Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Planning on using My Father's World Kindergarten

I hemmed and hawed about My Father's World Kindergarten. Ever since I saw the curriculum, I thought WOW! That would be so fun!

Then last year at a consignment sale, I bought the 1st edition teacher's manual and the associated letter flashcards for $15 total. I figured I could preview the manual and get a better idea for how it would flow, compared to just viewing the sample online. If I liked it, I'd buy the 2nd edition manual since it had lots of improvements.

But then...I was having doubts. I didn't like the look of the phonics so much, and the manual was confusing to me. I knew that would be remedied in the 2nd edition, since it had a grid layout and was supposedly better organized. But some of the things just looked too repetitive.

Some of the (hard to find, I should add) negative reviews said some of it was too repetitive. But other moms said it helped the kids learn.

Also, I was a little intimidated by instructions that said something like "Present information on zebras. Explain why they have stripes." I was supposed to pull that info from library books or an encyclopedia or something. Pfft. Why couldn't they just have little blurb factoids in the manual as well?

So part of me was like, maybe I will skip MFWK and do something else. I looked at other all-inclusive curricula for that age group. I thought about how I wanted the year to look at our house.

I thought some unit studies, involving fiction and non-fiction books on topics of interest, simple crafts, hands-on science and the sort would be fun. Something that integrated Bible would be great. And something gentle with math and reading instruction.

After making a list like that, I realized that was exactly what MFWK was. Why reinvent the wheel?

Rather than taking all the time to plan and pull things together (and probably fall way short and give up), I decided that MFWK really would be a good option for us. I could tweak things that didn't work, and that would probably be a million times easier than putting something else together. We could take a break from it and do our own thing for a little bit, but still jump back into that framework when we wanted.

Another factor? I found out that I'm having another baby! It was that positive pregnancy test, and knowing I'm due in late Sept/early October that solidified the need to keep this upcoming year really simple. I wanted something preplanned and laid out for me, because I think that having that guide and at least loosely following it would help me gain confidence. I know I could just take a big unschooling approach for the year, since Johnny is still young...but that's not what I'm wanting.

I bought the MFWK deluxe package, which also included a classical music CD, cuisinaire rods and a book with it, a book for moms that I already owned, an ant hill farm, a butterfly garden, a book about dinosaurs and an inflatable globe.

I then sold my MFWK 1st edition manual, the new flashcards that I got with my new order, and the new book, rather than my used ones. I figured those two new items might make the eBay auction more appealing. Would you believe I sold that set for a hefty profit? I started it low, but the bidders bid it on up.

So all told, my MFWK deluxe pack cost a net of $146. What a deal! I'll be able to reuse everything with my other two kids, except I'll need to buy the worksheet pack for each. But still. Good price, and at the end of everyone's preschool/kindergarten I might be able to resell some of it.

There are still some things about MFWK that I'm unsure about liking. For instance, the phonics, handwriting and math are integrated into each unit. So if we want to speed one area up or slow one area down, that might be difficult.

Also, I will need to use the library a lot. I'm going to keep my eyes out for some sort of children's encyclopedia (1 volume!) that might hit on a lot of the unit topics for quick reference. I could still reserve books ahead of time, and then pick up 2-3 weeks at a time, so that should be doable.

After reviewing the 2nd edition manual, I'm so glad I upgraded. The guide makes SO much more sense, plus there are additional activities, a beefed up reading list, and more notes from the curriculum's author.

Some moms use MFWK as a K4 preschool program, and start somewhere around when their kid is 4.5 if he is showing readiness. They might take it at a slower pace for awhile.

Other moms use it as a true kindy program.

I think it really depends on the mom and the kid.

I haven't decided when we'll start. Some of the units involve things in nature that are seasonal, such as leaves, apples, and the sort. So in a way, I'd like to start in warmer months to make the most out of that. We couldn't study leaves right now, since there are no buds on any of our trees yet.

Johnny is only 4 years and 3 months. Still really young. Maybe he'll be ready to start slowly in July or August (I'm thinking it might be fun to do a little bit when it's too hot to be outside? Play outside in the early morning, do a little bit of the school activities in the afternoon?).

Then, take a big ol' break when the baby is born, and restart when I feel up to it.

I don't know. I have time to figure it out.

I do know that it is just preschool/kindergarten. I shouldn't get stressed, because it's not THAT big of a deal. I want to keep it fun for all of us.

The MFWK program seems like a gentle introduction to more formal schooling, both for the child and parent. I'm optimistic!