The time has come for my oldest hooligan to officially begin reviewed schooling. In our state, we meet with a representative from our county twice a year so they can check in and make sure our kid is making progress. So, I combed through homeschool groups, websites, blogs, curriculum stores and reviews and finally decided on our courses.
Since we school secularly, a lot of the boxed curricula are not an option for us. My kids love stories, so I chose a Charlotte Mason-based program called Build Your Library. I purchased the Kindergarten Around the World, a world culture based program that incorporates studies of ecosystems, animals and native habitats, a LOT of geography, some awesome beginner writing projects and tons of reading out loud. Essentially, it is the “spine” of our studies as it covers everything but math and phonics.
For language arts, we use Explode the Code phonics books, BOB books combined with Usborne readers & phonics workbooks, as well as the Teach Your Monster to Read app an hour or two spread throughout a week. Each morning, she completes a section in her Lakeshore Learning Daily Sight Word Journal and a page or two of Zaner-Bloser handwriting. On Fridays, she completes a page in her Lakeshore Learning Writing Prompt Journal. There’s always writing throughout the day in other ways as well. Of course, reading out loud happens often through the day.
Singapore Earlybird Kindergarten Math (standards edition) is a well curated program we’ve thus far enjoyed. The lessons are challenging without being discouraging and I love the spiral style of the material. She’s building a lot of confidence as she completes the first half of the curriculum (“A”) and is on track to begin the second half (“B”) in January. Paired with a hanging Numbers and Counting chart and a selection of manipulatives, its been really successful and I’m happy with our choice.
I think it extremely important that our kids have the opportunity to study nature and be outside as much as possible, and so Exploring Nature With Children has become our guide in focusing our time outside. I love this program because it includes a poem (many by Emily Dickinson) and an artwork recommendation for each week that compliments the study. There are extension activities, journaling suggestions and a book list for each week as well as detailed instructions for discussion during the nature walks. This program is so flexible, which fits nicely to our busy days. I have seen elsewhere that this curriculum isn’t considered secular but I haven’t happened across anything questionable (yet).
As for art study, I’m finding that easiest of all. This is a study close to my heart and I am incredibly passionate about the place of art in learning and life. For now, we do a lot of looking through books of well-known paintings and artists, reading biographies, listening to classical composers, studying and creating sculpture. We participate in an art class at one of our local art museums (taught by a most talented educator who breathes such vibrant life into the subject) and it is the highlight of our month. I often try to link the region which we are currently studying with a artist (Mexico and Frida Kahlo, for instance) and make a strong effort to highlight female and indigenous art. We use a wide variety of art medium and always have supplies available. When it comes to art study, they are in charge of how their art is created. We provide materials and maybe a little guidance or an example, but ultimately don’t interfere with their process.
For Spanish, I utilize a teacher’s guide for Kindergarten. It has worksheets and black line masters of posters and other materials that I can copy and we color or use throughout the week. I also stock books in Spanish (Goodnight Moon, Where’s Spot?, and other classics) as well as a few “first” dictionaries for looking up vocabulary. We love Salsa Spanish episodes for some downtime. Endless Spanish app on the tablet is also great for long car trips and reinforcement.
Cosmic Kids yoga on YouTube is great for physical activity and mindfulness when we need to be indoors, but otherwise we play outside as much as possible. Both my oldest kids ice skate, the kindergartner learning how to play hockey as well.
As I detail our unit studies upon their completion, I’ll try to include links to specific sites or resources I’ve found particularly helpful as well.