Kindergarten At Our Home

I am so excited to officially begin Kindergarten this year at our home with my sweet daughter, Karis, who is now 5 years old. After much prayer, I have made some decisions as to how we will approach this new year. My foremost goal is that my children would love to learn and that our home environment would be a place of joyful learning in all areas of life – from nature play to baking in the kitchen to doing our daily chores. I am passionate that my children would have hearts to know and love the Lord and desire to serve him all the days of their life, so character study and Scripture studies are high on the priority list. But I also desire that these beginning years would be full of good memory work in history, language, poetry, and Scripture memory. These are the years when they can memorize like crazy and retain wonderful truths and facts that can be later drawn out and discussed and applied. In this manner, I am adopting many concepts of classical education in our home (chronological history, memory work, etc) but also seeking to balance it with Charlotte Mason’s encouragement to keep learning fun and simple with a focus on nature, music, poetry, narration, and art.

Phonics – My first goal this year is to get my daughter launched in reading. We have started a few unsuccessful times to begin various Phonics programs this last year, but I soon realized it wasn’t worth it to push it too hard until she was more ready. So, this year we are going to start afresh. I am going to use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Bob Books.

Memory Work – We will be memorizing one short poem each month, a passage of Scripture, importance facts (address, months of the year, etc), and Westminister Shorter Catechism phrases, along with reciting passages of Scripture before bedtime each night. Through repetition and simply reading these things to the kids, they can pick it up so fast. We recently memorized Psalms 23 simply by reading it every night before bed. It took 2 weeks and they had it down. Since we appreciate the approach of Classical Conversations, but have decided not to participate quite yet, we bought the Cycle 1 companion CD with all the memory work set to music. We will listen to this each week and try to memorize along the schedule.

Here is a free download of our Kindergarten memory work for this year (including catechism phrases, verses, basic personal facts and poems).

Bible & Character – We are currently using the ESV Illustrated Bible for our devotions before we start school each morning. This Bible takes specific portions of Scripture directly from the Bible with gorgeous illustrations. It is an awesome way to transition from storybooks to the full Bible. We love to listen to the dramatized Bible on CD while we travel around. A great way to plant the truth in their hearts through simple listening. We will also read the short stories about character qualities with A Child’s Book of Character Building.

History & Geography - We have returned to using the Sonlight Core A Kindergarten program this year. I cannot say enough about how much I love their materials. I love how learning is based in real books. I love the selection of books and the simplicity of having all the lessons mapped out for you. I found most of the books used through Exodus books or Amazon, in order to make it more doable with our budget, but I highly recommend their curriculum packages! Exodus Books is a wonderful local homeschool store that also sells online and they offer tons of used and new curriculum at great prices. We have chosen to just stick with the core curriculum and read-alouds.

We started the Sonlight Core A program about a month ago, and my kids love it (yes, my 3 year old loves sitting in with us too for most of it)! They are always begging for more! I love the Internet Linked Children’s Encylopedia included in this core, because it sends you to wonderful exploratory websites that include additional videos, games, and 3-D tours of different places around the world. I love how Sonlight includes quality poetry, narration practice with discussion questions, quality book choices (we just finished My Father’s Dragon trilogy – so fun!), and freedom to do whatever fits best for your family. We’ll also be reading the Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer as a family during our read-aloud time on a couple evenings each week.

Science – My vision for science is to be out in nature and enjoying the beauty and wonder of creation with my kids especially during these elementary years. I want them to treasure being outdoors and getting a bigger view of the powerful God we serve as we explore together. I want to spend quality time out in nature with scavenger hunts and nature walks. We plan to use Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families & Classrooms and create a Nature Journal for each of the kids with copies from this book in which we could draw various new observations from nature as well as record made up stories of things we find (I’ll be recording the stories that Karis tells me until she becomes more proficient in writing). This book has tons of ideas for exploring clouds, weather patterns, nature walks, and so much more. This will last many years as some of the activities are a bit more advanced. We will take the camera and let the kids take photos of things they find as well.

I will also be supplementing with the Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader K (an adorable little book that goes through the alphabet and shares extensively on different animals – A is for Alligator, etc), some of the Moody Science videos, Planet Earth, and a subscription to Big Backyard (an adorable nature magazine for kids 4-8, an awesome birthday gift!), and Nature Friend (a Christ centered creation based magazine). We will just do one of these activities each day, either nature journal, read, watch a video, or check out youtube videos about different animals we observe or read about.

