We have just officially finished up Madeline’s kindergarten year of home school. What a neat time it’s been!
I had to write an evaluation for the umbrella school we are registered with. I really don’t know how detailed it is supposed to be, but I thought it would be a neat memento to have, so I put a lot into it. I highlighted the main subjects we spent time on, skipping the description of other subjects like science, music, and art that weren’t as “heavy” this year.
Here’s what we did.
We started last summer instead of waiting for fall, because I had a baby due in August and wasn’t sure how much recovery time I would need. It was a very gentle start. We did a day or two, then took a few days off. I didn’t want to overwhelm her with too much too soon, so I just followed her cues and eased her in so that school was a fun prospect.
Once we got into a groove, we occasionally found ourselves wanting or needing a break, so we would take one – family trip in the fall, another one in winter, a long weekend here and there. This pattern of short breaks every few weeks was invigorating. Though I never had any plan for doing year-round school, we’ve kept it up all year and plan to continue with it.
The year-round schedule combined with Madeline’s eagerness to learn (most subjects anyway) has caused some of our curricula to sit “untidily”. We finished some things and started on new ones even though we weren’t quite done with the school year.
We used My Father’s World – First Grade. It was a really nice survey of the old testament with a brief introduction to the life of Jesus. It included a wonderful timeline that eventually spanned the entire length of our dining room wall.
Often, after covering the day’s story, Madeline would ask to continue on to the next one. Not one to stifle a request for more Bible, we often covered a couple of stories per day. After our reading, Madeline would read a simplified version in her own bible reader included in the curriculum.
Once we finished that curriculum, we moved on to My Father’s World – Exploring Countries and Cultures. This is the first year in their five-year, multi-age curriculum. The Bible portion of this curriculum focuses on the life of Christ with daily readings from the gospel of Matthew.
With both curricula, we supplemented with the corresponding story in The Jesus Storybook Bible as well as another early reader’s Bible we have. Often, the different Bible versions emphasized different nuances of the stories. They always included different pictures. All together, they provided us with a good, rounded understanding.
And once we had a good, rounded understanding, we were prepared to act out the story. Madeline could not wait to get to the acting out part of the day. We’d cast ourselves in various roles – Moses, Leah, God, Peter – and often played more than one role because there were only three of us. Anson would usually be cast in the role with the least “lines.” Various sections of our living and dining room would serve as our set, and our showtime was after dinner. Daddy was our audience.
Before I had children I vowed to never be one of those people whose refrigerator is covered with messy kid stuff. But alas, I now have hardly a greater joy than to post the weekly scripture Madeline has written for us to memorize.
With the first curriculum, we memorized scriptures from Proverbs. I loved how My Father’s World coordinated the scriptures with the scheduled bible stories. For example, when we learned about Joseph and his various trials (betrayal by his brothers, false accusation by his master’s wife, abandonment by the cupbearer), we also learned Proverbs 20:22 –
Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord and he will deliver you.
I am amazed at how well both kids have done to memorize them. Even though we all memorized the words and promptly forgot the chapter and verse numbers, the truths are hidden in our hearts and available for real-life application on a daily basis. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Here are a few of our most-used Proverbs:
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful.
Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord and he will deliver you.
In the new curriculum, we are memorizing scriptures from Matthew.
This was the subject that brought us the greatest trial. The Lord has given Madeline a sharp mind and a proclivity for scholastic things, but this subject didn’t come easily. Believe it or not, I am very thankful for this. Math lessons have provided opportunities to do much character training, often revolving around perseverance.
One of the examples I gave that seemed to strike a chord with her was when I asked what would happen if Mommy gave up when things got hard or refused to do work that wasn’t fun. The idea of no meals – no groceries in the house at all – was enough to sober her into an appreciation for the importance of everyone doing his or her work.
Her struggles with math also have provided me with opportunities to repent to her for my impatience and illustrate my need for a Savior too.
Most recently, I asked her to complete all of the math drills she had done to date. I made up a fancy spreadsheet and required her to do each drill three times in under 75 seconds and with at least 18 out of 20 questions correct. There were many drills to review, so it was an assignment that spanned a couple of weeks. The night before we were to leave for vacation at the end of those weeks, she still had three drills to complete. Her delaying, quiet pouting, and general discouragement about the assignment had come to a head. She was crying, and I was without pity. In fact, I was quite angry. After some harsh words, I send her away so that I could call Erich for some help. He wisely advised me to drop the math drills for the time. His gentle response led me to have one of the most precious confessions and conversations I have had with Madeline in a while. Once again, I was able to see how all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.
