Posts tagged ‘kindergarten’

August 10, 2013

Georgia’s Kindergarten and Homeschooling Laws

{georgia homeschooling law} {georgia kindergarten law}

How to Homeschool in Georgia?  Is Kindergarten mandatory in Georgia? How old does my child have to be to start Kindergarten in Georgia?

Here’s a short guide I put together to answer these questions. I will do my best to keep it updated, but you can find the information for yourself on the Georgia Department of Education‘s website too. This document will be added to my Free Printables page and Resources for Georgia Homeschoolers page.

FREE PDF: Georgia’s Kindergarten and Homeschooling Laws

July 18, 2013

Protected: Kindergarten Slideshow – Private Post

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

February 19, 2013

Homeschooling Reading and Language Arts for Kindergarten / 1st Grade

Last year I wrote a post titled How I’ve Taught Kindergarten Reading, and now I’m following that up with our reading progress this year. I have titled this page Kindergarten / First Grade because I really don’t know what level my son is at, but I’m guessing somewhere between K and first.  If your child is five or younger, I suggest you start with that post. Now my son is six-and-a-half.

I read over last year’s post with a little trepidation. How far have we come? I can’t say my six-year-old is reading independently or that he’s excitedly delving into chapter books on his own. Frankly, he’s just not that interested in reading (or math, for that matter), but we have made good progress.  He says he likes our lessons, but he doesn’t ask for more.

Since he doesn’t balk at his lessons (like near the end of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons), and he’s quite agreeable to teach, I feel we have finally gotten into our groove when it comes to learning reading (same for math).

In other words, I’m not forcing anything, but I don’t wait until he says, “I want to learn how to read” or shows an interest.  I do that for most other subjects, but I strongly feel that he’ll be more capable of doing the things that interest him once he learns how to read (and do basic math). I also feel that the earlier he can learn these skills, the easier it will be for him.

So how have I taught him?  Like always, I have used my instincts, and as for curriculum, I have pulled from many sources. I’m fortunate to have been given many educational tools!  It would be foolish for me to buy something unless I knew for sure my son needed it.

Time Spent Teaching

As far as formal reading lessons, I still alternate reading and math lessons Monday-Thursday mornings, although I’m flexible if we get busy. I also use Fridays for catch-up, if needed.  We spend about 20~45 minutes on a reading (or math) lesson.

Resources Used**

The main resource that I started out with was passed on to me from a friend who is a retired Kindergarten teacher.  Ready to Read Phonics by Educational Insights.  The reason I gave it a try is because the lessons are on cassette, and all my son has to do is follow along in a workbook and listen. I feel strongly that he is a auditory/visual learner, so I thought he would like it.  I stop the cassette and repeat some of it when it goes too fast.  The set also has some fun games and simple books to read.

This set has proven useful, but by itself, it has not taught my son to read. The instructions say to repeat the exercises until the child has mastered them. (A lot of reading and math sources say this.)  Well, my son is NOT interested in repeating anything, and I don’t blame him!  After one time, it gets boring for me too.  So I’ve done one lesson at a time, and I have followed them up with several days or weeks of other lessons going over the same material.  Simply put, I have used it as a sort of teacher’s guide.

The second main resource I have used is My Big Phonics Word Book written by Cass Hollander and published by McClanahan Book Company.  Each page spread goes over one letter blend, i.e. “-ag,” “-am,” “-ap,” etc. all the way to “-unch.”  We read each page, and then we use the accompanying stickers in a notebook, and I have him write the words corresponding to the pictures.

**These items may be old and not as accessible, so I encourage you to simply look for cheap workbooks at various stores such as Walmart, Target, a grocery store or teacher’s store. Go to library book sales. Exchange with other homeschoolers. You can adapt many simple materials to teaching basic concepts. There’s no reason to spend a lot of money.