Music – Since my former piano teaching days, I have been eager to begin lessons with my little ones. We will be doing some beginning piano lessons with Karis at home with Music for Little Mozarts curriculum. This is a very simple curriculum that any mommy could teach their kiddos with. I used it extensively with young children and had great success. We also use and love the Classical Kids CD series (which provide fun listening with classical music set in a story) and The Story of the Orchestra (take you on a journey through the instruments in an orchestra).

Copywork – We will be using Copywork I for our handwriting curriculum. I love how this resources uses Scripture as its basis, but also gives freedom to draw pictures and use the imagination.

Math – I’m super excited to read the fabulous reviews on the hands on Montessori based math called RightStart Math. It uses an abacus and tons of math games to make learning fun. We are starting with the Level A set. Ive never been excited about math until I read how this program works and how reviewers said their kids love math with this program. Really? I’m on it!

Since I also believe in establishing good critical thinking and logic skills, we are using Mind Benders Book 1 for a practical workbook on the subject. We also plan to get the game Zoologic for practical fun at this level.

Finally, we are always reading lots of good books! We use recommended list from the 1000 Classic Books list and pick up 10 or so titles every few weeks from our local library.

We will be maintaining a simple schedule that will be completely flexible and adjust as necessary as the year moves on. You can view what our schedule will look like this year here. I am excited to continue the journey of encouraging a love for learning and all the joys that come with the beauty of learning together with my little ones!

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About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

52 Responses to Kindergarten At Our Home

  1. CarrieAnn November 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I am learning about Classical Conversations and am especially interested in more focused Memory Work that expands to academics (Scripture being the foundation before academics). I like how your Kindergarten plan includes poetry and catechism- something I am very interested in incorporating. How did you decide which poems/catechism questions to use? Am looking for a plan across the years (we have 4 children- so looking for a plan for older grades too). Would love to hear your thoughts! Thank you!

  2. Vanessa October 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    You are so helpful! After a few frustrating days of homeschooling, today’s post (Juggling Homeschooling with Littles and Life) and this list are really encouraging.

  3. Jen September 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Hi Lindsay,
    Can you tell me more about exactly how you are using Sonlight? It looks to me like the KCore would take much longer than 30 minutes. Are you only using a part of the Core program? I ask because I would like to use Sonlight but only can homeschool 3 days a week and in that time would like to do something more like what you have planned – not just making it all Sonlight Core. I would like to use some of Sonlight but also do not want to spend the $300 plus for using only part of the program…I really enjoyed your writtings and info on homeschooling. It has given me many ideas and guidance. thank you.

    • Lindsay September 6, 2012 at 6:57 am #

      There are a few different aspects of the Core that I have divided into time brackets. The Bible, history, geography, and read-alouds take about 30-45 minutes. The Language Arts curriculum takes maybe 15-20 minutes. Then the Science is another 15-20 minutes, except for the days with experiments. I started out trying multiple different things, but keep coming back to the simplicity of Sonlight. I wasn’t going to use the Sonlight Language Arts or Science originally but it is really simple and creative without rushing them into reading before they are ready and the Science is SO much fun. And its all organized for you so there is little to no planning. With the addition of Math, Copywork & Critical Thinking workbooks, & Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons, our school is taking about 3 hours per day. I highly recommend the full core if you can afford it! It certainly has been worth every penny. I’m still tweaking our schedule as we put it into daily practice so it has gone through a few changes even since writing this post. The Sonlight Core can be easily adapted to fit your schedule and that is the beauty of it. They offer a 5 day and a 4 day a week curriculum and even the 4 day a week can be simplified to three longer days as needed.

  4. Amanda Welborn September 4, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    Ahhh! Trying to decide if we should do CC. I am concerned about the fact their history timeline does not match with Sonlight’s timelime. Part of what I love about classical education is learning along one timeline. I am concerned this is going to cause some added confusion for my children…and that everything won’t “gel” like I want it too. Am I concerned about nothing? Does anyone else feel the same way?

    • Amanda Welborn September 4, 2012 at 6:29 am #

      yikes…that was a grammatical nightmare. sorry, it’s early:-)

  5. Julie August 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I think you mentioned having a 3 year old as well… what does your 3 year old do while you are working with your kindergartener,,

  6. Brooke August 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Lindsay, Thank you for sharing all of your resources and ideas. Your recommendations bless our family time and time again! I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind elaborating on how you’re implementing the Sonlight Core A cirriculum with the other resources you are using. Are you using their Intro to World Cultures or Language Arts if you are using the Story of the World and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons? Thanks! Good Luck!

