This year is the year I have been looking forward to for the last 4 or 5 years…seriously! And yet, my failures from last year are still glaring at me in the face: lack of consistency, lack of involvement, lack of a spiritual emphasis, etc. Earlier this year, when I realized that Jordyn was woefully behind, we bought the complete A Beka Kindergarten package despite knowing that Jordyn would likely be very advanced for the first half and not know the second half. The problem was that A Beka teaches Kindergarten students cursive handwriting. Without that, the plan would have been perfect. However, I decided (based on a friend’s recommendation) to go ahead with it, though Jordyn had already learned to print her capital letters (Handwriting without Tears teaches those first) and a few of the lowercase letters. Jordyn still writes her name JORDYN, which I think is due to the early learning of capital letters and the lack of follow-through with lower-case. Instead, we switched programs that taught a whole new think, which was lowercase cursive letters! How confused she must be!!! As the time wore on, I began to realize that we were “doing” school…and that wasn’t really a positive thing. See, A Beka is a traditional program and, like most traditional programs, it centers around a small teaching segment and then filling out worksheets. I think this enabled me to feel like we were accomplishing something because a pile of completed papers had been piling up, but it quickly became drudgery and then… I got pregnant… and sick… and we stopped even “doing” school. Now, we are back where we started, behind, and in need of some changes that will, no doubt, confuse and frustrate, at least for a time.
My plan for this upcoming year is to basically go back to what I had originally planned, because I can see now that the problems weren’t with the programs, but with my consistency in using them. A Beka did teach me that if I keep doing something everyday, learning will happen. Even if it feels like I accomplished nothing because no paperwork got filed or no tests were taken. Even if all we did was sit on the couch and read stories one after another. So, I chose some materials for the upcoming year that require less “doing” and more “sharing” because I need to be more involved in the school day, and not just as teacher, but as Mommy too.
Math: Saxon 1 (she should be comfortable at this level, even though she won’t finish her A Beka K book)…Saxon advances faster.
Reading: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. We will continue working through this book until she finishes it. However the problem I seem to continually encounter with ALL reading programs is finding material for my child to read outside of the primer. I get frustrated easily with this, but I’m going to keep plucking along and write down (and/or buy) titles that I really enjoy. (Maybe I’ll write my own books!)
Handwriting: Zaner-Bloser Manuscript. A big change for Jordyn, but we asked her if she wanted to keep doing cursive (which she likes) or try printing this year and she chose printing. In this day and age, you type and your “please print on this form.” Surely, it is still important to learn cursive, but I think we all learn our own “fonts” and most adults write in a form of hybrid printing-cursive that allows them to go fast, and the writing is (I think) more legible than fancy cursive. Perhaps in third grade we will go back to cursive with the Spencerian method which transitions nicely to calligraphy (you use a dipping pen to do it. FUN!)
Grammar: First Language Lessons. Many of these lessons are oral, but the basics are covered at this early level. This guide seems more like a “learn-with-me” book rather than a “teach-it-to-me” book, though obviously the parent has the answers! It is a gentle introduction to grammar that I think is ESSENTIAL in a young person’s education, just like logic and Latin!
Writing: In addition to actual penmanship, we will use an outside curriculum that starts first graders on basics like copying good sentences and narration. It should be a simple thing to do.
Spelling: Later on in the year, probably a month or two in, we will add a formal Spelling program, Spelling Workout. Since we already play “spelling games” in the car, I think this will be a breeze for her.
History: Story of the World, Volume I: Ancient Times. This is a read to me type of book and with the additional activity guide, it also provides coloring pages, crafts, and mapwork along with book suggestions for historical reading and literature. I am also purchasing a children’s World History Encyclopedia. The library will be essential in this subject.
Science: Following the same “theme” as history, we are using two different encyclopedias, one on Animals and the other on the Human Body. In the spring, we will use the book Green Thumbs to learn about plants and gardening. As with history, the library will be essential as we research books on things that are interesting. This is somewhat structured, somewhat “delight-centered” meaning that if Jordyn is interested in reading every book the library has on spiders, we might attempt it, even if we were supposed to move on to ants.
Finer Things: I am hoping to include art projects in the other subjects. Draw a spider is a perfectly appropriate science task. However, I will be ordering the book Drawing with Children, by Mona Brookes and I hope to learn a lot from it.
Bible: I have already purchased “character study” books for both children and I think we will simply read passages from the Bible that pertain to one of those qualities. Otherwise, we are beginning a family devotion time in the morning. Keeping it simple at this stage is just fine. Formal Bible Study can come later. My children should be getting familiar with the language of the Bible and the applications of the Bible at this point.
Reading: Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading…slowly but surely.
Math: Saxon K
Writing: Zaner-Bloser K
I imagine that he will willingly listen in and participate in Jordyn’s Science and History lessons, though I won’t expect it of him. I will evaluate at the end of the year whether to progress him forward in those subjects to stay with Jordyn. He will still do first grade work in the new material, but his chronology will be askew. No biggie.
Whew! Hopefully it will be easier to apply than it was to explain!!!