Kindergarten in our house is nothing like the super academic structure of the average modern public school. We don’t do a lot of sitting at desks or tables. I don’t force lesson times. We sometimes go for a couple of days (or more) without any formal lessons.
Does that mean there’s no learning going on? Not at all.
Some peeks at the learning that happened in our homeschool kindergarten today include:
I woke up this morning to our youngest excitedly telling me that he was going to cut out everyone’s names. Yesterday he decided it would be good to write out the names of everyone in the family. He needed help spelling them all, but he wrote all of our names, including that of his favorite stuffed animal, on a large index card. So this morning, he decided to cut them out. Yes, I told him, practicing cutting is a kindergarten skill; so that’s perfect. He cut them each out and handed them out giving each person a name (but not necessarily his or her own name as that would be boring).
While cutting out the names, he noticed that one name somehow ended up with a piece of the index card sticking off to one side. As he examined it, he rushed over to one of the maps we have on a cabinet door in our dining room. “Oklahoma! I cut out Oklahoma!” And sure enough, on comparing the shape of the state of Oklahoma to the shape of the name he’d cut out, they were quite similar. Then he spent some time cutting out shapes and taping them together to try to create the shapes of other states. (So we have cutting practice, practice reading names of family members, and geography going so far this morning.)
We did get out a math worksheet and he worked on that. The worksheet is from a first grade book (Saxon Math 1) but he loves it (and I don’t give them to him every day). Yet, those worksheets aren’t the only math lessons he gets. His big sister has been talking to him about fractions–usually over lunch or a snack. He’s learned about halves, thirds, and fourths from her cutting up sandwiches or other things in different numbers of pieces and then challenging him to eat a certain fraction. (“Let’s see if you can eat one-third of your sandwich before I do!”) And asking him about the amounts he has. (“If you have half a sandwich and you cut it in half, how much sandwich would one of those pieces be?”) Or we talk about math as we do our everyday tasks. (“Oh, you want to be eight years old? But you’re only five. Can you figure out how many years it will be until you’re eight?”) He loves it. We don’t spend fifteen minutes at a time, probably not more than 5 minutes at a time on such lessons. But he’s learning to think mathematically from those bits and pieces.
Later in the day, when we were out shopping, I happened to see a display of Star Wars workbooks and picked out a first grade math one for him. He loved it. On the ride home he looked at it and kept telling me what he was figuring out. “Hey, seven minus five is two,” he said from counting the cute pictures in a problem. Some he got wrong and so we talked about where he went wrong. We even talked about problem-solving strategies such as when subtracting 18 minus 5, we talked about how he could use the problem 8 minus five to help him figure it out. Pretty advanced stuff for a kindergartner.
At one point in the day, the teens and I were reading through “A Land Remembered” together, historical Florida fiction, and he listened; he’s learning history with us.
Many of our days have fewer lessons in them. And that’s okay. We have some days full of learning and some days with much less. But overall it balances out.