August 3, 2011

Our LAST kindergarten year

Here is the NON-plan for my 5-year-old.  He is just barely starting “school” as I wait until a child shows interest in reading and writing before beginning.  He participates in all our family studies, at whatever level he feels comfortable with for that day.  Sometimes he sits on my lap the whole time (with or without a back scratch), other days he plays (not so) quietly on the floor while I’m reading out loud and still other days he goes upstairs to play by himself, watch a “school” movie or use the iPod apps.

He gets about 20 to 30 minutes of individual teaching time a day where we work on handwriting and reading.  We also have “circle time” with the 7-year-old where we sing songs and read picture books.

This is also his first year trying workboxes – at his request.  His older brothers are moving out of their 6-drawer workboxes into milk crates so littlest brother wants both of theirs!  I’m not sure we’ll use all 12 for him each day….we’ll tinker around with it the first few weeks.  Every night I put in his handwriting book, a reading game and a worksheet or two.  He helps me choose the remaining activities from his activity bag file folder box.

I use Handwriting Without Tears and have for years.  All my boys have used it because it’s the easiest and best system out there!  We work on one letter a day, although sometimes we spread a letter out over a few days.  Since he knows the letter names and sounds already, we don’t need to spend extra time drilling those.  It’s just the physical exercise of writing them.

I have also printed some “worksheets” from Confessions of a Homeschooler for him to use in his workboxes.  He particularly enjoys the dot-a-dot and toothpick poke pages.  We also use the “circle the correct letter” pages.  He does activities from the Letter of the Week and kindergarten sections of her printables so make sure you check out both.

We just subscribed to the more.Starfall site and I was thrilled to see they have multiple (read many, many, many) printable sheets for reading and writing.  I’ll be printing out some fun pages to keep him occupied. 

I don’t follow a single reading program with my kids.  I sort of mix-and-match the resources I already have.

I love Happy Phonics and use the games to practice and reinforce various sounds and concepts.

For beginning readers I prefer the Now I’m Reading series by Nora Gaydos.  I pull out the book that corresponds with the lesson we’re learning in Happy Phonics….or vice versa.

We have used Starfall for years and he is now progressing past the letter sounds and moving into the early reading games.  As I mentioned above, we just joined the more.Starfall section and it is AMAZING.  There are so many wonderful activities for a beginning reader.  I need to spend some time looking through it.  I may create an “order” for him to do them (corresponding with the Happy Phonics and Now I’m Reading) or I may just let him play around with it.  Okay - I did create one.  And here it is!  They even have lesson plans for each week, but I’m not sure if I’ll be using those or not.

In addition to the above, I also let him watch the LeapFrog videos, WordWorld and the Preschool Prep Company dvds.  I love, love, love the Preschool Prep Company dvds.  We have Meet the Sight Words 1, 2 and 3 as well as the new Meet the Phonics series (Meet the Blends and Meet the Digraphs).  They have been great for the 5-year-old as well as the already reading 7-year-old.  They’ve even been useful for my struggling 11-year-old reader.

Other activities
Over the past year or so I have created various “activity bags” to keep his little hands busy and his great brain engaged.  He has been asking for more “school” stuff, meaning worksheets, so I’ll be perusing Confessions of a Homeschooler, more.Starfall, and Homeschool Creations Preschool Packs for printables.  I pick and choose which ones I want – I never print the whole shebang.

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