A few weeks ago I said I'd be back next week for my take on curriculum for K-4. I first want to apologize for my delay in getting back to this post series. I have had tons on my mind lately and can not seem to keep everything straight. And to make matters a bit more complicated, my wonderful, loving husband tried to help "fix my computer" and has kinda put a kink in my plans.
So onto a curriculum for K-4.
First off, this time period is still mostly play and not a lot or 'real school'. However, I do think this is a time to make school a priority and to introduce them to lots of fun ideas and choices. I would definitely make a schedule of what you want to accomplish each day or week and over all goals for the year. I have just completed this grade with our middle child, Audrie. One thing I have noticed with her is that her learning style is completely different from that of her sister, Arianna. So when I began the school year last August/September, I had my plan based on what I had completed with her sister. That however is not exactly what happened. In reality, Audrie's schedule was a bit more relaxed and had way more crafts and artistic influences because that's the type of child she is.
My main goals for K-4 is recognition of all common shapes (the easy ones as well as some harder geometric figures), learn the alphabet (by saying it, trying to form the letters - big and small, and by recognition), learn numbers 0-20 and recognize number 0-10, and to know all the colors.
You need to remember that children at these ages are still in their exploration stage. They want and need to explore - so by planning different types of activities and crafts into their day you are helping your child explore their likes and dislikes and learning who they are, not who they are told to be.
I began this year thinking I'd be able to have Audrie reading by the end of this year (which on the other hand had happened when Arianna was 4). But this was not Audrie's plan. Until about December I still could not get Audrie to tell me all her letters when she was asked what they were. However, with perseverance, and after a light-bulb clicked on, Audrie moved at lightning speed from the new year on. After I realized that continuing on in the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading was not going to work at this time, I started to scour the Internet for alternatives. I did not want to pay for a curriculum that I felt would be no more liked by her then before. So I came up with a plan. We would conquer each letter one week at a time. But I followed the way the Guide put them in the book. They start out with the 5 vowels, so we did too. I found some resources online (by googling the letter) and picked what I liked. And I believe what I did this year is more in line for what I should have done anyways. Arianna was a bit more ready both due to her personality and her surroundings.
So each week was designated a letter, beginning with the vowels - A, E, I, O, U, and then going back to the consonants beginning with B. I had already downloaded a special dotted font which I used to make my own handwriting sheets. (I plan on making those sheets available as a pdf e-book soon.) Each week she would have 2-3 of those same sheets. The reason to use a dotted font is because some most children are not ready to write letters and numbers on their own, but tracing is easy for them. They can work on holding the pencil and such and not have to worry too much on what the letter looks like.
I would come up with certain themes for each letter. For example for I, we created an inchworm with 10 circles (included numbers so that she had to find the right numbered circle to go next on the inchworm), an igloo, and made I and i from pipe cleaners. Along with the crafts, she would usually have some color sheets of the same "I" items as well as others. When we went to the library, which we typically went on Tuesdays, we would get books that had to do with the same focus I had planned to be covering. So for "I" we got books on insects, inchworms, igloos, and Indians. At the end of the week (or sometime in the future) I would collect all her craft items and take a picture. So at the end of the year we would have the ability to print out our own alphabet book. Here are some pictures from "I" week and a few other weeks.
Along with the themed week, I would also have them work on their handwriting in other ways. I know I said earlier that it's easier for children at this age to use dotted letters, but I also think they should be practicing to write on their own. So we use the Italic Handwriting Series Book A. The are very short lessons that take a maximum of 5 minutes and have several letters that you trace and a few you have to do on your own. There is also a little picture that I let them color. If at the end of the book you see no to little improvement you can start with Book A again. It never hurts to practice. We all know that practice makes perfect.
Another part of our K-4 curriculum is Math. We use the Earlybird Pre-School Mathematics from Singapore. I purchased Book 1A and 1B for this year, but we started it way late. We are still working in Book 1A, mainly because we had other Kumon books that were dealing with numbers and I had made handwriting sheets with just numbers on it. In the beginning of the year, Audrie was uninterested in school, which was surprising. But as the year progressed and having her big sister in school, she finally began asking to do her schoolwork too.
There's only one other necessary subject at this age in our home. You guessed it, Bible. We would read together or at times Arianna would read her lesson out loud. We also have our monthly memory verses that we work on as a family. And we have weekly memory verses for children's church.
For other subjects, like history, art, music, and science, what usually ended up happening is whenever Arianna was working those - if Audrie was not napping - she would sit with us and we'd go over the lessons together. She wasn't tested or quizzed on any of the history and science stuff, but you know she was learning. I also let her participate in most of the experiments and would ask her questions about what had happened.
I know this post was long, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible as well as let you know to be flexible with your ideas and schedules. One of the major reasons of homeschooling is to be able to make the curriculum fit your child. Our children do not have to fit into a box. They should be able to explore, see their potential, and fulfill their dreams. Our jobs as Christians, and as homeschooling parents is to allow the child to learn in the way God created them to learn. I learned that Audrie was for sure not Arianna and I'm sure that Seanan will not be like either of his sisters. They may have similarities, but their way of learning and looking at life is as different as their own fingerprints. So remember, if your child doesn't seem to be doing it the same way as little Johnny, that's okay. Ask God to give you a plan on how to teach your child in the way He created them to be taught.
See you soon with my look at 1st grade - the beginning of the Grammar Stage.