We officially began our kindergarten year on August 3rd, so we’re going on week four even though schools in the area began their year yesterday. So far, it’s been going really well. J is loving and thriving in our curricula choices for the year, and he looks forward to our 45 minutes of school each day. We actually only do Monday through Thursday with only our main curriculum on Friday. Yet, he asks each weekend to “do school,” as well. Even though it can be tricky with the distracting 3 year old and demanding newborn, I’m really enjoying that special time with him. It does us both a lot of good to have that intentional time.
Our plan for each day begins with our main curriculum, Build Your Library Kindergarten, and then we go through a rotation of the remaining curricula until the 45 minutes is up. We have a chart posted, so he’s able to follow and knows what to expect and what is coming up. He currently always anxiously awaits doing math and a kiwi crate 🙂
Yesterday, I broke the news to J that it was his last lesson in the Primer level of Math-U-See. I thought he’d be excited, but he got really upset about it! I think that speaks to the program quite a bit. He’s really enjoyed working through each lesson and looks forward to completing all of the worksheets. I was a little concerned that it would be too “workbook” for him, but he loves it. He doesn’t use the blocks as much as I thought he would, but he knows that they’re there when he needs them. A lot of the skills in Primer were just review for him, but he had no issue picking up the new skills. We now have a child who can tell time, and he’s so proud of himself! I’ve been really impressed by how the program introduces everything and feel very confident that we’ll be sticking with Math-U-See for awhile.
I showed J the Alpha books, and he wasn’t upset about being done with Primer anymore! He especially loved that the’re green! We won’t be starting it for a few weeks, but it’s ready to go! The Primer books are all put away waiting for the day G is ready for them, and I know he’s going to love it, as well.
For the past few weeks (okay, months), J has been asking/begging to start his school stuff again. We just haven’t been able to swing it with how I’ve been feeling, so we kept just pushing it aside. It always made me feel super terrible (even more than the pregnancy was already doing to me). It’s incredibly difficult to see your five year old son get dejected and sad when you tell him that you just don’t have the capability to do a reading lesson. I love that he loves doing his “school work” and don’t want to discourage that!
So, today, after about three months off (talk about flexibility in homeschooling!), I finally got down his “Run, Bug, Run!” reading book from AAR and sat with him to read his next two stories. One green star on his chart later, and he’s beaming at me! He asked if that meant we could start his reading and math lessons again, and I reluctantly agreed. It’s not that I don’t want to do them with him. I do! The attention and direction that he gets while we do his lessons directly impacts his behavior in an extremely positive way, and we’ve been for sure needing that lately! I’m just nervous that I’m going to get in over my head with committing. I am, however, going to try. If nothing else, even doing stuff with him for a few minutes each day will likely carry him over to the next day if I’m not feeling super great. Therefore, I’m going to give it my best effort, and we’ll see what happens!
It doesn’t take much time hanging around with J to learn that he’s obsessed with numbers. He counts everything, and I say this literally. He has trouble handling a situation in which he can NOT count. He’s constantly adding numbers and is starting to do subtraction on his own, as well. He refers to Math-U-See as his math games and looks forward to his daily math time. When in the car, we’re either talking about numbers, counting things, or just counting in general. I get asked, “Can you count to 1,000?” and “How long would it take to count to infinity?” daily. Then, there’s the speed round to see how quickly he can count to 100. Math is just in his head constantly. It’s how we works, and it’s what he understands.
Admittedly, this has been difficult for me to fully accept. I have always been a reader, and I’ve always looked forward to passing on that love to my kids. Math has, by far, always been my weakest subject. I think much more in the abstract than logically, so I was left behind pretty quickly when it came to math in school. I’m actually quite curious to see if home schooling the boys will improve my math skills! Even still, it wouldn’t change the fact that I’ll always be partial to English/literature. That is what I got my degree in, after all. J did not take after me in this way, and that is very clear. He is, however, exactly like his dad. They understand each other, and Jony has no issues discussing math concepts and “talking numbers” with him for long periods of time, whereas I get bored quite quickly.
It started pretty early. As a toddler, instead of just playing with the cars (which I would do and get quickly told that I wasn’t playing correctly), he would sort them. Size, color, type of car; it didn’t matter. Once he was able to count, it was a game changer in his life until he’s reached the point where he is currently- obsessed. I have had to adapt to the fact that we will count everything in our life. If I put decorations up, it needs to be able to be sorted into different categories of some nature for him to enjoy looking at it. Not only will we discuss how many chickens are in our pasta salad, we will discuss how many there would be if we added such and so money or if we ate so many pieces. All of this has been a struggle since I don’t particularly enjoy counting, but I took it in stride with minimal issue.
