It’s going pretty well!
We’re focusing on many of the same subjects that I outlined for my oldest son’s last year of pre-K: science, math, reading/phonics, art, social studies, cooking and handwriting. We do two subjects a day, one in the morning and one mid-afternoon, after little brother’s nap. Structured lessons are for an hour each, max. Many times, we’re at 45 minutes. DH does handwriting in the evenings, and those are only 15 minute sessions. We are also part of a group of other secular homeschoolers and we plan on meeting twice a week for group activities in the areas of science, language, cooking and anatomy. We had out first “class” Monday, for science, and the kids had a ball with a color changing milk experiment.
At home, the materials we’re using are:
1. Primary Mathematics
I really like this curriculum. For those unfamiliar, this is Singapore Math, which teaches kids to do mental math. We’re using 1A level. It is very organized and and includes a textbook and workbook for the kids and an instructor booklet. Very easy to implement. Right now, we’re working on number bonds and it was the first week where #1 son didn’t quite get it all the way; about 30 percent. The beauty of homeschooling, of course, is that you take as long as you want until your kid gets it. No timetable. The second lesson on number bonds, I did a review and we did a game using a 3-compartment plate, numeral cards and goldfish crackers. This isn’t original, I got it off the interwebs (just google it). He seemed to get it a lot more: that 5 is the same as 3+2, 0+5, and 4+1.
2. Science is Simple
Haven’t done much in this yet. One lesson so far: we borrowed Suddenly! from the library and read that together. It’s a book they suggest to help kids make guesses about what will happen next in a story. Basically, practicing the scientific method. This can be done with any story. This is one of the first lessons, but it has tons of fun ideas for actual science experiments.
3. Beginning Geography (social studies)
Also have done just a few pages so far. Learning maps, direction (up, down, right, left, N, S, E, W), land masses, bodies of water, etc. Came with two huge colorful posters we hung up in the playroom. #1 son likes the activities and coloring the pages.
4. Explode the Code (phonics)
While the main focus of ETC is phonics, it is very writing intensive. After a couple of weeks, we’re now skipping the last page in each lesson because it’s JUST MORE WRITING. We already have a separate curriculum for handwriting so it’s feel redundant. I appreciate some writing practice, but in my opinion it’s a bit much. Other than that, the lessons are good and I am still happy using it (although we might supplement with Hooked on Phonics at some point).
5. Draw Write Now (art)
Right now, #1 son is taking a 5-week art class at Masterpiece Art Studio (which he loves), but when that is over we’ll be doing some different things for art and this book is one. It gives you step by step instructions on how to draw different animals and it’s great handwriting practice, too. My son likes following steps for things if it’s something he likes, like art. We’ll also be using project ideas from The Artful Parent.
6. Pretend Soup (cooking)
My DH found this book and I like it a lot. The recipes are made to allow the kids to do as much prep and cooking as possible independently (with adult supervision of course). There are also two versions of directions: one with words for parents and one with pictures and a word or two for the kids. We’ve made one recipe so far, “Green Spaghetti”, which is basically pasta and homemade pesto. The kids enjoyed making it. My younger son tasted some and liked it, and my older son (who is VERY picky) just ate plain pasta with butter, salt and pepper. It was actually really good and I added extra garlic!
7. Now I’m Reading (books for early reader practice)
So far, very happy with these. The illustrations are engaging and there is an actual story with a beginning, middle and end. We start each book with just looking at the pictures, then I read it a few times, then he reads it alone when he is ready to. If he can read it by himself with no help, he can put a sticker inside the book.
8. Universal Publishing Handwriting Series
Had a hard time finding handwriting curriculums. Weren’t sure what style to go with. At first, we thought maybe italics were the way to go and not even getting into cursive. There are so many choices. But we finally realized readability is most important, so regular old printing is best (and easier to learn), with cursive instruction starting in a few years.
Finally, at some point I will buying a children’s Bible to help introduce the kids to Bible stories. I think this subject can be called religious literacy or maybe mythology? The Christian stories and traditions are very much a part of American culture, down to the idioms or sayings people speak (read here). The great part from our perspective is that DH and I don’t have to convince our kids that these stories are true. They are free to think whatever they want to think about them. And we’re not focusing on just Christianity; we will delve into other religious traditions as they get older.