Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Annabeth's First Day of Kindergarten

Today is Annabeth's First Day of Kindergarten.

Many of you may be thinking...
It's only July!
What about summer break?!
She is only 4! She cannot be ready for Kindergarten!
You are not even a trained teacher. How can you teach her?

I will answer those questions (and more!) here:

-- Why today? It's only July!
We have been out of school since mid-May and 8 weeks seems to have been a long enough summer for Annabeth. She has been asking to return to formal school for weeks now.
I have found, by starting late July/early August, the past few years that it helps our family schedule. This allows us lots of days before we seem to get really busy in October and need some time off. It also allows us to take Mark's days off from work (often Mondays/Tuesdays because of the holiday schedule) off from school as well.

-- What about summer break?! What have you been doing all summer?
As I mentioned above, we have been out of school for 8 weeks. She has enjoyed two months of pure summer!
In June, we celebrated Owen's first birthday and Annabeth's third dance recital. We have enjoyed our summer outside. Annabeth loves her pool, the sprinkler, and water table. We have been visiting different parks and pools. We have been playing with friends and enjoying lots of time with family.

-- Did you do any school this summer?
We have taken a break from formal school since mid-May. That being said, we have been doing lots of fun handwriting practice, puzzles, outdoor science things, and we have been reading SO much! Annabeth has logged nearly 25 hours for the library's summer reading program since the first week of June. We have also really enjoyed reading through one of our Children's Bibles. Last night we read one of my favorite stories about the woman who gave her two coins, all that she had. We look forward to continuing to read it until we finish.

-- Why Kindergarten? She is only 4!
That is true. She is only 4 BUT she has an early fall birthday and falls within two months of the cut-off date (Aug. 1 here in Indiana)
We did two full years of preschool and one full year of Pre-K at home. She has logged nearly 425 official homeschool days. When I looked at a second year of Pre-K it just seemed like we would be repeating what we have already done. While I understand the importance of review, I also want to challenge her. One of the major benefits of homeschooling is that I tailor what I teach to what she needs/wants to learn right now. I don't have to worry about a classroom filled with children or what other children are/aren't able to do - I just focus on what Annabeth can do. I can teach exactly what she needs to know next and we can work on it all in her own time and at her own pace.

-- Are you using a curriculum?
Yes. And no.
We are using AOP Horizons Kindergarten Health, Math, and Reading/Phonics.
We are using Little Keepers of the Home for lifeskills.
I will add in art, history, music, and science from other sources.

-- What if she isn't ready for 1st grade at the end of this year?
This is a question asked by people who were raised/are raising their children in brick and mortar schools. Grades are assigned in school to group children together by age so that teachers have one age group within their classroom. Within each grade, each classroom, there is a wide range of abilities. Student "A" may be in 3rd grade because they are 9 but may read at a 5th grade level and do math at a 2nd grade level but are still in grade 3. We will follow that same guideline in our home - she will move from grade to grade but the work we do will be based on ability. That being said, I understand the importance at keeping her as close to "grade level" as I can in the event that she does transition to a brick and mortar school at some point.

-- What are the advantages of continuing to educate Annabeth at home?
We have seen so much progress in Annabeth! We love to teach her and we love to learn alongside her. We love the family aspect of homeschooling and that we are all four able to learn and grow together. We pray that in their years at home together, Owen and Annabeth will develop a special, deep bond.
Annabeth is creative, energetic, excited, hands-on, and has a difficult time focusing while sitting still. Annabeth also takes time to warm up to certain things and likes to have lots of time to think about things. She likes to work through things on her own. She prefers to create in the morning and to focus on more serious things (like math or bookwork) in the afternoon. We feel that Annabeth has such a special, sensitive spirit and we do not think that a classroom setting would be ideal. We worry that the wrong teacher might misunderstand her or take away the things that we think are so special about Annabeth.

-- You are not a trained teacher? How will you teach advanced math and science?
Correct. I am not a trained teacher. I have a BA in Psychology. During college, I worked at a Vietnamese after school program and subbed in public and private schools. Other than that, none of mys schooling or work experience is in the classroom. That being said, I am not attempting to run a school classroom. I am running a homeschool.
As for teaching advance math and sciences, that is MANY years in the future. We do not know where God will lead us between now and then. All we know is that right now, this year, we feel that our family should still be learning at home. We will worry about the rest as it comes.

All in all, I am SO excited four our FOURTH year of homeschool!
I have really enjoyed teaching pre-school and am looking forward to being a Kindergarten teacher this year!
I am thankful that our children are spaced enough that we will have one more year of just Annabeth doing formal school before I have both of them doing formal schoolwork. I am also excited to have a year off from teaching formal pre-school! I think I will be better for it when Owen begins 2-year-old preschool next fall.

We are so thankful for the family and friends in our life who are excited and supportive of our decision to homeschool. We thank God daily for the blessing of being a homeschooling family and for the wonderful support we receive from the homeschool families that we are friends with.

First Day of School Picture.
We love watching our little tree and little girl grow together!
Annabeth is so happy in her new dress from our first back-to-school shopping trip.
Both Mark and I grew up going back to school shopping with our Grandmothers 
and enjoyed taking her together this year :) 

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