Homeschool Review: Week 1

It’s 1pm, Thursday afternoon, which means Kostya and I have finished our first week of kindergarten homeschool. I’ve tried it before, which he was 3.5, and it didn’t work out. In my enthusiasm to get him started and ahead of the game, I had forgotten he was still so small, and while  maybe mentally capable of learning sounds and putting them together, he was not mature enough for lessons, and frankly, at 3 years old, he really didn’t need to learn how to read (even if there were other homeschool moms with reading 3 year olds. Good for them!).

But he’s 5.5 now, and just so much more grown up. There are several children in our neighborhood close to his age, and after hearing about what they do, he’s been begging to start school for months (we’ve talked a bit about the difference between our school and their school, and so far he seems perfectly content in knowing he can stay in his underpants and only have school for an hour and snacks when he wants, as opposed to what their school schedule looks like).

I had told myself after we tried lessons at 3 years that we’d wait until he expressed a desire for school, and so that’s what we’ve done. In the beginning I had such a focus on making sure we completed lessons, that he stayed seated and still and focused, and that we did everything at the same time and ended at the same time that it was such a mess, and we both burned out so fast. This time I’ve made sure to remind myself that with Kostya, being flexible is very important. I need to follow HIS lead, HIS interests, and not let the lessons dictate how fast we go.

I realize it’s just been three days, and that isn’t a lot of time, but every morning he has asked for school and has been as attentive as I could expect an energetic, easily distracted five year old boy to be. We are using Teach Your Child to Read again, and in three days we’ve done the first 16 lessons. It’s gotten a bit tougher now, so when he starts to get a little flustered I ask if he would like to stop for the day or take a break, even if we are right in the middle of the lesson. I don’t want him to dread this, I want it to be enjoyable and empowering for him. The time for sitting still and pushing oneself through difficult lessons will come later.

The only other subject I started this week was writing, using Copybook I from Memoria Press. Writing is proving to be more difficult for him, and we are moving much more slowly. For example, the first page is writing simple capital letters like “T” and “L”. That’s supposed to be one day’s worth of work, but we are having to go so slow that we just finished our third day, and he still hasn’t gotten to the “L” because he only seems to have enough interest in getting through one line of letter copying a day. Still, that’s fine though. I do not have firm plans for this first semester. My main goal is to have him on the road to reading, and other than that it’s time for us to learn about each other in the homeschool setting – finding out his limits, learning discipline, following my instruction, and just getting used to having this as a part of  our daily routine.

We finish the school day with a short bible story. I never know where to start with these, so I’m starting in the beginning. I’m using a children’s bible, so things are broken up nicely and appropriately edited. Each day I ask a few questions about the previous day’s reading, do a short review (because Kostya has inevitably forgotten most of what happened), and then read today’s and answer questions.

Yuri sits with us at the table, and so far hasn’t been a huge distraction. He wanted to nurse most of today, but for the past two days he has been content to sit with us and color in a coloring book (Kostya would have NEVER done this. He is still just not a coloring/craft kind of guy).

Next week I intend to introduce math, using Math U See Alpha. I believe Kostya has an interest and an aptitude for mathematics, so I’d like to see that at work. If that works and we can get a smooth(ish) schedule going, I would eventually like to add in poetry, music, and art before January, but that may be too much. We will see.

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