Other than this, I have used games, videos and reading practice:

Games**

  • Long vowel “Go Fish.” ~ On index cards, I wrote out 36 long vowel words, and I made sure there were two of each long vowel sound. Deal six cards to each player and the rest goes into a pile. Player #1 asks Player #2 for a specific long vowel sound (i.e. “Do you have a long vowel e card?”) If yes, Player #2 gives Player #1 that card. If not, Player #2 says “Go fish,” and Player #1 must draw card from the pile. If Player #1 gets a match, he keeps them and sets them aside. Take turns until all the cards are used up. The player with the most matches wins. Be sure to read the words as you play.
  • Blends and digraphs “matching or memory game.” ~ I used a small blends and digraphs chart that someone gave to me, but there are many to be found on the Internet, such as this one. Simply make two copies, cut out the squares, and paste them to heavier paper, if needed. Mix them up, and spread them out on a table. Each player takes a turn turning over two cards, trying to make a match. If they find a match, they put it aside in a pile. Keep taking turns in this manner until all the cards are matched up. The player with the most matches wins.
  • My sight word game (sometimes the three-year-old plays this using letters.)
  • Sight word bingo 

**Note that you can adapt these games to teach a variety of skills.

Our favorite videos

Reading Practice

Most importantly, however, I have started a reading practice with my son. I try to get him reading even if it’s 2~3 pages in an early reader. This is where I know we’ve progressed because last year this was almost impossible for him.  Now it’s challenging, but he can read!

As we’re reading I remind him of all the phonics rules we’ve learned and the various blends. I don’t make him suffer through words if he doesn’t know them, but I do try to get him to sound the words out.

Our favorite early readers are the We Both Read Books, and my son’s favorite titles are Just Five More Minutes, Animals Under Our Feet, and Fox’s Best Trick Ever.

Language Arts

Last but not least, we make language arts part of our daily routine. I don’t have to worry about ‘teaching it’ because it’s going to happen no matter what.  Please see:

Since my son and I love stories so much, I have used this opportunity to teach him the elements of a story using a few worksheets in Story Elements by McGraw-Hill Children’s Publishing.  I’ll write more about this in an upcoming post.

Writing Practice

We don’t have a regular writing practice yet. My son isn’t particularly interested in writing at this time, but he has good handwriting skills, which luckily came easy to him. I have him write periodically for special purposes such as:

  • The phonics workbook (see above)
  • Our snake book project
  • Whenever an occasion comes up (and we take advantage of every holiday) to make someone a card or write a thank you note, I have my son make a card and copy a note in it.
  • My son also knows I’m available if he wants to dictate a story or letter for me to write for him, but so far, we’ve only done this once.

I hope this helps you think about how you can teach reading in a relaxed and eclectic manner! 

December 19, 2012

Our Mid-Year Homeschool Update

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember my Back to Homeschool post in early September and my Back to Homeschool Update in early October. I thought I would follow those up with a “mid-year review” of sorts.  I’m not going to repeat much of what I wrote in those posts, which had a lot to do with how we homeschool or at least how I “planned” our homeschool.  I’m just going to say that I think we’ve been off to a very good start!  This Fall season has gone very well, and I haven’t changed too many of my strategies, so I must have hit upon just the right amount of homeschooling for us.  (I want to emphasize that because I think every homeschool family’s schedule is going to be different to meet the needs of the unique individuals in that family!)

I have relaxed in a few ways, however:

  • I no longer wake up the boys in the mornings. I let them sleep as late as they want, which can be quite late sometimes (usually 8~9 am, but once in awhile 10!)  As I mentioned before, we tend to be night owls and late sleepers in this family.  I didn’t necessarily want to change that, but when we started our new homeschool routine in September, I felt I needed to get us up and started at least by nine.  The purpose was simply to make sure that we got the ball rolling on the homeschooling, and I didn’t want our afternoon free time to be cut short.  After I saw that my son very easily adapted to doing “school” in the mornings, and he has always been willing to do the lessons, I didn’t feel it mattered anymore if we started exactly at nine.  And we always seem to have plenty of time for afternoon appointments and play time. If we need to get up earlier, I don’t have problems with that either. (I know…I’m a spoiled mama!)
  • I mentioned before how I wasn’t sure how to work in book time, but that worry has now passed.   First of all, I don’t worry about reading books everyday. We’ve spent plenty of mornings reading through library books. I don’t need to schedule it because it just happens, especially when I can’t think of something else to work on!
  • I still have not been able to go back to my regular routine of a weekly cleaning day.  I had wanted to dedicate one day a week to cleaning like we did last year, but we have been busy (and having fun!), so that hasn’t happened. We do have cleaning days, but instead of a regular, weekly day, it’s whenever mama decides enough is enough and this pigsty has to be cleaned!

