Thoughts On This Past Year:
As you know, Emma’s kindergarten year was largely eclectic (with a focus on Charlotte Mason methods) and much of it was spent reading and doing hands-on math activities. She was 5 when we started, and because of this I began gently with the concept of flexibility at the forefront of my mind. This was a lifesaver! There were days, even weeks, when she was not having fun with it and so I would back off and try something new. The only thing I insisted on was reading together and reading her literature books with her and since those were her favorite things to do I didn’t have to push hard at all.
I loved planning and researching, and was interested in many different curriculum resources. Consequently, I had lots of ideas – a few too many for one little girl! I spent hours putting together science and math activities for her and we ended up doing maybe half of them. :-p Part of this was because they were all scheduled online (with Homeschool Skedtrack) ahead of time… and at one point I totally lost track of where we were at after sick days, etc. As we didn’t do some of the things scheduled, or I didn’t check off what we did that day and then had to go in and enter the previous day manually… well, it became a hassle. And honestly, having things that structured for 5-year-old Kindergarten just didn’t work out for us. So I scrapped Homeschool Skedtrack for awhile, printed a bunch of blank homeschool planning sheets, then wrote in what we did every day – following Emma’s lead. I followed my plan loosely and that’s really when I stopped stressing and Emma started enjoying her Kindergarten year more!
I have to say that this school year was a wonderful learning experience. And yes, for first grade I am doing things differently – I refuse to stress out over anything! Mainly because although we didn’t complete everything I had planned this year, Emma still learned SO much. And she enjoyed it! I think that is what I’m happiest about. I’m really amazed with her progress despite the unstructured atmosphere. So did I learn anything from this? Absolutely! ;-) Rigid routine is for the classroom, not home education!
And I am not the greatest at keeping track of our days online. ;-)
Our Kindergarten Memories Binder:
Despite the fact that we didn’t actually finish any workbooks we started (more on that here), after evaluating Emma’s progress I’m confident we’re ready to finish the year out. Before beginning our year I made a list of what I wanted Emma to learn in Kindergarten and we have hit all of our goals! So what we are working on now (over the summer) is a Kindergarten binder that will be filled with work samples and some of the blog posts from our weekly wrap-up posts. Emma is very excited about this, and I think it will be a great memory book as well as evidence of work done and progress made. Here’s an example of what’s in it:
I’ll share more on the contents and the final product later. :)
I do have some tentative plans for summer, though I want to keep it fun. We will continue reading our literature books through the summer since I didn’t get as much read as I had hoped over the past school months. This was supposed to be one of the most important aspects of Kindergarten so that tells me that I need to make that the priority next year rather than worrying about worksheets or other projects getting done. (Of course I have to keep in mind that I had a very spunky, testy 2-year-old this last year and that definitely made school a challenge some days!) We are almost finished with On the Banks of Plum Creek and will move on to the next book in the Little House series, we’ll finish up House on Pooh Corner (both kids love that book!), and probably will finish up The Adventures of Chatterer the Squirrel although I have noticed Emma isn’t too excited about those. I might try some of Janette Oke’s books about animals instead, but I haven’t checked to see how accurate they are when it comes to nature study. All I know is I read them as a child and loved them!
We’ll also continue with Emma’s reading lessons (we basically read together though I am going to let her do some of her first grade Abeka phonics along with that) and I would like to start a summer nature study on a specific subject, possibly using Shining Dawn Books studies. That may or may not happen – we probably have enough nature study topics going now since my parents brought a bunch of different types of rocks from Arizona and we are raising praying mantis nymphs currently. We also regularly visit a duck pond, and I keep meaning to work on identifying and memorizing trees by their leaves, fruit, and bark.
For the most part, I want to enjoy an unschooling atmosphere this summer. Unschooling is easy with Emma because she begs to learn about things every day and takes great interest in reading and watching educational videos. Some of the other random things I want to work on are:
Memorizing her address (she’s almost got it, and already knows her phone number)
Work on narration skills
Next up: First Grade Plans!