calvin and hobbes

At Home with the Editors: Shelli's Kindergarten

Welcome to Shelli's kindergarten: a hands-on, project-based environment where learning is all about fun. #homeschool

Every year, Shelli and Amy open the door and invite you to step inside their homeschool lives. (Please ignore the mess!) We talk about the resources we're using in our own homeschools and how we structure our days. There are lots of ways to homeschool, and we don't think our way is the best—just the one that happens to be working best for our particular families at this particular time.  If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better! Today, Shelli's talking about how she homeschooled kindergarten this year.

This is my second time homeschooling kindergarten, and I can assure you, it’s so much easier the second time around! I know without a doubt that as long as I’m spending quality time with my son, reading to him, letting him explore, and most importantly, giving him free, unstructured time to play, I can’t go wrong with kindergarten. 

The nice thing about being a younger sibling is that you pick up so much information just by watching your older sibling. My six-year-old watches and sometimes participates in his brother’s lessons. He hears books read aloud that are well above his level. He can help out when we do a science experiment, and he loves art day, too. With my first son, I didn’t know any other homeschoolers until he was four or five, but my younger son has been going to play dates since he was a baby. 

My older son was in the third grade this year, so his work was harder and more structured than any year thus far. As a result, my six-year-old had much more structure to his days than his older brother did at six years old, but the upside to this is that he still had lots of time to play by himself while I was working with his brother. I think letting children learn how to play by themselves is so important. Not only does it give them important skills that they will need in the future, it is also very helpful to their parents in the present moment!

 

CURRICULUM

Language Arts

This year I’m slowly helping my son with his reading skills. I have tried a variety of resources (just like I did with my older son), and thankfully, I am much more patient than I used to be. We spend about 30 minutes on language arts three days a week. I don’t worry about whether he’s keeping up with his peers because I know from experience that it’s better to let children learn how to read at their own pace.

Here’s what I’ve used and will keep using for the foreseeable future:

In addition to this, my six-year-old has enjoyed listening to My Father’s Dragon, Charlotte’s Web, Calvin and Hobbes and a variety of storybooks this year.

Math

I use Life of Fred with my older boy, but that curriculum just didn’t seem right for my younger son. Instead, I’m using Singapore’s Primary Math Textbook 1A with Home Instructor’s Guide (U.S. Edition) with great success. Actually, I’ve been using it much longer than this school year. We do lessons three days a week, and I am carefully going through every worksheet, game and activity with him.  When we finish this set, I’ll move on to the next level.

I don’t worry about completing any curriculum in one school year. For me, I am more concerned about making steady progress at my son’s pace.

My six-year-old seems to love math. If you ask him, he would say he didn’t like math, but actions speak louder than words. This kid is always asking me math questions, he loves to count things, and he’s always noting the time. He even wanted to join his older brother in learning the multiplication tables! 

All other subjects

At this age, I don’t do any formal lessons in science or social studies. I am confident that through our daily life and major interests, he is getting all the instruction he needs for these areas. We watch nature, science, or history documentaries every day, visit museums frequently, and he attends classes and camps at the local nature center and botanical garden. 

I try to make every Friday “art day,” and we have read about artists, the history of art, and visited the local art museum. For history, we read books and watch documentaries. (My husband is a history professor, so I’m not worried about history.)

My six-year-old loves birds, so we have spent a lot of time observing birds, reading about them, drawing them, and listening to the sounds they make on our bird guide app. 

The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that if you are curious, engaged in life, and open-minded, your children will learn so much through their daily life. Very little instruction is needed. (Of course, for unschoolers, they feel no instruction is needed at all, and that works for many families too.) 

I do teach my children certain subjects, but mostly, I try to fill our house with books and tools, and I give them plenty of time to play and ask questions. Especially for kindergarten, this is all we need.  

Please offer your kindergarten tips in the comments section below.


Stuff We Like :: 4.15.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

This week, Shelli's got the scoop on what's lighting up her April homeschool. 

spring

We’re a birding family, so we love the spring weather and watching the birds nest and fly about in our yard! My six-year-old especially loved this interactive website that lets you explore bird anatomy, and in the evenings we’re also enjoying watching some wild bird videos too.

 

at home/school/iife

in the magazine: Subscribers can download our free meal planning sheet (with spaces for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks because homeschoolers need spaces for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!) when you log into the subscribers-only portal.

on the blog: Amy shares what she's learned teaching homeschoolers creative writing

on instagram: Why yes, our Friday nights are pretty thrilling

 

Homeschool

This month we’ve been learning about the Cherokee Indians because our local art museum has a Cherokee Basketry exhibit I want to attend, and this is an important part of our state’s history the boys should understand. (So, yes, this is a Mama-led activity!) I began by reading The Cherokee: native basket weavers by Therese DeAngelis, Sequoyah by Doraine Bennett, and The Cherokees by Jill Ward, which were all short (elementary level) books I checked out from the library.  Then we read the (middle school-ish) book Only the Names Remain by Alex W. Bealer, a sad account of the Trail of Tears. These were all good books.

 

My New Adventure

It’s not always about the boys’ projects around here. This spring I have been delving into the world of bread baking, and not only that, I have captured my own wild yeast, too! The series Cooked (exclusive to Netflix) inspired me. I am using the book Classic Sourdoughs, but it hasn’t answered all my questions, so I’ve frequented YouTube and friends on Twitter as well! (Thank you, Twitter friends!) After four loaves of bread, I’m still trying to get it right! (I did have great success with pizza dough, however.)

 

Books

The boys are constantly looking at our collection of Calvin and Hobbes books, which I keep on the kitchen table with the weekly newspaper. At least my nine-year-old is reading something without being told!

A couple of years ago, my nine-year-old lost interest in the Little House books when we got to By the Shores of Silver Lake. Now we’ve picked it up again, and he’s enjoying it. I think we’ll finish the series now!

For myself, I just finished reading Taking Lottie Home by Terry Kay. It’s a Southern novel, and I thought it was going to be predictable, but as the story gained momentum, I realized it was not! It was a very good read and a meaningful story.

 

T.V.

Our most current beloved documentaries: 

--NOVA’s Rise of the Robots (PBS)

--Nature’s Wild France (PBS)

--Cooked (Netflix exclusive)

--Chef’s Table (Netflix exclusive) (These last two were insanely great.)

Just for me: Mr. Selfridge (Masterpiece Theatre PBS; available on Amazon Prime)