Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Homeschool Curriculum Choices: Kindergarten

I actually can't believe I'm writing this post. My baby is starting Kindergarten in the fall. I guess I'll skip over all the mushy stuff because if you're a parent you know how it is-she was just born, can't possibly be this old, it's so fun to watch her grow, but so sad it's going so fast, etc. ;) 
As a former teacher, I've been thinking ahead to the school years pretty much since my kids were conceived. I really cherished their young years, and I think a lot will change in their school years since a lot of our life will be about school now, but I am looking forward to that, too. 
So this year, my biggest girl will officially be a kindergartner. She will be 6 in a few months (her birthday is just a few days after the cut off). My girls are pretty much attached at the hip, and my 4 1/2 year old daughter is actually probably even more ready in some ways for certain subjects, so I am going to do a lot of things with both of them. If my younger daughter is ready to learn to read, and I'm teaching the older one anyway, why not just teach them both, together? I think it'll make things easier long term, as well. So technically my oldest will be in Kinder this year, but except for math, my younger kind of will be too, if that makes sense. 
So, without anymore jabber, here is what I've chosen for our curriculum for 2017-2018. 
Language Arts:
Right now, this is our biggest focus. Both of my girls are really ready to read and I got a little lazy about it this last year. They know all of their letters, all consonant sounds and some vowel sounds, and can somewhat write most of their letters (some are formed incorrectly...) I was kind of picky about the program I chose for several reasons. One reason was that I didn't want to be picking out 5 different curriculums. I see a lot of homeschoolers choosing separate curriculum for reading, grammar, spelling, handwriting, etc. and I just didn't want to deal with that for this year. Another thing I was looking for was a really solid program. I want my kids to be excellent readers, because it is such a valuable life skill, and just so crucial. I also wanted a program that wouldn't be overly repetitive. Some repetition is okay, but when each week is the exact same activities with a different letter, we all get bored. SO, after lots and LOTS of research, the program I chose is Logic of English: Foundations. I had actually never heard anyone mention this curriculum before, and I usually look into programs I've seen recommended, so this one was totally foreign to me, but I think we are going to love it. It is multisensory, which the girls will love, and covers phonics, reading, handwriting, and spelling. They have a big focus on phonics rules, and explain that actually almost everything has a rule or reason, where so many of us sometimes feel like English is so random and doesn't always make sense. I think this will really help them to understand how our language works, and give them a lot of tools for proper usage. Foundations has 4 levels. I have ordered levels A and B so far. I am not 100% sure how fast we are going to work this year. We will do school 4 days a week (more about that later), and each level has 48 lessons. So, we could be through it with quite a few weeks to spare, and I may order level C depending on how it's going and how well we like the program. I don't want to push it too much this first year, so I'm not going to plan the entire year out in a rigid schedule this time, and am going to go more at their pace and take time to slow down if we need to. Foundations will be the biggest part of our Kindergarten year. 
This is everything that comes with Foundations A & B, for 2 students.
For math, I am planning to order Math U See Primer. I have heard of tons of homeschoolers using this program, and loving it, so we are going to start with this. I am really hoping it works out well for my kids so we can just use it year after year! Only my oldest will start on this program this year. I haven't purchased it yet, so I'm not completely familiar with it, but my understanding is that there is a video lesson each week which introduces a new concept, and then those 5 days it builds on that same concept. I believe there's a review/assessment on the 5th day. I like this because it really makes sure that kiddos understand a concept fully before moving onto the next, and I think that the curriculum builds off of each concept. I remember teaching some math curriculums before where it was one 30 minute math lesson and a first grader was supposed to have mastered that concept completely. No wonder so many kids are frustrated by math! It comes with a manipulative set that is used throughout each level in the program. I know my daughter will really enjoy using that to learn. 
We are starting Bible out with Bible Study Guide for All Ages. I always have a really hard time choosing Bible curriculums. I want to make sure they're theologically sound, and also that my kids will enjoy them and they'll make sense and be relevant. It's surprisingly hard to find good ones, I feel like! Because I've had such a hard time finding ones we all like, I only ordered the first set of lesson pages (26 lessons). I want to try it out for a little while and make sure we like it, before committing to a whole year of it. We will see! I think it'll be engaging for my girls because it's really interactive. I really like that they have the same lessons at different levels, so that in the future, if we stick with this one, we can teach all of the kids but have them each doing age appropriate activities. 

Unit Study:
Its probably the early childhood teacher in me, but I love unit studies. This year, we are going to do an ocean life unit. I am kind of obsessed with sea creatures, and my kids really like them, too, so I thought, why not learn a ton about them this year?! I am mostly going to focus on the different ocean animals, but we'll also learn about the different oceans Earth has, the ocean zones, do experiments, and more. I am really looking forward to this, and I know my girls will enjoy it so much! My husband and I have something really fun planned for the very end of the unit/year, too :) I'm not quite sure where we'll fit it into our schedule yet, but for right now I'm thinking twice a week. I made up a page that the girls can make for each animal they learn about, and then we'll bind them into a book at the end. I'll have to share the printables for that later on. I like that we'll be able to incorporate a lot of different subjects into this unit. 
Enrichment Classes: 
I *think* we've officially decided to put my oldest into a homeschool enrichment class. She'll go once a week for about 5 hours and will have art, music, p.e., science, history, lunch and recess with other homeschooled kids (which is why we'll only school 4 days a week at home). I was really back and forth on this, but I think it will end up being really good, and if not, we don't have to continue. I really like that she'll get experiences we just can't do at home (like they have a kiln in the art room and do pottery, they have a science fair, world food fest, music concert, etc.) and I know she will really enjoy going to school.  At least for Kindergarten I'm going to see how much she gets out of science and history with that, and possibly do a little here and there at home. I am not planning to purchase a formal curriculum for science or social studies for this year, though. When I student taught in Kinder and 1st, they only did each of those subjects once a week, so I'm thinking she'll probably be fine with just the enrichment class for those, plus supplementing with our unit study and some science experiments here and there. 
So, that's it! There's our Kindergarten year laid out. I am not planning to plan out the year in advance like I've done it the past, because I want to really get a feel for how quickly or slowly we need to move in some subjects this year. I feel like Kinder is kind of a trial year in some ways. They learn A TON in Kinder, but also have a lot of opportunity to just get a feeling for school and learning before 1st. We are all really looking forward to the year and lots of fun learning opportunities! If you are homeschooling, what curriculum(s) have you chosen for next year?! 
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