Thursday, May 12, 2016

Done with Our First Kindergarten

I've been really terrible about blogging for about, oh, the last year.  It hasn't been a priority, and life has been busy.

But I wanted to get a quick blog post in to mark the end of Kyla's kindergarten year.  This is momentous for me.  It means, "we did it!"  We homeschooled, and it was a success!  We took 2 1/2 months off in the middle when things weren't going so well, and now are taking almost another month off at the end before we start 1st grade.  We took days off when we had places to go and days off when we didn't feel well.  But most days, we "did school."

I learned that I was pushing Kyla too hard at the beginning.  As I began to relax and not be so demanding, her academic learning became a much better experience for both of us.

We used the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons to get the basics of reading down.  We actually finished this before we officially started kindergarten.  This book claims that by the time your child has finished it, he or she will be reading at a 2nd grade level.  While I'm not quite sure we attained that ideal, I was impressed with the simple, easy-to-follow approach to reading.  It was literally 100 easy lessons.  There was a while in the middle that we were doing 2 per day.  By the time we finished the book, she was able to start reading Frog and Toad books.  So that's where we started kindergarten last June.

For phonics, we used the first 3 books in the Explode the Code series.  They helped with both reading and handwriting.  I really feel like these books were of great value to her this year.

We used Handwriting Without Tears for our handwriting curriculum, then switched to copywork when that was finished.  I would write out a sentence, and she would copy it below.  (Generally, we used sentences about animals, since she is a little bit animal-crazy.)

For math, we have chosen to go with Singapore Math.  At first, it seemed ridiculously simple...more like preschool work.  But by the end, she was learning fractions.  We're going to stick with this curriculum.

She read a lot of books to me this year.  I heard somewhere that I should keep track of the books my kids read, and I'm glad I did.  It's fun to look back and remember her reading these books to me.
  • The Golden Animal Book (6 Golden Books in One)
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends
  • Frog and Toad Together
  • Frog and Toad All Year
  • Mouse Soup
  • Little Bear
  • Little Bear's Visit
  • Little Bear's Friend
  • Owl at Home
  • Nate the Great
  • Stone Soup
  • Cowboy Sam and Sally (She hasn't finished this one yet.)
There are many nights when she decides to read a while before going to bed.  She has it figured out that I'm not going to tell her she has to put the book away and go to bed.  I'm thrilled that she's spontaneously picking up a book to read, even if it is to push off bedtime. ;)

We did read a few read-aloud books, and we read numbers of poems and nursery rhymes.  We studied a few of Leonardo DaVinci's art works and drew in our nature journals a few times.  (Next year.  I keep telling myself that next year we're going to get better at doing that regularly.)

Kyla memorized a number of Bible passages this year.  Every night at bedtime, I would read aloud the passage that we're working on memorizing.  I read it once - just one time each evening.  That was it.  Before I knew it, the girls were saying it right along with me.  Here's what she hid in her heart this year.
  • Psalm 23
  • Psalm 100
  • Psalm 139:1-10
  • 1 John 4:7-10
I read a devotion to the girls during breakfast, and the older girls have recently started watching the What's in the Bible series.  They watch one episode on the Kindle most weekdays during lunch and really enjoy it.

Besides those few things, Kyla learned responsibility at home.  She takes care of the cats and the chickens every evening.  She sweeps the kitchen floor nearly every night after supper.  And there is generally an afternoon chore for her and Kamryn to complete.  She knows these things are not negotiable and rarely gives a complaint.  She is also given quite a bit of responsibility in helping to take care of her younger sisters, especially Kiahna.

We have been to the nursing home to volunteer many times this year.  I feel it is so good for the girls to be exposed to the elderly and to become comfortable around them.  It is also very good for the girls to give up some play time to do something that will make someone else happy.  It's still not their favorite thing to do, but they rarely complain about it.

If all of that seems like a lot, it's not.  Many days, Kyla has the majority of her day free.  She spends countless hours playing outside with her sisters.  When the girls are inside, they sometimes will color, play with Play-Doh, or do puzzles.  But most of the time, they're deeply involved in imaginative play of some type.  The TV is rarely on, and no one seems to mind.  There's an atmosphere of peace that rules our home, and I'm incredibly grateful.

There have been so many times I've been grateful for the flexibility of homeschooling.  There were lots of things we wouldn't have been able to do had Kyla been in school.  And she would have missed many days when her grandparents were here to visit us.  I also know that she would not have the extremely close relationship with her sisters that she has if she would have been gone from home all day.  

The lessons that she has learned are so much more than her math, phonics, and reading.  Deep, essential truths are taking root in her.  The values of faith, responsibility, kindness, and love are becoming part of her character.  I love the way she cheers on her sisters.  Today, as we were picking asparagus, I heard her say, "Good job, Kamryn!  You found one that I missed!"  Every day with her is a joy.  It's not that we don't have our bad moments or even hours.  But never a bad day, not a whole day.

The past year has been a wonderful time for our family; and as I type all this out, I feel very blessed indeed.

1 comment:

  1. What a great mom you are! Keep up the great work. Are you picking wild asparagus? They look rather tall - if you pick them when they are small, they are much tenderer. Send the girls over - I pick 4 - 8 lbs. almost everyday when it is warm.


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