for the ride on all these adventures. I do not have any particular curriculum I am following for him, besides including him as much as possible on his own level with whatever I am doing with his sister. He is learning so much just by osmosis, that I will not pursue anything formal with him until next year at the very earliest.)
Math - We're using RightStart, level A. We have completed 13 lessons so far, and absolutely love the program. It takes the time to build an intuitive sense for numbers, and I am amazed at how well my daughter is already able to do mental addition. The manipulatives are also wonderful, and serve as a great diversion for curious two-year-olds.
Reading/Spelling - We are using All About Spelling (level 1) as both a reading program and a spelling program. The whole concept of teaching word-building tools to both decode (read) and encode (spell) words makes so much sense to me. It always struck me as odd for these two skills (which are two sides of the same coin, really) to be taught separately. I can see how much it has helped with her reading already, and am pretty sure we will be moving on to level 2 by mid-year. The program is also sensory-rich, with a lot of word-building using magnetic letters. This really helps to keep my girl engaged. She is also doing independent reading to me every day, as well as reading for her own pleasure. She particularly loves the Dick and Jane books, and -- get this -- the McGuffey readers (first published in 1838). Oh yeah, we're kickin' it old school around here...
Grammar/Language Arts - We have been playing a great game called Very Silly Sentences to learn the parts of speech, and also doing MadLibs on our many road trips this summer. Once we get into a nice routine this fall, I will gradually blend in First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, but at a relaxed pace since it is technically for first grade. We'll just see how it goes. And in terms of literature, we're going to keep doing what we have been doing every day for the past several years: read. Read, and read, and read. I generally read things aloud to her that are far above her official grade level, and she has the vocabulary to show for it. Some of last year's read-alouds included The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and The Hobbit. Some of the titles I have lined up for this year:
Magic or Not?
Little House in the Big Woods
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Alice In Wonderland
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Totally subject to change based on the whims of the moment, of course, but this gives me a place to start if we're ever stuck for a book.
Handwriting - The preschool where she did PreK last year used Handwriting Without Tears, and since it seemed to be working for her, I just went ahead and ordered the next workbook. So far so good. She is still writing a hodge-podge of upper-case and lower-case letters in a variety of sizes, so my goal for her for the year is to be able to print legibly using appropriate case. Ha! It's good to dream big. In any case, we'll keep working on it.
History/Geography - Not to put down the importance of learning about community helpers or anything, but she already did that, for the past two years in preschool. She's learned about firefighters and police officers and all the usual preschool social studies jazz. Important, for sure! But we're skipping over the usual kindergarten social studies curriculum and going straight for history and geography. And to paraphrase Julie Andrews, the beginning is a very good place to start, so we're using The Story of the World Volume 1 (Ancients), supplemented with additional reading from the library. Very fun! We are also making a timeline to make sense of the chronology of history, and using mapwork from the SOTW activity guide to incorporate geography studies.
Science/Nature - This is the one subject for which we are not using a curriculum at all. My girl is naturally very science- and nature-oriented, so I am simply following her interest. We are reading a lot, checking out DVD's from the library, going on field trips, etc. She will also continue to work on her nature journal on our frequent nature walks, and keep her birdwatching log book. In some subject areas, having to make it all up myself would give me an anxiety attack, but in this arena, it feels very freeing. This is one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling -- I get to indulge her interests and allow her to dig as deep as she wants into the areas that most interest her. Should be fun.
Physical Education - Since I'm not exactly a paragon of virtue when it comes to exercise, this is definitely an area where we need outside structure! She just started a twice-weekly tae kwon do class, and will play on a soccer team in the fall. When soccer is over, I'll see whether I think the TKD is sufficient, or whether we should look for some other kind of winter activity (gymnastics, maybe?). For now, I think she's all set.
Whew! So that's our curriculum choices. I am really excited to dive in truly full-time when big sister starts her [gulp] senior year in high school. Oh, what a year we have ahead of us...