Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer break and inital thoughts on this fall

As I mentioned last post, we're going to pause My Father's World kindergarten for two months this summer and take a little break.

Part of it has to do with where I see Johnny's kindergarten year this fall going. Come August when the public school kids are back in the classrooms, I'll call Johnny a kindergartner.

In my state, he's still young enough that he doesn't legally need to do formal schooling (that will come next year at 1st grade, when he's 6 turning 7).

We will still do some structured learning, and I'm working on a plan of what that might look like.

With regard to MFWK, I considered continuing this summer and then starting Heart of Dakota's kindergarten level in the fall. I have a used copy of the teacher's manual and many materials. Recently, I took a closer look at what we'd actually do and I just don't think it's a good fit for J.

Heart of Dakota -- Little Hearts for His Glory (kindergarten) thoughts

HOD initially appealed to me because it's Charlotte Mason-y, and you can also choose your own math, phonics and handwriting programs. I like the freedom of moving forward at my own pace per subject.

But there are some things within that I don't think will be a good fit.

I don't think he'll like the rhymes in motion activities. Any time we do a cutesy song with hand motions, he doesn't really want to participate. Vivienne likes it, but she's 3. Maybe he feels it's too babyish. Bummer.

I'm not excited about what I'm seeing with the science text or activities.

We aren't doing Singapore Math (as far as I know...but probably not) and so we can skip the activities in the teacher's manual.

A lot of the hands-on craft activities, I just felt...meh.

I'm not too sure about the history within. Part of it uses the Bible (which I like) and then it also uses History for Little Pilgrims and another book later on. I need to give these a closer look. It might indeed be a good intro to history at an age-appropriate level.

So, what *would* I use HOD for, if I moved ahead with it? Well maybe the Bible memory verses and associated activities, maybe the history, maybe the Thomas Burgess read-alouds. I've heard mixed reactions on the Burgess stories, so we'll just have to give it a shot to see how we like it.

I'm not sure if those minimal things would be worth using the guide at all. Again, I just need to take a closer look at the materials. Perhaps I'll use part of the guide, or perhaps doing our own thing will give us some more freedom.

Back to MFWK...

So since I'm underwhelmed with HOD for kindergarten, now I need to step back and figure out how we can use MFWK.

Waaay back, I considered using MFWK for his entire K year, rather than starting ahead of it like we did. I'm glad we did start it because I can see more clearly how the program works and what I like and don't like.

I like:

- The unit themes. Just right for this age. Fun to explore different aspects of God's creation through books, crafts, activities, etc.
- The Bible lessons are kind of different. They're linked to the week's unit theme, so rather than reading through the Bible, it is kind of a topical lesson instead. This is a pro and a con. I do think the lessons are very well suited for this age.

We aren't using:

- The phonics. I should have just started this program back when Johnny was showing an interest in learning initial blends. But since I waited, he is way past all of the phonics in this level. The creators of the program say you can indeed use it for readers, but it would have been a better bang for our buck if we used those phonics activities and lessons, I think. Oh well. Now I know for my daughters.

- Up until this unit, We did the math and handwriting worksheets. They are fine. But perhaps I want to just save them for Vivienne.

- We aren't using several worksheets each unit, involving picture cards, a drawing activity and I think one other thing.

- We aren't using the Cuisinaire rods activities, though I should pull them out again to see if Johnny has an interest.

How we can use MFWK this fall:

I still really enjoy the unit themes, though I wonder if we'll get tired of it mid-program. There are a few weeks of farm animals and a few weeks of wild animals. I might smush those together.

I enjoy the Bible lessons and discussions that come with.

Some of the hands-on science and craft activities are fun and engaging.

We have 19 units of MFWK left, and less if I combine.

I can perhaps follow the pace of roughly one per week starting this fall, and we'll wrap up in winter/early spring. Or I can stretch it to roughly 1.5-2 weeks per unit to cover August - May or June. I think I'll just have to decide later on.

Right now, I'm thinking through my goals for Johnny's kindergarten year. That's a separate post. Once I really nail that down, I think it would be more appropriate to then figure out how curriculum can fit those needs, rather than the other way 'round.

This summer ...

I hope to make regular trips to the library and participate in the summer reading program. There's a class or activity roughly each week or more frequently and I'd like to attend plenty of those.

I hope to make several visits to the Children's Museum and Zoo, both of which we have memberships. Also, other museums, parks, berry farms, etc.

Playing outdoors as much as possible, especially in the mornings before the heat of the day. Johnny needs kicked outside sometimes, and will complain that it's too hot, too windy, too cold, too whatever. No. You are a kid. You need to play outside!

I plan to continue having Johnny read aloud, again as part of the summer reading program and also just for fun. He's been asking for more Bob Books and we'll use those, and regular books, too. I do think I'll continue moving through All About Reading level 1. Just as it feels right; no schedule.

I'm looking forward to these summer days! I know that we could just keep on going, or perhaps with just a short break. But I feel like you're only 5 during the summer oh I dunno. ONCE. Time to enjoy. It's not like you can stop a kid from learning :).

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