Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yes, delight in knowledge

"The getting of knowledge and the getting of delight in knowledge are the ends of a child's education."
--Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Our little leaguer

We have entered a new phase in our lives. Today was Owen's first day of t-ball. And he had a ball!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ain't that the truth!

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.
--Phyllis Diller

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Our favorite picture books

I'm always on the lookout for good stories to the read to the kids, so I thought I'd share some of our favorites:
  • "Miss Rumphius," by Barbara Cooney
  • "A House is a House for Me," by Mary Ann Hoberman
  • "Stellaluna," by Janell Cannon
  • "Make Way for Ducklings," by Robert McCloskey
  • "Blueberries for Sal," by Robert McCloskey
  • "Flotsam," by David Wiesner
  • "Whistle for Willie," by Ezra Jack Keats
  • "The Story of Ferdinand," by Munro Leaf
  • "The Little Engine that Could," by Watty Piper
  • "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by Eric Carle
  • "Time for Bed," by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer
  • "The Adventures of Peter Rabbit," by Beatrix Potter
  • "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel," by Virginia Lee Burton
  • "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault
  • "Stone Soup," by Marcia Brown
  • "Bread and Jam for Frances," by Russell Hoban
  • "You are Special," by Max Lucado
  • "Where the Wild Things Are," by Maurice Sendak
  • "Frog and Toad Are Friends," by Arnold Lobel
  • "Winnie-the-Pooh," by A.A. Milne (the original, not the Disney version) Although I wouldn't classify this a picture book, it's a great introduction to chapter books and my 3-year-old listens well to these stories.

Of course, these are the highlights. I only listed our absolute favorites by one author (with the exception of McCloskey--I couldn't decide which of those two were our favorites). Once you find an author you like, look for other books by them to find other potential jewels.

A few years ago when I felt that I had exhausted all the pictures books we had or that I remembered as treasures from my childhood, I asked our local librarian for a book listing great books to read to my kids. She gave me a blank look and said to just look at all the books in the children's section. Hmmmm, not what I expected to hear.

Since then, I've found what I was asking for. They are:

  • "Honey for a Child's Heart," by Gladys Hunt
  • "Books Children Love," by Elizabeth Wilson
  • "The Read Aloud Handbook," by Jim Trelease

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My "gentle start to school" plan

When I began this blog I wrote in the sidebar about myself that I’m beginning to homeschool kindergarten this fall. And it’s still there. So you may wonder have we been homeschooling since September or are we beginning this fall? Or have we been beginning all this time? Or can I just not make up my mind?

Truthfully, it’s all of those.

Since Owen (and Jonas when his turn comes) has a fall birthday and since the cutoff date to enroll in school in our state is December 2 and since he must be registered the year he turns 6—whew—I have to decide if I should place him in kindergarten or first grade.

Of all the curriculum and educational philosophies I’ve researched, I’m most interested in following a literature-based approach. I’m very interested in Ambleside Online’s curriculum. It’s a free, literature-based curriculum based on Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. The good people at Ambleside volunteered their considerable time and experience to create this curriculum that anyone can use for free. You simply need to acquire the books somehow, either purchase them, borrow from the library or find the text online. We’ve been loosely following their recommendations for preschool/kindergarten and I’m debating whether Owen is ready to move on to Year 1 this fall or to continue what we’ve been doing but be more intentional with the 3Rs. Kind of like making this next school year a kindergarten/first grade. Which wouldn’t be a problem except that when I register the child as a homeschooler this fall, I have to declare a grade level to the state.

I think the decision I’ve come to is to do a gentle start to school (keeping in mind that we’ve been “schooling” since the day Owen was born). I’ve gotten rather lax on his phonics. We were going great guns for awhile and then my energy failed while my belly got bigger (due to pregnancy, not chocolate—well, maybe a little chocolate). So, I’m going to get back into phonics and reading. Of course, I've been doing lots of read-alouds all along that I'll continue. We play lots of games that involve math concepts and I'll add a kindergarten level math curriculum. I also want to add history, nature study, art, music, health and life skills (these aren't completely new, but I want to be more concrete with my plans, a regular time rather than just whenever I think of it). My plan is to follow Miss Mason's recommendation for short lessons and I'll implement only one subject at a time until it becomes a habit in our daily routine. I’m going to read a selection from each of the books in AOYR1 and gauge Owen’s readiness by asking him to narrate short passages to see if he’s comprehending the material well and his attention span is where it needs to be for that level.

I guess what I’m saying is that we’ll do kinder now, as we have been, but be more deliberate with weekly goals. We'll go through the summer as we plan to school year-round so we won't waste time relearning stuff come September. I’ll reassess where we’re at again in the fall when I need to register him and state a grade level.

That’s the beauty of home education—you make it work for your child. If I enrolled him in a traditional school he’d either be the oldest or the youngest kid in his class. He could be required to do work that was either too easy or too challenging. This way, we’ll do what works for his ability and readiness.