    • Jen September 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

      Hi Brooke,
      I just posted with very same questions for Lindsay. What did you decide?

      • Brooke September 5, 2012 at 6:16 am #

        Hi Jen,

        We did go with the Sonlight Core A and it has been worth every penny! My 5 year old wakes up begging to do it. We had The Story of the World prior and Teach You Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons and have found that both of those compliment the work of Sonlight Core A, but I don’t think are necessary. We will use The Story of the World as it coincides with SL. More than anything they’ve helped round out my education a bit more. I believe SL says by Week 9 the students are reading 3 letter words. My daughter is already doing that, but not joyfully, so we’ve set aside the Teach Your Child To Read and are going to see how it goes with SL.

        I have been really enjoying the Language Arts program in the Core A as well. It provides us with experiences and ideas I never would have thought of that my daughter really enjoys.

        Also, I haven’t timed our work as we spread it out during the day, but it goes very quickly. The bible stories are the longest portion of the study.

        Good luck on what you decide!

    • Lindsay August 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

      Yahoo! So glad to hear it! I’m super excited about it.

  7. Marlene August 5, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    I love your list. We used Sonlight Core A for our son last year for K. He LOVED it! I have a couple questions for you. I was wondering if you plan to use multiple cores for Sonlight in the future, try combining levels, or use something else? I have been struggling with that because we love the Sonlight books so much but ultimately we made the choice this year to use Tapestry of Grace and add on Sonlight books. Second question…I am VERY interested in your piano curriculum. I took four years of piano lessons but I would not consider myself to be an excellent pianist by any means. I would like to start our 1st grader on piano myself this fall. Should I just buy the deluxe starter kit for the program you mentioned or just buy the lesson book 1? I am unsure about what all I will need.

  8. debbie June 27, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    Hi,
    Lindsay,
    You have a wonderful sounding curriculum that you will be doing with your daughter. I especially love the nature study that you plan to do. I too homeschooled my children and now work with kindergarten age children. I loved homeschooling and loved being with my kids. As I homeschooled, I had to remember that they were children and needed the time to play and schedules sometimes had to wait until the next day because someone discovered something interesting and wonderful. Enjoy your homeschool journey and watching your children blossom.

  9. crystal June 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    I’ll be starting to homeschool our 1st grader in the fall. I also have a 4 year old, 2 year old and 4 month old. I think my 4 year old will be able to just listen in but I’m not sure how it’s going to work with our 2 year old. Any ideas on how to keep her occupied for 2 hours while trying to teach? Would you just keep stopping in between subjects to bring out different toys/activities and such to keep her busy? She may sit for a few minutes but she talks all the time so I can’t imagine I won’t be stopping constantly to re-direct/entertain/discipline/occupy her. I’d love to hear your ideas. Thanks!

  10. Mama B June 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Just getting in to reading your blog. Just love it! I did have a
    Question about scheduling though. You have so many wonderful topics to cover and learn with your daughter but given the baby and another child what will your learning schedule look like? Day/week? With naps, snacks, lunch etc. worked in? This seems to be our biggest challenge. Please help :)

  11. Angela June 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    A fantastic website we have come across recently has catechism questions and answers as songs. There are several CDs. Some songs are available as free download.
    http://music.songsforsaplings.com/album/questions-with-answers-vol-1-god-and-creation

    Blessings,
    Angela

  12. Camille June 19, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Just hopped over from Jackie’s place (Homestead Wannabes) to *meet* you. What a wonderful journey you are embarking on with your precious daughter! How amazing it is to have these little ones to nurture and bring up for the Lord! He leads and gives grace for the journey…it is such a blessing! :)

    Your curriculum choices sound wonderful. I am sure your year will be a rewarding and growing one for you both. :) I just thought I would share with you another math curriculum for the young years that has been such a great blessing to our children. It’s called Professor B Math. If you google it you will find their home page complete with informational video. It has made my children (and me) enjoy math and truly understand it…I *love* it!!

    Blessings to you!
    Camille

    • Lindsay June 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      Thanks for sharing about your math recommendation. I will certainly check it out.

  13. Samara June 19, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Hi Lindsay,
    For preschool, would you use “Developing the Early Learner” or the Critical Thinking Co Mathematical Reasoning for Pre-K?

    Thanks!
    Samara

    • Lindsay June 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      IT depends…they could be used together. Developing the Early Learner is more focused on strengthening reading and thinking skills, whereas the Mathematical Reasoning is centered on math. They might be good companions actually. I personally just used the Developing the Early Learner. We did the Pre-K math book off and on and plan to finish it this year actually. I wouldn’t push the math thing in my opinion when in preschool.

