articles / Homeschooling

Curriculum writing blues

I am writing my own Kindergarten curriculum. I’m doing this for a few reasons: 1. It’s Kindergarten and it’s not that hard and there are a million websites with free printables, 2. Because I want to be able to go at my kid’s pace, and 3. Because it’s cheaper. I keep all of his subjects separated in different binders. He has a binder for Math, Language, Science, and Social Studies (I lucked out and got a Social Studies curriculum really cheap so I’m not writing that one).

I had to let out a huge sigh last week when I was flipping through Josiah’s binders and realized that he’s got about three weeks before he’s finished with all of the Math lessons I’ve written so far and four weeks of Language and Science. That means I’m going to have to buckle down and get to writing lesson plans again. Grr. Now it might seem like I have plenty of time to write out lessons, but the thing is I never know how much he’s going to accomplish.

We’ve had a lot of stuff going on for the past few weeks so school has kind of been on the back burner, but before then Josiah was racing through his work. Now that we’re getting back into the swing of things  he could complete several days worth of work in one sitting. That means I may only have a week or two before he runs out of lessons. I have slowed him down quite a bit recently and we’ve only been doing one or two subjects a day just because he started so early and he’s going so fast.

We started his Kindergarten work in January and even with Samuel’s arrival and unexpected hospital stay it’s safe to say that he’s almost halfway done with Kindergarten Math and Language (I don’t really keep up with the Science and Social Studies because that’s not required, it’s just more for fun). With us being almost halfway through 2014 that doesn’t seem too bad, but the problem is that we didn’t do school work during the last half of February or during the last half of April and during March and the beginning of April we only did school work a few days a week.

Anyway…back to the writing part…I have a list of guidelines of what Josiah is supposed to be learning in Kindergarten and basically I have workbooks that I’ve acquired and websites handy and I sit down and write out lesson plans. Typically what I do is we focus on a particular unit (adding up to 10, telling a story, etc.) for 3-5 days at a time. Basically on day 1 I introduce the topic. Day 2 we review day 1 and I add a bit to it and we do an activity or worksheet. On day 3 we review day 1 and 2 and do an activity or worksheet. If it’s something that Josiah seems to be grasping well then  day 4 is review and assess. If it’s a more complicated topic or if he needs more work then we spend however many days reviewing until he has the concept down. Most of the time though we are through with a topic within three days.

Then what I try  to do about once  month is take a few days to review what we’ve done in the past few weeks just to make sure he still remembers and understands so we can build on it in the future. I’ve also acquired several preschool-Kindergarten computer games that help him review/introduce topics just to keep them on his mind.

Tonight I started working on lesson plans for skip counting and telling time. Counting by 2’s and being able to tell time is second nature for us, but to teach it to a child that hasn’t been exposed to it before is different. Honestly it is slightly overwhelming. Every time I get ready to teach a new topic, I have to remind myself that this is something brand new to Josiah. I can’t make any assumptions about what he might now. Now normally he surprises me and quickly grasps the concept.

To me though it seems like as we are approaching the hump of Josiah’s Kindergarten year we are approaching more complex things. No more are we focused on counting to 10 and learning ABC’s. He’s learning how to read, add and subtract, and pretty soon tell time and count to 100. This is just the beginning of more complex lessons, not only for him but for me.

So I have to motivate myself to sit down and write out lesson plans because sometimes writing out the lesson plans and preparing for how I’m going to try and teach a topic to him is just as difficult for me and him learning it will be for him. Many of us have forgotten about number lines, skip counting, and place value (something I dread trying to teach) so we have to consciously think about the easiest way to teach it without screwing up our child’s education.

Sure, buying a curriculum would be so much easier, but sometimes curriculum’s can be too rigid or too lax or too worksheet heavy and typically too expensive. For right now, for the younger grades I’ll stick with writing my own even if it’s difficult. I’m going to ignore the fact that it’s almost 11 p.m. and now is when I should be sleeping, but it’s the only time that both of my children are asleep and I have a minute to work on things. I’m sure within the next few years I’ll be shelling out money for full curriculums rather than what I’m doing now, but I’m going to push that thought far in the back of my mind and just be thankful that although writing my own curriculum is time consuming it fits my family’s budget.

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