I’ve been meaning to do write up this post for a while now because I have stamped a big “DONE” on kindergarten here at the House of Hope. We’ve finished up our required number of days, and I am to the point in this pregnancy that I need some time to just relax and try to get a few non-schoolish things done around the house. For a while this made me nervous–the idea of quitting while everyone else in our neck of the woods is still plugging away at it, but I’ve gotten over it and have come to realize that in order to take advantage of good weather, perhaps finishing earlier in May is a good idea. We can always start back in July when it’s too hot to do anything outdoors!
When I look back at my kindergarten plans, I see that I have stayed pretty true to course, at least in the fundamentals. Here’s where we stand right now:
Lulu has finished through lesson 88 in The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I’m not sure where this gets her skill-wise in terms of conventional schooling (i.e. grade level), but I am pleased. She reads almost everything she sees now, including newspaper headlines (sometimes I think I need to hide the paper from her since those headlines are not always what I want her to read at her tender age) and billboards. If her interest is strong enough in a subject, she will persevere and read things that are probably above her skill level. For example, she was really enthralled with Helen Keller, especially after our homeschool group took a field trip to Ivy Green, which was our second trip there of the school year. About that same time, she read a level 3 Scholastic easy reader about Helen Keller with some frustration but a more than adequate amount of determination. I plan to continue with the reading lessons in OPGTTR this summer if I can find my brain once the baby is born. 😉
We’ve finished all but three lessons in RightStart level A, and I’d say that math has been Lulu’s favorite subject this year. RightStart has been a good fit for her. I’ll admit that I grew a little weary of it in the last few weeks of schooling, but that was mainly due to pregnancy fatigue. It is a very teacher-intensive program (which may be true of all programs at this level–I’m not sure), but I feel like Lulu made a lot of progress in terms of thinking mathematically. The lack of lots of worksheets makes me a little bit nervous (and I might just be ignorant about what young students should be doing at this age), but in the future we plan to continue with this program and supplement with some other approaches.
This is the subject for which I’d probably give myself a big fat F just because I wasn’t consistent enough with it. Lulu did finish Handwriting Without Tears Letters and Numbers for Me and begin My Printing Book, but after Christmas she began keeping a reading log and I pretty much let her drop doing the workbook. She’s not much of a workbook-y girl, and she doesn’t like writing, so I thought at least the reading log would make it seem like she was doing something worthwhile and meaningful. This is also an area in which I feel the least amount of confidence in terms of what her writing “should” look like. Part of this is because I kind of see handwriting as something that is very personal (and mine gets worse the older I get). That’s not exactly the way I should see it, probably, but it is. We’ll pick up with copywork next year and ditch the workbook altogether, I think.
Science, Social Studies (History), Geography, Art, Etc.
Of everything we’ve done this year, this is what the girls (Louise has been along for the K ride this year) will remember. What we’ve done for these subjects has been rather scattered, really, but I think that’s okay at this age. Much of what we did early in the year was based on one Five in a Row title or another. For science, we did deliberately do a unit on the human body, and this was a huge hit with both girls. As far as history goes, we spent a good bit of time on Helen Keller also, and Laura and Mary were never far from our minds (or our CD player). I tried to be deliberate about doing artwork with the girls, and sometimes I succeeded and others I didn’t.
Ivy Green, Birthplace of Helen Keller
Outside the Home
If our days are full of learning at home, our afternoons are often full of learning and playing outside the home. Lulu played Upward soccer in the fall, and she and Louise both played in the spring. They both took two fairly intensive weeks of swimming lessons just last month. They’ve both been involved in weekly music lessons since they were toddlers, and Lulu has actually progressed to a weekly piano class that is quickly getting beyond my level of experience. 🙂 Lulu also began practicing with our church’s Bible quiz team this spring.
We’ve also had numerous opportunities to go places and do things, both as a family and with our homeschool group. This year we’ve been to
To Sum It Up
I think we’ve had a great year, but this doesn’t prevent me from feeling the old familiar angst. That’s why I included that picture at the very beginning of the post. The moment I saw it at the Georgia Aquarium, I thought of us and this journey we’re on. Although we belong to a homeschool group, outside of the group we only know one other family that homeschools. I feel most of the time like I’m doing something very counterculutral, especially given my previous and Steady Eddie’s current profession.
This time, I think I can attribute most of my appprehension to working out yet another schedule/routine/way of doing things with a new baby in the house. My biggest challenge this year as a teacher of my children was figuring out what to do with Louise while I worked one-on-one with Lulu. (This really deserves a post of its own.) Sometimes I can’t even begin to fathom doing it with an infant, and even more, I can’t imagine doing it with a toddler, etc. Then I think, if others can do it successfully, why can’t I?
The other problem I’ve had is figuring out how “to do it all”–housework, meal preparation, blogging 😉 , attention to my spiritual life, etc. I console myself with the fact that my girls and I have read an awful lot of good books together this year, we’ve made a lot of sweet memories, and Lulu is reading! I did that! (I know I didn’t really do it, but please allow me the pleasure of a little self-congratulation.) I just have to remind myself that everyone makes choices, and choosing one thing (in this case, home education) necessarily disqualifies other choices (public or private school), but that each choice will have its pros and cons. I love this quote from Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter, and I try to remind myself of it when I’m feeling particularly uncertain:
The big idea of education, from first to last, is the idea of a better place. Not a better place where you are, because you want it to be better and have been to school and learned to make it better, but a better place somewhere else. In order to move up, you have got to move on. I didn’t see this at first. And for a while after I knew it, I pretended I didn’t. I didn’t want it to be true.
But it was true. After they [her children] were all gone, I was mourning over them to Nathan. I said, “I just wanted them to have a better chance than I had.”
Nathan said, “Don’t complain about the chance you had,” in the same way exactly that he used to tell the boys, “Don’t cuss the weather.” Sometimes you can say dreadful things without knowing it. Nathan understood this better than I did [. . . ]
And so Nathan required me to think a thought that has stayed with me a long time and has traveled a long way. It passed through everything I know and changed it all. The chance you had is the life you’ve got. You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their lives after they have got them, and about what people make of other people’s lives, even about yoru children being gone, but you mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks.” I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions. (112-13)
I know this quote might not make too much sense completely out of context, as I’ve used it here, but can anyone else see the truth of it?
Well. This post started out as a purely academic exercise and ended philosophically. If you’re still reading, I thank you. 🙂 We’re still in the process of hammering out what next year will look like, but I’ll be sure to post about it as soon as I can.