As promised, I’ll try to tell a little about our kindergarten “curriculum” of sorts. (See my previous post for more about my overall mindset on this.)
First of all, at this age, “schoolwork” does not take precedence over playing outside on a nice day, play dates with friends, visiting with out-of-town family, or the myriad fun and educational opportunities that arise out in the real world. This is just an attempt at a little structure and a way to fill our time with things that are meaningful and beneficial. And it most certainly doesn’t always happen like this; it’s just something to aim for.
Bible (most days): We read a passage from the Bible and memorize a verse a week. We don’t use a curriculum for Bible, although we are trying out Long Story Short to see how we like it. My goal is for her to understand the gospel, not just learn a bunch of “dos and don’ts” and how to be good. The dos and don’ts are important, but they can only be properly understood in the context of the gospel of grace!
Reading (most days): Since she already reads very well, we don’t do any reading instruction; we just read good books—poetry, chapter books, picture books, and “easy readers” (not my choice, but I try to steer her to the better-quality ones). There are lots of great book lists online from people who value high-quality children’s literature and know more about it than I do, and for that I am grateful! It has been fun to discover (and at times re-discover) wonderful children’s books.
Handwriting (most days): She has been doing some pre-writing “stylus skills” worksheets, but now we’re switching to practicing letters. We’re using Joy of Handwriting because I was able to get it free one day, but there are lots of printables out there on the internet, or you can make your own. When she gets better at writing letters and words, we’ll switch to copying poetry, Bible verses, or quotes from good literature—nothing overwhelming, just a few minutes of practice every day. There’s no getting around the fact that some things you just have to practice over and over to master.
Math (most days): This is the only real curriculum I bought. We went with Math Mammoth, which is a downloadable curriculum with a very generous license and very reasonable price, but still a quality product that has earned its place of respect among curriculum reviewers. I think I was attracted to the simplicity of it. Some other curricula have a teacher book, text book, workbook, DVDs, manipulatives, etc. Math Mammoth is just ONE .pdf that you print out. Rather than buying a specialized set of manipulatives, there are suggestions at the beginning of each chapter for games and activities to help teach the concepts using materials you likely already have on hand. We are doing the 1st grade book but moving through it pretty slowly at the moment, so I anticipate it carrying us into her official 1st grade year. We try to do a game and a workbook page each day.
Spanish (a few times a week): There are lots of free websites with video or audio that introduce kids to Spanish vocabulary, so we are just going through those. They will overlap, but that’s ok. I’m just looking for exposure and some basic vocabulary this year, not a systematic teaching of the language. We also know a couple of Spanish-speaking international students that we can converse with as we pick up some more vocabulary.
Bird study (once a week): We are going through the Burgess Bird Book for Children, which is absolutely wonderful and free in the public domain. How have I never heard of this little gem until recently? It is a storybook, but each chapter introduces a different type of American bird and weaves bits of information about the bird into the story. Then we are looking up information, bird calls, videos, etc. on each bird using Cornell University’s All About Birds website (and others if needed). Then she colors a picture of the bird and lists on the back a few things she learned. We will, of course, try to observe some real birds in the great outdoors as well!
Crafts (once or more a week): Like a lot of kids, Anna loves crafts; the problem is that most kids’ crafts are just JUNK and need to be thrown away at the first opportunity! Or, if they are more durable than that, they are just more “stuff” for kids who don’t need more stuff. But there are kids who actually do need more stuff—enter Operation Christmas Child. We’ve been participating in this ministry for years, and now I’m trying to help Anna make some crafts that can be gifts in OCC shoeboxes. Win-win! So far we’ve tried simple bead necklaces and felt pouches sewn with yarn and a plastic needle. As she gets older, I envision no-sew rag dolls, handmade games, more complex jewelry, felt finger puppets, and more. There are so many possibilities!
Outside the home: She takes art, music, and creative writing classes once a week at Blackbird Academy of Arts. They offer all kinds of fine arts classes for all ages, but they offer a block of classes specifically for homeschoolers during the day. She is with other kindergarteners and has a couple of good little friends there. She also takes gymnastics once a week at Sonshine Academy, also with other kindergarteners. And we still make our weekly trip to the Faulkner County Library for story time, crafts, and to check out new books.
So there it is, in a much bigger nutshell than I intended.
I thought I’d also highlight the fact that it doesn’t have to cost much to homeschool a kindergartener. Three assumptions: 1. You have available a computer with internet access (or you wouldn’t be reading this). 2. You have access to a printer. 3. You take advantage of back-to-school sales and get basic school supplies, including reams of copy paper, for next to nothing. I love Staples!
Bible — Materials needed: Bible, index cards and pen. Cost: negligible.
Reading — Materials needed: books. Cost: negligible, if you use the library or public domain e-books. (If you need to include reading instruction, try a copy of Ruth Beechick’s The Three R’s for 10 bucks, and use it along with… you guessed it… books. Or try Starfall.com.)
Handwriting — Materials needed: paper and pencils. Cost: negligible.
Math — Materials needed: curriculum, paper and pencils, manipulatives already on hand. Cost: $51 (on sale) for 3 years’ worth of curriculum (if we use it for Sarah too, that’s less than $9 per kid per year).
Spanish — Materials needed: free websites. Cost: negligible.
Bird Study — Materials needed: Burgess Bird Book, free websites, coloring sheets & crayons. Cost: negligible.
Crafts — This depends widely on what you have on hand and what type of crafts you want to do! I’ve spent a few bucks at Hobby Lobby, but not really that much.
For us, the bulk of the expense is the outside activities we’ve chosen to pay for. We are extremely blessed to be able to provide these for her, but you can still provide a quality education without them! If you have a computer, there are free/cheap resources for just about everything if you look!