Need reccomendations! Homeschooling Kindergarten. - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 24 Old 07-08-2011, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This year I want to complete Kindergarten with my 4-yr-old son. I am feeling overwhelmed with all the choices and need some help!

Here is where we are right now:

 

My son:

-Turned 4 at the end of April

-LOVES the computer so anything we can complete on it would be great

-Does not seem to enjoy writing, drawing, or workbook-style things

-Is extremely logical and can concentrate for hours on one thing if he is interested in it

-Is advanced in reading for his age

 

 

So far for schooling:

-He reads about a 1-2 grade level and we already do programs for reading and spelling, so no need for curriculum on those things.

 

-He tries basic addition & subtraction, but needs more help here so I'd really like reccomendations for Math, but nothing TOO babyish, you know- like we've tried those Kinder workbooks and he just breezes through the problems on same/difference, counting to 30, ect. He hasn't learned much about coins yet or about counting by 2, 5s, 10, etc. As I said before, something that is NOT a worksheet-based learning would be perferable

 

-Cannot write yet, well, he CAN but is not steady with it and does not want to do it. So looking for a way to teach writing that he can enjoy.

 

-We are going through a character development curriculum that I love so far.

 

-Would like some more ideas on how to do science and history.

 

I also need to do this as inexpensively as possible, although I am willing to buy a curriculum if needed, especially for Math.


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#2 of 24 Old 07-08-2011, 07:25 PM
 
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First, I will let you know that we are unschoolers and dont' "do" kindergarten, even though my oldest is 6.5 and she lets people know that "now I'm a first grader!".  4yo was (and is for DD2) playtime, storytime, art and craft time.

 

However, not to bore you with our personal philosophy, I have really enjoyed these:

 

*"Creative Play for Your Toddler", a Waldorf-based craft and playtime book with lots of sweet, easy projects for toys.

 

*"Art Fun!" author forgotten.  This book more than any other art book I have come across really focuses on the technique instead of copying the project, which can be fun but is just as often dull.

 

*"Anno's Math Games" etc. teaches math concepts without numbers, and with a bit of a story line.

 

*"PuzzleBuzz" offered by Highlights magazine

 

For science, some good tools are really all you need, plus a handful of fun experiments, because a 4yo will want to repeat them over and over (like "Dancing Raisins" or making rock candy).  We bought the girls magnifying glasses and packed backpacks with a stiff-backed sketchbook, colored pencils, measure tapes, etc., small binoculars and we'd go play "scientist" in the forest.  We'd measure and sketch: whatever inspired them.

     We also keep piles of guidebooks around the house, which the girls pore over.

 

I know that Christopherus website offers a Waldorf kindergarten guide (not a curriculum).

 

WARNING!  OPINIONS NEXT!  Because I can't help myself, but you can skip this part if you want:

 

4yo kids need time to develop their imaginations.  FREE time.  Activities to support creative play in their free time.  They need exploration time, to learn and do and study with their hands.  They need time to interpret these things on their own terms, outside the approved vocabulary offered in texts and curriculums.  To study a leaf in the context of their whole brain, because that is how kids this young experience things.  If you start labeling and interpreting things for him, if you teach him the "proper" way to observe, that diminishes his experience instead of enriching it.  Of course, if he asks, "what's that?", well, that's your opening....

     Kids who adore bookwork and academics are the kids that almost need free time the most.  Parents see their love of this kind of study, recognize it as the same type of study work that older students learn and they think that it is the greatest thing to encourage it early.  They must support it, give them MORE!  Certainly supporting their interests is a great thing, but at this age, playtime should take precedence.

     The first place I would avoid augmenting is screen time.  We do enjoy our TV time, but learning and exploration should ideally be hands-on at his age.  Great that he has fun on the computer, but I wouldn't add more time.

 

ALL DONE!  It sounds like you have a kid that will be "easy" to homeschool, and by that I mean one that is eager in all the ways we want them to be so we don't get mired in the doubt that naturally creeps into our heads!