As a recap, I will list some of the posts I’ve written since September specifically related to how we’ve been homeschooling this fall season.  But please note that if you want more specifics, I have recently updated my comprehensive Table of Contents that you can find in the header. I have tried to break it down into categories that I think you may be most interested in. (Please let know if I can do anything to make my site more user friendly.)

As always, I have a lot I want to write about, and as I find the time, I’ll do so.  (UPDATE: Most of this is posted, so click away!)

Thank you for sticking with me and following my blog. I have TRULY enjoyed the e-mail conversations I have had with some of you. It’s such a pleasure to get to know other mamas who love their children as much as I love mine!  I hope you are having a wonderful winter break.

November 8, 2012

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Teaching About the Weather

Like the solar system, the weather was one other subject I decided to introduce to my son to last year.  All others (besides reading and math) were child-initiated.  For this, I mostly relied on books from the library and our own book collection (see below for list of books).  For our initial lesson, I stuck to an easy topic: the water cycle.

  • I don’t do this often, but I printed out some coloring pages for the boys about the water cycle at Kid Zone Science (scroll to bottom of page for links to worksheets).  If I use worksheets and coloring pages sparingly, the boys seem to like it.  (In general, they have not liked coloring books or drawing with crayons very much, but it does happen occasionally.)
  • After explaining the water cycle to my then five-year-old, we boiled some water on the stove and watched the steam rise: water vapor!  Then I took a glass of ice water and held it over the steam until it started to condense: rain!
  • We also made a weather chart, and we kept track of the weather for one week.  My son wanted to make another chart and keep going.

{Unfortunately, that never happened, and as we were studying clouds, I began to take pictures of cloud formations and had the idea to make a chart about that. Again, this didn’t happen.  Maybe it will someday, or maybe it won’t. That’s okay. Now I’ll leave it up to my son to continue his study of the weather.}

  • Again, at the time, my son began to get interested in the weather, specifically about hurricanes and tornadoes.  He checked out several books on these topics at the library and wanted me to read them to him.  I also let him watch some footage about hurricanes on YouTube, and now he definitely doesn’t want to be in one!  (You’ll have to decide what is age-appropriate viewing for your child. My son seems to look at natural phenomena with a scientific mind, and they don’t scare him as much as it would have scared me as a child.)
  • We also watched a cool YouTube video about weather balloons (“High Altitude Weather Balloon Launch”), and my son wanted to make a pretend one.
  • After his pre-K graduation last spring, my mother-in-law wanted to get him a gift for a congratulatory present.  He asked for a weather station!  It was on our back deck rail for quite a while until our new dog chewed it to bits. :(  My son liked checking the temperature and rain level everyday, so I may get him a better thermometer and rain gauge at some point.
  • We also had a bonus when we visited the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago this past summer.  My son picked “Tornado Alley” to watch in their Omnimax theatre.
  • And, of course, we’ve had our lessons reinforced in classes at the Sandy Creek Nature Center in Athens, Georgia.

As you can see, all of my lessons are pretty easy.  I don’t rely on a curriculum.  I pick topics I think I should cover (that he would like) from a typical course of study for his age range.  I use library books, YouTube, worksheets if they seem to help, and then I let serendipity take its course. 

Having a brief lesson at home has helped my son understand and process these topics when we’ve found other ways to learn about them: in his classes, at the museum, on T.V. or new books that might otherwise not have gained his attention.

Teaching this way has not been a stress on me, and so far, I haven’t lost my child’s interest in learning, which is most important to me!

