Monday, October 3, 2011

I have a Kindergartener.

I have a kindergartener
I am not really sure how this happened. Somehow, my sweet bright eyed Cailin, has turned five this year and has started kindergarten. Where has the time gone?? It was just a few weeks ago that I brought her home from the hospital completely wiped out. So much that we had to take at least one nap together every day. How is it possible that she is in kindergarten already??
Before having kids, I thought my only options for school for my kids was private school or public school. Private school is atrociously expensive, so while I liked that option, I did not think that it was going to actually be an option. I worked for a year and a half in the school district where my children would have attended school and I have to say, I did not like it at all. There were definite cases of favoritism by administrators and teachers. I saw a class graduate and out of those kids, there were more than 15 that were still reading below a 6th grade level and many many that had the math skills of a fourth grader. These were students WITHOUT IEP’s! That is crazy and not satisfactory. I was not impressed with the lack of security in the school as well. Every door was open all day every day. I had parents that came to pick up their students with a pistol tucked in their waistband of their pants. How can this be an okay thing? Cailin was born while I was working at this school and I decided right then that I would not send her to school there. I would do whatever I had to do to make sure she did not attend this school. A few years before, I learned about the idea of homeschooling. I hadn’t heard of this until moving to Missouri. I didn’t even know that this was an option. I talked to some of my friends who had homeschooled their children and then started doing some research. This is something that I can do. It saves time. It keeps my baby safe, I make sure there are no favorites played. I make sure she isn’t learning ONLY what is on the standardized tests. I can make sure that she doesn’t get punished, or made fun of by adding her religious beliefs into her school work. I did a LOT of research. So much that my head started swirling. I had to take a break from it. I found a book called “Homeschooling: Take a deep breath, You can do it”. I felt a lot better about it. I started searching for curriculums. I know some would do school by letting the child pick what they wanted to learn. Others would pick a theme and have every subject revolve around this theme. I didn’t know what I wanted really, so I just looked around on the internet. I stumbled across one curriculum called Calvert School. It was actually based on the curriculum that a private prep school in Baltimore teaches. It was all inclusive. All manipulatives came with it, lesson plans were written out for you, all subjects were covered. If you wanted additional supplements you could order them. I thought if I was going to give this a try, this would be my best bet at being successful. After preschool, I could participate in a teacher service where after every 20 lessons, I would submit samples of our work to a certified teacher and the teacher would write a letter to mom and a letter to child with constructive criticism and positive feedback and encouragement. I was just getting ready to start preschool; I wasn’t worried about the teacher service for a while. We completed about 15 lessons for preschool, but we lost interest because everything was a huge review. And it was super simple stuff. It was a waste of time really. She enjoyed the drawing and painting. But everything else was not worth it.
This summer came around and I will be honest, I was stressed. Did I want to take a chance with Calvert’s Kindergarten and hope it was more of a challenge, or did I want to try something new? I looked at the curriculum that others in our homeschooler’s group used and nothing really seemed like a good fit for me. I was not confident in my lesson planning skills. I did not want to try writing my own. This was different than last year. This is kindergarten. This year actually counts. I don’t have to do paperwork and keep track of stuff, but this is a year that she would be starting public school. I need to be on the ball and keep up with lessons and stick with it. I decided to go ahead and give calvert another try. I am glad that we did. Tomorrow we start lesson 20. We are not participating in the advisory teacher service. I didn’t feel we needed that right now. So far, the lessons are a review, however I am adding a bit of new to each lesson by teaching her how to properly write her letters on the lines. It isn’t her favorite part, but she is doing a GREAT job with it. EVERY DAY, she reminds me “Momma, my letters are neater than Daddy’s”. I can’t argue with that at all!! With just one month of schooling at home, we are in a routine. We work hard after breakfast to get school work done and we generally finish by lunch time around 1. We laugh, we have fun and enjoy having our school times together. I love seeing the light bulb moments when something finally catches on. That look when she finally understands what I am trying to explain. I am going to try to post more frequently on what we are doing for school, if it was a good work day or if I felt like I was pulling teeth; what we talked about or what we learned that day and more.
I was on Calvert’s Facebook page and I found someone else that is teaching a 3 and a 5 year old and is only a few lessons ahead of us on school. We talked quite a bit and are going to continue to share ideas. There are definitely some advantages to the social media on line.
Last week we were just starting to talk about and learn about our five senses. I am not sure Cailin understands what I am talking about if I say “which sense do you use….” But I am confident that by the end of this topic, she will have it down. We have already mastered writing the letters A-Q the proper way, and she has finally started to understand what we mean by Rhyming words. Along with the five senses, we are also starting on beginning sounds. She knows what sounds the letters make and can tell you what letter a word starts with, so I expect this to be simple. I was apprehensive about trying Calvert a second time, and this time, I am glad that I did. I am not disappointed in any way. It is hard to believe that by Christmas, Cailin will be able to read some simple books on her own!! How is that possible already?? I am glad that she is enjoying learning.. and I love that I am the one that gets to teach her and spend so much time with her!

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