Monday, July 23, 2012

Gearing Up For Kindergarten

I am diving in to our homeschool curriculum, but before I started let me tell you what I did.

1) I cleaned my house.  Why would I do that when I am just going to be surrounded my crayons, flashcards, and lesson plans anyway?  Well, this girl knows she has a short attention span.  If I get knee deep in letters of the week cut-outs and look over and see a pile of unfolded towels, I will go fold the towels.  So first things first.  Clean up.

2) I did one more last minute search for ideas on homeschooling online.  I limited myself to 2 hours (it seems long typing that, but it went really fast).  Then I closed all my browsers.  I love that I can search online for great ideas to do with O and every other facet of my life, and I hate that I can search online for ideas because I don't use my own brain to come up with things for us to do.  

3) Pray.  Prayer for clarity.  Prayer for the ability to focus.  Praise that I live in place where I can teach my daughter at home, with very few rules.  Praise that I can stay home with my daughter and my husband can support us.  Lots of prayer.

And then, I finally begin...

But First A Disclaimer:   I must admit, I am a bit of an organize junkie.  I often have to ask myself, "is this organizing for organizing sake or to actually improve efficiency and make life easier?"  
I also LOVE making lesson plans and getting classrooms ready.  My daughter had her first classroom before she was 2.  In our house.  It was not a play room, but a full fledged Montessori inspired classroom.  I can not express enough how much I love setting up class environments and preparing lessons.  That being said, the way I have decided to do homeschool with my daughter is what works for us.  In no way do I think everyone should make their own lesson plans (unless they want to) or be as crazy organized as me.  I realize that a lot of homeschoolers are fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants kind of people, and I am so happy that they have a method that works for them.  This quote I came across on Pinterest is much more up my alley, "I adore spontaneity, as long as it is carefully planned."

With those few disclaimers I think I am going to have several posts on how I organized my supplies, what we are doing, and my Homemade School Supplies  (ie way cheaper) vs Official Montessori products. 

Last year I made a few mistakes in setting up my lessons.  To begin, I had a budget of $500.  My goal was to spend this amount over the whole year.  My problem is that I thought I had to have the exact same things that would be in a real Montessori classroom.  In Montessori classes, everything is beautifully crafted, and made of natural materials.  The numbers did  not add up, so with the advice from my husband to hold off on purchasing anything I waited on the materials and dove into the curriculum.

I planned an entire years worth of lessons.  Full out.  Lessons that included items I had not purchased yet.  I planned lessons based on skills she had not acquired.  Are you catching the problem here?

I basically had put myself between a rock and a hard place.  I couldn't do the lessons because I didn't have the 'perfect' material.  We couldn't do the next day's lesson because that day built upon the material I didn't have, and on and on.  

The problem with planning an entire year is that I have no way to tell when we will be sick or take a trip or have unavoidable commitments, and then we fall behind my schedule and then I freak out a little.  

I finally had a bit of a reality check.  I realized that O would learn with what I gave her.  Would it be ideal?  Probably not, but it would work.  I started using what I had around the house, and being very creative with my budget and supplies.  

So with my preschool year behind me I am ready to tackle Kindergarten. 

We will be homeschooling all year.  No long summer breaks for us.   We are starting July 30, and have 9 weeks of classes which brings us to the last week in September.  As long as F doesn't have to restart OCS he will be finishing up the first/second week of October.  He will be coming home then.  We will be moving at this time as well.  After an undetermined amount of weeks (I really am not sure how long it will take us to move and get back to our normal life with F) I will plan the next 7-10 weeks of school. 

My schedule is a little more forgiving this year.  I have empty spaces in spots.  Some days are rather light (like when I know the fair is coming to town), some days are very full.  I have a lot more variety than I did last year, so I will try it these next 9 weeks, and if it doesn't work I will try something new in October.  

I am using 2 curriculums that I purchased.  The rest I created on my own (with the help of the internet).  I am using 100 easy lessons to Teach Your Child to Read.  We have already been using it.  Much to my dismay all of my fun reading/learning letter games are not working for O, but this book is.  I find it boring, but she loves it.  I will also be using some Montessori things to supplement the reading.  Pink Box, Metal insets (for handwriting), The Farm Game, Nomenclature Cards, and Sound Bingo.  I have all of these materials already, so I shouldn't have the same problem I ran into last year.  

The other curriculum I didn't make is for geography, and that is because I am horrible at navigation and maps.  My husband is a genius when it comes to this so we go well together :-)  Or rather I frustrate him with my inability to tell North from East and because when I use a map I turn it when the car turns to keep from getting confused.  He gets to be my Prince Charming on a weekly basis and come rescue me from my confusion.  Maybe after a year of going through the basics with O, I will have a better sense of direction.  Maybe.  I DID make the continent bags that we will be using and that was enjoyable and very informative.  

The other curriculum that I made may be making an appearance here in the next week if I can stay productive and get all of my to-do list done.  So, off I go to make more plans :-)

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