Focusing on the Basics
This was our first year homeschooling and I honestly had no idea where to start when it came to choosing a curriculum for kindergarten. Thankfully, I was able to talk with a few veteran homeschooling moms and get a better idea of what I did and didn’t need. It was so helpful to hear what worked well for other families. All that advice gave me great direction in figuring out what type of curriculum would work best for my son. I actually ended up choosing a variety of different textbooks and didn’t stick to specific program.
My goals for the year were to focus on building a good base in reading, math, and handwriting. We also joined a homeschooling group, Classical Conversations, that met once a week. All other subjects and activities were supplemental. Since it was our first year homeschooling, I knew it was important to keep things pretty basic so that we didn’t get overwhelmed.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons came highly recommended by multiple people and I’m so glad I chose it. I cannot say enough good things about this book! The approach is very unique and straight to the point. It focuses strongly on phonics and sounding words out as opposed to only recognizing sight words. The lessons start out at a very easy level and gradually increase in difficulty. Reading comprehension is another important aspect of the program. I loved that it helped me assess whether or not my son actually understood what he was reading. Another great feature is that scripting for the teacher is included in each lesson. This was perfect for me since I had no idea how to teach my son to read!
My son started out the school year with being able to recognize letters and knowing a few of the sounds. By the time he finished the last lesson in this book, he was reading quite well and was ready to move on to beginner level reading books. He has had so much fun being able to read books about things he is interested in (Legos, trains, superheros, etc).
The math program I went with was Singapore Essential Math for Kindergarten. This program uses a straight forward, concise approach to introduce the math concepts. I really liked how they used a combination of word problems, mental math, and written math problems. Manipulatives such as linking cubes, pattern blocks, and balancing scales give a hands on approach to reinforce the concepts in the workbook.
I found that the Kindergarten A workbook was more of a preschool level of math. We ended up skipping ahead to about halfway though the workbook. The Kindergarten B workbook was more challenging and began to introduce more advanced addition and subtraction problems as well as ordering numbers, telling time, and simple fractions. I was very happy with this program and plan on purchasing the First Grade workbooks for the upcoming school year.
My son could recognize and write all his letters going into kindergarten so the next step was to practice refining his handwriting skills and move on to writing words and sentences. This handwriting workbook was perfect for taking his handwriting to the next level. The book starts with writing individual letters, moves onto words, and lastly to writing sentences.
This is also a great workbook we used for practicing writing and recognizing common sight words.
Fun Supplemental Workbooks
These workbooks were fun for my son do if he had extra time after completing his regular schoolwork for the day. They just offered some extra practice in areas such as writing, math, reading, and problem solving.
Classical Conversations Memory Work
Classical Conversations is a homeschooling group based on the classical model of education. There is a strong focus on memorization in the early years of schooling. Our group met once a week on Thursdays and broke off into smaller classes according to age. The tutor for each group taught the children memory work in subjects such as history, math, science, English, Latin, and geography. They also did science experiments, art, and music. This group was amazingly beneficial for my son and exposed him to a lot of education and activities beyond what I would not normally do at home.
We practiced the memory work at home throughout the week by going through what he learned the previous Thursday. This is the guidebook that contains all the memory work for the year. A lot of the memory work was in song format which he loved! Listening to these CD’s helped reinforce the material. It was amazing to see how quickly my son learned and how well he was able to memorize the material.
Our official school year came to a close a couple of weeks ago but I plan to do school with my son once or twice a week throughout the summer. This will ensure that he retains all the information and skills he learned this past year.
Do you homeschool? If so, I would love to hear about the program or curriculum that has worked well for you. Leave a comment below!