Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Still in Planning Mode - Kindergarten for Henry

We've got the rest of Henry's preschool year laid out, plans for summer in place... naturally, I went ahead and started mulling over kindergarten.  I don't know if it's spring homeschooling fever or premature nesting, but I'm guessing I'll be thankful for having this all done before Violet/Peter arrives.  Once baby brain sets in, it will take all of my neurons just to make sure that all four kids are clean, fed, and breathing.

The first thing I did in planning was to consult the Angelicum Academy's curriculum list for kindergarten.  I was a little underwhelmed.  As much as I love Angelicum, there are some choices that I don't agree with, for a few different reasons.  The biggest one is that I think Henry needs a little less desk time during kindergarten.  He's doing really well with reading and his penmanship is excellent for a four-year-old, but I don't think he's quite ready to move on to spelling and so forth.  I'd really like him to keep focused on improving his reading/phonics skills and practicing writing.  I feel that the kindergarten resource recommendations are pushing him past things a little too quickly.

The second reason is that I don't think the Angelicum resources will be a good fit for Oliver.  They'll be wonderful for Jane, I'm sure.  That child already begs for pencil and paper so she can sit at the table with Henry for her "lessons" while he's doing his.  Oliver... he's not too interested in workbooks.  He's much more of a tactile/visual learner.  He enjoys his Starfall and the Hooked on Phonics series.  He likes to play with shapes bean bags and sorting cubes and so forth.  He loves his Cars Tot Book.  These are all really hands-on activities.  The Angelicum nursery level is very heavy on deskwork; I just see a lot of frustration if we try to start him there.

Which all brings me back to The Well-Trained Mind.  The further along we get, the more I like the classical trivium model.  I like the emphasis on reading and phonics during the grammar years.  I like the cyclical history study, especially that the kids would get the entire cycle of history three times (during grammar, logic, and rhetoric).  I like the incorporation of all of the literature and biographical resources.  I like the schedule.  And, most of all, I like the flexibility of the resource recommendations.  They cover all different learning styles, so the program is easy to adapt to each individual child.

So, after a lot of thinking and researching and discussing with Matt, Henry's kindergarten is going to be a meld of Angelicum and The Well-Trained Mind.  Here is the plan:

Reading Skills
Writing Skills
  • Elfie but only if I can find the teacher's manual also.  Angelicum is shutting down their bookstore and moving to an Amazon storefront.  The transition should be complete by May, but I won't know until then if they're going to have this bundle to offer.  Currently, Amazon only offers the student book and what's left of the Angelicum bookstore is sold out of the teacher's manual.  I'll keep my fingers crossed because this looks like an excellent introduction to philosophy for children and it's one that will grow with them through high school.
It seems like a lot, but this will actually decrease Henry's desk time and increase our reading and discussion time.  This means Oliver and Jane (and Violet/Peter) can listen too, even if they don't contribute to the discussion.

As for a formal curriculum for the littles, I don't think I'm going to repeat what we did with Henry.  So much of what he did in nursery school was a repeat of his two-year-old curriculum, and quite a bit of what he did in preschool was a repeat of nursery.  There was an awful lot of formal instruction just to learn colors, shapes, numbers 1-10, and his letters and letter sounds.  I'm going to try approaching this more organically for Oliver and Jane, with a strong emphasis on reading, letter identification, simple counting, and observing shapes.  They'll also be included in the activities for the science lapbooks and in our normal religious activities throughout the liturgical year.  When it comes time for preschool for Oliver, I'll reassess.  So much will depend on his speech and language ability.  As for Jane, if she begins showing signs of being ready and willing to sit down with a workbook every day, that's fine too.

So, that's the plan.  Kindergarten will still begin in September, in accordance with the Saxon calendar.  Violet/Peter will be about 2 1/2 months or so and we should have settled into a good routine by then. 

Here's hoping!

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