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#3 of 24 Old 07-08-2011, 08:46 PM
 
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i would not push anything formal at age 4, either. since he can already read well, i'd just supply him with a good variety of books (yay library!). if there are topics you'd like him to learn about, or things he's interested in, that's a great way to learn. if you're really into doing addition type stuff, i'd get some manipulatives and teach with those, and avoid formal worksheets or writing the problems down. at age 4, his motor skills might not be developed enough to be able to write properly anyway, and pushing formal writing could end up in frustration. instead, set up a free writing center with crayons, markers, a variety of paper in different shapes and sizes, envelopes, stamps... you get the idea. this will encourage him to begin writing on his own in his own time, and in a fun way. i would just leave this stuff available and not set a specific time to use it. for history, we use story of the world, but i don't really know that a 4 year old would get into that. maybe just check historical books out at the library? science at that age is mostly kitchen type stuff- i made a sensory table for dd when she was that age and she would play there for hours.

 

fwiw, we did a more relaxed style of kindergarten, but dd was at first grade level when she needed to be. i feel like a lot of k stuff is stuff they would just learn naturally, anyway. since your son can already read (which is a major hurdle for some people), i would enjoy doing some "learning through doing" before he gets older :) . when will he be turning 5? that may help people give you more info, too.


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#4 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 06:36 AM
 
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It sounds like you 're thinking about playful lessons you think he wou,d enjoy, right? I would throw in "short" and "no pressure to do daily," and that's about where I am with my 4yo DD. Here are a few things we're using in those areas.

MATH
*CSMP Online, free curriculum- playful, imaginative, lots of manipulatives, no worksheets, deep connections being built - we do "math play" maybe twice a week
*Kitchen table math book- for games to play to reinforce skills I can tell she's working on anyway
*MathStart books- lit-based intro to lots of concepts, many levels
*Intentionality about playing games and puzzles together often

WRITIING
*Handwriting without Tears - I got the K books, but am camping out in the no-pressure & no paper preschool review section for a long time until DD's fine motor skills improve - we only do a short lesson a few times a week, theni try to work in more fun, multi-sensory review on the sly in everyday life - I also try NOT to rush to correct when she's free writing for fun
*I keep some cutting, tracing, dot to dot stuff around for fine motor development, as well as lots of great free art and messy art supplies. Kumon's easy crafts workbook has been really fun for DD. She loves art and drawing... Perhaps your son would prefer legos smile.gif

HISTORY & SCIENCE
* I ordered some reference books that looked fun from the Sonlight catalog (k level) for interests as they come up. We also keep the book Children Just Like Me around for when she's interested in a country. Big maps in her bedroom that she loves...
* Five in a Row lit guides and the library for getting into great discussions and some activities! Just did How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World... DD had a lot of fun with the map, spent hours with the CJLM book- we evaporated sea water to get salt, made butter, made a pie... Coul have talked transportation if that's where her interests laid.

I agree with kids this age needing lots of free play, and I try really hard to check myself and make sure all of this is fun for DD and doesn't take away from having lots of free time. I really think she enjoys the brain food, and I feel like it gives me more fun ideas for our time together, too!


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#5 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 09:50 AM
 
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I really like justthinkn's list. Those are the sorts of resources we had around when my kids were that age. Except that we did no specific handwriting stuff until considerably later. 

 

My kids were similar to your ds in abilty at that age and were all at a 2nd grade level or beyond by age 5 with no formal curriculum or homeschooling routine. You won't need to do anything formal, I don't think. Just have some fun resources around, follow his lead, answer his questions.

 

I would particularly caution you about computer-based learning at this age. It's an age where creativity and free play should be nurtured, and yet computer learning tools tend to be incredibly binary (i.e. right/wrong) in their learning, no matter how much they pretend to be flexible and adaptive. Your child's input either matches the expected answer or it doesn't. I just think that's a very poor fit for a young child who should be at the peak of his imaginative play development. Nurturing creative outside-the-box thinking is particularly important in kids with a strong logical-sequential streak, I think. For such kids ages 3-6 is a precious developmental window when they might be nudged into enjoying more creativity than they might otherwise tend to seek out.

 

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#6 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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He turned 4 at the end of April.

 

I don't pressure or push my child to do anything school-related he doesn't want to do. He spends maybe 90% ofd his time in creative play. Any "sit down school work we do" takes maybe up to 30 minutes each day right now. But he is a very focused type of person. He LOVES the computer, he LOVES reading, he LOVES chess. He is not a live wire and would rather be reading a book than outside playing in the dirt (his sister, 1.5 yrs is opposite!)
 