  14. Samara June 19, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    As one of your former students, I am excited to try using that music program with Elaina. Thanks!

  15. Dana June 19, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    It’s nice to meet you — I’m also a homeschooling mom :) Just stumbled upon your blog … and the deodorant recipe … and clicked on soaper’s choice to look at the coconut oil and there were several options. Which one did you buy … hydrogenated, fractionated, 76 degree??? A little confused here :)

  16. Dona June 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Not sure if you have heard of this but I loved teaching my children to read using one simple book. Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. It is very simple approach to reading and everything is scripted for the parent to say. It is amazing how fast my kids picked up reading. The book is under $20 and worth every penny. I just thought I would share :) The cool factor is in how quickly it has them reading. It does not require any heavy knowledge of the alphabet or letter sounds to get started. Google and you will see it is a highly praised book. My 4th grader is an awesome reader and my 5 year old is on lesson 15 and reading short sentences with ease.

  17. Nancy June 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Hi Lindsay,
    Another early piano curriculum that I have used, and love, is “My First Piano Adventure” by Nancy & Randall Faber. The child can continue right into the “Piano Adventures” series when finished. I have always used Alfred books, but lately have become a convert to the Faber books.

    Your curriculum sounds fun–thank you for the memory work sheet! I’m going to print it out and use it with my kids.

    Nancy

  18. Jessica June 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing this! My little boy will be turning 5 this July and I’ve been trying to decide what our kindergarten will look like. I keep going back and forth on Classical Conversations, I definitely want to do it at some point, but can’t decide if it would be too much for me since I have 3 little ones underneath my 5 year old as well. I really enjoyed reading this and added some stuff to my amazon wish list! Thanks!!

  19. kelly cogswell June 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    I see you are using a phonics program, I am wondering didnt you use teaching your child to read in 100 easy lessons? Do you find you still need to start with the basic phonics program after doing the reading program? I am half way through the reading program and my son really has mastered so many of the phonic skills, so I am wondering what your thoughts are, why both? thanks

    • Lindsay June 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      No, I was using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, but ultimately I didn’t like it very much. I wanted something that would really teach the phonogram rules and how to decode and really build words while teaching spelling.

      • kelly cogswell June 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

        OK! I thought I read about you doing the reading lessons first thing in the am and how challenging it was, but how it paid off, so obviously I confused you with another blogger!

  20. Jessica June 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Lindsay,
    It looks as though we’re on a very similar homeschooling & mothering journey (oldest starting kindergarten, youngest born last August, and one in the middle!)

    We’re also planning to start Sonlight Core A this year, so I’m glad to hear that you and your littles are enjoying it so far. I love the Charlotte Mason approach (currently reading “The Charlotte Mason Companion” by Karen Andreola) and I’m also fascinated by “The Well Trained Mind”. A few months ago I bought The Story of the World Vol. 1 on CD thinking that I would wait a year or so before having the girls listen to it. They overheard me previewing it, LOVED IT, and now we keep it in the car to listen to as we’re traveling. I never thought a 5 & 4 yr old would be that intrested in ancient history! LOL

    Blessings to you! And keep us updated on your kindergarten year!

  21. Bethany@OurSoCalledLife June 17, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    Those are some great ideas! We don’t homeschool, but we still like to incorporate as many learning opportunities as possible into our daughter’s day, especially in the summer. It sounds like your daughter will be getting a very balanced education.

  22. Jessie V. June 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I love this. All of this. We also have three kids but my oldest is a year younger than yours. You are making this process so much easier and I cannot thank you enough for it.

  23. Sarah June 16, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    I love all of your book recommendations — have ordered quite a few of them and the kids just love them too. Keep them coming!

  24. Erika June 16, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    I loved reading this entry. And thank you for sharing your kindergarten memory work. My oldest daughter is 5, too, and we just began our home schooling adventure with Sonlight Core A. (We are one week in, and it’s been amazing so far). I’m totally walking with God into this adventure, as homeschooling is new for our family. I love how God continually encourages me and reminds me that I am not alone on this journey, and today he used your words to bring me encouragement! Thank you!

  25. Christi June 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Cool! Just starting to thinking about getting myself sorted, although I have a year. But I can’t wait to check out each link! I totally agree scripture memorization is so important! And the outdoor workbook sounds brilliant! Thanks!

