As I reorganized the bookshelves and school supplies before school began this year, I decided to collect little "surprises" into a special basket for my new kindergartener's school time. Normally, I wouldn't plan any formal school period at all, but this girl begs to "do school" like her siblings and has been looking forward to some one-on-one Mommy time and to some new skills and books that are all hers.
Here's a peek at what I have in there:
Books - I gathered a variety to go through little by little over the first term: Leading Little Ones to Mary, Kindergarten Gems, Fr. Lord's The Rosary, Kindergarten Stories and Morning Talks, Neumann Press' Catechism for Young Children, Winnie-the-Pooh, A Very Little Child's Book of Stories. We're just picking up whichever book appeals to us that day--no set schedule. When we finish a book, I'll add another one to the basket. There are so many wonderful ones for this age.
Right Start Level B - This is what I started with when my big kids were in kindergarten...now they're almost done with Level E and ready to move on to another program! Time flies. I'm happy to be starting to work through this program once again with my newest student. She loves her abacus and tally sticks. :)
And a bunch of other fun little items:
folding and cutting workbooks
a notebook in which she keeps track of words she knows by sight (ala Bestvater's The Living Page)
colored chalk and a slate
some word cards for us to play matching games with
a little notebook and pen
bananagrams for reading lessons
her current set of Bob books
a few field guides
scissors and tape, for her Important Projects ;)
My goal for myself is to spend some one-on-one time with her each school day, maybe twenty minutes. That twenty minutes definitely doesn't happen all at once--usually it's five minutes here, five minutes there. During this time, we do a combination of activities: reading lesson; read-aloud; math lesson; copywork; or a special project, like folding, cutting, or a game. I try to hit each of those categories three times a week.
The rest of her "schoolwork" consists of joining in on the big kids' lessons when she is interested--which is pretty much all the time. ;) I don't encourage her to listen in on their readings or narrate, but I do encourage her to sit in on just about everything else:
memory work (though she doesn't have her own selections, she learns the big kids' with ease)
nature study and journaling
morning basket - religious reading, calendar in English and Italian, poetry
free readings done as read alouds
And during the rest of Naptime School session, while the littles are sleeping and I'm working with the big kids, she has a variety of activities available to her: lacing beads, pattern blocks, puzzles, paper dolls, and the usual craft supplies.
To give you an idea of how this all looks in action, here's how one day in our Charlotte Mason-style home kindergarten looks:
This morning after waking up, she went straight to her morning chores: got herself dressed, brushed her hair, and had her teeth brushed. Then she spent a half hour playing with her little brothers and sisters and her dolly. (There may or may not have been some squabbles during this time. ;))
I called her to empty the dishwasher and then she helped set the breakfast table. After morning prayers, she ate breakfast and took part in morning basket: our calendar in English and Italian, a Blake poem, a short chapter on bamboo from The World at Home, the page on St. Dominic from Benson's An Alphabet of Saints, and a couple pages from Thomas Tapper's Music Talks for Children.
She helped clear the breakfast table and then got herself and her younger sister dressed for outside play. She played out there for a couple hours, making "soups" out of clover and crepe myrtle bark, taking care of her rock dolly, playing catch with her brothers, collecting leaves, hanging from the maple tree, and toting around baby sister.
She helped clean up the backyard and then washed up and changed herself and her little sister. Then we read picture books: Pelle's New Suit and Madeline's Rescue. When I left to handle the baby, she took over reading to the toddlers and did a couple she has memorized: Baby Loves and Jamberry.
While I got the little ones settled for nap, she got out her math materials, her slate and chalk, and her word book. I needed to get a couple readings done with the big kids while the baby was still napping, so she curled up on the sofa with her dolly while I spent a half hour reading aloud and listening to narrations. Halfway through, she took out a puzzle to do on the floor next to us.
Once we finished our readings, she joined us at the table for Italian: a few games of bingo with outdoor vocabulary, two songs, Simon Says to practice our body parts, and a Gouin series about going on a "nature adventure." Then we looked at Monet's "Impression: Sunrise" together and the children made little sketches of the composition. The big kids went in the other room to finish their math work, and she and I did a five-minute math lesson together (on partitioning ten using the abacus) and read a page about St. Dominic and the Rosary. Then I wrote some words of her choice on her little chalkboard for her to copy below, and she added a word to her little notebook of words she knows by sight: into. She spent the next half hour drawing with big sister while we listened to two chapters from On the Banks of Plum Creek. Once the babies got up from nap, she danced and did jumping jacks with the rest of the kids while we went through our memory work, including folk song and hymn.
In the afternoon, she looked through the sand dollars we collected at the beach yesterday, helped fold laundry, ate dinner and helped with dinner chores, played games with Daddy, got out the towels and clothes for the evening bath, and read half a Bob book with Mommy. Then bath, rosary, bedtime prayers, and lights out.
So as you can see, she is quite a busy girl! I feel like we have a nice balance going of academics, time outdoors, chores, and play. Her kindergarten year looks different from how her older siblings' looked, and I imagine our plans will change again for my son starting next year, and all the littles starting after that. That's one of the great things about having a bunch of children--I have so many kindergartens ahead of me!