Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Curriculum 2012-2013: K4

Since we started to homeschool PreK officially in January, we are really only mid-way through our first  whole year.  However, we have learned quite a bit about what we like, what we do not like, how SC learns, and the direction we want to head, so we will be making some changes and additions for this 2012-2013 year, which I am considering a K4/1st year.  For those who did not read my first post, I will briefly sum up the decisions made and what we have already done as I move into what (I hope) this year will bring.


For Bible lessons we will be continuing with the "Beginner" pages from Bible Study for All Ages I really like this program because I am actually reading straight from the Bible to SC, and reading whole chapters, not just what some might consider familiar stories.  It has each reading broken down into five or six blocks to color, with questions and a summary that is very age appropriate.  Then, it has a short story that helps the young student relate it to life, plus a coloring page to go with that story as well.


We have already finished Get Ready and are most of the way through Get Set from the Explode the Code series.  Even though SC is really strong on her letters and their sounds, I think it couldn't hurt to finish the Go for the Code book before moving on to Books 1 - 4 of the series.  I have been doing a "letter of the week" along with a read aloud that focuses on that letter as well.  We are also thinking about using the online program if we have extra funds after the rest of our school supplies are purchased for the year.

For reading we have been going through Collection 1 and the K/1st Sight Words Collection from BOB Books.  We will continue with this, plus add in I Can Read!  books that we have and others like that.  For read alouds, I plan to create a list that backs up the history program I have chosen, as well as adding in some classic literature.  SC is fairly jumpy, so we do not get very far when we cuddle up on the couch to read.  My goal is to work our way up to her being able to listen for a thirty-minute session.

We are in the middle of A Reason for Handwriting level K and it has been a very easy introduction for SC to writing.  I do not push her too hard to make the letters perfect, but I do know what she is capable of.  She tends to get silly when she writes (turning her letters into people, adding "babies" for the letters to take care of, adding bugs or monsters for the letters to run from), so only having one letter to focus on each day helps her to get at least a few that are good.  I have started circling the ones that are really good, and she loves that, so she strives to get a few good ones before decorating.  When we are done with level K, we will move on to level A, which has Bible verses to work on as practice.

In conjunction with the Bible verses in A Reason for Handwriting level A is the spelling lessons in A Reason for Spelling level A.  We will not start working on spelling until we can start level A handwriting at the same time.  I am interested to see how this program works together, with the spelling words coming from a story that is based on the Bible verse, which is the verse she will be practicing writing.


Not really liking Before Five in a Row for us, I was in the market for a new main curriculum.  I had a friend who suggested Sonlight as a good literature-based core program.  I looked into that, and had actually decided on it, but as I was searching through the great Well-Trained Mind forums, someone mentioned History Odyssey and I absolutely loved the look of it.  The one problem I was having with Sonlight was that I personally think history needs to be taught from the beginning on, and like all subjects, taught deeply rather than widely.  I have never liked "survey" courses, even when I was in school.  Sonlight's Core A, which is where I felt SC should start, teaches history from the beginning all the way through to WWII.  I couldn't help but wonder how much SC would actually get out of a history that goes that fast.  So, we will be starting Ancients Level 1in September.

We are also halfway through the "Primer" level of Math-U-See, and will start the "Alpha" level.  I really like this math curriculum because it makes so much more sense to me than how I learned even things like addition.  In "Primer" has gently introduced SC to addition, but not in a way that she is counting, but in a conceptual way that she is "knowing."  For example, 2 + 3 = 5 is not 1, 2 plus 3, 4, 5 equals 5, but 2 and 3 together are equal to (or the same as) 5.  I doubt the way I explained that makes any sense, but I am so un-mathematical that I cannot explain it any better.  Anyhow, I am really looking forward to moving her on to Alpha and getting deeper into math.  We will also be adding some Lollipop Logic, mazes and other critical thinking activities.


Science was another area that I really did not like the way Sonlight blended multiple areas of the sciences together in a wide, rather than deep, focus.  After research on many blogs and forums, I decided that we would give Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy a try for this year.  I have read many, many great reviews, and was able to physically take a look at both the text and the junior notebooking journal, and it looks like it will be perfect for SC's first taste of real science.  We are contemplating getting a membership to the local Natural Science and History Museum so we can take advantage of both the astronomy exhibits and the planetarium, but like the online Explode the Code, it will depend on how much of our budget is left after purchasing supplies.


While I appreciate and understand the reasoning behind the classical learning model to teach Latin so that students may read the great thinkers in the original, for our family, we are going in a different direction.  SC already has very worldly ambitions and loves learning about other places, so we have decided to teach French to her as a beginning second language.  Part of this decision had to do with the fact that my father-in-law is fluent, so we have someone we can pester about things and to practice with.  Part of it had to do with my own desire to learn French, and I think that doing it alongside SC would be great.  So, after much research, we have chosen to use Le Francais Facile! junior level, plus Little Pim dvds from the library and any worksheets or coloring books we can use to supplement with.


I am very excited that I just signed up SC for a piano readiness class at a local university.  I had attempted to teach her piano fundamentals on my own, but it had been so long since I had taken lessons myself, I just couldn't keep up with her desire to learn.  After much searching, I finally found this "early education" music class that actually teaches piano (and not simply "music appreciation") to four-year-olds.  SC also takes two dance classes each week, plus also attends a gymnastics class.

If anyone has any questions or wants to offer advice or just their own opinions on any of the choices I have made, I would love to hear from you!
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