Here’s a list of books my son has enjoyed listening to me read:

  • Hurricanes, Simon, Seymour
  • Hurricanes! Gibbons, Gail
  • Tornadoes, Simon, Seymour
  • Scholastic’s The magic school bus wet all over : a book about the water cycle, Relf, Patricia
  • Weather words and what they mean,  Gibbons, Gail
  • I Can Read About: Weather, Supraner, Robyn
  • How does the sun make weather? Williams, Judith (Judith A.)
  • Thunderstorms, Sipiera, Paul P.
  • Lightning, Herriges, Ann
  • Down comes the rain, Branley, Franklyn Mansfield
  • The Magic School Bus: At the Waterworks, Cole, Joanna
  •  Clouds, Rockwell, Anne
  •  All the colors of the rainbow,  Fowler, Allan

What have you used to teach your children about the weather?

November 4, 2012

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Teaching the Solar System

There are a couple of subjects that I’ve been meaning to write about for over a year: how I taught my son about the solar system and the weather (which I’ll post soon).

Though I do child-led learning, I see nothing wrong in introducing some subjects to him.  When I consulted a list of what kids typically learn in Kindergarten, I saw the solar system was one of them.  I think it’s a fun subject for little kids. (My son was 4 ~ 5 years old when we did this.)

My philosophy is to introduce the topic to them and then let it go where it may.  They may not take it any farther.  They may want more information.  Or maybe they won’t seem interested, but a few months later, they’ll see something that makes them remember what you taught them, and they’ll have more questions about it.

I was also prompted to teach my son about the solar system because my step-mother told me she got him A Moon In My Room for a birthday gift.  I didn’t think he would completely understand what it was unless I gave him some reference for it. I think he was about four-years-old when we did this.

Prior to my lesson, the only introduction he had to outer space were the few episodes on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in which Mickey and his friends take a trip into space.  I think that helped him.

For my initial lesson, all I did was print some graphics off the Internet and laminate them, and I also used a box of space cards I had picked up for $1 at Target.  (Found a bunch of those in their dollar section once, and they have proved useful!)

It’s been a long time, so I’m afraid I cannot remember the exact words I used to tell my son about the solar system.  We refer to our globe frequently, and since he had seen Micky fly into the outer space, it wasn’t hard for him to grasp.

I laid the cards on the ground with the sun in the middle, and then I put the planet cards around it in order.  Then we walked around the sun card just like the planets orbit the sun, and we may have read a bit about the planets and space on the backs of the cards.

Little did I know, this would spark an interest in the solar system for my son.  He asked questions, wanted to check out many library books, and (much later) came up with his own project!  See below.

Following my short and sweet lesson, my son’s knowledge about the solar system has been increasing in a long and meandering way. (See Learning is like a Chain Link Fence.). We’ve done the following:

  • Checked books out from the library.  There was a time all my son wanted to do what look at books about the planets.
  • Looked up question(s) on the Internet. I think once my son wanted to know what was inside Jupiter.
  • Checked out the discovery box at the Sandy Creek Nature Center.
  • We happened to get bonus lessons about the solar system in my son’s knee-high naturalist class, and we got to go into their star dome. (And now we can’t wait to visit their new planetarium!  We have visited it, and it’s awesome!)
  • We’ve taken nighttime walks and gazed at the stars. We also bought a telescope for him at his request for Christmas, but *ahem* we don’t really know how to use it yet.
  • Now the subject doesn’t come up much, but occasionally I’ll send him an e-mail about space exploration, if I think he’ll like it. (The Curiosity Rover on Mars is providing some interesting photographs!)
  • I’ve saved the best for last.  Last year out of the blue, my son thought it would be a good idea to make the planets out of paper and hang them along a doorway of our activity room.  They are still hanging there.  This summer when my mother-in-law came to visit, my son could point to each paper planet and name them from memory.

Learning about something as vast as the solar system is most certainly a subject one could spend a lifetime on.  I don’t know if my son will continue to explore astronomy, but he has certainly made that first link in his chain of learning.

Here are a list of books we’ve enjoyed reading:

  • The Planets in Our Solar System, Branley, Franklyn M.
  • Solar System, A Golden Book
  • The Moon Book, Gibbons, Gail
  • The Sun, Spangenburg, Ray
  •  What Makes Day and Night, Branley, Franklyn M.
  • Mercury, Adamson, Thomas K.
  • Mars, Chrismer, Melanie.
  • The Big Dipper, Branley, Franklyn M. & Coxe, Molly
  • Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations, Mitton, Jacqueline

Please stay tuned. In my following posts I’ll talk about the discovery boxes the Sandy Creek Nature Center, how we’ve learned about the weather, some places we’ve been, how to make a terrarium and more…!

