Spring is the time of year when most homeschooling moms start plotting for next year. This fall Liam will be a kindergartner, so I’m composing kindergarten plans for the second time around. Would you like to hear my plans?
I believe that children at this age should be exposed to very little formal academics. To me, kindergarten is a time to let them dip there toes into what school feels like – a little structure, a little more expected, a gentle transition into the real work of first grade. Whereas before Liam has only been asked to participate in our morning devotions, then he will be officially a part of our school time. Of course, he’s excited! That’s a given for most kindergarteners. The trick is to keep him excited and eager to do school all year long, laying a foundation of “I like school” and preserving his natural love for learning.
First on the agenda is choosing stories that will enrich his imagination and spark his inner development. I will be using some kindergarten-appropriate fairy tales from the Enki K program. These fairytales are gentle, with the hero or heroine returning to a happy home at the story’s end. I’ll also expose him to natural science through the charming works of Clara Dillingham Pierson, starting with Among the Forest People. We read Among the Pond People in Aria’s K year, which delighted them both. None of these resources have pictures. Of course, we do have many picture books and will by no means be putting them away, but it’s a great idea in kindergarten to make sure your child is able to listen to long stories without pictures. This leaves room for them to create their own mental pictures and strengthens their attention span.
With my first child I didn’t pursue handwriting in kindergarten. She already knew all of her letters by sight, their sounds and was writing legibly on her own often. I waited until first grade to teach Aria the correct way to form letters – from the top down. It has remained quite difficult for her to change wrong habits built up over years of writing on her own. Liam is also into writing these days. His writing is even more neat than Aria’s was, but he also forms many letters incorrectly. For example, he writes many letters from the bottom up and he writes the lowercase “a” like it is typed. We’re going to hopefully nip these habits in the bud by using the Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series Book A. Meanwhile, Aria and I will also be using the Getty-Dubay program to work on our handwriting.
Since I believe that it is better for the child’s whole development to wait until first grade for formal reading instruction, we won’t be pushing language arts in kindergarten. My goal is that by the end of the year he recognizes and can write all of his upper case letters, recognize his lowercase letters and knows many letter sounds. He will be exposed to more than these goals (for example, he will be taught all consonant sounds and all lowercase letters), but I will not be concerned if he does not pick them all up in kindergarten. Liam will work through the Explode the Code books designed for kindergarten, which are Get Ready for the Code – Book A, Get Set for the Code – Book B and Go for The Code – Book C. Aria is working on Explode the Code’s upper level phonics books, so this choice for Liam is in part to help him feel included.
Faith is a central value in our family. Lately, I’ve also put a lot of thought into how to cater our morning devotions to Liam in the new year. He’s at such a different place than Aria. Recently I bought a copy of Get Wisdom!, which seems perfect for grades K-2. Get Wisdom presents desirable behaviors like patience, loyalty, honesty, courage, etc. from a Biblical perspective, with relevant discussion questions and fun little activities that I can see us actually enjoying. I plan to also tell my own stories to the children about a fictional family who works through these same behaviors. When I did this for Aria in kindergarten, these “Elsa and Peter” stories were her very favorite part of school.
Art is the last aspect of kindergarten on my radar. I believe that creativity is one of the most valuable human skills. Giving my kids frequent opportunity to create is one key way to nurture their creative juices. I plan to set up an art project once per week for both children, but with a preference for things that interest Liam. Liam is more in tune with art than Aria, and being second-born often receives the short end of the stick when it comes to my attentions. If you have more than one child, I’m sure you know what I mean! This is a great way for me to give him love and prioritize his “school.” I’m inspired by so many art resources on the internet, but I’ll also be drawing ideas from Mary Ann Kohl’s book Scribble Art.
So, did you notice that there’s no math on that list? Yes, we address math before first grade just in natural life settings like cooking (fractions), dividing snacks and discussing so many random facts fascinating to them. This approach has worked wonderfully for Aria who is thriving in formal math this year. Liam is also exposed to all of the math that Aria has learned in first grade and has picked up so much already, so he has an unintentional head start.
I’m excited to usher Liam into this next level of learning next fall. My hope is that he emerges with some new skills, but more importantly with a growing love for learning and with eagerness for the MORE that will follow in first grade!