Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten | Lone Star Signers

About a year ago, we made the final decision to homeschool Addie for Kindergarten. I've written other posts about this topic, so let me just say that:
a) several factors went into our choice, and
b) we don't think that homeschooling is the only right choice.

For our family, at this time, homeschooling is the right thing to do. I'm thankful that our state is homeschooling-friendly, and I'm thankful that we have a large number of homeschooling families in our community. I am well-aware that we "have it good," and I don't take it for granted.

When it came time to choose curriculum, I did a lot of reading to discover Addie's learning styles and which homeschooling "methods" would be the best fit. This book was EXTREMELY helpful (check your local library!):

From there, I went on to realize that classical education is the most appealing choice for Addie. She has a natural bent for memorization, so I needed to find a curriculum that would help me with just exactly she should be memorizing.

(Another sidebar: after teaching in public and private classrooms, I am well-convinced that there is no such thing as a "perfect" curriculum. Any program that we choose for our children will have pros and cons, just like everything in life.)

Main curriculum:
Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten | Lone Star SignersWe chose Classical Conversations: Foundations for Addie's Kindergarten year. The program is a three-year cycle of memory work full of facts on world history, geography, science, math, English grammar, and more. We meet with a community of other CC families on Monday mornings for science experiments, art projects, speech presentations and more.

My thoughts: Addie has learned so much already, and so have Kate and I. The memory work is easy to memorize (especially when set to music) and I already see her making connections across the weeks and disciplines. We're especially focusing on timeline, history, and math facts this year. I feel confident that we'll continue to work our way through the three year cycle at least two more times before Addie hits middle school, regardless if we stay "official" with CC moving forward.

We were given the Saxon Kindergarten Teacher's Manual (Homeschool Edition), so that's the curriculum we're using this year. (I'm supplementing with units I purchase off of Teachers Pay Teachers as needed.) I've heard amazing things about Saxon for the older grades from other homeschoolers, but I'm pretty sure it's either beloved or hated, based on online reviews.

Language Arts (eclectic):
Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten | Lone Star Signers
(Elementary reading was my minor in college, so I feel most confident here.) Addie is reading above grade-level, which makes it tricky to find reading material that is age-appropriate. (She reads everything, from cereal boxes to Facebook posts over my shoulder.) On the other hand, she's been struggling with fine-motor skills since infancy, so we've been taking handwriting very slowly.

My literacy goals for the new year include:
  • letter of the day (handwriting)--keeping "like" letters together (o, a, d, g...etc.) and building on skills each day; ideally we'll loop through the alphabet four or five more times before the end of Kinder! (I had been working on "mastery" of each letter before moving onto the next, but that was just frustrating for both of us.)
  • phonics workbook, 2 pages a day--mainly just to ensure that there are no gaps in her phonetic knowledge. This also gives us a little extra handwriting practice. :)
  • McGuffey Readers--ten minutes a day (FREE for Kindle!)
  • LOTS and LOTS of library books!
  • Copywork with our memory work--either handwriting pages or using "fun" materials like our chalkboard/whiteboard and personal size slate.
  • Creative writing--I want to start a seed journal with her this spring (a place to record her memories, to look back upon when she starts journaling about her life). I cannot wait to help her discover her inner storyteller, but Addie is plague by perfectionism and despises inventive spelling...so we're doing the best we can!
Our lessons & "school work" are worked into our day in 30-60 minute segments, based on other activities and attention span. I subscribe to Fred Rogers' philosophy: 
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."
Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten | Lone Star SignersAnd boy o boy, there is a LOT of playing happening here. :)

I hope I answered some of your questions about our homeschooling choices! If I missed something, feel free to ask a question in the comments and I will happily answer. We're currently talking about 1st grade, and I am sure I will be writing more about those decisions here as summer draws near.


  1. We used very few actual curriculum, but Saxon math all the way thru Calculus and Physics. Best there is.


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