Wednesday marked our very first day of homeschool Kindergarten!! Genny and I have been so excited to jump into “real” school this year, and our first day, while it didn’t always go completely as planned, was lovely. I think it’s safe to say everyone enjoyed themselves – maybe Nora a little bit less…
First Day of Homeschool Kindergarten (with a toddler)
The most challenging thing about our day was having Nora around, hands down. She’ll be 2 in exactly a month, and she wants to be involved in everything whilst doing it her way. Or the highway.
Oftentimes, we choose the highway.
To entertain her, I cycled through some toys and puzzles. I also brought out a sensory box that I’m borrowing from a friend from the shop Mother May I (super cute stuff, check them out!).
As she gets a little more used to me doing school with Genny, I’ll try to do more organized activities with her. Right now, we’re just getting used to the rhythm of things, and Nora’s main job is to play and explore.
I did introduce her to one of her ABC cards that she will be going through this year. She enjoyed it for about 5.4 seconds.
(Here she’s playing with the mushrooms and tens frame that I got from Chickadees Wooden Toys)
This year, we’re using curriculums that I did not create as well as some that I did (try to contain your shock lol). To decide which direction we’d go as far as curriculum, I used a system which I assembled into these How to Choose a Curriculum worksheets so it’s even simpler for you! I describe the process in my post about choosing curriculum.
We’re focusing on 7 subjects: Bible, Language Arts, Math, Science, Art, Social Studies, and Handwriting.
Genny received The Picture Bible and has really enjoyed reading the stories in there, but for “school” Bible, we’re focusing on the Theology and Doxology cards from September and Co Shop. Each card contains a term commonly heard in church and Sunday school with an easy-to-learn definition, a coordinating Bible verse, a doxology (or prayer), and some focus questions to guide discussion.
We’re focusing on the word Grace this month, memorizing the definition, discussing what it means and looks like in relation to Jesus’ sacrifice. We’re also memorizing Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Once her journal comes in the mail (we love these Kids’ Undated Prayer Journals), we’ll also start a Prayer Journal time during school where she’ll practice creating prayer requests and praying on her own. We went through one of these journals last year, and it was such a sweet time to be able to see what was important to her and hear her praying herself.
To start off, we’re reviewing phonograms with this video, and going over some concepts that we didn’t dive into in Preschool, such as syllables, segmentation, phoneme deletion and substitution, etc. While Genny already knows how to read, she needs a bit more support laying down the foundations. (Read how I taught my 4 year old to read here!) I’m using this “Phonemic Awareness” book for some fun games and activities.
After a few weeks, we’ll start First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, a semi-Charlotte Mason style course geared towards 1st and 2nd grade, but mainly focuses on narration, learning basic grammar concepts (nouns, verbs, etc), and independent writing. We’ll stretch it out over the next couple of years, as it is intended to cover two school years. My brother and I actually went through this book with our mom when we were in homeschool!
In addition, Genny will also memorize a poem every month. You can grab my compilation of poems for Kindergarten memorization for free here!
Like I explained in my How to Teach Your Preschooler to Read (Without Really Trying) post, for poem memorization, we spend the first week reading the poem through together, illustrating it, cutting and gluing it into her “school journal”, and circling key vocabulary (last year we circled sight words and sometimes phonograms). In week 2, Genny reads the poem herself, and she starts trying to recite the first lines or verse by memory. We keep this up, taking it verse by verse or line by line, until she can recite the whole thing on her own by the end of the month.
A friend from church had been throwing around the idea of starting a small homeschool co-op, but because our church wasn’t opening it up to us for that, we decided to do our own co-op! She dislikes teaching science, I dislike teaching art, so we decided to pool our strengths and dedicate two Thursday mornings a month to Science and Art.
Our first day of school didn’t include art or science on the schedule, because each day has a different work load (and each week for that matter!). But here’s a pic from this week’s art lesson – the kids are learning about each day of creation per month (Light/Dark in September, Clouds and Oceans in October, etc.), and today my co-teacher taught about the rainbow, so this art lesson fit in perfectly!
Using “Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Style of Great Masters”, we followed the style of Giotto di Bondone by making our own tempera paint from egg yolks and chalk. The kids loved grinding the chalk, then mixing in the gooey egg yolk to thicken the paint!
In our first science lesson on light, we studied how light moves in a straight line and can bounce (reflect), bend (refract), or be absorbed (by opaque objects). This experiment was easy to do with my Light Experiment lab sheets that you can find in the Science Lab bundle here!
I accidentally left Social Studies off of Genny’s school schedule, but that’s partially because art and social studies this year go hand-in-hand. For each art project we do, we will also take a look into the life of the artist! The first one we looked at was Angelico.
Using my Artist Study pages (coming soon to the shop!), Genny was able to easily organize the information we learned about him. Next, we will add both him and Giotto to our artist timeline!
As a kid, I was obsessed with books and reading. I’d devour novels in single sittings, and my parents would revoke my library privileges as a means of punishment for things. Since then, my reading pace has slowed….dramatically. But instilling a love of reading and books in my children is one of my highest goals as their teacher.
I so appreciate the Read-aloud Revival podcast, if you haven’t checked it out then do! Sarah Mackenzie’s encouragement to simply take the time and read out loud daily has spurred me on to include Read-aloud time in our daily homeschool. Of course I read many picture books to the girls throughout the day (I really can’t say no when they bring me a book and ask with those puppy-dog eyes!!), but in addition, we have taken to choosing a chapter book to read together as well.
Last year in preschool, we read Jigsaw Jones: The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster by James Preller, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary, and Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Over the end of spring/throughout the summer we completed Little House on the Prairie as well. Genny fell in love with the Ingalls family and their adventures, and she has picked On the Banks of Plum Creek to be our current read-aloud!
I’ve heard good things about the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, so when I found a secondhand copy of the beginner’s workbook at our local homeschool supply store, I snatched it up. I also found the letter pieces that go with the curriculum, but I think I’ll use that more for Nora next year.
So far, completing a page at a time has been just enough for Genny. She’s not crazy about having to slowly and carefully write each letter the way they should be written, but the practice is good for her, and it’s already improved her handwriting as a whole.
I really dragged my feet on deciding what to do for math this year, but finally when I was feeling too overwhelmed to develop my own curriculum, I purchased The Good and the Beautiful Math 1 curriculum. I’m very happy with this decision, as it seems like the book is going to be fun and engaging, but since we went with a first grade level, I decided to take a month to work on some review.
In preschool, Genny learned to count to 30, count to 100 by tens, add and subtract numbers up to 10, identify greater than and less than values, and label key shapes among other concepts. Based on the placement test from The Good and the Beautiful, I decided to teach/reteach counting by 5’s and 2’s to 100, identifying coins and their value, addition and subtraction, odd/even numbers, and basic clock reading skills.
On our first day of school, Genny worked on my Greater Than/Less Than worksheet, using some manipulative and a dry erase marker.
Ending on a good note
As with most things in life, ending the day on a good note is more important than forcing a bunch of painstaking work into the time you have. Our first day of homeschool was exhausting for Mama, but it was enjoyable for my little Kindergartener, and I call that a win!
Have any questions about starting a homeschooling journey? Share with me by commenting below!
Love, Emily XOXO