I pulled ds out of kindergarten and am homeschooling him. He is so resistant to doing anything except listening to stories, but he can listen to stories for hours and hours. My friend says we should just spend a month listening to stories, and then slowly pick back up where we left off with his other subjects. While I agree with her in theory, I find it really hard in practice. I'm mostly worried that he's going to fall behind in math.
I guess I just need a pep talk. =)
We're unschoolers. Just by merit of not being stuck in a classroom being "taught", my kids were 1 - 3 grade levels above their piers in every subject through grade school. We took the CAT5 every year to keep my xh off my back. Math has always been a weak point for both my kids...but that means they were only a little ahead of their schooled peers. This year, they both decided they wanted to focus on earning diplomas. Ds is 14. He'd be an 8th grader, by his birthday. He's taking Algebra I as a freshman at the local high school. He's earning a low A, and has life long public schoolers over several times per week to help them with their homework. Dd is 11. She'd be in 6th grade. She is also taking high school Algebra, but through a correspondence school.
Not only will 1 month of no instruction not hurt him, it will do him good. He is resistant because school teaches kids that learning is something that is forced on you. That's why it takes 12 years for them to learn such basic concepts. An 8yr old with an earnest interest and desire to learn can master the bulk of high school material. It's just odd for an 8yr old to have the interest, so you can only force really simple things on them. If you give him time to get over the harm that was done to his attitude toward learning, he will learn SO much faster. When a person is interested and wants to learn something, they can learn as much in a few months as it take years to force on an unwilling learner.
That's what de-schooling is. Even if you're going to use a forced learning model for education, it's far easier to start with a child that at least wants to learn.
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I have been trying to get him to do fun things like games and art, but he doesn't even want to do that for the most part. I'll end up saying, "Ok, well I'm just going to do this by myself while you listen to your story" and start an art project on my own, and that usually draws him into it. He despises worksheets because that's all they did in school, so I'm not using them at all.
Thank you for your suggestions. I will check out all that good stuff.
And Moonlight, welcome out of the lurking!
I assumed you meant that you were reading to him, which seemed like a terrific way to deschool. I understand your concern if he's listening to audiobooks, since that's so non-interactive and (potentially) repetitive. Would he enjoy listening to stories if you read to him? If that's the case, you may have more opportunity to connect with each other over the stories, to pause and discuss interesting tangents, to cuddle up and enjoy each other's company. It would also give you much more variety in literary material -- interesting articles from magazines or the local newspaper, non-fiction, challenging picture books with amazing artwork, stories that nurture critical, moral or mathematical thinking -- and it would give you more opportunity to gently steer him towards ideas and subject matter that you think will pique his interest or fill a gap. Books like "The Phantom Tollbooth," or "Penrose The Mathematical Cat" or "The Quiltmaker's Gift" or "Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar" or "How Much is a Million" would be great ways to take his comfort and interest in listening to stories and use it to advantage.
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Ooh, those books sound good. I will check them out. I read to him every morning, and he loves The Magic Tree House books (which I read) but I guess he's not really interested in picture books anymore-- or maybe just right now-- because he always refuses those. He's listening to _The Mysterious Benedict Society_ series on audio, and it's really long. I like it as much as he does, but maybe I could find some other long chapter books to read to him. Thanks for the suggestions!
He also loves yoga! =)
Kindergarten is so little. He will most certainly not fall behind in math for the rest of his life if he is given a break now.
Have you seen the Life of Fred elementary books? It is a series of math stories. My children love them.
Busy mom and loving it... dd (2/03), ds (6/05), dd (8/07), ds (12/09), ??? due 5/12
Ds is always interested in what 100 looks like in different things (I think we've been looking at 100 since he was 2.5 or 3). So 100 beans in ajar compared to 100 bottle caps or 100 stickers. And simply by virtue of skip counting being easier he learned counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s that way. I was not "teaching" those concepts they just evolved from the project.
If he's not going back to school next year you really have nothing to be concerned about. Even if he is going back to 1st grade most things can be mastered at home in a fraction of the time it takes 30 kids to get through an activity or concept in school. Having taught in schools most of the time is spent getting everyone to do the same thing at the same time not on the actual lesson material anyway.
Other kindergarten age "math" concepts, beyond counting to 100:
Shapes and their names: we love wooden pattern blocks, which we call "picture blocks". It is absolutely a toy, and I treat it as such. Some sets come with patterns to copy, as a puzzle, but we like to just play with them, so I prefer the big bins with only the shapes. Names are learned simply by talking about the shapes. I don't think they have them memorized yet, but I care less about this than their understanding how the shapes interact, both with another similar shape (like rows of hexagons) as well as with different ones.
Pattern recognition: Qwirkle is one fun game for this (we like the qwirkle cubes instead of the original game). Beadwork.
