Monday, April 4, 2011

A Day in Kindergarten

I thought I'd give you an example of a day in our kindergarten-level homeschool. This was a fairly typical day in some respects. We don't spend very long in school right now, due to shorter attention spans and the fact that we've already finished most of kindergarten already. I also only have one "full-time" student right now, since the other two are just 2 and 3 years old right now. I'm sure my days will get longer as I have more students to teach!

We finished breakfast and went upstairs to our "school room" around 8:15 or so this morning. Our "school room" is our former loft/library, with a couple of desks added. This room has built-in bookshelves on every wall, other than the window and the top of the stairs and the door into the only other room on the 2nd floor - my youngest's bedroom right now (used to be my office). One wall is only a half wall, open to the living room below, so those bookshelves are only 2 shelves high, but the rest are full size. We did have books packed into all these shelves (my husband and I are both avid readers), but I have moved most of them to some new bookshelves we put in our master bedroom, so now I have space for all our school books and supplies and puzzles and educational toys. I printed out alphabet sheets (1 letter per regular-size paper) in full color, and have them taped all along the top of the bookshelves. The Y and Z didn't quite fit, so I had to put those below the W and X. Oh well.

Anyway, so we went upstairs for school, and our first order of business was reading a Bible story out of Studying God's Word A, from Christian Liberty Press. Today's story was about Gideon routing the Midianites. It was a bit long for my kids' attention spans, but when I offered to stop and finish it later, my 5-year-old (Rebekah) said no, she wanted to hear the whole thing. It got exciting at the end, with the smashing of lamps and blaring of trumpets, so they enjoyed it. It helps when I try to be really dramatic in my reading. There were a couple comprehension questions at the end, which Rebekah answered with only a little prompting.

After this, I put the 2-year-old (Ryan) on the other side of the baby gate, which resulted in about 5 minutes of loud complaining, but then he gave up and went to play with his toys while the girls and I continued school. I gave Reanna a few worksheets to do - coloring, cutting, and counting today. She's working on the number 3 right now. She still interrupts frequently, but it helps enough to give me time to work with Rebekah.

Then I started lesson 11 of Saxon Math 1 with Rebekah. This is supposed to be 1st grade level, but so far it's all stuff Rebekah already knows. She enjoys it though, especially with the linking cubes and other manipulatives. Today we reviewed ordering (first, second, middle, last, etc.) using some of her My Little Pony toys, which made things even more fun! We're supposed to do some story problems, counting, subtracting, and an introduction into fractions (halves) with a bunch of apples later this week. We've also started reviewing "left" and "right" lately, which I have to be careful with, since I still have problems with this myself! It's especially hard since I'm looking at her face-to-face, which makes everything backwards for me.... (I blame my difficulties on being left-handed in a right-handed world. I'm still sad, though, that all of my kids appear to be right-handed.) We did side 1 of her math worksheet, saving the other side to do at the very end of school (the book says this time separation results in better retention).

Then we moved on to language arts (after some interruptions giving Reanna more to do). We talked about complete and incomplete sentences, and I read a bunch of examples to Rebekah for her to tell me whether they were complete or incomplete. She did this very easily, so I think she must have covered this some when she was in public school last fall. Then we listened to and watched an animated version of "Chicks and Salsa" on the pbs website (click here), and I let her play the related word-making game on the computer. Finally, I gave her a new paper mini-booklet to practice reading. There's a whole bunch of these you can find for free on various websites (see my "Links" page, and the phonics and reading sections).

Then we did some history. We normally alternate between science and history, doing one subject each day. Right now, we are transitioning from kindergarten stuff to 1st grade stuff, so we are reading through some books on Native Americans, the Pilgrims, and the first colonies before we move on to our U.S. States study. I plan to create a "Booklist" page soon, which will have names and links to all the books we're using. Today we read about 10 pages out of the DK Eyewitness Book called Native American Indian. We have just started doing the Evan-Moor History Pocket book on Native Americans too, and I had her color a cover page for a word dictionary we will be compiling over the next few weeks.

We then finished side 2 of the math worksheet, and then I had Rebekah do some Explode the Code Online. She gripes at that a lot right now, since it is getting harder for her, plus it comes at the end of a long period of sitting and doing schoolwork. She usually starts enjoying it after she gets going though. She is about halfway through book 2, and I've been realizing that a lot of co-op type schools just assign 3 books a year from Explode the Code, and some don't even start book 1 until 1st grade, so I've decided to not push Rebekah as hard right now. She's plenty ahead of things!

That finished our school day, at around 10:15am, and I went to get the kids some snacks and drinks. Sometimes we don't finish so early, and I wait until after lunch to have Rebekah do her Explode the Code. We try to get most of the work done in the morning though, since Ryan takes a nap at 1pm, and I don't want the girls upstairs waking him up then. So in the afternoons, we just have quiet play time (though the girls are usually not as quiet as I would like). I often send them outside, but it's cloudy and threatening rain today, so we'll try to do some physical exercise inside a bit later.

Oh, and we also used to say the pledges to the flags (U.S., Texas, and Christian) first thing in the morning, but I just used a powerpoint show of the flags since we don't have any real ones handy. Since we started doing Bible and Saxon math first, I don't turn on the computer until later, so we've forgotten to do the pledges. I plan to buy some small flags soon, and then we can just say the pledges without the computer images. Rebekah liked doing the pledges, since she did that in her public school last fall (at least the U.S. flag one), and it gave her some continuity.

Today was a bit different after school too, since I have resigned myself to the fact that I really need to start potty training Ryan. I had to change his diaper anyway, so I put him in some real underwear, picked up all the throw rugs, and let nature take its course. He really has shown no inclination to understanding what a potty is for, so I figured I'd let him make a few messes first, to let him see what happens. He was a bit upset at first when I didn't put his pants back on, but then decided he liked it. He made one mess without me even noticing until after the fact - it didn't seem to bother him in the slightest. I cleaned him up, put on dry underwear, and despite giving him lots to drink and putting him on the potty multiple times, he never went. For about 2 hours - nothing! It was naptime then, so I put him back in a diaper and in bed. Sigh. We'll try again later. At least I didn't have a lot of messes to clean up.

We had lunch, and I let the kids watch a video I just got that shows short animated Bible stories. They really loved it! Usually we just watch Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney on TV during lunchtime. They love that too.

Now it's quiet time, Ryan is sleeping, and the girls are playing back in their rooms, giving me some time to blog. Soon things will get noisy again, my husband will come home, dinner preparations will start, and I won't have much peace until bedtime at 8pm. That's life around here!

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