Kindergarten Accomplishments

We are finished!  It is so hard to believe that we are at this point – Matthew has finished his first official year of school.  How did he get so old?  So tall?  So smart?  So silly?DSCN1379



This post is mainly for record-keeping, so it may be a bit of dry reading for many.  If you are like me, however, you will find it fascinating in a very nerdy sort of way.

I want to remember some highlights and what we’ve accomplished this year.  Hopefully next school year I’ll be able to keep records as we go, but this year it’s all going into one blog post (hold on!).

The other day Matthew and I had a little conversation about his year of Kindergarten:

(I am in bold, Matthew is in regular.)

What was your favorite thing to learn about?  The Quadricycle!*  And all about Henry Ford!

Well, you did a super job this year with everything.  I am so proud of you!  For what?  Well, for learning to read.  For learning cursive, especially.

Oh that was easy.  You sure do make it look easy. 😉

Did you like history?  I LOVE history!  I love all sorts of books!  {Yes!  That is music to this mama’s ears!}

What was your favorite field trip?  The zoo because we got to ride the carousel!  {So sweet because this was the same carousel my sister and I used to ride!}


Oh shoot.  There was more to that conversation, but now I am blanking out.  Sigh.  Memory… not my strong point.  Well, the loving books part was the best of it.

Matthew is reading anything and everything… including things we do not particularly care for him to read (like the newspaper! Yikes!).  He had a diagnostic spelling test in April and placed at 2.4, which means he is spelling at a second grade, 4th month level.  We are using a curriculum that teaches spelling from the beginning as an aid to reading.  (Spell to Write and Read, based on the Spalding method, which I will write about in another post.  We love it!)  He is a quick learner and has skipped the need to use those (dare I say, boring) beginning readers.  Although, he does have a love for the really old ones like this one:  I think those old-fashioned illustrations appeal to him, as they do to me.

One of the first passages he read without help was in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis.  He knows his sight words, but not because we studied them as such, simply because he can read them.  The English language is much more consistent than you’d think… but, another post, another time!

Matthew has also learned to write in cursive.  Yes.  He was printing… but doing it poorly.  We noticed a lot of dyslexic tendencies… some of this is normal at his age, but there was so much of it that some sort of early correction seemed necessary to us.  He would print his letters from the bottom up, write entire words backwards, begin writing at the bottom of the paper, write right to left, get letters confused with one another, mirror words, etc.

After a LOT of “hemming and hawing” we decided to give cursive a try.  There have been studies done that show  learning cursive may help many of these problems.  It seemed like a daunting task, but within a month he was writing in cursive and doing a great job of it.  No more backwards letters, no more right to left.  He can see the spaces between words much more easily, and a few other things have improved too.  I should add that he has had good fine motor skills since he was small, unlike many boys.  Yet, we still did most of our cursive learning and practice as gross motor activities, only moving onto paper when he wanted to (and then he used primary lined paper – with the dashes).  I want to be careful not to rush him in these things.  We used Cursive First, an excellent program that corresponds well with SWR.

We read many, many books together this year.  Oh, how happy I am that this boy loves books!  Daddy read The Hobbit, by J.R. Tolkien to him in the evenings, as well as some Hank, the Cowdog books by John R. Erickson.  They ended the school year by reading Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, after going to a play based on the story.  Pirates!!  Gun fights!!  Swords and Knives!!  Need I say more?

During our daytime reading we went through the following books:  Babe, the Gallant Pig, by Dick King-Smith; The Saturdays, by Elizabeth Enright; The Moffats, and Ginger Pye, and The Middle Moffat, by Eleanor Estes; ALL seven of The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis; The Railway Children, by Edith Nesbit; Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell; The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynn R. Banks.  Oh my, that’s a lot of good books!

Science was a hodgepodge of things (no formal curriculum – it’s kindergarten!).  Matthew is so very, very interested in electricity, to the point where my brain just shuts down when I hear him say the word “battery” or “energy”.  He could literally go on for hours about this stuff.  Hours of electrical talk and questions from a 6 year old boy is about as crazy-making as it gets.  Anyway – on the electricity front – he uses his Snap Circuits, from which he learns quite a bit just by following the book of plans (he can make an AM radio in about 3 minutes flat); and we read biographies about Thomas Edison and Ben Franklin.  These were very enjoyable and there are a lot of good jumping off points within them for additional learning and experiments.  We finished up by going to the Bakken Museum of Electricity, which was absolutely fascinating.  We will be going there again for sure!

