Bamboo Sprouts

Ok, this year, we have to get a little more serious!  For Kindergarten, there is no real curriculum.  Last year, we pieced some things together.  Sophie learned to read and add and subtract and such.  Shoes can be tied.  Bikes only have two wheels.  Sophie knows how to make a simple lunch and get her responsibilities (chores) taken care of without my asking twice (and often without my asking once!).  I think overall, things are grand.

But first grade is different.  There is a real plan with real expectations.  So here we go.  This is what we plan to use and to accomplish this year.

This is our Bible of homeschooling.  Pretty much everything we need to know from K-12 is in this book.  It’s a bit intense, and takes some time to figure out (you can see my orange scribble note sticking out there), but I trust that if we follow the guidelines in this book, we will be fine.  Why?  Because every family that we have met who uses this, is amazing.  🙂  This is the newest edition that just came out in May.  It isn’t different, it mostly just includes updated lists of curriculum suggestions so that I am not hunting down discontinued products.

We will continue with Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading this year.  We used it last year as well but havent finished so there are more concepts to learn.  At some point, Sophie took off with reading on her own, but I still want to make sure she gets the “rules” so we will finish with this book this year.  She will also continue to do fun reading of course and there is a lot of reading for History that will become part of reading, although that is beyond her skills (or confidence level…) so will require me to read to her as well.  Last year we used BOB books which I highly recommend and we will use again with our two kindergarteners this year, but Sophie is beyond BOB now.  (20-30 mins a day + fun reading)

For writing, I am in love with this book!!  We started with something else last year but switched at the end of the year to this and I can’t wait to get back into this.  It is written by the author of the Well Trained Mind (our bible of hsing) and so far, I like working with all resources that they have come up with.   (5-20 minutes a day)

For math.  Oh math.  This seems to be the most difficult subject to settle on.  We started with Saxon and indeed we own Saxon k and Saxon 1 so we will continue to some extent with those.  Sophie has not learned time or money yet and I think I will use Saxon with my kindergarteners and include her as well on the topics she needs work on.  BUT, I have looked into this and Singapore is highly recommended for helping them to really UNDERSTAND math instead of just memorizing math.  So I want to give this a whirl.  It is very heavy on word problems and does not include the manipulatives that Saxon includes.  We shall see.  🙂  (30 minutes a day/4 days a week)

Science is broken up into 3 categories.  We will spend about 20 weeks on animals, 10 weeks on human body and 6 weeks on plants (we will use Green Thumbs which I apparently failed to order!).   We may make some of this into unit studies.  I hope to be better about blogging what we are doing this year, so will try to show how we do our unit studies (lap booking).  (60 minutes/2 days a week)

History/Geography will be Ancient Times and again, using some curriculum that the authors of WTM offer.  This is some reading (mostly me reading aloud) and some activities which include coloring pages, worksheets and maps and such.  At the elementary stage of learning, WTM fills the kiddos up with facts.  So we will study each time period while in elementary years and fill them up with facts so that when we study those time periods again in the middle years, they have questions about those facts and by then need more information about the subjects.  Then, in the high school years, they form opinions and learn to express and debate and go a bit more in depth on those same subjects/time periods.  I am over simplifying, but thats the idea anyhow.  (60 minutes a day/3 days a week/1 chapter a week)

For grammar, we will give this a whirl.  It seems above her head to me, but if she is more ready than I think, we will go ahead as suggested.  I have learned that I often underestimate what she is capable of! (15-20 minutes a day)

We area also going to use Spelling Workout A and B  for spelling but I havent ordered the books yet. (10 minutes a day)


Sophie is just dying to learn cursive and in fact has started teaching herself!  So we will work in this cursive book to give her some guidance.  🙂

I think this is the cutest book!  So for some home ec type “work”, we will use this book as our guide.  There are three in the series, this one starts for age 6.  It has activities like learning to use the stove, learning to peel a vegetable, dusting, some basic sewing, hospitality, etc.  This will be quite fun and I know she will love it.  We will do one chapter/activity a week.

We will do memory and character work from books like these. 

I use this series to have a general idea where we should be or what they should be learning.

In addition, they will learn piano, ballet, Kung Fu and of course attend Chinese School again this year.

Last year was rough and lonely if I am honest.  This year, I have two good and nearby friends who are homeschooling as well.  We will have lots o cutie pie Chinese kiddos to teach and field trip and project with!  I couldn’t be happier about this!  Basically, between the three of us, we will have 4 kindergarteners and 2 first graders.  We are all doing things a little differently, but it will be nice to have each other for support and activities.  We hope to do some experiments, unit studies and field trips together and frankly, after last year, I know that just a play and lunch date here and there will be such a treat!

I am now in the process of planning out each subject week by week.  I think we got very lost and off track last year and I want this year to be better planned out.

It’s a lot to fit in to a day so I had to write it all out!

Monday-Thursday will be our school days and those days will look a bit like this.  Fridays we will hit the library for story time and check out and return books.  Unless we get a better offer.  We could just as easily go for a playdate or have a little fun on Fridays.  🙂

8:30-9:30- up, make beds, open curtains, eat, dress, teeth, etc

9:30-9:50-Saxon Math

9:50-10:20- Reading- Ordinary Parents Guide and BOB books

10:20-10:35-Grammar- First Language Lessons and library book list

10:35-10:50-Handwriting without Tears

10:50-11:30- House Help/Free Time- we will do some clean up, laundry, whatever needs doing or if all is done, free play.  Truth is, it should amount to 10 mins of clean up and 30 mins play but we shall see.  😉


12-12:15-piano practice

12:15-12:45-Monday and Wed we will do Art and Tues and Thurs we will do Chinese

12:45-1:15-Monday and Wed we will do Science and Tues and Thurs we will do History

1:15-1:25- Clean up school and such or finish up misc

1:25-2-Tea Party time.  We will have an afternoon snack and do memory work from Shel Silverstein books or read from the virtues book together.  If I am spent for the day, they will listen to classic books on tape while they snack.

