I've been thinking a lot about Little Bean, homeschooling, and where I want to go in the next year or so with both kids. Little Bean is really bright for his age, and seems eager to begin a more formal school time each day. Given this, and the fact that he has virtually mastered any "pre-k" work I give him, I *think* I've decided to transition him to Kindergarten work this fall and a more formal schedule. He will be 4.5 in the fall. I kind of feel like if he ends up being overwhelmed, well then, we will back off and start him later on, and no harm is done, but if he loves it, then that's awesome! We will continue with our Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (look for my third update soon as we near the halfway mark for this book), and will likely finish it by September, and we will start pulling out the Right Start Math on a regular basis (which, since we've started the 100 Lessons, hasn't been happening), tackling 1/2 of a lesson per day (there are 70 lessons with enough work in each for two days of teaching). I'm looking at different curriculum for Language Arts (phonics, grammar, spelling and writing) as a follow up to 100 lessons, and for social studies/science, but the task is overwhelming and not to mention expensive. I don't want to feel trapped into a curriculum because it was costly, so I am sort of frozen in fear right now and don't want to purchase anything. I've spent a lot of time lately looking at curriculum reviews the last few weeks!
I'm really leaning toward Handwriting Without Tears for writing, mainly because it looks fun, and has lots of great reviews, especially from moms of lefties, and both Miss O and Little Bean are lefties (as am I!). They have both a Pre-K and a K curriculum, which use a lot of the same non-consumable materials, so theoretically both Miss O and Little Bean could do this together and I'd only have to get one set of materials, aside from the workbooks. The con is that it is only a writing curriculum, and that leaves me still wanting in a bunch of other content areas.
If anyone has suggestions for me, I'd be more than happy to hear what you are using and loving (or hating) and why, especially for a K4 who already knows how to read. I'm finding that many of the K curriculum choices out there focus on teaching the child to read, and Little Bean will already know how to read by the time he begins K. Yet, in the other aspects of Language Arts (spelling, grammar, and writing) he would be on grade level for K work.
As for Miss O, she often asks for "school work", and seems to really enjoy Tot School and "playing" with educational materials, as well as sitting in on Little Bean's reading lessons. My top goals for her this next year are pretty simple. I'd love for her to learn all her letters and their sounds, recognize numbers one to ten, and be able to count up to ten objects. She already knows shapes and colors, so I am not too concerned with that kind of thing. I'd love to work on more fine and gross motor skills, logic, patterns and sequencing, all the same Tot School things we already do, but letters and numbers are at the top of my list for her, so I plan to do many activities surrounding those topics. I'd also love to begin some handwriting with her.
For both children, and for myself, I am seeking more structure. You may have seen the Sue Patrick Workbox System sweeping the homeschool blogosphere; I know several blogs I frequent have started using her system. I've resisted the urge to buy her book because I just don't like following the crowd, but I couldn't stand it any longer, so I bought her e-book and read it within an hour (yes, I am a fast reader). :) And she, along with the blogs of many homeschooling moms who I look up to that use her system, convinced me that it was worth a try. I will do a post in the near future with pictures of this system, and how I have implemented it in our home. Thus far, I haven't gathered all the needed materials to implement it, so I can't make that post just yet.
Please pray for wisdom and guidance as I choose materials and decide on what is and isn't appropriate for Little Bean and Miss O this coming fall. I feel very much as though I am in uncharted waters because my plan has always been to use the public school distance learning program with the kids once they entered Kindergarten. When I started thinking more about starting Little Bean with K work this fall, I revisited their website, and I just didn't have peace about using that program for their homeschooling any longer. So, I am stepping out on my own, without the support of the local public school, and their structure and curriculum guidance. I know it's a good thing for our family, but still it's daunting to know that we are already to the point where we will officially be "homeschooling" our children.