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Need reccomendations! Homeschooling Kindergarten. - Page 2

post #21 of 24

Your son sounds very similar to my son.  Do you have a homeschool community in your area?  Going to park days regularly so he could form friendships with some of the other children really made a difference in getting him outside and engaging in active and imaginative play. 


So my own philosophy is to avoid early academics.  At 4, we did play-based "learning" and it was almost entirely child-led.  We are mostly unschoolers, so we still are mostly child-led, but do use some curriculum-based programs for guidance and inspiration. 


Remember that many high-achieving countries education systems avoid formal reading and writing instruction until around 7 years, as does Waldorf and other similar programs.  There is a reason for this; most children's fine motor and visual skills simply aren't ready for reading and writing before then.  If your son enjoys reading, great, take him to the library every week and let him pick out a ton of picture books.  I wouldn't use "early readers" (boring!) or chapter books designed for young children; most picture books have higher vocabulary and better storylines. 


Even if he's reading independently, his understanding level will be much higher than his reading level, and will continue to be so for many years.  Reading aloud is so important at this age!  Books such as "Some of My Best Friends are Books" by Judith Wynn Halsted and the "Read Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease will have many ideas for good books to read together.  The 5 in a Row series will also have good ideas for books you can read together as well as activities surrounding the books which you can use as inspiration (personally, I felt that if we actually did everything as described it would remove a lot of joy from reading the books, but YMMV).


If he is really interested in more writing, then I liked the Handwriting without Tears series.  There are workbooks and activities designed for pre-K and K; at 4, I'd use the pre-K program but again YMMV and you might want to pick up both for inspiration.  The teachers guides are worth getting as well for ideas.  As OPs have suggested, I'd do a lot of handcrafts and art at this age for fine motor practice and simply for fun!  "Writing" in sand or with shaving cream, finger painting, chalk on the sidewalk, making letter shapes with sticks or rocks. . .Art supplies are one thing that I spend a fair amount of money on; I want my children to experience natural fibers, good-quality paints, etc.  I like DIscount School Supply for cheaper items that they can use freely and excessively, but we try to also have some "real" supplies for use as well.


We really have liked the Explode the Code series for writing practice and reading/spelling rules.  Yes, workbooks, but very short without needless repetition.  We found them more helpful for our reluctant reader who wants more "rules" and less so for our child who seems to have picked up the rules of spelling through osmosis (keep reading aloud ;-).


Math - we use the RightStart math curriculum for one of my children.  It's got very short lessons, an optional set of worksheets which we mostly avoid, and plenty of review (some of which we edit/skip to avoid boredom).  Very game and manipulative based, which I like.  We actually started it with her in K, but we started K a year later (when she was 5, almost 6).  I also like the MathStart book series by Stuart Murphy, and use the livingmath website (http://livingmath.net/) for other book ideas - great website, BTW.  Someone mentioned Life of Fred, which we use for our son who really intuitively understands math, but claims to "hate" it, and will just shut down immediately if I stick a worksheet in front of him ;-)  Also like Kitchen Table Math and the Family Math series from the Lawrence Hall of Science (UC Berkeley).  Family Math is game-based, lots of fun, quick simple ideas.  I've heard good things about the Teaching Textbooks, which are computer-based, but are quite expensive.  We also sometimes use the Youtube video series Khan Academy for specific math topics.

We sparingly use the Well-Trained Mind for guidelines on science and history.  I was really turned off by her philosophy the first time I read it, she is really heavy into early academics and a very structured, intense, (IMO) rigid learning style.  But I do like the division of science and history, the repetition so kids are introduced to topics at an increasingly higher level several times, and the non-Euro/Americo-centric nature of her history approach.  I also appreciate that (at least the older editions of her book; I think the newer ones suggest the branded book and CD series now being marketed w/ the same name) rely heavily on library use, picture and literature books that are readily available. 


I've already mentioned library use several times.  We rely so heavily on our library, and are lucky to have access to two wonderfully rich library systems.  We spend lots of time in the juvenile non-fiction sections, especially myths/legends/fables.  Whenever one of my kids gets fascinated by something, I'll check out a few books on that topic, some that we might read together, others that I think they'll be interested in reading on their own.  Again, I don't "assign" them, just put them out in an accessable place and let them enjoy.

