We're now into our second week of "big kid school," as my not-so-big littles like to call it. They were unbelievably thrilled to start "formal" education. Little Man started reading lessons last June, but this is The Real Thing.
This year will be especially laid back. We sit down together every weekday, but that's primarily because my children would be inconsolable otherwise -- there was almost a mutiny when I explained that we don't do school on Saturdays! We do our work in the early afternoon, because that's when Laddie takes his nap. It's more peaceful that way, even though I'd prefer to have everything done in the morning.
Now that he's graduated from 100 Easy Lessons, Little Man and I are going through the 1st McGuffey reader (My mom passed on the volumes that I used to read as a child). Somehow I overlooked the primer, but he seems to be handling the 1st reader quite well. We'd encountered some difficulties back in June/July, but fortunately a little break seems to have helped with that. It's been very low stress, and he is gaining confidence with his reading.
These Melissa and Doug pattern blocks are a new favorite, and I'm using them as a substitute for the manipulative set for Saxon K. I probably should have started with the first grade Saxon curriculum, because Little Man has already mastered many of the concepts -- but we'll focus on the material that's new to him and probably finish the book early.
Rosa has been showing interest in and aptitude for reading, so we have now started 100 Easy Lessons together -- so far, so good! If the going gets tough, we'll take a step back; she's not quite four yet, so there is no rush! But as long as she is enjoying it and is mastering the concepts, we will keep going.
Also, the Bible verse sheets (above) have been super helpful. I have a "master checklist" with a checkbox, the verse reference, and the first few words of the verse/passage (mostly for my benefit, if I'm having trouble remembering which verse is which!). There are also empty slots so I can fill in new verses by hand as we add them. Once we memorize a verse, I check it off. I can see at a glance how many we've done. Also, I printed all of our current verses out (in a large font for easy reference), because it's far easier than flipping through a Bible every time we review.
Rosa is doing "preschool" by default, because there is no way I could leave her out -- classic little sibling! Most of her work so far has been some letter-drawing practice and simple worksheets (I love twistynoodle.com, which has a plethora of worksheets that you can customize!). She adores them -- no matter how many I give her, she always asks if there are more. I'm really not much into "busywork" or worksheets, but at this point it keeps her occupied and she is at least getting some practice with shapes, letters, colors, etc. I've noticed that her coloring has improved already.
And that's it! No complicated lesson plans, no expensive curriculum. The amount of planning on my part will certainly increase as my children grow up, but right now it's pretty basic. I would estimate that I've spent less than $50 on all of our educational materials for the year (that may increase if we move on to Saxon 1 before the end of the year), and much of that was spent on materials that will be re-used for Rosa and Laddie in the future.
I was nervous about starting this year, which turned out to be a ridiculous fear. It's Kindergarten, Shannon, not rocket science. Every day that goes by I gain confidence and come up with new ideas for this year (or next year!). Also, I am fully convinced that children benefit greatly from imaginative play, time spent outside, and the like. Even though we have our little lessons together, I feel like they are learning just as much from building with Legos or the little conversations that we have together throughout the day. We always have an audio book/drama on in the car (usually Narnia! I should probably expand our collection...), and that alone has done wonders for their imagination and comprehension. If by the end of the year their love for learning is as strong as it is right now, and we've learned a few concepts along the way, I'll consider the year a success!