So there is LOTS of fee play time, mainly free play time. But he asks for and enjoys learning through more "school-type" things too. I am just looking for suggestions to offer. I am not a rigid schedule-type person myself, so I'm much closer to a free-schooler or whatever you call it. However, I also want to make sure I'm offering him things that challenge him, otherwise I can see him getting bored, especially because of his advanced, maybe even gifted ways he has about him.

 

He doesn't love bookwork, by the way. He loves reading and studying, but not worksheet type stuff. I'm considering trying Math U See with him because I likes to build things and understand WHY things are the way they are and I heard that math program is good at that.

 

We do not have television, per se, in our house. We will watch an occasional DVD, but that's it. No cable or channels or whatever. And like I said before, he is more of a visual and audio learner, not really into hands-on that much (so opposite of me!) so that is why I use the computer and books to teach him. He is not into crafts at all.


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by justthinkn View Post

It sounds like you 're thinking about playful lessons you think he wou,d enjoy, right? I would throw in "short" and "no pressure to do daily," and that's about where I am with my 4yo DD. Here are a few things we're using in those areas.

MATH
*CSMP Online, free curriculum- playful, imaginative, lots of manipulatives, no worksheets, deep connections being built - we do "math play" maybe twice a week
*Kitchen table math book- for games to play to reinforce skills I can tell she's working on anyway
*MathStart books- lit-based intro to lots of concepts, many levels
*Intentionality about playing games and puzzles together often

WRITIING
*Handwriting without Tears - I got the K books, but am camping out in the no-pressure & no paper preschool review section for a long time until DD's fine motor skills improve - we only do a short lesson a few times a week, theni try to work in more fun, multi-sensory review on the sly in everyday life - I also try NOT to rush to correct when she's free writing for fun
*I keep some cutting, tracing, dot to dot stuff around for fine motor development, as well as lots of great free art and messy art supplies. Kumon's easy crafts workbook has been really fun for DD. She loves art and drawing... Perhaps your son would prefer legos smile.gif

HISTORY & SCIENCE
* I ordered some reference books that looked fun from the Sonlight catalog (k level) for interests as they come up. We also keep the book Children Just Like Me around for when she's interested in a country. Big maps in her bedroom that she loves...
* Five in a Row lit guides and the library for getting into great discussions and some activities! Just did How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World... DD had a lot of fun with the map, spent hours with the CJLM book- we evaporated sea water to get salt, made butter, made a pie... Coul have talked transportation if that's where her interests laid.

I agree with kids this age needing lots of free play, and I try really hard to check myself and make sure all of this is fun for DD and doesn't take away from having lots of free time. I really think she enjoys the brain food, and I feel like it gives me more fun ideas for our time together, too!
 


Thank you! This is very much where we are. I just want to add a few more things for him to try. :) I am thinking about Handwriting Without Tears because he will TALK about wanting to write letters (as in letters to grandparents) but then not want to do copy work or tracing. I think it is boring for him, so I'm looking for something that might make it more fun or interesting.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I would particularly caution you about computer-based learning at this age. It's an age where creativity and free play should be nurtured, and yet computer learning tools tend to be incredibly binary (i.e. right/wrong) in their learning, no matter how much they pretend to be flexible and adaptive. Your child's input either matches the expected answer or it doesn't. I just think that's a very poor fit for a young child who should be at the peak of his imaginative play development. Nurturing creative outside-the-box thinking is particularly important in kids with a strong logical-sequential streak, I think. For such kids ages 3-6 is a precious developmental window when they might be nudged into enjoying more creativity than they might otherwise tend to seek out.

 

Miranda

 

I'm not sure I understand this. He gets plenty of non-computer time, too, so I where is the harm is letting him play a few things on there that he loves & learns from? Just wondering?
 

 


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#7 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 11:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaliShanti View Post

 

I'm not sure I understand this. He gets plenty of non-computer time, too, so I where is the harm is letting him play a few things on there that he loves & learns from? Just wondering?


Well, in your first post, which is all I had to go on, you didn't say anything about the balance of creative time in his life. You only said that he LOVES the computer, is very logical and can focus for hours, and that you were looking for as much KG curriculum as possible to do on the computer:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaliShanti View Post

-LOVES the computer so anything we can complete on it would be great

...