Revving up a generator to create static electricity.

Revving up a generator to create static electricity.

As part of science, we also did a handful of nature-study activities.  In the fall we learned the names of trees, examined leaves, learned about how plants “work”, and that sort of thing.  We visited an apple orchard with our homeschool group and learned about how pollination occurs and the importance of flowers and bees, and how to make cider with a cider press.  In the spring Matthew investigated the backyard, drawing whatever interested him in his nature journal and then examining it under his field scope and drawing a picture of what it looked like magnified.  Of course, doing this in the wagon made it all the more fun:DSCN1405

Um, pardon the messy yard.  Someone needs to do something about that junk lying around.

Now, about Math.  We just did fun stuff for the first part of the year, then he seemed to need more of a challenge and I’d been seriously looking at Singapore Math, so we began with 1A (Standards Edition).  I want to love Singapore Math.  It has helped me understand math!  But something just doesn’t seem right about it for Matthew.  I will have to think about this some more.  He did not complete 1A, so we will start up where we left off next year and perhaps it will go a bit more smoothly.  He is good at math!  But the program seems to assume that he has the ability to analyze certain things, which I just don’t think most boys (or girls?) have at this age.  It’s nothing that won’t come in time, I’m sure.  He learned the basics of addition and subtraction, tens place, ones place, how a calendar works, positional words, left and right, etc.

Religion.  Ah, this needs a post of its own, but let me just say I winged it this year.  I need something more put-together and sequential (if that makes sense) than what I did this year.  However, he does get quite a bit of faith-talk just in our everyday lives.  We did Bible readings and saint stories too, which he LOVES.  We celebrated special days as best we could with a tired mama and a needy baby living here this year.  And we looked at famous artwork for many special days (annunciation, Easter, that sort of thing), which was lovely and enjoyable for both of us, and was a good starting place for some wonderful conversations.

For history we began The Story of the World, Vol. 1 – The Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer.  It is working well and Matthew has gotten through chapter 8.  We’ll review these chapters before picking up again in first grade.  It is a super book for young children, and has really planted a love for history in him.

Art was pretty much free art time.  I wanted to plan things around holidays, but just did not have the energy or time to put much thought into it this year.  Matthew has a cart of art supplies and he built many things, painted many things, and drew many things.  Next year, next year I will be more on top of this!  But, truly, I am not sure that letting him explore on his own wasn’t just as profitable for him as a more formal art instruction would have been.  He went to a couple of plays – The Grinch and Treasure Island; and we visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts with our homeschool group where we learned about impressionism.

Geography was partly covered by finding (on a map or globe), and learning about, the places we read about in our biographies and history lessons.  We also used this workbook to learn basic map skills.

We joined a gym co-op, which was wonderful!  Lots of free (loud) play time with friends on one side of the gym, and then a 45 minute gym class with a phy-ed teacher on the other side of the gym, where he worked on basic skills and just got a lot of energy out.

We volunteered a tiny bit with Meals-on-Wheels, but due to sickness and the logistics of taking a wee one along, this didn’t quite pan out like I had hoped.

There were many good field trips, but I am looking forward to even more next year when Joseph is old enough to tag along without having to worry about his odd feeding habits (he will be eating solids by then, right?).  Living life around the schedule of a new baby was a hard transition for Matthew, but he has survived and learned and grown, so it’s all good. 🙂

I can see him growing more confident socially.  I am so proud of this boy.  He has made an effort to come out of his shell despite very real discomfort.  He has initiated friendships, and surprises me often with how grown up he sounds when talking to others.  He opens doors for service people who happen to come to the house and invites them in instead of running to hide.  Ah, he’s growing up, this baby of mine.  I am so blessed to witness it throughout each day.  Homeschooling has not been easy, but it has so, so, so been worth it!DSCN1521