While a peer with his birthdate won't be eligible to enter public Kindergarten until Fall of 2013, Graeme wanted to go to school so badly we began his formal homeschooling last month. We are making a concerted effort to document the everyday work we do together and I thought it would be fun to share some snapshots of that here!
Graeme is being taught five general subjects, areas of focus for me to make sure he's getting a thorough education. They are: Reading and Writing, Math and Measures, Science and Nature, Arts and Activities, and Compassion and the Craft. Compassion and the Craft probably sounds like every pagan-fearing parent's worst nightmare--but it is mostly about ethics, values, compassion, good citizenship, and being mindful in the world.
This month, in addition to the work we did each day at home, Graeme also participated in some outside events. He's enrolled in a preschool skills class at Gymboree for two hours a week where he gets to glue googly eyes onto things and jump around a play gym in his socked feet. He took a course at the local nature preserve, "Little Pioneers", where they tromped around in the woods for two hours a week and learned about the lifeways, conservation, and habitat of some area wildlife like skunks, turtles, opossums, snakes, ants, and frogs. He also just finished up the course year in Preballet I (a 45 minute class each week) with his spring dance recital. As always, we met up with our homeschooling group for some social and learning time, too.
For the past month, we've been working on an animal unit. My main objective, from an animal perspective, was to teach him the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates (or reinforce the notion as we'd taught it last year) and to teach him the general characteristics of the five (main) categories of vertebrates: amphibian, bird, fish, mammal, and reptile. We read books about animals and did all sorts of assorted animal worksheets. Not everything was about animals--but I tried to tie the concept in to animals for fun. We learned about map-reading with animals, the concept of graphs (how many pets does Joe have? how many pets does Sally have?), even the majority of our addition and subtraction worksheets had some contrived animal hook. The idea of the focused unit, at this age, is really just to keep me entertained. :)
We have had a wonderful time with it, though. Over the month, Graeme fulfilled the requirements to have our yard certified as a National Wildlife Foundation "Backyard Habitat" and got the certificate in his name to proudly prove it. We've added strategic brush piles, feeders, and now our new bird bath to increase the value of our suburban plot to local wildlife. We've seeded a big bed in the back yard with a colorful mix of bird and butterfly-attractive wildflowers. He fashioned a 'butterfly bar' to feed fruit-loving butterflies, hornets, and other animals and then made the food to stock it. Graeme's learned a bit about animal tracking (black bear, raccoon, opossum, skunk, turkey, gray wolf, great blue heron, and whitetailed deer tracks, specifically). We've had animal art projects and he's watched some videos about animals from the arctic to the orient.
On a more general front, Graeme's been working on his handwriting, his spelling, and his abilities in single-digit addition and subtraction the most. Any chance I had to convince him to write more--I did. :) This usually took the shape of crossword puzzles, secret codes, competitive write-the-word-I-say spelling bees, and greeting cards and notes to each other.
Graeme's handmade metamorphosis poster--I helped him cut out some of the items since his scissor skills aren't great, but he drew and designed everything.
( More images of his work under the cut... )
I've also made it a point to record the books that we're reading together every day. (Though who knows how many books Graeme is reading during his hours on the library floor with his feet up on the big comfy chair!) (I'm being massively unfair (and lazy) by only noting the authors, not the illustrators.) Some of our favorites this month have been:
Earth Mother (Ellen Jackson)
Earth Mother and Her Children (Sibylle von Olfers)
Elephant Prince: Story of Ganesh (Amy Noveski)
Forest Child (Marni McGee)
The Mother's Day Mice (Eve Bunting)
Our Family Tree (Lisa Westberg Peters)
Rabbit's Song (S.J. Tucker and Trudy Herring)
Room on the Broom (Julia Donaldson)
Something from Nothing (Phoebe Gilman)
Strega Nona Meets Her Match (Tomie dePaola)
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (William Steig)
Too Many Fairies (Margaret Read MacDonald)
The Trouble with Dragons (Debi Gliori)
Ugly Vegetables (Grace Lin)
When the Earth Wakes (Ani Rucki)
Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak)
As of yesterday, we've moved on to a Money unit. I anticipate a lemonade stand in Graeme's future! :)
Graeme, reading over my shoulder, says: "In my future? Me, a lemonade stand?"
Guess the cat's out of the bag on that one, huh? :D