-Is extremely logical and can concentrate for hours on one thing if he is interested in it

 


I'm not at all anti-computer. My kids were using computers by 18 months, had blogs as young as 4, and all do at least a portion of their coursework on the computer at this point. (They are 8, 12, 14 and 17.) I just think it's a poor choice as a primary learning mode for early academics. It lacks richness, complexity, responsiveness and meaningful relationships to real people and real life activities. 

 

I also think that very logical kids who focus easily for hours on things they enjoy and who LOVE the computer are at risk for a sort of slippery-slope effect with computer-based learning. Once they discover that they can get parent-sanctioned intellectual challenge at the computer, the allure becomes even greater.

 

So if you're talking about an occasional game or activity on the computer to supplement learning that is taking place primarily through other modalities, and you are ensuring that there's no erosion of social and creative play, that's great. I wouldn't recommend it as a primary learning resource, that's all. 

 

Miranda

 


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#8 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 12:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justthinkn View Post


*I keep some cutting, tracing, dot to dot stuff around for fine motor development, as well as lots of great free art and messy art supplies. Kumon's easy crafts workbook has been really fun for DD. She loves art and drawing... Perhaps your son would prefer legos smile.gif

 


For scissors, we used clothing and toy catalogs to cut out paper dolls.  (Hanna Andersson is the best because it shows the complete body)  Of course, they just cut everything, not just the kids.  I found they became more skilled and faster doing this that using even the (very fun aaand expensive) Kumon workbooks.  The scissors we used are the good Fiskars kids' scissors for ages 5 and up.  Anything less sharp and they find it frustrating, and next to impossible with construction paper.

     Recently, I helped my daughter make wool flannel-board horses.  She drew the template, I helped her trace and she cut the wool.  Voila!  Instant toy!

 


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#9 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 12:45 PM
 
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I agree, kumon is expensive, and it's actually one resource I dole out rather sparingly as a fun yet easy for mommy craft option smile.gif The catalog idea is fun!

Re: HWT - I go back and forth on tihis, b/c I will admit it's not my DD's favorite at the moment, b/c she thinks she already knows how to write. I don't want it to become a power struggle, so I'm trying to keep it playful (and HWT is as playful as it gets I think). But since she's motivated to write should I really just let her practice making letters in really awkward ways without trying to give at least a little instruction? I don't want to derail the thread, but since OP was asking about writing, too, maybe it will fit smile.gif

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post




For scissors, we used clothing and toy catalogs to cut out paper dolls.  (Hanna Andersson is the best because it shows the complete body)  Of course, they just cut everything, not just the kids.  I found they became more skilled and faster doing this that using even the (very fun aaand expensive) Kumon workbooks.  The scissors we used are the good Fiskars kids' scissors for ages 5 and up.  Anything less sharp and they find it frustrating, and next to impossible with construction paper.

     Recently, I helped my daughter make wool flannel-board horses.  She drew the template, I helped her trace and she cut the wool.  Voila!  Instant toy!

 


What a fun idea!

 


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#11 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 01:08 PM
 
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OP, one other thought re: your description of your DS as "not a live wire" and not prefering to be outside. My DD, too, and I'm trying to balance respecting her preference and stretching her a little b/c I think outside play is so valuable! Plus I worry a bit that it's my own tendency to stay indoors influencing her smile.gif. Anyway, I've decided to make getting outside part of our morning routine, and what keeps it more natural feeling is that I've found a good reason to go out myself! We put up a basic swing set and attached a retractable clothesline. So DD heads for the swing and other toys each morning as I hang a load of laundry, then i might sit with a project near her or bring out a snack to stretch it out. DH is also finding ways to "lure" her outside, we plan outdoor rather than indoor times with friends as much as possible... And slowly we're seeing more interest on her part!

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#12 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 01:17 PM
 
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don't have time to read all pp but did anyone recommend time4learning? It's an online learning system. We just started and my boys are enjoying it so far.

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#13 of 24 Old 07-09-2011, 04:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

     Recently, I helped my daughter make wool flannel-board horses.  She drew the template, I helped her trace and she cut the wool.  Voila!  Instant toy!