Counting coins: Allowance! I give 1 quarter for each year each week. Keep it small from the start. Now I've been giving them a snack and treat budget each week, the remainder goes into a jar to use for activities. I suppose this is more "money awareness" than counting coins. They are getting that as well, but I think financial skills are the more important.
Telling time: Keep a large clock in easy view, preferably one that can be taken down to look at close-up. I found one with a dial for counting the seconds. This Christmas I also bought them stopwatches, but I'm still learning how to operate the !@$ things.
I'm sure there are a million other ideas, but this gives you the idea that, like others have said, kindergarten-level math is easily learned from daily work and play. I would not sweat the math. I think kids easily catch up when they are ready-- and then watch out! It is quite likely they will both catch up and leap ahead all in one go. I am finding these kinds of things are not even and steady at all! They come in leaps and bounds, then they take a rest. (In my brief experience with this, anyhow. My kids are 6 and 8.)
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
Sorry for the delayed response. Life and all that. Thank you so much for these suggestions. I love the idea of counting different items to one hundred, and I've been eyeballing Qwirkle for a while. Time to jump on it.
We do have Life of Fred, but he hasn't been very interested in it.
SweetSilver, I've seen a few sets of wooden pattern blocks. Is there a brand that you recommend?
He loves timing himself, so we've been doing some of that, and he also loves saving his allowance for Bey Blades. We do a lot of baking, too.
I guess it's mostly his writing skills that I've been worried about-- because he is going back to school in the fall (if we find a good fit for him)-- but I've decided that from now till the end of February, we're going to do whatever he wants. This morning we played Battleship for a long time. Now we're going for a walk in the snow.
Thanks so much for the suggestions and the pep talks!
You have quite a lot of time for helping him with the few skills he'll need by the time he goes back to school - it won't take long later even if you let him just relax this year with the things he likes to do. He's so lucky to get this extra time to grow and mature and just be a 5 yr. old - even his writing will come easier after this time out to play and develop. Maybe getting him some chalk and child sized triangular colored pencils could help with that.
Just living and playing will give him all the understanding of it he'll need - especially if he has blocks and legos and things that involve numbers. Counting aloud while you're in the course of doing things with him, mentioning the quantity of food items or quantity and shape of other objects can easily acquaint him with all he needs at this age. The fact that he's interested in listening to stories for great lengths of time would seem to me that he has an active imagination. I'd jump on that and fill his life with lots of wonderful children's books. Enjoy!
Here are descriptions of lots of good children's books having to with various parts of math:
Picture Books for Math
A great site for book suggestions:
Here's a website full of wonderful free children's recordings of all kinds that have been classics
Awww but kindergarten is REALLY little!
I have kids who love to listen to stories. I mean they will do that in preference to almost anything else, and I'm fine with using audiobooks it, for up to a couple of hours a day, maybe more. We read aloud as a family but there is only so much of that that you can do, assuming you have other things to attend to. In particular with them they tend to have stories on while crafting or lego-ing or cooking or whatever, and the stories we have are generally ones where the dramatisation is important. My older two also read a lot, and don't watch much tv (although we don't especially limit it-they are just not that interested if audio books are on offer. Also we have very limited channels available and its a bit of a faff). I would say that they have got SO much out of audiobooks! We also read aloud as a family most nights, I read to them throughout the day at intervals, they read to themselves...you get the picture, a lot of reading happens here.
Although we are not unstructured/unschoolers, there are certainly entire months at a time when not much happens except audiobooks (plus knitting, lego, etc) and reading. I don't know how I'd feel about audiobooks as a child's only source of reading aloud, but I think as a supplement, they are awesome and work very well for a particular kind of multi-tasking kid who needs several parts of their brain occupied for any part to properly function, iywkim.
FWIW when my kids were that small I am not sure they even listened to audiobooks, I think they were just mainly playing. So audiobooks seem like more schooling than my kids were doing
eta sorry just saw he's going back into school. Ok I am not familiar with the US school system but my guess would be that the most helpful single thing he could have on reentry is concentration. Which he will certainly get from doing a lot of listening. IME of my kids (three aged nearly 5 through 9 1/2), writing is largely a maturity thing, and certainly a good way to bring it on would be to develop fine motor skills, probably as helpful as doing any worksheet. Certainly here (UK), also there is a really broad spectrum of abilities expected at this age in school and whatever level he was at could be worked with in the right school (although if I understand rightly you don't have a choice of public school?)
As a public school kindergarten teacher, (who dreams of going back to homeschooling) Reading stories is a great thing to do. Read stories about math- there are tons of them. Read stories about social studies, science, etc. Modeling reading is amazing and most of my students can't sit still for an entire book to save their lives!!!