2-4- Rest in rooms (yes, they all still nap!)

4-5:30- Free Play

5:30-6- DInner with family

6-8- Family time, games, free play, tv, wii

8-9:30- Prepare for and get to bed- this includes baths, teeth, pjs, books…and additional reading with just Sophie.

In addition to this plan, they are also involved in Chinese school, dance and other activities.

So we shall see if this is possible and we will adjust as needed.   And this is mostly Sophie’s schedule but the little ones will follow along to a point.  They will work on writing letters, math skills (learning to tell time and count money, etc) and such and at the times when they dont have any “work”, they will do additional free play or other projects.  I am not used to being nearly this scheduled but when its broken down like this, it seems do-able really.  🙂  It works out to about 3 hours a day plus extra reading time which I actually think sounds like a lot for Kindergarten considering we are home so not doing the typical recess, lining up, etc that takes up extra time.  Its 3 hours of academics basically.  So if that needs tweaking, we shall soon find out.  🙂  I will keep you posted!

School starts after Labor Day for us.

Well I had nothing to do with the timing of this (LOL) but my nephew, David, got his 4th grade test results today.  David is homeschooled and took the CAT (California Achievement Test) and scored in the 98th percentile!  This means he scored better than 98% of 4th graders nationally.  🙂  Go David and go my sister (and her hubby)!  And look how handsome he is too.  As Sophie would say, he is the whole package; smart and handsome.  We are proud of you David!  🙂  Keep up the great work.

So although we have been planning this for years, I have been a bundle of nerves and have been baffled by all the choices out there!  We discovered The Well Trained Mind when Sophie was about 2 and met an amazing family who used that to homeschool their 4 amazing kiddos so we were pretty set on that plan but it was still daunting.  Well Trained Mind (WTM) is not a boxed curriculum so you have to do some leg work and make some decisions which for some reason has overwhelmed me as a newbie.  LOL  But with the help of my sister and some studying of the book, everything seems to be under control now.  So here is our plan. 

Well Trained Mind is a huge book that is sort of the Bible of classical education.  Classical education follows a trivium model and in a nutshell, there are three stages of learning, each stage being about 4 years.  The first stage basically covers the elementary years and is called the grammar or knowledge stage.  This is the time when kiddos gather up zillions of facts.  The second stage covers the middle years and is called the dialectic or logic stage.  During this time, the same info is covered but they begin to think more analytically about them and fill in the whys of the facts.  The high school stage is called the rhetoric or wisdom stage and during this phase much of the same material is studied again but students learn more critical thinking skills, learn to debate the information and express their views.

For Sophie this year, we are using a combination of K and 1st grade materials.  WTM does not really advocate a K program but the main goal of the Kindergarten year is to get the student reading very well.  Since Sophie is almost 6 and is ready for some 1st grade work, we are going to go ahead and do a mixture of levels to get started.  We are strictly calling this kindergarten though.

Reading-Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading plus the BOB book series and other beginner readers


Writing-Handwriting without Tears 1st grade level

Math-Saxon – we have both the K and the 1st program.  I ordered the K to use with Bella and Levi but there are some skills in there that Sophie doesn’t know so she will work on both as she can.  I have discovered that at least with Saxon, K should really be preK and had I known, we would have done this last year.

 (these are the manipulatives, books should arrive today)

Grammar-First Language Lessons and library book list.  This may be above her head at first but we are going to give it a whirl.

Art-Drawing with Children and I also intend to teach her some misc skills like crochet

(book not in yet)

Science- Biology- Animals/Body and Plants.  We are using the Kingfisher books that are suggested in the 1st grade science section in WTM.  Kingfisher Human Body Encyclopedia, Kingfisher Animal encylopedia and Green thumbs.

(books not in yet)

Music-Private piano lessons and practices.  Sophie has expressed an interest in learning violin but since we already own a piano and piano is a good foundation for other instruments, we will start there.  If she really takes to music, I will be easily persuadable on this issue and she will begin violin lessons.

History-Story of the World #4- very loosly using this.  It is for 4th grade really but again, there is no K program and so this will put us on track to start #1 next year.  So #4 is Modern times and we will choose some people listed to study and check out simple books on these people.  For example, Helen Keller, Susan B Anthony, Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers will be options.

Memory- Shel Silverstein

Virtues- The Childrens Treasury of Virtues

(book not in yet)

Foreign Language- Practice Chinese school (we get cd’s and handouts to practice at home and we will use those materials for this)

Physical Ed- Will include things like ballet, Chinese dance, swim lessons, yoga, wii and normal play.  🙂

Of course young children learn mostly through play so there will be lots of that.  We will play games like the ones below and Uno and such and use blocks and other supplies to make learning fun.  And our lessons are short as you will see when I post our schedule as I am not out to torture anyone quite yet.  😉

Now are you wondering WHEN we are going to do all this??  Because I am!  LOL  So we have a daily schedule that we will try to stick to.  I figure its good to have a plan even if we get off course some.  We will better be able to tell what we need to “make up” when we miss something that way.  And I am keeping in mind that this is KINDERGARTEN.  Not college.  And this is our first time at this.  So we will give it our best shot and adjust as needed.  I will post our actual schedule next.  🙂