Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ella's Kinder Curriculum

As I started thinking about writing a reflection post about how homeschooling has gone so far, I realized I probably should start with a post about what curriculum/materials I decided to use with Ella for kindergarten. I meant to write this post back in September, but since I didn't I can actually comment on what I like/don't like so far.

I'm not using an "official" pre-made curriculum for everything, and honestly, particularly for kindergarten I'm not sure that official curriculum is necessary. But there really is some great material out there, and so far I'm glad that I've chosen to use at least some pre-made curriculum with Ella.
  1. Reading. I taught Ella to read using Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons prior to starting kindergarten with her. So, right now our main focus has been to have her read at least one book at day and then for her to draw a picture about one of the books she read. I plan to start using Book Adventure with her as well. She also did some work with the Reading Eggs App (which teaches sight words), but she had already completed most of that prior to us starting kindergarten stuff.
  2. Spelling. I will freely admit I was not at all excited about teaching Ella spelling. In fact, after we had a kinda rough (yet perfect in its own way!) start to the first week of school, I put off starting spelling with her while things got settled. I chose to use All About Spelling, and this curriculum has changed my mind about spelling. I initially chose to use this curriculum because I had been advised that this method flowed really well out of Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, but I didn't know a whole lot about it otherwise (turns out it really does flow well as a next step after that book). I really, really love this curriculum. I like how it teaches the rules about something rather than focusing on memorizing how things are spelled. We can go over a new rule about spelling and Ella can then usually spell all the words in the spelling list for that section without ever having spelled them before. I also enjoy how the review is built into the method. And, although she was reading prior to starting this, she could not spell (these are separate, yet related skills). There is also a curriculum for reading called All About Reading. I have not used it, but am curious about it because I like All About Spelling so much.
  3. Math. I struggled a lot when it came to choosing a curriculum for math (more than for anything else). I really wanted to do Singapore math when I first started investigating, but ultimately decided against it as my main material (I think in the long run I might incorporate some of it as supplemental material). I ended up choosing Math-U-See, and I've liked it so far. I started Ella with the Primer because I wanted to make sure that she had all the basic things down before moving to Alpha. However, I found that ultimately Ella probably didn't need the Primer. She is partway through Alpha now and she's covering several of the same topics again that were covered in the Primer (which ends up being boring to her). I like how there are several worksheets for each lesson to give extra practice if needed. So far, I also like how the concepts are taught, and Ella enjoys watching the short lessons on the DVD.
  4. Handwriting. For handwriting we've been using Handwriting Without Tears (which was recommended to me by just about everyone except those who didn't actually use a curriculum for handwriting). I also really like this curriculum. It was really cheap too, which is a plus! Ella really likes that she gets to color pictures with each lesson as well. This is one curriculum that I felt that I didn't really need to use the teacher's manual for (I have it, but haven't used it since the beginning). We also used the Wet-Dry-Try app that goes with Handwriting Without Tears. I made Ella complete all the letters on the app prior to starting actually using the workbook. I think some may choose to use the app for a particular prior to the lesson on that letter though. I really like this app as well. Prior to using this app, I'd downloaded several handwriting apps and this one blows them out of the water!
  5. Science. I have not been using anything official with science. We've been reading through the AP Advanced Readers, which Ella has really enjoyed. We've also explored different animals (through some books from the library), as well as tracking leaf colors as we moved into fall and winter.
  6. Bible. We have a devotional (including Troy and sometimes Luke) just about every day. During that time we sing, pray, maybe read a Bible story, and/or ask some Bible questions. We also use the Charlotte Mason Scripture System, which has been great! Ella and Troy have both learned several verses, and really enjoy doing it. I've also been teaching Ella how to look up scriptures in her Bible, as well as having her read aloud some from her Bible.
  7. Spanish. One of the reasons that factored into choosing to homeschool was that I wanted to include teaching Ella Spanish as part of her homeschool. Ella has been using Rosetta Stone, which I would say is ultimately probably a bit above her level. She's able to do it so far (though she isn't that far into it), but she needs my guidance quite a bit of the time. I was hoping that she'd be able to be more independent with it, but that will come with time. She's definitely been picking up on some things though, which is good. 
This isn't a comprehensive post about everything we've done so far, but describes the main curriculum/subjects we use for kindergarten.