I received a wonderful e-mail from Andrea last week. Her oldest daughter will be beginning Kindergarten next year. To add to the excitement, her husband will be leaving the military around that same time which means a change in his career and limited finances for a time.
Life can be full of various elements that threaten to rock us. It is no wonder that the Lord desired to leave us peace as our inheritance.
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." ~John 14:27
Peace dear one! He's already got it all worked out. : )
I absolutely loved your e-mail and all of the details! I hope that my responses will bring some measure of help to you.
KNOWLEDGE IS NOT THE FIRST THING
To begin with, I want to encourage you that although determining curriculum is an important issue to discuss and work through, our main objective in kindergarten is to cultivate faith and virtue (which would include Bible instruction, first time obedience and excellence of character). While I am sure that has already been your focus, we can at times lose sight of these original objectives as we add new goals to our plate. This is the foundation in which all future progress will be built.
2 Peter 1:5 states "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge"
We often see our government school counterparts, and sometimes even our peers, placing a greater emphasis on knowledge than character but what does it matter if we gain all of the academic world and lose that sweet spirit that seeks to be virtuous for God's glory?
LOW COST RESOURCES
Q1. What low-cost resources would you recommend that can be used by both my daughter and eventually my younger children that do not have an ongoing expense associated with them? Would it be wiser to spend the money now on phonics/math curriculums and try to make the worksheets "reusable"?
A1. I think you are on to something with your line of thinking. Of course, it is only wise to spend the money if the Lord is providing it. ; ) My first bit of advice would be to ask the Lord for what you need and watch Him provide. It may be that you can borrow resources and try them out before committing funds.
We began using Saxon in Kindergarten because it was given to us by a homeschool mom that was no longer using it. Because I have used it so long, I would encourage you that you could reach the same goal at little cost to you without the book. For example, each day in Kindergarten the student is asked to utilize a calendar to teach the month, year, date and day. Each day you repeat, "Yesterday was _______" Today is ________." Then you use pattern blocks to make designs, counting bears to teach patterns and so on. All things you could probably create on your own using the state standards (see the following answer). : )
As you know, we also use Spell to Write and Read for our intensive phonics program. It is a low cost option that will last for years. The initial investment of the CD, flash cards and books are usable for all of your children. There is also a cost associated with the teacher training. Beyond that, the only new consumable for each year would be a composition book for each student. It may be that your current daughter can read easily and you won't feel that you need the intensive phonics yet. We didn't find we needed it until our "wiz kid" stalled out in spelling and one of our other babes had a harder time reading. Our child that had struggled with a standard spelling program jumped 3 grade levels within about a months time when we switched to SWR. I guess she needed the phonics more than we realized. ; )
I would look into either used curriculum or, for some seasons, even simple grade level workbooks from Wal-Mart depending on funds. : )
A few additional resources I think I would have enjoyed early on are: My Father's World- K; and Evan-Moor hands-on activities : ) You mentioned free resources as well. Free can be wonderful! I would simply suggest that you start with a plan working with both your state standards (see next answer) and a Proposed Course of Study.
Q2. How do I get over feeling that a packaged curriculum is the only way to make sure she isn't missing anything? It sounds silly because I don't believe that is true for other moms--just me :)
A2. Many new teachers feel concerned there will be "holes" in the education they are providing. But do not fear! You do not have to resort to expensive curriculum to feel confident that you are meeting the educational standards of your state. Each state has developed educational standards that be found on line. For example, in California, we can search "ca state educational standards" to find the content standards for our state. Each subject is listed separately and the guidelines are divided by grade level. You can simply open the PDF by subject; print the page(s) you need and use that as a check off list to work with independently. Some examples from California's English Language for Kindergarten would include:
Concepts About Print
1.1 Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
1.2 Follow words from left to right and from top to bottom on the printed page.
1.3 Understand that printed materials provide information.
1.4 Recognize that sentences in print are made up of separate words.
1.5 Distinguish letters from words.
1.6 Recognize and name all uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
This first section you could cover in a single day!
ENGAGING ACTIVITIES... OF DISCIPLESHIP
Q. What else can we do to engage her? She plays with her craft supplies daily, colors, cooks with me, does her chores, plays outside, completes fun workbooks, makes play dough--she just needs more, plain and simple :) She will be 5 1/2 when she starts kindergarten.
A. It sounds like you have a fantastic helper on your hands! I am so glad to hear that you are engaging her in all sorts of profitable things! Also, as her younger siblings get older you will find that you have little need to find ways to occupy her time. : ) If you can handle any additional tasks yourself, maybe these ideas will help:
1. When my olders were little I used to take them to library for once a week story time. We would pack a lunch and eat at library park. I would always pray that God would help us to meet other families that we could minister to. We began asking other moms if they would like to bring their lunches and join us~ and they did! It was neat to get to know different moms and see the Lord work in various ways.
2. Maybe there are ways to serve others in the church during this season. Are there older people in your church body that are lonely and longing for a visit? It may be just the season for such a thing.
3. Maybe there are people that she can make cards or pictures for each week (grandparents, people at church with birthdays, neighbors etc.)?
4. There may be educational software such as Jesus Wants All of Me or Charlie Church Mouse that would meet more than one goal as well. Here is a Christian software review that might help: Christian Children's Software.
I don't want to overwhelm you with more things to do. Be sure to pray and ask your husband. He will know what really fits. : ) My point is really to look for "discipleship" opportunities to utilize the time that is available in this season.
Blessings to you dear one!