Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homeschool Kindergarten

We are half-way through the year and I finally feel like we have fallen into a really good routine.  Since this is our first year homeschooling it has been a bit of a learning curve.  The hardest part for me has been teaching reading.  We are still using Horizon Phonics and Math but I've had to supplement and slow things down with the reading since we didn't do enough reading readiness pre-k. 

I also found that worksheet work for Nate was not a good fit!  It stressed him out just having a big workbook in front of him.  I didn't want to give up on Horizons however because I like the fast passed curriculum and the lessons it covers so I decided to teach it in a more Classical style. What that looks like for us is doing a lesson over 3 days and verbally practicing the blends instead of focusing on filling in the blank.  I add extra drill work when it's not sticking.  I also have Nate do the spelling words on a white board instead of in the work book.  All of these things have helped take the pressure of the workbook away and Nate is progressing beautifully.   I recently purchased this Handbook for Reading from A Beka after a friend mentioned it and it has been a great way to reinforce the phonics rules along with the Horizon lessons.         A Beka phonics and Horizons are completely different curriculum's but the way they teach phonics rules is very similar.  This is actually a first grade phonics book but matches up with the lessons in Horizons Kindergarten. 


For site words I purchased the boxed Site Word Readers by Scholastic.  Each book covers 2 site words.  I make a flashcard for each site word then after we learn the words we read the book.  I try to cover 2-3 books a week.  We review the site words that we haven't learned before each lesson and as soon as the word is learned it gets put in the back of the file box to be reviewed at the end of the month.

For spelling we use the The Phonics Road.  A friend recommended All About Spelling and I wish I would have taken that advice because the price is so much better!  Both programs are great!  I really like the Phonics Road and have nothing bad to say about it other than the fact that I only use it to teach spelling rules right now so it wasn't worth the cost.  At the time I was still trying to force the Horizon worksheets and we were really struggling so I was desperate for a new program.  Nate's handwriting did improve a lot after I taught him the techniques from The Phonics Road and I will use the cursive lessons soon so it wasn't a complete waste but after looking over the program I decided it was best to keep Phonics/Reading, and spelling separate. 

For Math we use Horizons.  It's challenging without being overwhelming for Nate so I'm very pleased with it so far.  Nate also just finished up "Math Matters" with our co-op group.  We have such an amazing co-op group filled with the most talented moms and dads!  He learned so much in that class and had a great time!  We are doing Science for the second semester.  We start class with a hands-on activity followed by a story and a science experiment.  After the science experiment the kids fill out their data collecting sheet and we move onto a music and movement activity.  We finish the class with another fun reinforcement activity and hands-on Science experience.  This week we are bringing hand-made boats to class for sink or float and next week each child will be making volcanoes out of play-doh and erupting them with vinegar and baking soda.  Fun Times!  Every one of the families in our co-op brings so much uniqueness and talent to the group!  We all have our own styles for how we homeschool at home but when we come together as a group we are in perfect harmony.  It's nice to be in a group where our individuality strengthens one another! 

For History we are reading Living Books and Story of the World.  We are also involved with Classical Conversations.

One of the biggest changes that I have made lately is a reward box.  I wasn't crazy about this idea at first but it has ended up being so much fun for the kids.  I have a vintage basket filled with craft kits, activity sheets, lollipops, and some fun toys like rocket balloons, and magic magnets.  It has been a great incentive and gives the kids another fun activity to keep their minds and hands busy during the day. 

When I write it all down it sounds like a lot but its really just a few short 10-15 minute lessons spread throughout the day.  Most of our day is still spent doing the important things like making mud pies, exploring the woods, reading books, and crafting. 

One thing I've learned about homeschooling so far is it is constantly changing and each of our children are unique and learn differently.  Giving my children the gift of a good education is important but most of the learning in our home comes from the time spent with daddy outside cutting down dead trees, fixing docks, building birdhouses and other wood working crafts, planting vegetables in the garden, reading books and most importantly having time to be who they are in a world were they feel safe and loved. 

Deer swimming in the backyard

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Making crafts while listening to Charlotte's Web from Audible

A visit to our favorite park by boat

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