Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Planning Lessons

Although it goes against my grain to even think about school when July isn't even over, I have to be practical this year. With Ben going into Kindergarten, therefore leaving me with three lesson plans to do, the time is now. I began with Ben because the younger the child is, the easier the lesson plan is to make. This is the first time I am beginning school with a child who doesn't yet read, so my main focus is on that.

However, he shows all the signs of being on the brink of reading, which is nice. He can write several different words--Ben, Emma, Mama, Hess, love--without any help. He asks how to spell words all the time. He puts letters together in nonsense patterns and asks what that spells. And he even comes out with surprises, like when he told me that "ooze" was spelled O-O-Z, or just this morning when he pointed to the egg carton and read "eggs". I felt a bit guilty on Sunday because I quizzed him with a story book that had the alphabet on the cover. I kept asking him to show me different letters, and he got them all right. And then we sounded out the word cat (which in retrospect was a bad example because C is such a confusing letter!)--and then I asked him how to spell fat, mat, bat, rat, sat, vat, hat and pat--and he got them all right, too. So he's just fine, especially since he won't even turn 5 till next week.

Basically, every day we'll do some phonics/reading workbooks, we'll practice writing letters--he wrote the entire alphabet by himself for the first time yesterday, but of course his technique could use some polish! Also, although he wrote left to right on the page, he began at the bottom of the page, so ABCDE was on the bottom line, and WXYZ was at the top of the page....Then I have two simple math workbooks on shapes and numbers, which I'm sure he already knows, but it's always nice to make sure there are no gaps, and it gives young kids confidence to breeze through things. I also got two workbooks from Kumon that focus on cutting and pasting, which can double for art and improving coordination and endurance for writing. Then there's science. I got a book I love called "More Science Through Children's Literature" that we'll be using. Basically it uses stories or age appropriate non-fiction to teach different concepts, and then there's a list of maybe 20 activities that range from art projects to experiments to journaling. The first one I chose is based on the Robert McCloskey book, "One Morning in Maine," and we'll learn about fish, the fishing industry, feathers and seabirds, and even dental hygiene. In 1st grade, Julia had the same book for Social Studies, and it was great, so I'm looking forward to it. Add in our music CDs (they combine singing, movement and simple instruments, with directions to the kids right in the songs) and there you have it.

The greatest thing about Kindergarten homeschooling is that the child feels big--he's joining Lessons, he's now part of the pack of learners--and yet it takes about an hour a day! No muss, no fuss, and it's done. The 5 year old child needs plenty of freedom and time to run around--and he'll get all that while still doing school. None of this sitting in school all day and THEN coming home with homework--and I guarantee he'll learn more than he would in school, anyway!

I only planned about 5 weeks for Ben, though, because I want to reevaluate at that point. If he's learned how to read in those first weeks, which he very well could, then a lot of the things I was using will be too easy. If his writing of the letters is very good, then I won't need to use the several alphabet books I have---one thing about homeschooling several children is that you usually have more than you need. When I went through materials, I found I had 4 different beginning handwriting workbooks--more than I have kids in school! So rather than press on with the planning and having to re plan later, I'll do less than I normally would and see where he is by the end of September.


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