What have you used to teach the solar system to your children?

{Update January 2013: My son has continued to learn about the solar system and space exploration in a variety of ways, and recently he has had an interest in rockets!  First, he asked for a rocket for Christmas, and he got a small set of all the U.S. rockets. Then, we started a rocket project, but I’m not sure where it’s going to go.  We’ve read more books (just go to your library!), and right now we’re watching The Planets, a series about space on Netflix.  There’s also a series on the space missions, which we’re planning to watch. He also enjoyed watching this video of a tour of the international space station.}

October 21, 2012

Post Script: Using E-mail in Home Education

When I wrote my last column on using e-mail in our homeschool, I didn’t realize how beneficial one aspect of it would be, so I thought I’d add a little more about that.

What I’m referring to is sending my six-year-old articles that I find on the web that he might be interested in.  Sometimes my husband finds them too.  Mostly these are science-related articles having to do with animals because at six-years-old, that’s something he can wrap his head around.  The articles always have photos, and my son likes for me to read the text.

Sometimes I put it in more simple language, if I feel that is necessary, but sometimes I read it just as it’s written.  Even if some of it goes over his head, if he’s interested, it’s a good way for him to build his vocabulary and hear how articles are written.  Sometimes he asks me the meaning of a word, or we might do a google search for more photographs of the subject.  Perhaps in the future, these articles will spark an idea for a longer-term project!

I should also mention that we watch a lot of educational television, so my son is used to some of this scientific language and imagery.  If you want to try this, you’ll have to judge for yourself what you think your child is interested in and ready for.  You might want to experiment!

Here are some recent articles that my son received from my husband and me.  Feel free to snatch the link and show them to your children!

Feel free to leave more ideas on how to use e-mail or other technology to spark a child’s interest in learning.  As I come up with more ideas, I’ll be sure to share them with you too.  Thanks so much for reading my blog.

September 7, 2012

Back To Homeschool

a rare photo with me in it

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.

As you read this, I’ll be in the middle of my first official week of homeschooling my son.  We have been homeschooling for the past few years, but now that he has turned six, we’re required by law to declare our intent to homeschool.  I’ll also have to submit attendance forms once a year starting at the end of this year.

The law recently changed, so all homeschoolers in Georgia will be reporting directly to the Department of Education (GaDOE) instead of their local school district. The GaDOE has some simple online forms on their website, and the other night it took me less than five minutes to submit my declaration of intent online.  It could not have been easier.

Some homeschoolers are not happy with the online form because it requires us to give our child’s birthdate while the law states that we only have to report our child’s age.  I’ve heard through the grapevine that the GaDOE should be updating their form to reflect this, but that remains to be seen.

Currently the attendance form is a monthly form instead of a yearly form.  I e-mailed the GaDOE to ask about that, and I was told they would be changing it to a yearly form shortly.  (UPDATE 9/6/2012: I checked the GaDOE website, and a yearly form has been posted.)  I’m not surprised that since this is all new there are some kinks to smooth out.  In recent years there have been over 107,000 homeschooled students in Georgia, so the GaDOE will probably hear from some unhappy families, if not.

For me, now that my form is turned in, it’s an exciting week.   I’ve been telling my son that “school starts next week,” but after clarifying that I meant “home school” and not real school, he didn’t seem too impressed.  Perhaps it’s anticlimactic because as a homeschooler, he’s always in school.  We do a lot of educational activities that he thinks is just plain fun.

Starting anew is more for me as I once again begin to keep track of exactly what he’s doing and plan a more structured routine.  We had a nice routine last year, and I had planned to keep it going through the summer, but as a friend said to me, the summer has it’s own “time sucking vortex,” and I decided we needed a break from all things planned.  More than that, I needed a break from keeping track of how my son’s natural curiosity moves us through most topics in a typical course of study for his age.

