Last summer, Caroline became absolutely enthralled with a student desk set at Office Max. It was a white desk, hot pink chair, and flowered mat. She was only three (!) and it was way too big for her. But every time we have gone to Office Max over the past year, she has literally ran to see that set-up. The last time we were in there, I had her sit down to see if she might be tall enough to use it. She was tall enough if the chair is put all the way to the top. So I emailed David’s dad with the picture and asked if he could make her a desk like it. He whipped it together (he’s a master craftsman) and we painted it this weekend. The chair and floor mat went on sale on Sunday so we bought those. We finally got it all set up yesterday in her room and Caroline is a Happy Camper. I still need to find some pretty baskets to use on the shelves, but in the meantime I gave her a few Rubbermaid containers to use. So she’s very excited about having real school work and “homework” to do at her desk. (She got the idea of homework from watching Laura on Little House on the Prairie DVDs.)
Which brings us to… Like most homeschooling moms, I’m currently in the midst of planning! After doing a lot of research about the different kinds of curriculum packages available, I decided to purchase… nothing.
As I looked over the different packages, I simply could not convince myself that I needed to spend hundreds of dollars for a kindergartner. I was also not convinced that Caroline would enjoy a lot of what was in the packages. I was most tempted to purchase Sonlight, especially because of their money back guarantee. But in the end I decided that between what I already have, what is available for free or nearly free online, what I can get from the library, and what I can selectively purchase… I just don’t need the whole shebang from one company.
So here’s my plan in progress…
Caroline is going to participate in two classes at the homeschool co-op. One is a phonics class and the other is a literature class that uses Five in a Row. They are both enrichment classes and basically I’m just glad she can go and have fun with other children her age and learn something in the process. (She’ll even get to eat lunch at the co-op so she has a Hello Kitty! lunch bag. She’s very excited.)
I’ve been putting together a list of themes to use for the year. I’m going to do one theme a week and build around that. I’m creating a file folder for each theme and putting ideas in the folder as I come across them in either my own files or online. My goal is to have the file folders filled with ideas for the first two months by the time we start school. Then I’ll just pull whichever ideas seem best for us at the moment.
Caroline is all about hands-on activities so my one big splurge is going to be a couple of pocket charts and a stand. I’m going to purchase a Monthly Calendar Pocket Chart like I saw on another site. (Update: I’ve since created this series of fact cards for calendar pocket charts in many different topics.) I’m also going to purchase a Sentence Strip Pocket Chart that will give me a lot of hands-on flexibility with Caroline in terms of reading, math, poetry, etc.
I’ve been going through several books and online sites to compile a master list of picture books for preschool and kindergarten. We have read a lot of the books that I see on the list, but I’m still going to make a list and we’ll work our way through the rest of them this year. Some of them we will just read for fun and some we’ll do lapbooks to accompany them.
Math is going to be mostly hands-on and worksheets. Caroline thinks worksheets are actually fun so I don’t feel badly using them in conjunction with other hands-on activities. I have learned that the worksheets need to be in color though in order to engage her and keep her focused. The black and white ones don’t work nearly as well (unless they are a coloring activity). I have a list of math objectives for kindergartners and we’ll simply go through that over the year and I’ll pull whatever materials I need to cover those concepts.
While there are many challenges to having an only child, I think this is where having only one is going to be fantastic. I don’t have to plan extensive lessons for multiple children and attempt to keep multiple children on task while trying to offer direct instruction to one of the others. I just sit down with her, figure out what she knows, determine what she needs help with, pull something from my files or online to cover that concept, and do it. Finally, a way that having an only is a big positive!
So that’s a bit about my plan. I still haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do about reading/phonics. I’m also still deciding on Bible. I’ll share more as I find resources and compile some of my lists and such. We’re going to start the last week of August so I have about a month to get everything ready.