Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Homeschool goals for the new year

It's officially the new year, which means most are starting up school again.  Having completed a few months of Izzy's kindergarten year, I've taken some time over the break to think about what we've accomplished and what I hope to accomplish with her this next go around.  I feel like I know more about what she's capable of and can plan accordingly.

I still believe in Charlotte Mason's advocacy for no formal lessons until at least the age of six.  Since Izzy will not be six until April, and I don't plan to begin formal lessons until around September, I will continue to allow her and her sister plenty of time to play and just be children.  I also feel good about continuing to gently introduce music, art, nature outings, and reading practice (with Izzy).

So, here are my goals for the next few months of Izzy's kindergarten, in no particular order:

1.  Continue morning Bible, poetry/rhyme, and story read-aloud at breakfast.
We've been using breakfast for a type of circle time, with Bible and poetry/rhyme readings, plus a story or two if there's time.  I think this has been a good setup for us, especially since I also babysit, because by the time we're done, the boy I sit for shows up and...they're off.

We're going to be switching over to The Jesus Storybook Bible from The Beginner's Bible.  I was never satisfied with the latter - the stories were very choppy and not well-written, and the pictures were very cartoonish.  The girls like it, though (probably because of the pictures), but I would like to read from a better written storybook, and this one seems to be.  (The pictures aren't the best, either, but oh well.)

2.  Continue light reading lessons.
I've been working with Izzy on learning to read for a good month or two and I feel that she's finally progressing.  I need to be more consistent, blocking out a time each day to work on reading because I'm pretty sure she's ready for more.  However, I don't want to push her too much.  We've been spending 5-10 minutes per day on this, and I think that's been plenty so far.

I foresee us moving past the consonant-vowel-consonant words (cat, hit, log, etc.) within the next month.  Her blending has gotten a lot better and quicker, but she still has to sound out each word before she can say it.  I'm waiting for her to be able to look at one of these words and just read it.  Then I'll know we can move on to words with an e at the end like gate, rake, kite.  After that we'll probably move onto sight reading by taking a rhyme and learning to read it.  (By the way, I've been using the methods outlined on the Joyful Shepherdess blog.)

3.  More consistency in art/music study.
We have begun to incorporate hymns and folk songs, as well as art studies, but in reflecting on the past few months, I know we haven't included it every week, and when we did listen to a song or look at a piece of art, it was kind of impromptu.

Instead, I would like to be more consistent and intentional about listening to music and looking at art.  My plan is to use AO's recommendation of rotating hymns and folk songs every six weeks, and rotating works of art every two weeks.  I don't plan to follow AO's music and art rotation this year, however (we will when we begin year one).  I'm taking Linda Fay's recommendation to find art and music appropriate for young children that will capture their interest.  I'll write a post in the near future about the songs and art that I've chosen.

This does not take much time at all - 5 minutes or so - and I plan to do this during lunch.  I may also rotate in some classical music during one of the lunches, although we've been listening to this at different times of the day.

4.  Weekly nature walk.
I had planned to do this since August, but it just didn't happen every week.  We did spend a lot of time outdoors, but not much for the purpose of looking at nature.

I want to take one walk each week with the sole purpose of finding out about nature things.  Right now I don't foresee having a plan of study when we do these walks since it's new and more about developing the habit.  I want to focus this time on teaching the children to really look at nature and notice things.  I'm not as concerned about Izzy incorporating a nature journal yet (although one of my goals is to begin one for myself), but will encourage her to draw anything she finds.

Izzy got some new binoculars for Christmas, so I'm hoping that will help to excite her for nature walks.

5.  Continue to read good books.
I talked about this in this post, and will continue to read good, quality books to the girls each day.  Now that I have a kindle (thank you, hubby!), I'm very tempted to add some books to the list - the ones by Pierson, Baldwin, and Perkins.  We'll see.  I'll keep you updated with current/favorite read-alouds.

6.  Weekly baking or dinner prep.
I would really like to have Izzy help me bake or make dinner once a week.  She and Addy both help me quite a bit when I'm baking, but I would like to introduce her specifically to cooking here and there.  I think it'll be a good way to expose her to it while she's young, paving way for time spent on this handicraft in the future.  I love to cook, and am fairly good at it, and want my children to develop this skill.  The girls even got new aprons for Christmas (thanks, Nana!).

7.  Weekly journal entry.
This is something else I had planned to do from the beginning, but I honestly forgot about it.  I would like to sit down with Izzy once a week, on Fridays, and have her dictate an entry to me while I write it down.  She can tell me about anything:  events, daily happenings, weather reports, descriptions of people/places/things, her favorite things, an imaginitive story, etc.  I think this will be a wonderful way for her to practice formulating and processing information and ideas in her head as well as relaying those ideas to someone else.  It's like early narration practice.  It will also be something fun to look back on.

8.  Make some homemade books.
I've been really intrigued by Linda Fay's description of making homemade books with her children.  I think this would be a wonderful way to integrate drawing, plus a little penmanship practice.  I would love to incorporate this every now and then, but it's not a priority.

9.  Daily art time plus biweekly art project.
I don't know if the art time will be a daily thing, but I would like to begin encouraging more drawing.

Do you like Macho Man, there?  Jared refuses to get rid of him.
The girls have been drawing more since I moved their picnic table into the play learning room, and since they got some new art supplies for Christmas - new supertip markers, watercolor pencils, and oil pastels, plus Izzy got an art kit from my mom (thanks, mom!), which she loves.

For the art project, I put biweekly because I just don't foresee this being a weekly thing, as much as I would like it to be.  At this point I have no idea which specific projects we'll try (except for the homemade books - this will be a great time to do those) but I'll probably steal some of Celeste's examples from her blog.  (By the way, the daily art time idea was stolen from her blog, too.)

I think that's it.  Happy homeschooling in 2015!


  1. This sounds like such a delightful kindergarten, Angela. Glad to hear you're enjoying art! :) And that picture with the binoculars--so cute!

    1. It has been fun and I'm so thankful for finding CM and giving my children plenty of time to just be kids. And about art - thanks for letting me steal your ideas :)

  2. What a delight to discover your blog (through the CM blog carnival)! You remind me of myself just a year ago when we were easing into homeschooling, CM style. I like your weekly journal entry idea. We used more of a "jot it down" approach...when my eldest was spontaneously narrating something, I'd try to grab a pencil and paper and write it down now and then. Since he was already excited about whatever it was, it would often turn into quite a story. This was neat, because he isn't normally much of a talker. I need to start doing that occasionally with my second son now...

    1. I'm so glad to have you, Nelleke! Unfortunately, I haven't sat down with my kinder and done the journal yet, ugh, but I hope to this week. I've had to ease into all the new stuff. Won't that be so neat to look back at your son's narrations? I would like to journal my kids' narrations in the future when they officially begin school, maybe one per week. I think it would be easier to record it on my phone or something, then write it down later.

  3. I do, do, do encourage you to keep up the weekly nature walk as your children grow older. Our CM style school is 10 minutes from a wildlife refuge. We walk the same trail most Fridays and the children love it and they are learning so much. Biology is going to be a piece of cake by the time they hit high school!

    1. That's so wonderful that your kids love the walks and are learning! We are doing our best to get out at least once a week for this, although it's been more difficult in this cold weather. I think it's harder on me than the kids! But I so look forward to seeing the fruits of this way of learning.