Dec 6, 2008

Kindergarten In Our House

Over at Family Revised, Brenda was musing on Kindergarten and asked what it looks like in our houses. This is actually one of my "hot topics" because I keep reading about "better late than early" and "unschooling" both of which makes me feel defensive even though my husband laughs at me and says they are not talking about me. I have also quietly taken other moms aside and given them what support I can offer when they have been sniped at by BLTE moms for doing the kind of school that I do.
My kids are allowed to start school somewhere between the ages of 18 months and 2 years, depending on the child. And I say allowed because school is a privilege and a treat in our house. The big kids are gripey on weekends because Mommy HAS to have a day off. And the little boys will race to put away their trains when I say, "Pick up so we can do school!"
We set aside a certain time each day to do school. I am aware that they are learning at all times, but we have a specific school time in order to cultivate a sense of order, discipline, and routine. There is a time to do school, and a time to play, and a time to do housework and a time to eat and a time to sleep... you get the picture.
For PreK and Kindergarten, I pretty much "write" my own "curriculum". All of our studies are built around ABCs, 123s, colors, shapes and, of course, Bible stories. To teach these things, I use a variety of methods: fun manipulatives; lots of puzzles; coloring (on blank paper and color pages); painting (in various forms and with various tools); play dough; blowing bubbles; worksheets, including but not limited to, mazes, dot to dots, tracing, finding items, and solving problems; games like I Spy, finding letters and numbers in signs when we are out, roll-the-die and move the marker games that I create on the computer; Candyland and Memory; games like Ring around the Rosie, Duck Duck Goose, walking like different animals; singing fun songs, learning songs and silly songs; and above all reading, reading, reading.
As parents, we work to maintain an atmosphere of learning, and one of the major reasons we homeschool is so that our kids can learn at their own pace and in their own way. BUT we insist on a structure and framework in our schooling because I have three main goals when it comes to the kids' education.
1. I want them to believe that learning is enjoyable and rewarding. I want them to be challenged, to feel challenged and to know that meeting that challenge, even when, no, especially when, it is hard is an awesome high and worth much more than what comes easily to them.
2. I want them to learn to follow directions. We go over this often, (especially with Nate) out of school, they can color, create, play as their creative whims dictate, but in school, if I tell them to color the hat blue, then that is what they have to do. I want them to know that we don't always get to do what we want or what we think is best. And God doesn't usually give us reasons why He tells us to do things. So, it's pleasant (for the most part) but obedience is a part of our curriculum.
3. I want them to learn self-discipline and self-control. This is one of the things that I really like about the Montessori method. The kids are responsible. I let them do for themselves, but if they spill it, they clean it up. If they want to do it, then they set it up and put out the effort. If they "do it wrong" then they correct it. They are taught responsibility by having responsibility. I like it because I want them to know that anything worth having in life requires some self-discipline.

So this is what kindergarten (PreK and 1st Grade and Totschool, too!) look like in our house.


Brenda said...

I agree with you about needing the order and discipline of the day. When I first began reading about homeschooling, all the unschooling stuff (and i know that's a very large term) rubbed me the wrong way. I do agree that they learn all the time, but my husband and I agreed that a godly home should have order and discipline in it as well. And not just be loosey-goosey all the time. I like the things you say you do with them. So, here's my next what point would you purchase and use a curriculum?

Spesamor Academy said...

We purchased curriculum for 1st grade. But the only one we use consistently as it is supposed to be used is our Horizons math. The science and "social studies" we take the basic idea and do our own thing with it. We are still making up our LA and are starting to incorporate a lot of Montessori in our learning. But I am VERY glad that we got Horizons (and the other books, too) this year. It gave us a structured scope and sequence that I just wasn't pulling off on my own.


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