 


Oops.  I wanted to clarify that the wool was the colored wool felt, not wool flannel, which might work but might not be stiff enough to cut easily for little inexperienced hands.  And I save every scrap of it!  The wool version of felt is expensive compared to synthetic.  I save even tiny scraps for eyes, little hearts, etc. This all sounds very crafty, like I do this all the time, but most of my day still seems to be keeping the house straight, keeping the hoards fed and out of the hospital!

 


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#14 of 24 Old 07-10-2011, 11:43 PM
 
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We are using Five in a Row this year for Kindergarten, it's literature based and a great way to introduce geography, different cultures, math concepts, art & science.  It's also very affordable because you can get all the books from the library.

 

http://fiarhq.com/fiveinarow.info/fiveinarow.html

 

For math we are going to use Shiller Math, it is Montessori style & uses hands on manipulatives

 

http://www.shillermath.com/sm/home.php?src=index.htm

 

I also picked up some math literature books...

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_28?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=math+literature+for+children&sprefix=math+literature+for+children

 

Handwriting Without Tears (just got it used online)

 

http://www.hwtears.com/hwt

 

Science Wizardry for Kids for some fun experiments

 

http://www.amazon.com/Science-Wizardry-Kids-Kenda-Williams/dp/0812047664

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#15 of 24 Old 07-15-2011, 08:44 AM
 
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I think my boy might be EXACTLY like the OPs son IF we'd parented differently (not better, just differently).  This is not a judgment, just a curious observation.

 

At 2 he started doing mental addition and subtraction with no counting, no fingers, no manipulatives, no visuals and no instruction of any variety.  He picked up upper lower case letters and all their sounds in a week after getting a simple wood puzzle, no lessons, just lots of "what's this one Mommy?" He has always been way advanced in spoken language, too.  He started playing with phonics and verbal spelling at 3.5 (on his own).

 

He's never watched TV, seen maybe 3 movies in his life, has no electronic toys, does not use the computer/iPad/iPhone, etc--no leapfrogs, so on.  His toys don't 'teach' (well, they do very much so, but not in the current view of 'educational') they are open-ended wood toys he uses to create all kinds of things, stories, etc.  I see his 'giftedness' in all of this--but he is 4 (mid April birthday) and does not at all read, and his math skills are not much farther than they were 2 years ago (he can go higher, but no new concepts) but he's grown SOOOO much in his curiosity, his verbal language, his ability to make connections in his everyday experiences.  I can also tell that when we do start academics--he's going to move VERY fast, at least at first.

 

I KNOW if I let him play computer games, it is all he'd want to do.  However, he does not ask, or even care because he does't know. And he LOVES being outside.  Why? Well yesterday we met friends at a 'watering hole' kind of river beach.  The kids were so busy getting buckets of water to make rivers with in the wet sand, then catching minnows to populate their river, etc.  There was a lot of info gathering, lots of skills being used--plenty to stimulate an advanced kind of mind--but in a holistic kind of way.

 

I say this not to judge you or your kid, if that is what you really think is THE WAY for him I am all for it---but I wanted to say I think my kid is similar in ability (not achievement), learning style, temperament, etc. but we've just done things in a way that would have him LOVE all the things we believe are best for young kids--and he does. This kid is so full, so happy, so satiated and learning and using his abilities all the time (just not the 3Rs yet!)

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#16 of 24 Old 07-16-2011, 05:01 AM
 
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Most 4 year olds are not ready for heavy learning, but it sounds like yours is, and you have tuned into how he likes to learn.  I personally like Math-U-See for the young ones because it is hands on.

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#17 of 24 Old 07-16-2011, 07:29 PM
 
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My DS just finished Kinder this year (he's way ahead in reading too) - we did Sonlight K (now called Core A) and that covered history and lots of reading and Sonlight science. He LOVED science. I did some of the writing - whenever they called for most answers, he would just narrate them to me. This year he wanted to study chemistry (he saw a book on the Elements, and plays a computer game called K-atomic so he's hooked on chemistry now) so we are moving into NOEO chemistry 1. I think the first year it was great doing Sonlight science to get the overview of many areas. Now he can focus a bit on one area. For math we did lots of things - Singapore, Math Mammoth, and he loves the online and free Khan academy math. I bet your DS would like Khan too.
Have you seen Handwriting Without Tears? My DS loved doing that. He's not a big writer but something about the format of that book made him rip through it quickly.