Now that he’s beginning to read, however, it’s been hard to really realize how much is love of numbers overtakes his love of letters. When we’re looking at a new book, we have to look at the page numbers first to see how many are in it. The Table of Contents page in his non-fiction books is his favorite. He’s fascinated by the number of letters that are in a word. As his reading skills progress, I’m beginning to see how his way of thinking is guiding his path to reading. It’s clear that he likes to read and will enjoy it, but I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be much more likely to stick to his beloved non-fictions than to read novel after novel. And I’m okay with that! As long as he loves to read, of course.
In case you were wondering, G is very clearly the exact same way.
This was a short month for us since J spent a week away, but it’s still amazing to see how much we covered in such a short amount of time! We’re really happy about our current groove, and J is more than excited to do some school each day.
All About Reading (Level 1)
This month brought along some new letters: i, v, f, z, o, l and w. It’s really opened up a whole new world of words, and it’s clear it’s starting to spread out to actual life and not just when doing his reading. J’s favorite part (besides the stickers at the end of each lesson) is that he’s reading the short stories now. He got through four this month. I love having him read to me, and he is SO proud of himself. The confidence this program builds is my favorite part.
We finally saw the switch from super easy review to learning new concepts! J has been loving math the entire time (it’s his favorite subject, by far), but I was ready to start seeing him challenged. There was still some triangle identifying and practicing writing numerals, but he was introduced to place values: units, tens and hundreds. I was nervous that the jump would be too much for him, but I keep underestimating my boy when it comes to the math world. It made perfect sense to him, and he took to it immediately. He didn’t need any help in identifying triple digit numbers, but he’s coming from a place of understanding when he says every single number he sees anywhere now!
Nancy Larson (Kindergarten)
We finished Unit A: Exploring the Human Body and Five Senses by really getting into those senses. We are now about halfway through Unit B: Investigating Healthy Habits. He’s been learning about nutrition and exercise. We’ve been covering all of the main food groups and learning how to identify them. He’s really enjoyed working in his booklet, Investigating Ways to Keep My Body Healthy, since he feels like he’s writing his own book. There’s been no complaint about the snacks from the boys, either!
Artistic Pursuits (The Way They See It)
I’m still concerned that this level was a bit below where J is actually at, but not so much that I’m worrying about it. Both J and G are really enjoying the activities that go along with it, and that’s what art is all about! This month, we talked about using different colors and explored watercolor which brought a beautiful underwater scene to our house from J. We also had some fun with the visual motivator lesson by doing it at the farm! It called for us to go to a body of water and draw the experience. Since they have a lake there, it worked out perfectly! J really brought in some detail, while G just enjoyed coloring on the dock. We’re a bit behind schedule in art due to the crazy schedule that October brought, but we’ll catch back up. Eventually 🙂
After reading about the idea on a Homeschool Facebook page that I follow, I really wanted to hold an “Open House” of our own. We knew that everyone had some questions about what exactly we were doing, so we thought it was a great opportunity to invite the family over and be able to look at all J’s work and see the curriculum in person. We had both sets of parents and the local aunts attend, along with an uncle and a cousin. J was so excited to have everyone over and show off all that he’s been working on. He read a few words for everyone, showed off his green room and played with his cousin. We took advantage of having company and really got the green room back in order again, putting away all the loose toys and coloring books and pages that get everywhere so quickly.
We set up all the curricula and the work he’s already completed on our kitchen counter so it was easy to pick up and look at. We got a lot of great questions, and it seemed like everyone left with a bit more confidence in our alternative schooling route. I imagine this will be a yearly tradition at the Hammond Academy for Boys!
What a fun week! Even though we were just as busy as we were last week, it seemed to flow so much better. J zipped through his lessons this week with minimal issue (except for his first sight word- the; it’s killing him!). He even got his fluency sheet for AAR Lesson 4 done already today! I’m so impressed by how quickly AAR is building his confidence in reading. He’s so excited to start his first stories next week. He really enjoyed his science lessons this week, especially regarding his sense of smell and a sliced banana! Since last week was so nuts, we missed his art lesson last week. The boys were both excited to pick that up again today and were super thrilled at being able to do a messy project.
