We are officially in Kindergarten! I am happy to report that focusing on playing has paid off extremely well. It enabled my Busy Bee to make progress at his own pace without any pressure to perform. Around when he turned four he make some giant jumps in maturity and we were able to start adding in some formal academic subjects. I slowly added in subjects as his attention span and interest increased.
Snuggle Bug Pre-K 3 Curriculum Choices
- Confessions of a Homeschooler – Letter of the Week
- Phonics Pathways
- Tracing his name
I went with Confessions Of a Homeschooler’s preschool curriculum for Snuggle Bug this year. A few weeks in, he is loving it! The activities are varied enough that he is always excited to do the next one in his workbox while being familiar enough that I don’t need to spend very much time anymore getting him set up on it.
This curriculum is based off the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, so you build a coconut tree and the student gets to add a new letter at the end of each week. Snuggle Bug absolutely loves that part and is always beyond excited when he sees the letters for his tree in his workbox.
It is a Letter of the Week curriculum so the student spends each week focused on an individual letter and does activities from lacing to magnets to writing to counting. There are cutting activities, patterns, making characters out of the letters, and so on. He is absolutely loving it so far and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Along with the Letter of the Week activities I also am starting to work on Phonics Pathways with him. We do about two of the early pages each day, rotating through a set of three pages for a week or two until he has mastered one of them and I rotate in a new page. Surprisingly, he loves this! He likes that he is successful with the familiar pages but likes to stretch and try some new sounds too. So far he can read combinations such as “ma” and “du” much better than I anticipated and he is eager to learn more! He’s still a very new 3 so his attention span doesn’t quite match his enthusiasm just yet so we just call it a day when he starts losing focus.
I have a page laminated with his name and a simple phrase that’s meaningful to him (“I like Ruff-Ruff”) typed out fairly large for him to trace with a washable marker 3-4 times a week. So far he gets the first couple of letters of his name and then… decorates the rest of the page. I am happy with it! He gets excited every time he sees that “Ruff-Ruff” is in his workbox!
Busy Bee Kindergarten Curriculum Choices
- Phonics: Phonics Pathways
- Reading: McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader
- Math: RightStart Mathematics Level B
- Penmanship: Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Book A
- Spelling: McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book
- Science: Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 1
- History: the Story of the World: Volume 1: Ancient Times
- Piano: Alfred’s Basic Piano Prep Course Level A
- School “Dessert”: Selections from M.E.P. (Mathematics Enhancement Programme)
At first Busy Bee didn’t like Phonics Pathways, but he has gotten settled in it and has really come to like it. I will write a full review of it soon, but it is working for us so we’re sticking with it. I love how straight forward and simple it is and we have found a routine that works really well for us. Busy Bee also, finally, looks forward to doing phonics each day with Phonics Pathways, which is worth an awful lot. There are a lot of phonics programs out there that look amazing but also cost an arm and a leg, I am thrilled that the $24 option is working for us!
We recently finished McGuffey’s Primer so have moved on to the First Reader. Our general routine is to review the new words at the beginning of the lesson, paying attention to the diacritical marks, and then he reads to aloud to me. If he makes more than a few mistakes (a mistake being giving a “final answer” for a word and having it wrong rather than sounding it out incorrectly but correcting himself) he reads it to me again. After he has read it well enough that I am convinced he knows what it says I ask him questions about the meaning of the text and he explains them. If he doesn’t remember the answer he looks for the answer (which is a sneaky way to get him to read the passage again). I found that the Primer ramped up faster than a younger child could manage, and Busy Bee at least didn’t enjoy repeating a lesson, so I introduced the Primer after we were already well into Phonics Pathways and once he was ready he has taken off with it. He has come to love diacritical marks since he can figure out new words all on his own now. One of his favorite things to do is read a new lesson ahead of time and then surprise me by reading it to me before we review the new words together!
I love RightStart Math! Again, I will be posting a full review of the curriculum soon, but the part I love most about this series is it divorces early math from fine motor skills, which was exactly what Busy Bee needed! He is not a fine motor skill person, he struggles with it and it is tiring for him and I didn’t want that to hold back his math. I tried Singapore but there was just too much writing (circling things, writing numbers, connecting things with lines, crossing things out, etc.) that he would get too frustrated with the mechanics of the lesson to learn the content. With RightStart they didn’t have a single worksheet in the first month and after that they were very minimal and at a level he was actually able to complete them with minimal frustration. That’s not to say he wasn’t actively doing the math, but they use non-writing means to learn. So the student will move around tally sticks and square tiles to play with addition, we play card games to learn math facts, and we hang weights to learn about doubling. It has been the perfect fit for our needs.
We are using the Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series for our penmanship because it is, in my opinion, beautiful and easy to read. I have always had atrocious (and that’s putting it gently) handwriting. I have worked through some of the Getty-Dubay books and for the very first time in my entire life, someone commented on my handwriting being nice. We spend about 3 minutes a day on a page, focusing on forming every letter as beautifully as we can, and then make sure that we form the letters and numbers correctly at other times.
For spelling I am using McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book. I like it. I am not really focusing on the spelling aspect of it, to be honest, but I’m using it to try to enhance his phonemic awareness. He has come a tremendous way with his speech but still struggles with hearing distinct sounds so we take a couple minutes most days to really focus on listening to a word (for example “felt”) and hearing each individual sound in it, then translating those sounds into letters. He is enjoying it since he gets to write on the whiteboard when we do it.
We are loving the Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 1! Busy Bee has always loved learning about real things and this is a reader so he can read almost all of the words by himself! Each section is generally about 4-8 paragraphs long and gives us some information about a particular bug or creature (it starts with a mud wasp, then the next lesson is about the paper wasp, and then the digger wasp. It refers us to previous lessons so previous information is recalled and helps build context). I have been a bit surprised at how much I like this curriculum! Busy Bee remembers almost every word in the book which makes me think he has a streak of Read-Write Learner in him. I have also been surprised at how well he reads some words I didn’t think he would be able to yet (e.g. spinneret) and how solid is reading comprehension is.
I’m not in love with the Story of the World, but Busy Bee is, so who am I to gainsay it? He has actually started retaining it a lot better now that I have him doing some spacial/logic puzzles while I read the chapter to him. He also draws a picture in a journal and writes a sentence or two about what he thought was most interesting in that chapter. It’s his favorite part of the day and there’s always a 5-minute happy dance when he finds it in his workbox so I’m glad I didn’t switch it out like I was considering doing!
Alfred’s Piano Basics Prep Course is fine. It teaches piano. I don’t know enough about piano to know if it’s the best approach or not, but I very much like that it start off teaching the left hand! The songs are fun and he very rarely balks at practicing piano.
The dessert of our school day is M.E.P.! I like some of the exercises and challenges in M.E.P. so I’ve incorporated it into our school day as a “reward” for when we’ve finished everything else. He loves it as he doesn’t recall ever doing a workbook before so he considers it a treat! I still simplify the fine motor skills portion of some of the exercises (he draws the four dots rather than drawing four cats in the tiny little circle he’s supposed to draw them in), but he is learning a lot by working through some of the logical processes they encourage.
We mix in online resources such as ABC Mouse, Khan Academy, Teach Your Monster to Read, and National Geographic Kids as interest comes up. We also love logic and spacial awareness games such as Brick-by-Brick, and Color Cubes. Reading aloud together is also a favorite pastime. We live only a few blocks from the library so new books are never more than a few minutes’ walk away!
And that’s what we’re up to this year! So far we’ve found a good system and things are going well!