If you read my previous post regarding kindergarten you know that we are trying a new rhythm as we approach kindergarten this year. This is my 6th year teaching kindergarten (I taught in private school two years before having kids), and my fourth child to teach kindergarten. I know Charlotte Mason suggests waiting till age 6 for formal instruction, but my little one wants school lessons like her sister. In general I do not make her sit and “do school” We offer and she generally wants too. I do not press if she is adamantly against or tired. However, I do offer learning opportunities for her daily with invitations to play, reading good books, playing games, allowing outdoor time, and more. Because her “school” lessons look like play she rarely even knows she’s doing it!
So what kind of “curriculum” do I use with kindergartner? Here’s the quick and easy.
- Kindergarten Skills: Rod and Staff A-K Kindergarten books, sensory boxes, and art supplies
- Literature: Ambleside Online Year 0 Book List, Read Aloud Revival Monthly Picture Book Lists, Beatrix Potter Treasury, Winnie the Pooh Treasury
- Phonics: letter games, songs, and books
- Letters: Letter of the week: coincide with a name of God and a character trait
- Numbers: Games, Songs, & Wild Math Curriculum K
- Science: nature time and Exploring Nature with Children
Now for a bit of the why and how.
Kindergarten Skills: We have always used the Rod and Staff preschool workbooks with our kids. They have never once finished all the books. I wait till they ask to use the workbooks and then I never let them do more than 4 pages a day. Much to their dismay. This daughter, #4, is the first to make it to the fourth book in series and its a bit more formal than I prefer. However, she loves it so it stays for now. As I said we use these only if they ask.
Literature: We have decided to read all of Beatrix Potter’s books this year. I have never read all the books, and my kindergartner is obsessed with bunnies. Peter Rabbit seemed like a natural place to start. We will also include the selections from Ambleside Online’s Year 0 book list, as well as many great picture books. We use Read Aloud Revival‘s amazing book lists, as well as the suggestions from our Exploring Nature with Children lessons. We are also working through the original Winnie the Pooh stories. I try to read to her daily, early in the day, in a one on one setting to fill her cup before my attention is called elsewhere.
Phonics: We are working on phonics skills. You may ask how we can do that if we aren’t doing formal school lessons. We are doing it through games, songs, and reading nursery rhymes. If she asks to read, as she does some days, we look at Bob Books or play with letter manipulatives. I offer the games or activities each day, and it is up to her whether we engage. Usually she chooses to play because she likes games and is eager to learn.
Letters: I have successfully used a letter of the week philosophy since the days I taught kindergarten in a private school. Letter of the week can be as formal or informal as you want. For us it will be the letter we work on writing, a name of God (with a Bible reading to coincide), and a character trait to read in a story, poem, song or fable.
Numbers: Again we are using games, songs, and books to explore the mathematic concepts important at this age. This includes colors, numbers, shapes, positional words, and spatial words. This is more just incorporated into our daily activities. Sometimes we play games or read books, but we do a lot of mathematical and number talk as part of our natural rhythm. I ask how many crackers she has for snack and how many will be left if she eats one. Or we discuss the numbers on the clocks, highway sign, or at the store. We might ask who is second in the toy car line up, etc. We try to incorporate the importance of many mathematical skills in our day to day.
We are also using Wild Math Curriculum Kindergarten. This is our first year using this but so far we love the ideas that are throughout the curriculum. We are only planning to use this twice a week as she is willing to participate.
Science: We simply allow lots of time to get outside to play and explore. As a family we are utilizing Exploring Nature with Children and she tags along for our picture book readings, nature drawings, and observations. I’m happy to also say that she does quite well on our nature walks and hikes most days. We also are including a little herb study once a week for fun!
Attainments: We also plan to peruse Charlotte Mason’s list of attainments before age 6 and slowly work towards achieving those skills.
So what does this practically look like?
We are working on a new schedule to better accommodate the 2 and 5 year old so the times each day we are learning and tweaking, but either way I try to give 30 minutes to my 5 year old each day. I divide those 30 minutes into 3 categories: bible, reading, and nature -roughly ten minutes per each subject.
Bible time includes our verses and bible studies following a favorite bible story, character lesson and/or name of God. Reading time includes any of the books we read and any phonics or letter activities. And finally we have nature time which will include our wild math, handicrafts and science studies.
We’ve been following this for about 7 weeks and it seems to be working well. I love having a little time to focus on my 5 year old one on one, and so does she.