Homeschooling Will - Kindergarten next year!

Posted by  | Friday, April 15, 2011  at 7:00 AM  

As we got into our Pre-K year of homeschooling, it became more clear that homeschooling Will for Kindergarten would be the best option. The reasons for this were:

1. Our pending move overseas.
2. Will is a typical boy (active, wild) and probably a little immature for a public school classroom at this point.
3. Keeping him home for another year will give us the option to "hold him back" for a year, making him the oldest in his class.

Around the same time we were making this decision for the K year, I found out I was pregnant and due in June! I knew that I had to get my ducks in a row asap or risk things not actually happening for the K year. Here are some things that I found helpful or that were recommended to me:

1. 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum - This book was SUPER helpful in helping me evaluate my teaching style compared to my kids' learning styles and what curriculums (and homeschooling approach) I might like. I would, hands down, recommend anyone start here! You can get some of the reviews on her site as well. But the book contains things the site does not - so get it as well!

2. Find a few other homeschooling Moms and get together and ask questions. Lots of questions! A friend of mine organized a "panel" of veteran homeschooling Moms. Several of us got together with them and spent several hours just asking questions! This was very helpful for me.

3. Attend a homeschool conference! I wanted so badly to do just that this spring, but couldn't find one that worked with my pregnancy due date or bedrest times. The big NC conference is held in Winston Salem in late May. So there is still time to attend this one.

4. A few other homeschool books that have been recommended to me include, The Well Trained Mind and books by Ruth Beechick, The Well Trained Mind is a great resource book to have on your shelf. It's a guide to classical education at home and I can say its one that I'll turn to many times, even if I'm not sure about all aspects of classical education at this point.

5. Once you've decided on the direction you're taking, consider looking for your curriculum used. I purchased our Sonlight P4/5 mostly used (and added a few missing items new from Sonlight). I used these sites to look for used curriculum:

Well Trained Mind Forums
Sonlight Forums
Homeschool Classifieds
Wake Curriculum Exchange (for those local to me)
Homeschool Gathering Place (another local spot)

So, what have we landed on for next year for Will?

1. The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading

I had planned to use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I've known many that have used it with great success! I found a copy of this used and was getting ready to start. But it just didn't ever "click" with me.  After doing some more research, I learned about this book. I found a used copy at our local homeschool bookstore and immediately loved it. I still think 100 Easy Lessons is a great option, but I chose this one for several reasons. It seemed more straightforward with less use of unnecessary symbols and font. It is actually over 200 lessons, but carries the child to a 4th grade reading level when completed. It was (like 100 Easy Lessons) very simple, with no "extras" needed except the book itself and some flashcards you can make.

2. Explode the Code phonics practice (Primers A, B, C)

These are not 100% necessary, but I chose to add them to our lessons next year to reinforce the phonics skills. My plan right now is to focus on him learning to read this year, supplementing with these books. Next year, I will move to a more comprehensive Language Arts program. Not sure yet what direction I'll take for that! My only regret is that we haven't already started the primers. I've had them all year, but only recently realized that he was more than ready.

3. RightStart Math, Level A

The decision for math ended up being a lot easier than I anticipated. Right Start Math has been recommended to me at least 15 times by different people. I've researched a few others including Singapore, Saxon and Math-U-See. In the end, I settled on RightStart out of the sheer number of recommendations I received. I figured that God was making that decision easy for me!

4. Sonlight Core A (includes history, worldview, bible, literature, etc.)

Since I've loved Sonlight so much this year, I decided we'd continue it for the K year as well. I love the readings so much! I may consider other options for these subjects for future grades, but for now I'm sticking with Sonlight. Others I would like to research are Tapestry of Grace, Mystery of History, and Story of the World.

5. Handwriting Without Tears K

I've used the pre-K version and liked it, so I plan to continue this with Will. He's really come very far in learning the correct way to form many of his letters already. He is very interested in this, so I figured I should capitalize (pun intended! :) on his interest and encourage the proper way to write those letters.

The only subject I haven't mentioned is science! Ironic, since this is what I taught in a classroom for five years. :) I have a couple of options for this... '

1. Sonlight's Science Curriculum. That is my first choice, but budget restraints are holding me back from purchasing this.

2. Another option would be to create my own unit studies in Science that mimic Sonlight's topics. I would use library books, lapbooks (looking forward to doing some of these either way), experiments and fieldtrips as appropriate for the topic. Of course, this involves a lot more planning on my part. Time is extremely valuable when you're a Mom and Wife! (Which is part of my decisions to use Sonlight in the first place!)

3. We plan on participating in a local homeschool co-op. This means that for 8 weeks in the fall and spring, Will can participate in a "class" on any number of topics. They are taught by other homeschool Moms (or Dads I suppose!) I know he loves all things science, so if I can chose a science related topic for him, I will. This could be plenty sufficient for Science at this age.

Whew! What a journey this has been so far! I'm thankful for this pre-K year to help get us in the routine for next year. There have been many rough days for Will and I both, but by the grace of God we're ending our year well and he is still very excited about learning and school. :) I'm excited to see what next year holds for us!

As I wrote about a few days ago, the reason I share all this stems from discussion among the POH authors concerning our oldest, almost school age children. We figured it was a discussion our readers might want to be interested in as well. I look forward to reading what some of the other ladies plan on sharing during their upcoming weeks on POH!


Jenn said...

Have you looked at the Tapestry of Grace curriculum? The creator of that are in our care group at church. I think it's designed for a mom who is teaching multiple ages.

I hope Will does well in kindergarten!

The Pearce Family said...

Hi Christina! I am a newbie to the world of homeschooling in the Raleigh/Durham area and I really appreciate your post. You gave me a lot of researching to do on the various curricula you mentioned! What was the name of the co op you had planned on joining? This is something I really want to do with my son. Thanks!

Christina said...

Pearce fam - it is the Generations Homeschool group (the co-op is called Legacy) out of Crossroads Fellowship church on Millbrook Rd. Here's the link:

Christina said...

and Jenn - I plan on looking at Tapestry of Grace before making decisions for 1st grade! I've heard good things about it!

noahandlylasmommi said...

Great post! I'm planning to check out of the few of the things you mentioned. Thanks!

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