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.


momawake said...

We have really enjoyed AO. We're now in year 7 which has been harder. I sort of miss the early years. ; )


Ivy Vega from said...

I completely identify with you. My dd will be 6 in Nov. So, if I was to register her do I do kinder or 1st grade????
For the past 3.5 months she has been doing plenty of kinder/1st grade Math. She is great with the phonics and I am just beginning to apply more of the CM methods.... I am glad I came about your blog. So I know I am not alone with this struggle.

Thank you.