Enjoy!  It should be fun and non-stressful for you both at this age.  I've found time and again that when my kids were "ready" both developmentally and interest-wise in learning something, it was quick and easy.  I loved the early homeschool years because I was learning and playing as much as they were.  Kids are naturally curious and exploring at this age - take advantage of it!

post #22 of 24

We don't use store-bought curricula, so, keeping that in mind, our 4-year-old learning plan is something like this:


  1. Basics of the scientific method through observation of nature and simple experimentation (putting a cut plant in colored water, sprouting seeds under different conditions, etc.).
  2. All about numbers (negative and positive, real and imaginary) through physical math.  This one is my DH's specialty, so I know less about it, but he teaches math through body activities (jumping and taking steps forward and backward to count, add, multiply, etc.).
  3. Sound mapping and "words I know" book.  We write out all the letters of the alphabet and place each one on a big poster of a tongue to show where different sounds are made to help with independent composition (e.g., "t" is placed at the tip of the tongue, "g" at the back (g as in guy) and in the middle (g as in giraffe)).  We also make a book of the first 1000 words the child can think of, represented visually using drawings, clip-art, or photographs and arranged by subject (parts of the body, household objects, etc.) and label them in words.  Then we write EVERYTHING.  Shopping lists, stories, plans for the day...everything.
  4. Basic sewing: running stitch, back stitch, whip stitch, blanket stitch on lacing cards and felt.  Making and stuffing felt animals, designing original felt creatures.
  5. Color wheel and composition of secondary colors.  We make paintings with "warm" and "cool" themes and use watercolors to show primary and secondary colors in the same stroke.
  6. Where people live: we build a South African kraal in the backyard, and visit yurts and teepees and longhouses and make models and read a lot of National Geographic.
  7. Basic chores: washing laundry and dishes, measuring and mixing, organization, sweeping and dusting.
  8. Hand-spinning using a drop spindle.
  9. Physics of dropping, jumping, throwing, and flying using balls, rockets, frisbees, etc. 
  10. The difference between speed and velocity and acceleration using "mother may I" and red-light-green-light.
  11. Basic narrative structure through telling stories with a beginning, middle, and end and asking about the beginning, middle, and end of stories we read.
  12. Kitchen chemistry through baking soda bread, yeast bread, and sourdough bread.  Experimenting with borax, corn starch, soap and water and exploring physical properties and interactions.


We also answer any questions a child may have as fully as possible, regardless of subject or complexity.

post #23 of 24

Richard Scarry's "Best Counting Book Ever" is really the best counting book ever!  Picked this up at the used book store when my oldest was 1, and she loved it.  We didn't turn it into a lesson, we just read it, counted it when she wanted.  I like that each number is broken down into different things, like "5 fire engines and one fire chief's car make 6 in the fleet".  Now at 6.5 she is reading it to my 4.5yo daughter.  Today she was showing off everything she knows about the number 19, that it was an odd number, what plus what equals 19, etc.  So I threw in that 19 was also a prime number and did my best to describe what a prime number is.  She understands multiplication and is starting to "get" division, but this I'm not sure she understood, but was interested anyhow.  This is how we have done math since forever.  Board games rolling two dice is always fun with the family, and even dd2 can add the dice and play banker with help.  Both girls also play Battleship (you learn to understand coordinates).

post #24 of 24

Love the recommendations MissAntrope!  My DS is 4, reads at a first grade level, has a crazy knowledge base of stuff like the names of every piece of construction equipment, etc.  Here's what we are starting next week:


--Handwriting without Tears (K)

--Right Start Math level A

--Living Books Kindergarten Book List and Teaching Manual (we really want to use a bit of a modified CM concept and the LB teaching manual is helping me feel like I have a better grasp versus doing my own thing from day one--next year I'll probably work without the net LOL)

--Extra books beyond what LB recommends using lists from Ambleside Online, etc.


In addition we'll be doing lots of crafts, simple science experiments, etc.

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