As far as outings go, we started out our week at Homeschool Day at the Houston Children’s Museum! We didn’t do anything special there that we wouldn’t have been able to do any other day, but it wasn’t nearly as crowded and J was amazed at how many homeschoolers there are in our city. He thought it was so cool to see older kids, and he kept remarking to me that everyone there “except the adults” were homeschooled just like he is.
On Tuesday, we had our Open House for the family to come over and see our little “school.” J was so excited and proud to show off what he’s doing, and he always loves having family come over. My parents spent the night (also exciting for both boys) and took the boys and I to see the Sharks! exhibit at HMNS, which, obviously, J loved. The biologists/curators were amazing there, as always, and were answering our questions and letting the boys touch a fossilized megaladon shark tooth. They were even both given a shark tooth from the Cretacious time period, so J is super proud of his new cool shark teeth that lived with dinosaurs.
The rest of the week consisted of our normal activities- swim, Little Gym, MOPS, chiropractor and even a trip to IKEA. We have a low key weekend planned and then we’re off to another crazy week!
This was a crazy busy week, and I feel like I was running around constantly. Nap time is always a low key time, but the rest of the day? Exhausting. For all involved. Wednesday was Jony’s birthday, so that was the biggest excitement of the week. Swimming for J also kicked off again for the semester. It’s clear he was doing more free form swimming than “swim lesson” swimming over the last month, but he was getting back into it by the end of the lesson. As usual, he loved it. Both boys are still loving their respective classes at Little Gym, and J is handling hanging out in the lobby during G’s class way better than I could have anticipated. He takes his backpack of activities, and he’s perfectly content between that, the toys they have there, watching/cheering G on and having one-sided conversations with the employees trying to do their job. G missed out on both of J’s activities this week due to naps. One of the few benefits of Jony working from home! It was nice to have that solitary time and get to just enjoy watching my big boy have a blast in his classes.
As far as other activities for the week, we had playgroup on Tuesday, some friends over from LLL on Wednesday morning and spent an hour or so on Thursday pouring rice and beans into plastic bags for a local food pantry. It was our second time for this service activity, and I could tell that J got a little bit more out of it this time since he had something to build on. I’m sure we’ll be back; it’s such an easy way for young kids to provide a service for their community.
School for J took a bit longer this week than it has been, mainly since reading is starting to really pick up. Not everything is coming as easy to him, but he’s doing great! He refers to his school work as his reading games or math games, and he’ll come and ask me to start school on the days that I don’t initiate it quick enough for his liking. We’re currently working through his first fluency sheet in AAR Lesson 3, completed MUS Lesson 4 on rectangles (math is still very easy for him), and started working on parts of the body in science.
The biggest development of the week is the switch of career goals for J. He’s wanted to be a construction worker since he could talk, but he’s moving on. He now wants to be a “shark scientist” and discover why hammer head sharks have hammer heads. His set goals for himself to prepare for when he’s adult is to learn about the ocean, all about sharks and to keep taking swim lessons so he’ll be able to go deep into the ocean. He hopes to be able to swim with sharks by the time he’s a daddy.
Now that we’ve been going for about two weeks, I believe we’ve found a groove that’s working for us. I’ve updated and changed some things around from my initial planning, and I’m feeling good about our plan for the year! J has been really flourishing at home and loves telling everybody he’s homeschooled. I’m very confident that we made the right decision!
Our schedule is loosely based on a four day week- Monday through Thursday, with Friday being art day (which he loves!). During each week, we’re going through one lesson in All About Reading (AAR), Math-U-See (MUS) and Artistic Pursuits and two science lessons (Nancy Larson). Every day, I beging with a short reading from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know, he works on some BrainQuest pages while I read, and we read a short story together.
Here’s a general approximation of what our lessons look like during the week (changes a bit based on what the week’s lessons call for, especially in AAR):
Monday: review previous AAR lesson, watch video and learn material for next MUS lesson Tuesday: new teaching for AAR, practice sheets for MUS, and a science lesson Wednesday: worksheet for AAR and practice sheets for MUS Thursday: worksheet for AAR and/or fluency page, final sheet for MUS, and a science lesson Friday: Artistic Pursuits and a craft, usually from Kiwi Crate
It’s been taking between 20-45 minutes each day, depending on the day. Usually, we tackle school after his nap/rest time (when he starts begging for it!), although it’s moved around a bit based on our schedule. Even on the longer days, it hasn’t been much of an issue to keep J engaged. He even calls them his reading and math games, so I guess we’ve been doing something right even if it was just choosing the right curriculums!