Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Homeschooling Kindergarten and First Grade, part 1

For anyone who reads my blog you know that it is a mishmash of things that are going on in my life some things on church planting, personal devotionals and revelations, some home making and some homeschooling.

In the past year, I have had several people ask me about homeschooling from the general of "How do you start?" to the more specific with curriculum recommendations.

I really am passionate about homeschooling.  I feel strongly that it is what God has called our family to at this season of our life.  I realize that it may not always be this way and reserve the right to change our focus if we feel like God asks us to but right now we love it.  In the fall we will start our 6th year of homeschooling.  I have done kindergarten three times and have come to love the simplicity of the age and their thirst for knowledge.  This year several friends/acquaintances have asked specifically about kindergarten and 1st grade curriculum choices. 

First, there are a literal ton of resources on the web and in print for homeschoolers.  I realize that my choices are not necessarily the best choices for everyone  but I feel confident recommending these to anyone who wants to homeschool kindergarten, I think the best thing you can do is read, read and read some more.  I firmly believe that a child that learns to read and enjoy books will be able to accomplish anything they want to do.

For reading I highly recommend The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.  It is a wonderful stand alone phonics/reading program.  We have used this program with three boys and they are all wonderful readers at their own level.  For more reinforcement we use Explode the Code workbooks.  There is a new online version that I am tempted by but so far we have stuck with the workbooks.  These are inexpensive workbooks.  They don't line up exactly with OPG but we haven't had any problem using them.

I have started all the boys using Handwriting without Tears which is a very good program but I don't love the way their handwriting looks.  So I have been switching over to Italic and J will switch to Italic in first grade.  I will start W in Italic and skip HWTHWT is a great program if you have a reluctant writer or one that struggles with correct penmanship.  My problem with it was purely cosmetic.  I will have to say that after almost two years of Italic with G that his handwriting has improved by leaps and bounds. 

Math U See is a home run for elementary math especially if you struggle to explain first grade math concepts to your six year old are not confident teaching math.  We use the DVDs as teaching time.  The boys watch their lesson (usually anywhere from 5-10 minutes) then I go over their worksheets and explain any instructions and they do their work.  If there is something they don't understand I pull out the manipulative's (wonderful Lego like blocks) and we work through the problem together.  Great program developed by a homeschool dad who is also a math teacher.

For science/geography in kindergarten I used a lot of resources recommend by Winterpromise in their Animal World series.  We loved the DK Animal Encyclopedia and also all the books in the One Small Square series which teaches geography and also science.  Again I feel like the ability to be relaxed and read a lot at this age is such a benefit.

I know some people want a box set of curriculum and there are several out there.

One that is free on the net and which I have pulled lots of resources from is Letter of the Week.  Katrina Lybbert has put together a wonderful set of curriculum for teaching preschoolers and early elementary children.  She is developing a science and country curriculum that looks just as fabulous as her original work and the best thing is that she shares her work freely.  Most of the books she recommends can be found in the library or you can easily find substitutes.

to be continued on another day...

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