I was toying with the idea of skipping the extra year of kindergarten and doing first grade. One reason is that the idea of plugging along exactly as we are did little to excite me. I like a bit of change. I’m also slightly concerned because when his age-mates are finishing school, he’ll still have a year left (by Well-Trained Mind standards, anyway; academically he should hopefully be ahead) since children begin school at 4 in England. Add to that, Stiggy is ready for first grade math, could probably handle First Language Lessons, but he’s not ready for history, science notebooking, or much of the literature selection for first grade. I’ve decided not to worry about him being a year ‘behind’ at this point; we have no idea where we’ll be that many years from now. And instead of just trundling along, we’re going to add some subjects, make a few curriculum changes, and get some new books. We’ll be doing sort of an advanced kindergarten (by WTM standards; he’ll be at or above national curriculum standards for his age).
I’m hoping this year to get through The Ordinary Parent’s Guide. We’ll finish off Modern Curriculum Press Phonics level A and move on to level B. (Level A is quite a big book and there’s quite a difference in ability level between the two, so I’m in no rush to begin the next level) I’m hoping Stiggy will become an independent reader this year. It won’t be a catastrophe if we don’t get there; we’ll keep working on it and move on to first grade.
I’m certainly not going to hold him back with math: we’ll be using Singapore Math 1A and 1B, not kindergarten math. He can count beyond 100, count by 10’s, knows his shapes, understands halves and quarters, is comfortable with a calendar, and understands the concept of addition and subtraction. He’s even done some bar graphing. First grade math should be fun for him.
Stiggy’s really developing a love for science, particularly life science, so we’ll be doing lots of nature study using The Handbook of Nature Study (see my sidebar to read it online for free), living books like The Bee People, the Burgess books, etc. (these and others free online, see sidebar), plus library books, Ranger Rick magazine, and little experiments and projects. Quite unstructured.
As an introduction to history, we’ll be learning about people & places. We’ll study a different country every 5 weeks, locate it on the globe/map, look at the atlas, learn about the culture and language(s), the way people dress, the food they eat, etc; read stories and folktales from that country, learn what the climate is like, maybe read about famous people, and use Hands Around the World as well as The Kid’s Multicultural Art Book. I’m hoping this isn’t going to require as much preparation work as I think it will.
I also need to work on religious instruction. My husband was suppose to do this with Stiggy, and he has done some, but it’s not enough. I’ve got some great resources for that, so I need to formulate a plan.
We’ll be studying Philosophy this year. Yup, philosophy. I’ll be using this book: Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids. I’ve not read it yet, so I’m not sure how it’s done, but I’m quite excited about this one.
We’ll be using Drawing with Children for art, which is recommended for first graders in The Well-Trained Mind. Artistic Pursuits has a kindergarten book, but it’s pricey and it sounds similar to Young at Art, which we used last year. We may also use The Anti-Coloring Book by Susan Striker. I think this will go along well with Drawing with Children. There are several of these, so if they go down well, we can get more.
We’ll also begin some gentle copywork (he does some self-initiated copy work already from time-to-time, but I’m going to assign some, too), advance the narrations and dictation, and do more with memorisation. This year, memorisation consisted mainly of memorising phonics rules, the Arabic alphabet, some prayers, our address and phone number, Stiggy’s birthdate, and other bits and pieces. He’s memorised nursery rhymes and huge chunks of stories on his own. I’m hoping to have him memorise short Qur’an verses, a few little poems, more little prayers, and whatever else seems useful and relevant.
Not sure what we’ll do for handicrafts. We may start a little hand sewing and finger knitting, and continue with cooking and baking. I’d love for him to be able to do woodworking; I need to see if there’s something like that in our area.
PE: Still trying to find a martial arts class for him. The one place I found only takes students over aged 8, and the other place was really expensive (£7 per class!). He’s going to try a wrestling class and we’ve got some other ideas we need to look into. We’ll continue with yoga and just keep generally active and playful. Stiggy doesn’t sit around much, so it’s not really an issue.
Poetry and music will continue as before, just enjoying them without ‘studying’ them.
I’m really excited about our next year. I’ve started ordering a few books, so I’ve got a lot of reading and planning to do to get it all ready for September (as well as the planning I’m doing for first grade). It’s going to be Ramadan then, and I’ll be fasting, so we won’t be doing all subjects that month (and wouldn’t be even if it weren’t Ramadan), but I want it all planned and ready to go. In September we’ll focus mostly on religion, reading, handwriting, and math, then slowly add in more subjects.
That’s the plan. I’m sure it will change quite a bit.