April 20, 2010

Homeschool-Kindergarten Curriculum

I need to qualify this post by saying I think the need for Kindergarten is highly over emphasized  in our country.  I think that, if children are beside you as you go about your day...  and if you are talking about the world around you as you go about your chores... then your child will not need to sit at a desk, in front of a book on a beautiful day to learn their numbers and colors.  They will have learned to count by saying their numbers out loud as they put the clean glasses in the cupboard.  Your preschooler will have learned their colors while helping you sort laundry, fold socks, choose produce in the grocery store or cut fresh flowers for the dinner table.  They will sing their ABC's and learn their phonics sounds as you walk together to take cookies to the neighbors.

However, in our state every child age five is required to attend full day kindergarten.  Don't get me started on my opinions on that, it really belongs in a very LONG post all of its own.  The Bible commands us to obey the rules of our land and so I log the kindergarten hours with my children.  Really, with older home school children, I find the younger children are chomping at the bit to start school, long before I am beginning to think about it or before the age of legal requirement arrives.  Usually, by age three and almost definitely by age four, they are dying to start school.  That's when we pull out my favorite series for preschool and kindergarten students.

For the child who is able and ready for more focused work book time, all my children have started with the Preschool A-B-C Series. This inexpensive set of workbooks, Bible story book and Bible coloring Book are the official start of school for Wachter children. They enjoy them so much that each time Samuel pulls out his book someone still says, "I remember doing those books. They were so much fun." Rod and Staff is expanding this program with new books and plans to add G-H-I for the child who is not quite ready for first grade but has finished the first set. Even though, they are far beyond these books, my first and second grade boys lament that they have not published the last two in this set yet and ask me about once a month to call and see if they are for sale yet. The whole set is a whopping $20 so where can you really go wrong there? This set of books are excellent for your preschool and Kindergarten students.  Rod and Staff is one of the few companies that does not have online sales.  You can order a complete free catalog by calling 606-522-4348.

As far as formal book learning is concerned, I prefer to keep the first years of school focused on the basic three r's, reading, writing and arithmetic.  Adding too many other subjects really muddies the waters at a time when building a firm foundation in the essentials is really important.  Therefor, for kindergarten the only other formal school time I add is Math-U-See Primer.  You can read more about that in my post on Math.

Not to say we do not learn other things, such a science, music, history and Bible.  But we keep that as an informal exercise.  Science is often centered around reading "Your Big Back Yard" together while curled up in our pj's on a rainy morning.  This magazine put out by the National Wildlife federation has been a favorite of my little ones since Emma was a preschooler.  But that's not all!

Our program is centered around whatever in nature strikes the kids fancy at any particular time.  Bugs, dinosaurs, trees, plants, the body, butterflies, flowers,  and just about any topic that you could name has filled our science curriculum at one time or another over the years.  We search the library for books and videos to learn more about the current fancy.  The internet is also a wealth of information if your little one can't wait until the next library day to learn about clouds or volcanoes.

I do like to steer away from using the internet too much for school, especially at this age.  I think there is a lot to be said from the simple aesthetics of flipping through a book and studying pictures of octopus and squid to learn about God's underwater creation.  Furthermore, I am trying hard to not raise my children in the world of ease and instant gratification which the internet and fast food industry has thrust all of us into.  You might remember, I believe very strongly at this age and the formative school years are more about teaching your children how to learn, helping them love learning, and equipping them with the tools (such as reading) to go about it.  If they spend too much time doing their learning on the internet they will only know how to hit a button and get an answer that someone else has posted, not how to find the answers for themselves.

With my little soap box out of the way, you are most welcome, I will tell you we approach history much the same way as science.  Story books about historical events of interest to the children grace our coffee table.  Discussion at the dinner table is centered on famous people from history.  Having older children, we find our younger children are very much interested in things which might have gone right over the heads of other children their age.  Allen and I are both very interested in history so our daughters have a natural curiosity themselves.  Which leads to many meal time discussions our youngers have listened to.  They then ask questions and before we know it, they've all had a history lesson.  When someone takes a particular interest in a specific topic we make a trip to the library for some books and videos to expand on the subject.

For other fun materials that we like to use at the preschool and kindergarten levels you can check out my post on Circle Time.  


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9 comments :

  1. I am a kindergarten teacher in the public schools and I completely agree with you...once upon a time when I started teaching it was fun with thematic units and was able to incorporate all things into my lessons...now it is all about testing...AT AGE 5...and I feel as though I am teaching 1st grade, sometimes 2nd, most of the time. I wish they could just be kids! Kudos to you!!

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  2. Amen sister! Many 5 year olds are not ready for a full day of school. I could go off on a tangent here, but I'll spare you from reading it!

    I love your ideas on teaching kindergarten. You definitely have a heart for teaching what needs to be taught; when & how. It's a shame that our country has turned to testing scores to identify knowledge. Teaching to test is the norm in public schools. How sad! I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to homeschool and to interact with you and others for support.

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  3. Kat,
    Great post! We definitely share many of the same views. I took a lot of criticism back in the day when I was schooling my guys. I would not trade any of it....I know in my heart I did it GODS way.
    Hugs,
    andrea

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  4. Still working on this homeschooling thing with the hubs :)

    And darn - I was ready to go look up Rod and Staff online to order a catalog... deaf people have a rough go of it with phones, ha ha :)

    I am so curious about curriculum for non-teachers to help their little ones learn to read.

    I would love to work with Itty Bit on it, but am rather lost in choosing where to start.

    Thanks for the info!

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  5. We sent our oldest to Public School Kindergarten 10 years ago and were shocked at the changes since we went to school. When we decided to remove him from school, the teacher actually said to me, "Kindergarten isn't like it was when we were little, kids don't play with playdoh." What's wrong with playdoh? When we told her we would be removing him from school, she was so worried that he wouldn't be ready for the test in 3rd grade! Then she begged us to let him stay because he was more prepared than those who went to pre-school and was the "smartest" kid in her class. That convinced me that the "home-schooling" (playing, talking, counting,etc.) we had already done was successful, and that was the end of school outside our home!
    Since beginning this journey, we've never looked back. God had to work hard to get our attention, I'm ashamed to say, but, He has changed our family immeasurably for the good!

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  6. Another great post (thank you)! It's better if I leave my comment as that... this topic irriates me as well. I can't believe what is expected of 5 yr olds in public schools! so glad we've chosen to hs!

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  7. Hi! Great post. You mentioned that Rod & Staff don't have an online store....they do now. Check it out..I was able to order my books for the 2009-2010 all online. www.rodandstaffbooks.com So much easier now :) That should help the above reader who has hearing issues too.

    God's Blessings

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  8. Hi, Vickie.

    Thanks for the info. I have heard of that sight from another reader last week. They are a supplier of Rod and Staff Books but the sight is not owned or operated by Rod and Staff. They do sell many of the products but I am not sure if they have the full line. Their prices are the same as Rod and Staff, although, I did not take time to compare shipping prices. I do not like to recommend a sight that I have not had personal experience with so I appreciate your recommendation so I can pass it on to Rachel and may have to keep that in mind for my own purchases in the future.

    Kat

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  9. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading this and being reminded of some things we talked about!

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