One thing though, do it all in small chunks with lots of playtime in between. Keep in mind, he's still only 4 years old, no matter how fast he is at learning.

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#18 of 24 Old 07-18-2011, 03:33 PM
 
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While he is ahead on reading, he may not be ready for the other subjects. That age can really go either way.

 

We've had good luck with Handwriting Without Tears. As for math, we've enjoyed Singapore so far.


Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#19 of 24 Old 07-18-2011, 07:30 PM
 
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Your son sounds similar to my daughter.  Not the same -- there are some differences -- but similar.  :)

 

Like your son, my 4yo daughter (turned 4 in December) lives 90% of her life in her own little world, free, unscheduled, creative play.  But she also loves to 'do school' and has since she was 2.  She started ASKING for WORKSHEETS when she was 2.  After all my plans that with this child, I'd do it 'right' an totally unschool until at least age 6 or 7.  Well, by unschooling -- letting her completely lead the way -- I learned that what she wanted was indeed a certain amount of 'academics'!

 

Just today in fact I looked at the provincial curriculum for kindergarten, and she's already completed all of it.  If she were going to school, she'd only be entering kindergarten this year, and with her December birthday would be about the youngest in the class.

 

Anyway, our methodology is basically that I have a bunch of resources around and I let her choose what and when she wants to do something.  So sometimes we'll go weeks with no school at all, other times she does 3 or 4 different things a day for days on end.  While I do believe in not 'holding her back', reading and contemplating about delayed academics and the need for creative play and all that, just helps keep me on my toes to make sure I'm not inadvertantly starting to 'push' or expect too much.  Or worry if she goes weeks without practicing something.  I know there's lots of time and no need to rush.

 

So... resources that we use:

 

For math -- RightStart Math.  She's about 2/3 through level A.  Today we were counting by 10s to 200 and recognizing that there are 20 tens in 200.  There are almost no worksheets in RS... it's mostly manipulatives (the abacus is the heart of the program) and card games.  

 

She also uses Dreambox on the computer.  It's a fun little practice for her.  

 

And I've just learned that Life of Fred is releasing an elementary curriculum, it's available now for pre-order with delivery expected the end of this month.  I'm not sure if the first level would be suitable for a 4yo kindergartner, it might be better for a 5-6yo I think.  But it's still good news!

 

For reading -- we're working through Progressive Phonics, she's midway through the intermediate level.  For writing, I bought the A Beka 4yo cursive handwriting books.  We don't do these often but they're there when she wants them.  Your son might respond better to something like HWT though -- my daughter does like writing.

 

I really like the suggestion of Five in a Row.  Lots of reading, great stories, and lots of learning in different subject areas... and no worksheets.  It's 'school' but it's very, very gentle.  Great for kids.  We've just started using it.  

 

She's also doing piano, and music theory... And art!  We really like Meet the Masters, she gets to do some neat projects and learn about artists and their works in an age-appropriate way.

 

We got some units from Teacher's Book Bags on currclick... lots of great unit studies for k-age.  Your son might like lapbooks, for instance.  

 

And we got some unit studies from Intellego... that might be another good option for you!


Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#20 of 24 Old 07-20-2011, 11:00 AM
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My middle son sounds similar to yours-- he was reading at a 3rd grade level by the time he turned 4. We ended up sending him to kindergarten at 4.5 (December bday). During his 4s year in preschool (so, 3.5-4.5) we used time4learning to keep him busy while his brother was at school. He was allowed to use it about an hour a day and I think it really helped his reading skills leap from K-1 level to 3rd grade. We are using it again this summer for both of my boys to get some summer bridge stuff in (my oldest, especially). He really liked the science lessons on there as well, and some of the social studies (although I found that the 3rd grade level social studies was too advanced for him at 4). 

 

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#21 of 24 Old 07-22-2011, 12:33 PM
 
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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!


Cheri
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#22 of 24 Old 07-27-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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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.

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#23 of 24 Old 07-30-2011, 05:23 PM
 
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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).


"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#24 of 24 Old 08-01-2011, 07:24 PM
 
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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.


Mama to DS (6/07) h20homebirth.gif, DD (6/09) h20homebirth.gif, and DD (07/12) homebirth.jpg..

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