We’ve finished our 3rd term for this year and we’re having 2 weeks off. I’ve made a decision to switch to 3-day weeks. Kind of. We’ll spend 3 days doing the more formal stuff (reading, math, writing), and 2 days doing the other stuff like art and music, handicrafts, and playing games. There are a few reasons for this. One is that we never seem to get to the games and puzzles because by the time we finish the other stuff I’m kind of not in the mood. But I think the games are just as important as the formal stuff. Stiggy and I talk a lot during games and puzzles, he’s learning about taking turns, following rules, and gaining math skills, among many others.
Since we’re doing kindergarten for 2 years, I can get away with this. Well, I can get away with it anyway because in England we don’t have any requirements, but I make requirements for myself, just in case the laws change or we were to move. Once we begin first grade, we’ll do 4 days a week. We’ll see after that.
I’ve also changed the length of our terms. Instead of doing 9-week terms, we’ll do 10-week terms. Every 5 weeks we’ll have a break. One week in the middle of the term, and 2 weeks at the end of it.
I think all of this will help make our experience more well-rounded and prevent burn out.
We’ve stopped doing formal lessons from The Road to Reading. Stiggy just hates using this book. He gets really stroppy, slouches, starts sighing, and his attitude is terrible. I’ve noticed that in the past few months, he’s not as keen on reading. He’s not reading things in his environment, and when we discussed it, he told me he doesn’t want to learn to read anymore.
That won’t do.
So, instead of using R2R as a primer, I’ll use it as a guide for myself. I’ve noticed that Stiggy enjoys learning and practising sounds, but he does not yet like to string them together into words very often. So, why not just continue learning sounds? Each week I’ll consult R2R for the next sound Stiggy needs to learn, put it on the wall, then we’ll ‘play’ with it on the chalk board, wipe board, or whatever. I’ll use the list of words to read and create games from them, then use some of the sentences in the reading passages for his dictation (which he still wants to do). We’ll also continue with the Modern Curriculum Press workbook, which he also still wants to do.
I’m also having a look at The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading to see if that may work for us.
Since telling him he doesn’t have to do the reading lessons, I’ve already seen a change. He’s begun reading on his own again, and even chose a few MCP readers to read to me. I really hope this works.
I’ve also changed the way I plan things. Instead of planning from week-to-week, I’m planning, roughly, the entire term. I didn’t have the confidence to do this before (and frankly, I didn’t know how), and I was worried this would put pressure on us. But it won’t. I’ve done it in such a way that we’re not locked in. I’ve created a sort of outline for each subject, divided by weeks. Like this:
-use R2R for sound of the week:
-and for dictation
1. n, o
8. v, w
9. x, y
For handwriting, we’ll go in order.
-count by 5’s
-odd/even (My Missing Mittens) (Internet, number chart, counters, Family Math p.24)
-double (Double the Ducks, Monopoly Jr, Scholastic worksheet)
-days of the week (The Very Hungry Caterpillar & ‘Seven Days Make a Week’ p.52)
-shapes (The Greedy Triangle & library books & ‘Bake me a shape’ p.42) (collage, play doh, concoctions, geoboards, tangrams, pattern blocks, buttons, shapes in real life, at the store, flat and solid, toothpicks and marshmallows, create a puzzle, blocks)
-origami (paper aeroplanes book, open out paper and find shapes, library: 745, poppers, paper cup, snowflake)
-money (coin rubbings, patterns, magnifying glass, HSBI p.70, Monopoly Jr.)
-addition (Animals on Board & ‘Flies for Supper’ p.31) (Abacus, yahtzee, dice, dominoes, car adding, lego, Monopoly Jr.)
But for math, I’ll just choose a topic each week when we’re ready to move on. If something doesn’t get done, we’ll do it another week. If there are things left over at the end of the term, it gets bumped to next term.
Each Friday I’ll print a blank lesson plan sheet and plug in the preplanned lessons, and make any adjustments as needed.
Planning ahead will also help me with purchasing books. I tend to buy what we need as we go, but I often don’t have what we need when we need it. It will also help me to budget better.
This makes so much more sense. Instead of getting out all of my resources every Friday, I can get them out once every term and look for things to cover the entire term, instead of just for the coming week. It does take a while, but it’s going to save me lots of time in the long run.
Another idea that
I stole from was inspired by my friend Lynn is math journals. Now, my dear friend Lynn is journal mad, and at first I thought this was just another journal…but it’s not. Keeping a math journal has real educational benefits and is such a great living math idea that we are definitely going to be doing this. Read more about it here and here. Here are some great ideas for journaling with littlies.