Real Kindergarten

We have three daughters, the oldest is a kindergarten student this year, a real one. We’re homeschooling her, and so far so great. I anticipated a little questioning coming into the picture every now and then, you know, like at the end of a particularly taxing and dramatic day I might just feel the need to sit in a chair with a pile of research on homeschooling and frantically read through the findings yet again, while asking myself something along the lines of :Is this really the right choice? Did she have a hard day because of me? Would she have had a better day in a classroom full of peers? But, that just hasn’t happened. And we are a couple months in. I am pretty green at the whole organized teaching- my- own- kid deal at this point, and so there are many days when I feel like I need to do extra homework and preparation, and I may change my mind about supplemental activities and enrichment additions, and at times I’ll get frustrated with my daughter and, more often, with myself, but I’m feeling right now that I am not going to change my mind about one thing: this is the best choice for our family right now. My husband and I are pretty darn certain that this is a great choice for our kids and for their future.

So here we are a-homeschooling. We’ve got one student this year, while the other two are in preschool. Of course, I am a big believer in the idea that your kids are always your students, even when they are toddling around or getting their preschool on, but you know what I mean, probably. We have one real life school kid. You know the type: sitting down in a school room to do some reading, riting, and rithmatic. She is our oldest, our careful child, our bookwork. I am so in love with the amazing differences in my children. It is so fun to see their individuality and to help them grow into their own unique interests. That said, it is a pretty helpful plan that our oldest tends to want to be taught, thrives with organization, and could sit with a notebook and pen, or especially, with a chapter book in her hands all day. And I mean it, the kid could sit with a book all the day long. So as I work my way through the lesson plans in the curriculum we use and add in some of my own plans, I have a pretty patient and helpful pupil. Now next year when our second born reaches kindergarten….well, suffice to say, we’re all in for a fun ride! But for now, we are learning in a quiet, calm environment. It is so amazing to see my child learn, to be there to help her discover the world around her, and to make sure that each moment of our schooling is put to great use. And I especially am a fan of the idea that if there is something my kid wants to learn about, well, heck, let’s just look it up and learn about it right then, when she is curious and ready to learn something.

And not only is it cool to see my kindergarten student’s knowledge grow, but it has also been great for me as a mother, and for her as a small human, to see her begin to blossom socially. I want her to learn to speak to and in front of people of all ages in many different settings and situations. We are working towards strong and useful social skills, as we have entered the world of homeschooling, homeschooling groups, and various sorts of traditional learning. By the by, I like to refer to certain styles of homeschooling as traditional because people have been learning from home for years, really years, as in lots of them…I especially like to reference and consider the way people learned in, say, England, a couple hundred years ago. I mean, a tutor in the home teaching students multiple languages, nature in the natural world, arithmatic, art, music, and all sorts of important, useful, and fanciful subject matter was what you’d want to have for your children. And it’s pretty neat (at least to a geeky Mama like me), to think that when schooling at home was the norm in a certain society, social skills were valued more than perhaps any other time, perhaps even to a fault. Well, that was a little tangent, but sometimes I do that. What I’m saying here is that socialization is not just something that can be attained in a big classroom, and in our little classroom environment, we are doing what we do to develop ladies who know how to act, but also who know how to speak for themselves and for others who can’t.

Since most of the blogs I like tend to include photos, I’m going to try to include one more often than not. So, here’s our pic.

I mentioned above that my kindergarten daughter appreciates organization. She gets a kick out of matching boxes with a place for everything and everything in the proper place, especially when it can be turned the proper way and placed in a way that makes the room all the more pretty. So… of the first things we had to do when working on a place to learn when at home was to turn our playroom into a school room, while still keeping it a playroom. With the help of a talented and super-hard working home organizer/friend, we purged the heck out of some toys, seriously we gave away or sold 90% of our toys (major plus that we know the crazy amount of toys we had are hopefully now enjoyed by kids who truly love them), and then sorted and placed our remaining favorite toys on the shelf in our playroom. That means…..what for it…..all the toys are off the floor now. No toys are on the floor in our house, or at least they aren’t when they are put away in their place when not in use. It’s a wonderful thing.The kids play with toys so much more now that they actually know what they have and can see it, and all of the parts to a given toy can be found when they want them. They no longer play just by pulling toys out on the floor and then leaving them. Now they play with them, really play. And we have labels on the toy containers, which I know is pretty common, but let me just say I really appreciate the labels because…..wait for it… kids are reading them, or at least learning to. Pretty cool. So now we have a school room, which contains a closet full of toys ready to be taken down, one set at a time when serious learning time has ended for the day and toy time resumes. Our playroom/schoolroom closet makes us happy. Note: The random green paint on the wall was a daddy/daughter experiment. It has since been replaced by blackboard paint, with only a little green left for us to touch up with blue. But they had fun with the big ol’ green stripe while it lasted.