Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kindergarten, Year 0 and Charlotte Mason

What to do, what to do? That is the question.
I've been reading, researching, thinking, praying and meditating about my daughter Emi and what kind of curriculum I should follow for her this next year. She is 5.5 right now and will turn 6 shortly before we start our next school year, so technically she would be Kindergarten age, but she has already completed the majority of Kindergarten requirements that a public school would teach her and has been through all of the books suggested in Year 0 on Ambleside. On the other hand I don't really feel comfortable throwing Year 1 work at her because I don't feel that she has the maturity to handle all of it. And the thought of having 2 in Year 2 and 1 in Year 1 next year with a new baby is not overly appealing.
So after much debating I think I have hit upon a curriculum that will be challenging to her but not discouraging and definitely doable for me.
I also am confident that this is what Miss Mason would have suggested as well.....wait a minute, I guess she already did!

First she has given us an entire book full of ideas (Home Education) and she also compiled a list of attainments that help bring into focus specific goals for a Kindergarten child. (You can find this list and other ideas for implementing at Ambleside under curriculum Year 0.)

And then she set out this excellent list of guidelines to help us along the way. Here is how I will be putting it into practice for Emi in our home. I will be starting her first term in a couple of weeks officially since that's when Tom and Ali will be starting Term 3 of Year 1.

I have added supplemental reading from Charlotte Mason's Home Education book for extra support, help and encouragement for anyone interested.


1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns
Pretty basic here, I'm letting her pick out the poems and we a hymn or two everyday so we may work on being able to recite some as well.

Spread out through a year this would mean 2 poems and 2 hymns each term so nothing too overwhelming.

vol. 1, pg. 222-224

2. To recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable & a psalm

Miss Mason encourages memorizing out of the book of Mark and I have picked out Mark 4:1-9 and Psalm 1 for Emi.

vol. 1, pg. 222-224

3. To add & subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters

Emi has been learning these just from using manipulatives and such so this isn't a big deal we will just focus more on it. I will be starting her slowly in Ray's Arithmetic and she joins Ali and Tom in our Family Math games.

vol. 1, pg.253-264

4. To read - what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child

We have already begun this using a mixture of CM methods, Reading Reflex and Ruth Beechick. She is progressing well although not fast enough to suit her eagerness so I will be stepping this up to being daily work instead of sporadically.

vol. 1, pg. 199-222

5. To copy in print-hand from a book

Right now we are working on one letter at a time concentrating on producing perfect work. Later we will start with short copywork pieces. I will be using Penny Gardner's Italics Beautiful Handwriting as a guide.

vol. 1, pg. 159-160 & pg. 233-240

6. To know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows

We will continue to talk and use compass terms while out of doors, she will also be keeping a weather/nature calendar throughout the year. I will be purchasing a compass for all of the kids to experiment with and learn how to use, I was also thinking of making a wind sock together and posting on on of the fence posts.

vol. 1, pg. 74-77

7. To describe the boundaries of their own home

Pretty self-explanatory here but I'll be re-reading what Charlotte had to say about this.

vol. 1, pg. 77

8. To describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach

Make weekly trips to the aboretum, and other local nature sites and trails.

vol.1, pg. 48-50

9. to tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early American, and 3 from early Roman history

I will be reading to her from some different history books although I haven't quite nailed down which ones but will probably be On the Shores of the Great Sea by M.B. Sygne.

vol. 1, pg. 279-295

10. to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views

Continue to take walks and use the approaches to increasing attentiveness that Miss Mason talks about.

vol. 1, pg. 45-48

11. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them

vol. 1, pg. 51-56 & pg. 62-65

12. to do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees

13. to know 6 birds by song, color and shape

We have been making bird lapbooks recently which has allowed each child to focus on learning more information about their favorite backyard birds. We also keep our bird feeders filled and watch and discuss the birds that come every morning. Emi is very good at picking up and imitating bird songs so I will continue to expose her to individual songs and we will be keeping an attentive ear while outside.

vol. 1, pg. 59-62 & 89-92

14. to send in certain Kindergarten or other handiwork, as directed

I'll be starting her on some plastic canvas work and then moving on to crosstitch, knitting, and hand sewing over time.

vol. 1, pg. 315-316

15. to tell three stories about their own "pets" - rabbit, dog or catThis one should be interesting considering that we have no pets right now! My husband and I have agreed that a large family in a small house living in town can do without pets, but I might have to reconsider this and see if we can come up with a compromise:) I'm thinking of ordering an ant farm kit and we might look into a fish tank.

16. to name 20 common objects in French, and say a dozen little sentences

For our family we have decided to pursue learning Spanish instead of French. I do not learn foreign languages very easily and well so that will help me to be more patient as we learn together.

We have lyric language cd & dvd in spanish and will be purchasing Rosetta Stone for all of us to use.

vol. 1, pg. 80-81 & 301-307

17. to sing one hymn, one French song, and one English song

We will be following the Ambleside hymn list and adding in some other folk songs as well as some French or Spanish songs.

vol. 1, pg. 133 & 314-315

18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observationsWe may end up purchasing this as a kit but hopefully we will catch one this fall!

vol. 1, pg. 59-61

As you can see there is little to no book work mostly just enjoyable fun learning time with some minor direction.

You can read more about what Miss Mason thought about Kindergarten here.

Also here are some great blog posts concerning this list and Kindergarten.

Piney Woods Homeschool

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