  26. Autumn June 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    I always love reading about what you’re doing with your little ones. It sounds like you have a great plan for this homeschooling year. This will be our first “official” homeschooling year too. I’m still working on my plan. I hadn’t heard of the Christian Liberty Nature Readers, those look really good. I also like the copy work book you chose. I think I’ll look into doing that with my son.

  27. Helen June 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    What about ‘Mommy Teach Me To Read’ by Barbara Curtis? I purchased that amazing book on your recommendation and have taught my son to read with it!

  28. Amber June 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    I am just starting Kindergarten in the fall with my daughter too and I still don’t have a solid plan as far as curriculum and how to schedule out our day (I have a 3-1/2 yr old and an almost 2 yr old). I’m wondering if you can offer me any advice. I wasn’t homeschooled and this will be my first year homeschooling my children, so it is all so new to me but I definitely feel God calling me to do this. I like the idea of a curriculum “package,” but most are so expensive. How did you decide when there are so many options out there? Thanks for your help!! :)

    • Lindsay June 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      Amber, I would be happy to chat with you further and offer any help that I can. Send me an email: lindsay at passionatehomemaking.com and we can set up a phone/skype conversation.

  29. Amy June 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    I love this… I am (and have been for over 22 years) a Montessori Teacher who teaches Kindergarten. Your plan sounds wonderful. If you need any other ideas, let me know. And please keep sharing yours!

  30. Christine June 14, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    We are using Heart of Dakota for our curriculum and love it, it is Charlotte Mason-inspired. You might want to check it out for the future. I bought the Nature Connection book last year to use with my kids based off of what I read on Amazon and was very disappointed by all it contained. Have you had a chance to read through it? As a Christian, I could not recommend this book. I just wanted a nature journal and instead it contains evolutionary theory and environmentalist propoganda. I am concerned about other Christian moms seeing it here and thinking it is a Christian-friendly book.

    • Lindsay June 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but have browsed through it extensively and have personally found it to be a wonderful resource for our nature study. I found two references to the earth being created “billions of years ago”, but that is pretty common to encounter in reading any nature books and can be adapted to a creation based understanding as needed. I would imagine I can use the good and spit out the bones and would recommend others to do the same.

    • Dusty June 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      We are HOD users as well! We LOVE it!

      Is the Music for Little Mozarts program something that could be used by someone with no piano experience? We want to put our oldest (6) in lessons, but it isn’t in the budget yet, but I’d love to be able to give her a head start at home if possible!

      • Lindsay June 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

        I definitely think so.

  31. M. June 14, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Are you familiar with the Montessori approach to schooling? Do you incorporate any of these principles in your homeschooling? I’m curious to know what you think of it!

    • Lindsay June 14, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Yes, I am familiar with Montessori and do appreciate many of their ideas. We have followed many of their principles when it comes to toys, avoiding battery operated, and sticking with the simple, nature, exploratory toys, real toys (miniature tools for every day life -kitchen tools, magnifying glasses, wooden blocks, dressups, play silks, etc), sensory baskets with our babies, and I love their focus on hands-on nature exploration as well. I also like the idea of a lot of unstructured play time inside and outside during these young years, and that is what our afternoons are full of. I think that is primarily what I have taken away and incorporated in our learning.

  32. Cindy Wilson June 14, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Great plan. So awesome for your children. They will be blessed. My children are 22, 17 & 15 and we have homeschooled all the way. Such a blessing and so worth it!

  33. Heather June 14, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    It sounds like you have a wonderful year planned! We are also doing Sonlight Core A with my daughter, and my 22 month old loves to listen in as well :-) We are thinking about adding in Classical Conversations in the fall, I have heard a lot of good things about the program, and since they will be in Cycle 1 this year, it seems to match up with what we are doing in Sonlight.

    • Lindsay June 14, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      Yes, I love Classical Conversations, but we decided to wait till next year to join in. I wanted to keep our learning close to home this year and not rush into outside programs quite yet while they are so young. I just felt the Lord prompting me personally in that.

  34. Noël McNeil June 14, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    I look forward to seeing your progress. I’ll be starting to homeschool in a few years and already feel a little overwhelmed. You look like you have a great plan and I hope it all goes well!

  35. Lisa June 14, 2012 at 4:45 am #

    Lindsay, it sounds like your daughter is going to have a wonderful homeschool year! I homeschooled my 3 children for 20 years. It was such a wonderful experience and blessing! I enjoy your blog.
    God bless!

  36. Julia June 14, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    Love It! May you make many more wonderful more memories with your little ones! Thank you for your links too!