October 17, 2022
After several weeks of break from homeschooling blog posts, I’m ready to share my final thoughts on homeschooling a kindergartener (for now). Today I’ll be sharing some thoughts for handwriting, science, and history.
As I mentioned earlier, handwriting is incredibly important in the education of a five year old. If you have not started working on handwriting, now is the time to begin, and in earnest.
There are a variety of handwriting styles to choose from, and my intention is not to delve into the pros and cons of prescursive/manuscript versus cursive in this post. Mrs. Saneri from Spell to Write and Read endorses cursive first while the educational trend today is to start with manuscript. Many children are not ready for the complexities of cursive, yet some children enjoy the look of cursive.
My oldest loves to “connect” her letters, and because of her interest, I have started teaching her cursive. If she had not shown interest in cursive, I would have waited until later. I have noticed that as we work on our spelling words for the week, my daughter reverted to precursive which is just fine. Now is not the time to fuss about perfect letter formation; my main goal with her is making connections between hearing sounds and putting them on paper. To constantly correct her about “neatness” would completely deflate her progress.
I grew up using the Bob Jones handwriting curriculum, and honestly, I love the look of this handwriting. It is not exactly D’Nealian but very close. BJU Press’s pre-cursive (what they call their form of a manuscript style) flows very nicely into the cursive style, and children easily transition from the pre-cursive to the cursive.
Honestly, I have not bought a handwriting textbook to use with my daughter but have simply been writing letters for her to practice in her own notebook. I am very familiar with the BJU handwriting process and feel comfortable creating my own exercises for my daughter.
Using a handwriting curriculum can be helpful and certainly easier for the busy homeschool mom. Yet do not feel like you have to buy a handwriting curriculum if you feel comfortable teaching the proper strokes. A great way to teach handwriting is to incorporate it into what you are already doing for school, and in this way handwriting does not become an isolated subject.
My sister in law introduced me to an absolutely delightful book, Pocketful of Pinecones. The author, Karen Andreola, wrote this book in the form of a homeschool mother’s diary from the 1930s. The main character, Carol, records her adventures of homeschooling in an era unfriendly to breaks with the traditional school system, and her children thrived in the home environment, regaining their natural desires to learn. The family loves to observe nature and write and draw their findings in their nature notebooks. Carol, a willing student of science herself, constantly references a helpful science handbook and knowledgably points out plants and animals to her children.
Though Pocketful of Pinecones is not a science curriculum per se, this book will open your eyes to the wonders of God’s creation and help you gently guide your children to learn about God’s world. As a result of reading this book, I have become more observant of nature ad have started pointing out science observations to my children.
My oldest is only five, so my children are not ready to create detailed science journals. Yet, my daughter and I have added pages to her little journal with sketches and descriptions of what we have found in the yard. I hope in years to come to create nature journals with my children as suggested in Pocketful of Pinecones.
In kindergarten, I personally think the best way to teach science is to get children interested in the world that surrounds them, most likely their backyard. We are blessed with a beautiful backyard full of all sorts of animals and plants for observation.
For example, a volunteer pumpkin vine has trailed its way up out of our burn pit (rather miraculously due to the parched conditions). Our entire family enjoyed watching the pumpkin’s progress, and almost daily we go “check on the pumpkin.” We think bunnies ate most of the pumpkin flowers, so we only have two pumpkins growing on the vine. Watching the pumpkin grow has been a wonderful learning experience for my children and far more engaging than just reading a book about it (which I am obviously not against!).
We have do science about twice a week. I have been using God’s World by Abeka as an official science textbook, and we read a few pages from this book each week. On Tuesdays we read from God’s World, and then on Thursdays we write in my daughter’s journal about her observations from the yard.
My main emphasis with my daughter in K5 is teaching her to read, write, and count (the three 3 R’s), so history is more of a secondary subject to me. 5 year old minds are not going to grasp the interconnected nature of history, yet we study a little history each week to fulfill our state’s requirements. We usually study History on Mondays and Wednesdays.
We just finished Abeka’s America: Our Great Country Visuals for K5. I believe there are several other books in this set, but I decided to order Abeka’s Social Studies K5 to finish out our year. From a quick glance, the book looks colorful and full of engaging material ranging from American history, community helpers, to simple geography and world concepts. I am satisfied with the book and believe it will nicely cover our history requirement.
A few closing words about homeschool space
May I encourage you, homeschooling mama? If you have a small house like I do (or maybe your house is even smaller than mine!), please do not despair about a distinct homeschool room. Would I love to have a designated homeschool space, as in my own personal classroom at home? That sounds delightful, and decorating it would be such a joy.
Our house is very simple, and I try to keep our days very simple. There’s nothing complex, overly organized, or amazing about our homeschool space and routine. We homeschool at our kitchen table, and I fit all of our current homeschool supplies in one dresser drawer in our kitchen—it’s truly that simple. Granted, I am not homeschooling 6 children, and if I was, my homeschooling space and needs would definitely look different. For now, what I have works.
Something God often reminds me is that He will meet my needs when I need it. God has never been late, and He is powerfully capable of meeting my true needs. Will we eventually need more homeschool space? Very probably. And God is going to meet our needs at that time.
If you are struggling to make what you have work, ask God to give you wisdom with what you have. You will be amazed at how God can answer dependent prayer and make a way for you.