For all of her struggles, I still really like the curriculum we are using. It is Math U See. She completed the Primer book and 95% of the Alpha book this year.
Here are most of the topics she’s covered:
- Place Value and the Manipulatives
- Counting to 20
- Addition: Symbols, +0
- Addition: +1, +2, +8 and +9
- Counting to 100, Skip Count by 10
- Compare and Combine 10s and 100s
- Solve for Unknown
- Shapes: Circles, Triangles
- Skip Count by 2
- Addition: Doubles
- Words for numbers
- Shapes: Rectangles, Squares
- Skip Count by 5
- Addition: Doubles +1
- Addition: Making 10
- Addition: Making 9
- Addition: 4+7, 5+7, 3+5
- Subtraction: -1, -2, -8 and -9
- Subtraction: Doubles
- Subtraction: Making 10
- Subtraction: Making 9
- Subtraction: 7-3, 7-4, 8-5, 8-3
I think once she masters some of these basics (in both math and character) the remainder of her math career will be okay.
In addition to reading from the Bible, Madeline reads a variety of other things everyday either from our personal collection or the ever-rotating library collection we have on hand. The ones from the library are related to whatever science topic or geographical location we’re currently studying in our Exploring Countries and Cultures curriculum.
We are always also in the middle of at least two other read-aloud style books. At the start of the year, we read the first four books in the Narnia series. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t make it through The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so that was the end of the series for us – at least for now.
We just finished Anne of Green Gables, an absolute gem of a book that I regret not having enjoyed before now. I am thrilled that Madeline loves it as much as I do. She would often read Marilla’s or Diana’s lines with quite the knack for delivering the lines with the proper tone. I read Anne’s because they were much lengthier. 😉
We have also read the first of three parts in Kingdom Tales. It is full of rich allegories of the Christian life, and is so beautifully and powerfully written that I have cried while reading it.
There are many others we have read, but those are my favorites.
There were official handwriting exercises with the first curriculum we went through. Madeline did well with them.
With our current curriculum, there is no official handwriting section, but there are writing exercises she gets to do. I am always looking over her writing to correct any sloppiness I see. It’s fun to see what kinds of stories or letters she writes. Part of her writing is done on the computer via email, leading me to the next subject. . .
Because she was so eager to type emails to various friends and family, I determined she would need to learn the proper finger placement. My grandmother made me use the right fingers when I wanted to type on her word processor (I know, I’m aging myself with the disclosure of that ancient piece of hardware!), and it was one of the most practical disciplines I have ever learned. Knowing it was now my duty to pass along the valuable lesson, I looked around for a good, free, online typing tutorial for kids and found this on BBC’s website.
The tutorial has four levels, each focusing on a group of keys. It effectively teaches kids how to properly place their fingers and rewards them with dancing animals singing silly songs at the end of each level.
The one downfall for us Americans is that the animals speak and sing in thick British accents, so my kids don’t understand half of what they say. Nonetheless, the lessons are straightforward enough without the verbal instruction. And the singing and dancing is enjoyable for the kids even if they only understand half of the lyrics.
I am so pleased with her finger placement and the efficiency with which she is able to type now because of that tutorial.
Though her fingering may be right, we still have some work to do on grammar. We do informal grammar stuff on emails that I see, but half the time, she’s firing off emails before I ever have a chance to look them over. (I secretly think those are some of the best ones!) Here are a few I took note of a couple of months back.
I am takeing good care of your cats. How are the rest of your animals? Are they doing well? Tell me the news.
What time are you going to come home? I love you I am glad God gave you to me for a dad.
Hi Mr. Chris,
I got your message from when you sent me it. And I want too tell everybody that I am getting better and better at my typing. And anson is getting better at doing his school. And kieryn is getting better at her smileing. And mom is getting better at cleaning up our toys. And dad is getting better at doing work on the computer.
Precocious. Precious. Hilarious.
That’s our Madeline.