It’s finally arrived! My oldest starts Kindergarten this year. How?! Why didn’t I listen when they told me not to blink?! Truth be told, I’m excited. Donovan is an eager learner and has been asking constantly when he can start school. And since we’re homeschooling him, the mom fears I have about leaving him for a whole day, wondering if he’s listening, hoping he’s learning, are all gone. I’ll get to see firsthand how he’s doing and what’s he’s up to. Choosing to homeschool is something that has brought my heart a lot of peace for many reasons and has been the easy part of the process so far.
Deciding WHAT to teach was decidedly more challenging but we’ve come up with a good plan that my husband, Donovan and I are really happy to dive into. Now I’ll be honest; this plan is more than I would do for a lot of kids. I was blessed with a lot of wisdom and advice from other homeschooling families and I agree with most of the information they shared with me. I believe little ones should have lots of time to play, they should be read to often, they should be taught how to help around the home and how to be useful. I love the idea of gentle learning in the early years. The amount of what we have planned for Kindergarten feels counterintuitive to that all of that beautiful advice…but feels totally right for Donovan.
In fact, Clementine will most likely have a gentler version of kinder when she’s ready to “officially” begin school – she just doesn’t need as much as my son. But Donovan, since birth, has always been driven and it takes a lot to feed his mind. It’s wonderful and exhausting at the same time. So bear that in mind as I share our plan for him. My husband and I also know that we’ll be taking homeschooling a year at a time…what may be a great fit this year may not be by next year and we are giving ourselves license to adjust as we need to to accommodate our kiddos. I would encourage you to do the same!
Classical Conversations – This will be our second year with CC and I’ll be tutoring my son’s class. We love CC! It’s a program of co-ops across the country that meets once a week. It follows the philosophy that children learn and process information at different periods of development. In these early years it means my son will be memorizing a LOT of information across a variety of subjects including math, science, English, history, Latin, music and art. Around 9-10 years old, he will learn how to process and evaluate that information and then during the high school years he will learn how to share and dictate the information. It’s academically rigorous in that the children receive an incredible amount of facts and information each year, but for kindergarten it’s not much work beyond the weekly class. We don’t take time to review the weekly information beyond playing the class CD’s in the car. And it works.
A Year of Playing Skillfully – Beyond CC for a morning each week, if I could do nothing else for my son, I would make sure we fit in A Year of Playing Skillfully. It’s a curriculum that provides a monthly theme along with corresponding play activities. The activities are broken down by subject and are a gentle introduction to letters, numbers, science, habits and literacy but all executed through playful activities. My son will get to paint and color, run around outside, look for bugs, go on nature walks and be a kid. One of our kids was also diagnosed with sensory issues. This program looks like it will be an excellent fit to help through some of those challenges while providing lots and lots of play. We’re excited to use this one for the next several years.
Morning Basket + Tea Time – We’ve been doing this already and my kids love it! Morning Basket is our time just after breakfast when we read books covering a variety of subjects (Bible, poetry, history, art, character, etc). The morning reading time lasts about 30 minutes and I often had to threaten to stop reading if they don’t eat their breakfast. Tea time is a few times a week. I get dinner prepped while my kids are in quiet time and then when they wake up we leisurely drink tea, eat a snack and I read books for fun. Usually it’s a variety of picture books followed by a few chapters from whatever chapter book we’re currently in (Little House on the Prairier, Milly Molly Mandy, etc.) It’s easily my kids’ favorite part of the day.
Right Start Math – I picked this program out for a few reasons. First was that it utilized a lot of manipulatives and games. My son loves playing games and I don’t want school to be stressful at this age. My job is to fan the flames and help him to love learning. I also heard great feedback from other parents about how well their children learned and mastered the content. Lastly, it’s based on levels not grades. We can go through the curriculum slowly and it will keep. There’s no rush to finish it in a school year. My plan is to keep math time to 15 minutes a day – short and snappy is more important to me than whether or not we finish the program this school year.
IEW Primary Arts of Language – IEW is used in the middle years of CC and I’d heard wonderful things about the PAL program. It’s a multi-sensory approach to learning reading, writing and spelling that provides a thorough foundation for language arts. My son is so excited to play the reading games that I had to hide them until school starts. It’s also a program that works well for Kindergarten through 2nd grade so if we keep Language Arts time to 15 minutes a day there’s again no pressure to push through a lesson just to check it off the list. Again, short and snappy!
Phew! It’s a lot isn’t it? But again, a lot of time and care went into making selections specific to how Donovan learns and what he needs. So how would I change it up it up for Clementine? I would simply do A Year of Playing Skillfully plus morning basket + tea time. That’s the plan I have in mind for her now based on the person she is becoming but we’ll see as time goes by.
As we finish refining out schedule for the school year, I’ll post our schedule with subjects so you can see how it all fits together!