Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

Looking back over this blog it would seem that I leave out some of the basics. So I wanted to post what we are already doing and what my plan is as we move more toward kindergarten. (Grace is only 4, though she is scheduled to start kindergarten this year.)

I didn’t purchase a curriculum this year. Homeschool philosophy-wise I hover somewhere between unschool and Charlotte Mason, I think, with a little Classical thrown in. So I am making up my own unit studies based on what I know the girls are interested in and using printables I have found online with a lot of hands-on, child-led learning.

I have Grace in a kindergarten workbook right now, that I believe I bought at Costco. Each day we do 4 pages of a letter – one page is usually a maze or something similar, another page is circling the pictures that start with the sound the letter makes, the next two pages are tracing then writing the letter in upper and lower case. We go over the sound the letter makes as she is working on the pages. Then we do two pages of a number, one page tracing and writing the number and another doing an activity using the number – one day it was a baseball game and you had to circle each time you saw the number 11, on jerseys, the scoreboard, etc. Sometimes we do an extra page or two, either writing a sight word, drawing and identifying shapes, or something similar.

Joy asked for a workbook as soon as she saw Grace’s. Hers is for preschool and right now we are focused on colors, shapes and prewriting pages. Joy is extremely verbal for a two year old, so much that I often forget she is two and treat her as though she and Grace are the same age. She will be going to preschool in the fall two mornings a week, and I am looking forward to having that uninterrupted time with Grace to get a little more structured learning started.

Grace is also obsessed with the Hooked on Phonics classroom app. (This was free one day only, and an amazing friend emailed me the link!) She will easily “play” this for very long periods of time, and begs me to move on to higher levels. I try not to let her move on until she can read the books at the end of each level to me without help, but sometimes I do let her see what’s coming up and then we go back over previous levels together.

And we read read read. I check out at least 20 books from the library that fit the theme we’re studying and we read probably 5 of them a day, sometimes more. And sometimes the same one 5 times. The favorite this week is The Grouchy Ladybug because I do a funny voice for “Hey you! Want to fight?” And they love books with repetition.

Every night Grace and I read a chapter of the Little House on the Prairie series. We are currently reading Little Town on the Prairie. I thought Grace would get bored with these a long time ago, but she loves the series. Before we start a chapter we talk about what happened in the last section we read, we read the title of the chapter and Grace guesses what might happen next.

Once we finish the workbook reviewing letters and sounds, I plan to use a reading curriculum. I have ordered Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and a friend loaned me The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, so once I have both in front of me I’m going to decide the best route for Grace. She picks up on so much already and knows lots of sight words, but I want to make sure she has a good foundation in reading. I believe that is my top goal this year for homeschool. I was a very early reader, and remember developing a true love of learning because I could open any book and learn anything I wanted at anytime on my own.

Grace also has a notebook that she writes words in. Sometimes she just strings random letters together and asks me what it spells, and sometimes she asks me how to spell certain words that she writes down.

As far as math goes, we try to learn it in real life situations. We bake – measuring, setting the oven temperature and the kitchen timer. The girls each have this responsibility chart – at the end of the week they get a nickel for each magnet, and then they count out nickels to trade in for dimes or quarters. We just started this recently, so this week we are going to make three containers labeled “spend,” “save,” and “share,” which will teach money management as well as math skills as we divide up the money.

We also have this calendar, and update it daily. Both girls have their own tape measure, and too many counting and learning toys to list. My husband likes to build things in his spare time, so the girls are always helping – counting out the nails to hand him, remembering measurements, etc.

We’re starting to skip count, so once they have the 5’s down I will start working on telling time with Grace. She asks what time it is often throughout the day so I know she understands the clock concept.

Grace is constantly counting or adding. In the car. At dinner. The grocery store. It doesn’t matter. My husband is a civil engineer, and I’m pretty sure she got his brain. (Thank goodness!)

Sometimes I feel that the girls learn so much on their own through everyday situations and play that “school” gets in the way of our learning. I try not to plan too much, but I don’t want to miss anything. I’m still perfecting our balance. I’m sure as soon as I have it figured out the girls will mature a bit and I’ll get to figure it out again. But I can’t imagine having it any other way!

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