The most important subjects we’ll tackle are reading and math.  We’ll start the morning off with either a reading or math lesson.  At six years old, my son is still pretty squirmy and more interested in playing, but I think he’s old enough to understand that we have to get things done.

After a formal lesson, we’ll spend most of the morning on a project that will be multi-disciplinary.  As he gets older he’ll be able to pick his projects, but for now, I’m directing most of them.  I think he’ll like my choices, though, especially a project we’ll be doing on ants, and I’ll be sure to write about it when we’re all finished.

There will also be days that we go to science classes or spend an afternoon with friends.  Field trips with daddy are sure to happen, and both my boys will learn the basics of housekeeping and shopping.  That’s a side effect of homeschooling, but a good one.

We’ll also get back to doing book time, library visits, and I’ll try to throw in a short and easy preschool lesson for the three-year-old.  It’ll be a challenge to get anything done with my littlest boy present, and I really don’t know how any of this will pan out.

The three-year-old loves to draw, so I’m hoping he might be satisfied with a little box of art projects he can do while I’m working with my older son.  I’m also hoping to teach him how to use a gentle touch with our iPod Touch, which was a handy, educational tool that my eldest mastered at two years old.  For some reason, my younger son is all thumbs with it, but I’ve noticed he’s gotten better lately.

I’m sure there will be bumps on the road, but hopefully we’ll settle into a routine like we did last year.  Now that we’re official homeschoolers, it will definitely be a test for mama to see if this lifestyle will be worth the effort.

Please come back and I promise to tell you how this homeschooling journey turns out!  Meanwhile, please share your “back to homeschool” stories in the comments section.

June 16, 2012

A Homeschool Pre-Kindergarten Graduation

{Part 3 of Recording A Homeschool Student’s Progress: The Homeschool Portfolio} {Free print out}

So after my practice year, recording everything we did, and completely changing my mind about my son’s grade level, I wanted to wrap it all up with a graduation celebration.

Why a graduation for “pre-kindergarten”?

The main reason I did this was because I wanted my son to feel a sense of accomplishment.  But more than that, I didn’t think he completely understood what his “homeschool” was all about.

He knows he’s being homeschooled, and he even tells other people this.  He understands that many kids “go to school,” and I think he has a rough sense of what school is through television and books we read.  He also knows that those short, formal reading and math lessons are “school.”  But what I’m sure he didn’t know is about all the other stuff:

(Note: If I don’t have a link to a post on these topics yet, I plan to write them in the future.)

For a while, I had planned not to tell him that these things were “schoolish.”  He loves everything, and he’s naturally curious!  I didn’t want to spoil the fun.  But then I realized that he should be commended for his natural curiosity, and he should know that all this cool stuff….Yay! It’s school!  And I hope that because of that, commemorating the end of the year will somehow motivate him to get through the stuff that isn’t as fun like those reading and math lessons.

The second reason I wanted to do the graduation was because I wanted to showcase my son’s accomplishment’s to our family, and I hope that this will soften any concerns they may have about homeschooling.

There was also a third reason to do the graduation, but I didn’t realize it until after it was over: Having a graduation for my son and our family was the best way to get me to summarize what my son accomplished and showcase it in an interesting way.  In turn, this was the best way to teach me what I should be doing for our future record keeping!

I prepared three things for the graduation:

  • A progress report such as the Georgia law requires for a homeschooled child after the age of 6.  (Note that this progress report is for your records only.  You do not have to submit it to anyone.)  This report was about six pages long (bullet lists for each subject, and I used the “course of study” list to know what to highlight).
  • A 15-minute slideshow of photographs that I took of many of the workbooks, artwork, games, projects, classes and outings my son did as he worked through a typical course of study for a preschooler and kindergartener.
  • A completed “pre-kindergarten” course of study certificate  (For a free, blank pdf of the certificate that you can use for your own needs, click here: Completed Course of Study Certificate)

On the morning of the graduation, I put these out in our living room:

  • Various projects (posters, books etc) that my son had done throughout the year.
  • The portfolio or 3-ring binder with all the goodies I mentioned in my record-keeping post.

