For a little while, I was a bit flustered at trying to figure out our plans for the year or even trimester. I realized I was trying to fit in too much and make things too complicated for myself. I still might be making things too complicated, and I will soon find out if that's the case.
To recap, my overall goals for his kindergarten year:
- Keeping learning fun. Not stressful. Kindergarten!
- Reading instruction/build confidence with reading
- Build a mathematical-thinking foundation
- Learn how to properly form lowercase letters
- Be exposed to a variety of good literature through read-alouds, audio books, and reading to himself
So for this first trimester, here's my plan for Jonathan, age 5.5:
We'll start our first official week by making an "all about me" book. He loves making books and I'm sure he'll enjoy this activity. He's already talking about it and wanting to get started, but sometimes I think a little anticipation is good.
Bible study: At first, I was making things really complicated by trying to match a Bible reading with a memory verse + related song + coloring page + flannelboard. Sure, it's nice if things can be cohesive in theory, but in practice it was just getting complicated, and unnecessarily so. So we will read through some of our Bible storybooks, do scripture memory, read some devotionals that we have, and do songs but they don't have to all work together. It can be "pick it up and do it" and that is a-ok.
Phonics: Moving forward with All About Reading level 1. We are about halfway through this level (plenty of breaks up to this point) and it is going well. Some lessons are quite a bit longer than others. For example, a lesson might have a few new sounds, plus some activity sheets, plus a few pages of fluency reading. I break those into several days. Then the next lesson might be "just" have him read a story from the AAR reader. Much shorter.
If we want to take a break from AAR, we can pop over to some Happy Phonics games or Reading Pathways for some practice. But mostly? He is starting to really feel comfortable with reading children's books. He can read a lot of words and "just" having him read to me is the best thing, imo.
Strengthening his reading skills and confidence is my primary academic goal for him this year.
Math: RightStart math level A, 2nd edition. We have already completed a few lessons in here upon request. It is going well. The first 3 lessons have been a good length for us. He wanted to do more, but nope we will do one lesson per day max. Later on if he wants to keep moving I might entertain more than one lesson, but I think for the sake of avoiding burnout and also letting concepts soak in, one per day is plenty. If we want a break from RightStart, I have Math-U-See Alpha (I now own the DVD and teacher's manual thanks to some freebies from a friend! And some other MUS DVDs, too), Math Mammoth, and the Critical Thinking Co. kindergarten-level book.
We'll also do some calendar work and tally stick counting/bundling up to 100 as described in the MFWK manual.
Handwriting: Johnny is decent with capital letters and it's time to work on lowercase. I guess. His fine motor skills are improving and he enjoys writing. A few weeks ago, he made me a "Happy July 13" card with a silly message inside. Haha! So we'll use Handwriting Without Tears K (since I already have it) and I'll look for other ways for him to do some writing.
Science/crafts/poetry/music/nature/etc.: Even though I'm using different materials for the 3Rs right now, I still like the My Father's World kindergarten units. We have completed 7 of 26. I like the unit study with these, and will use them to help focus our library books for read-alouds. Also, field trips, educational DVDs and such. The Bible lessons are short and sweet, but I think they are age-appropriate and worthwhile.
I've decided to skip all phonics and the worksheets within, so that I can have them to use with Vivienne. Unfortunately I don't have the ones from previous lessons, so I'm not sure what I'll do about that. Maybe create my own for those units, maybe skip it. I dunno. I think she could be ready to do the program herself in full next year. It will look different for her when she does it, because I will likely use the introductory phonics with her.
I also plan to use Five in a Row vol 1. and the FIAR character study book. I also have the character study book put out by Beautiful Feet, and perhaps we can do a mish-mash of them. I might wait until we're done with the MFWK units, or I might start doing those alongside our MFWK? I'm going to be flexible here.
Developing the Early Learner: I don't even know what to call this workbook, exactly. We have only used it a few times but I want to be more deliberate with pulling it out this year. It has activities for improving eye tracking, listening skills, memory, thinking skills, etc. Brain exercises.
Field trips: I would ideally like to do at least 2 field trips per month. We can do some with my little local field trip group, or some as a family. I will try to match them up to our MFWK units, or perhaps just something fun of interest. Or the zoo, or children's museum, or some one-time thing going on. For these to happen, I think I'm going to have to be intentional with planning and putting them on the calendar.
We have one coming up in August that is at a park and we'll have a program about insects, reptiles and amphibians. We will likely do a family trip to a local dairy as part of our cow unit.
Other activities: Library storytime, homeschool playtime co-op group, swimming lessons and who knows what else.
As far as scheduling, I think that's what tripped me up the most when I was trying to make spreadsheets and stuff. I am in a busy stage right now with the baby and I do need to work with and around her. I want to do reading instruction in some form 4-5 days per week. Math, I'm thinking 3-5 days per week. Handwriting/fine motor skill work 3-5 days. I think. Read-alouds daily.
But really, this is doable because lessons can be really short. I can do a 15-minute reading lesson with the baby crawling around nearby/put her in her playpen/put her in the highchair with something to nom on.
Vivienne is gobs easier at this age. I will include her with read-alouds, Bible time and of course field trips and activities. If she wants to join us for phonics, I've just been using some of the AAR tiles or flashcards to teach her letter names and sounds. She is also welcome to join us for some math lessons if she wants. I also have a lot of educational toys on her level that we can work with together.
2nd/3rd trimester possibilities:
We may add some additional science experiments using some books I already have.
We may also add some more focused history reading via History for Little Pilgrims and History Stories for Children (which I already own). They are a part of the Heart of Dakota curriculum. I considered using HOD this year but there was plenty I would omit and I thought it would complicate things by trying to integrate it all. Still, I may use it to help guide history readings and discussion later on.
Maybe we'll add on our Beginning Geography workbook.
Once we complete AAR level 1, I will add a spelling program. Most likely, All About Spelling. I'll look into spelling programs later.
Check back with me in a few months to see what we really did :).