But ultimately I realized that all anyone would ever look at would be the progress report and the slideshow.  So this is what I learned about my record keeping:

All I used to write the progress report was my photographs and my blog’s Table of Contents.  That’s it!  (UPDATE: Upon greater reflection, I realize that I do use my charts/summary on occasion to help me write blog posts, however.)

I didn’t need to consult my beloved charts or that lengthy summary I wrote every week.  So was it all a waste of time?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I’m glad I have them because if I had to, I have plenty of evidence of our daily work.  It also fills out his portfolio quite nicely, and it makes a really nice keepsake.

Will I continue using the charts and weekly journal?  I’m sure I’ll use the charts.  They help keep my own peace of mind since I’m not using a curriculum.  As for the weekly journal, I may not be as diligent about that now that I know I probably won’t use it much, but I think I’ll try to keep it up because it, too, gives this homeschooling mama peace of mind.

In conclusion

You must think I’m a maniac especially in the light of the fact that in Georgia, we do not have to keep portfolios and we only need to write a progress report and keep it for our own records for three years!  (Same with the standardized tests that Georgia homeschoolers are supposed to take every three years starting in the third grade.)  Even if I were to put my son in public school at some point, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will ever review these materials.  From what I’ve heard from other homeschoolers, schools test a child and place him/her where they think he/she should go.

Yet I do it because 1) perhaps I am a maniac, 2) it’s how my mind works – I’m a writer and organizer on paper, and I only wish my house were as organized, and 3) for me, it’s important to teach my son goal-setting and let him feel the reward of accomplishment and also show his family what he’s done.  In short, it’s all about having peace of mind about this homeschooling journey.

June 15, 2012

Graduating to Kindergarten or 1st Grade?

{Part 2 of Recording A Homeschool Student’s Progress: The Homeschool Portfolio}

In my last post I listed all the ways that I kept track of my son’s homeschool this past year from June 2011 – May 2012.  In June 2011, I wrote a post stating that I had an official kindergartener, and indeed, we completed a course of study for a Kindergartener this year.

But last month, in May 2012, I completely changed my mind about his grade level, and I’ve decided to consider him a Kindergartener again in this coming year.  Why?  The simple answer is that if he were going to public school, he would be entering Kindergarten this fall because his birthday is so close to the cut-off date.  (I wouldn’t want him to be the youngest child in the class, and I’ve read much on this subject and spoke to a Kindergarten teacher at his would-be school who agreed with this decision.)

In many ways it’s silly for me to give his grade level any thought at all, especially since we’re homeschooling.  I believe grade levels are arbitrary, and children should be educated at their own personal level otherwise you’ll risk losing that spark they have for learning.  So why am I labeling him as a Kindergartener?

  • Frankly, and perhaps it’s not a good reason and you can argue with me, but I’m doing it for the rest of the world.  It’s how our society works at this time, and I want our family and friends to be able to understand where my son would be if he were in school.  I think they’ll be more comfortable with our homeschooling that way, and as my son gets older and has to answer other people’s questions, it may help him be more comfortable with the rest of the world.
  • Second, I worry that if I call him a 1st grader, I may push him too hard this year.  I always have to remind myself how old he is and how far ahead he is – I don’t need to worry or push him.  Keeping it as it would be if he were in school will keep me on an even keel!
  • Third, it’s much easier (and more impressive) for us to say he’s a Kindergartener doing mostly 1st grade work than to say that he’s a 1st grader but he may not be up to that level in some areas.

So I’m saying he’s a Kindergartener, but let’s not lose sight of the fact we’re homeschooling!

  • We will teach at his level in an engaging manner until he gets the concept!
  • He won’t have to worry about grades, and he won’t even know what they are.  Mama will know what he knows.
  • He won’t have to worry about tests.  (Except for a few required by law.)
  • We (our whole family) will explore the world together, and learn together.
  • We will have awesome conversations, quality time together, less stress, and plenty of time for weird, spontaneous science experiments.
  • No one is going to kill his passion for asking bizarre questions and taking off on tangents that might not have been in our original plan.
  • He’s a Kindergartener doing 1st grade work!

In my next post, I’ll write about why I decided to do a pre-K graduation and how it helped me understand what I’ll truly need for our record-keeping.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 312 other followers

%d bloggers like this: