Are you considering using MFW Kindergarten for your first year of homeschooling? This is our third and final year using the curriculum and I thought I would share some of my thoughts as we embark on this learning path one final year.
The First Two Weeks
The curriculum starts out very slowly. The first two weeks are very gentle and designed to start easing you into the homeschool year. As homeschool moms we are just raring to go. But this time of transition is so valuable. Start slow and then build consistently. And while you have some extra time in those first few days here are my suggestions.
- As the parent/grandparent/teacher, read all the instruction notes in the creation unit. Then read it again. There is so much foundational procedure stuff that is introduced in the first week. Also take some time to go to the yellow pages in the back of the book. Those are the meat of instruction. Take some time to understand how to teach each piece of it. It is a lot to take in and get your brain around the first time.
- Take time to do the songs, crafts and activities with your student. This is the time you have the opportunity to lay a foundation of connection with your student. And honestly that relationship is built with quality one and one time together. Don’t neglect those sweet moments. Partnering with your child now will allow you to partner through the rest of their entire school career. It is so important.
- Figure out how the daily math practice is going to go in your family. Get out your shoe box and your cup. Find your straws or craft sticks. Figure out how you are going to do your calendar. We’ve always enjoyed the Starfall calendar. It is so interactive and fun plus and we are working on basic computer skills.
- Outside time. I’m not going to lie. This is the part I am always tempted to skip and it is ironic because it is the absolute best time. There is nothing better than taking the time to connect with each other in nature. It is a reset. It is a breath of fresh air for your entire family and even if you are juggling lots of littles take the time to get outside!
Units 3-8 Building Units.
- How to plan your weeks. Are you a week by week planner. A month by month? A whole year at a time? How are you going to organize your crafts and extras?
- Identify the strengths in your student. And appreciate them.
- Teach the lesson but leave them wanting more. It builds anticipation and excitement.
Note: As a parent there is going to be a temptation to say the math/phonics is way too easy and we need to add to it for it to be sufficient. Be patient allow it to be easy. Let your kids build up some confidence. There is so much value in letting your child feel successful.
If you are really really wanting to add more activities consider starting by increasing your read aloud time because there is nothing better at this age than amazing read alouds. Resist the urge to add in more worksheets and more math and more, more, more. Some times more is just more. It isn’t better. Instead find fun play activities and field trips. Fill your schedule with fun hands on learning! The phonics instruction is going to ramp up in week 8-9 and build from there so don’t be too quick to add more instruction.
Weeks 9-22 The Tweak Weeks
This is where you really find your groove. The phonics build steadily. You are very familiar with the instructional portion of the material and you definitely find your stride. This is a great time to tweak. You have given everyone a chance with the material.
- Bust the Boredom! Some kids love the repetition. I had two who didn’t. Find ways to present the material in a fun unique way.
++Sidewalk Chalk is your friend! Use it as a replacement for worksheets whenever possible!
++Break out the sparkly pens, markers and crayons for handwriting practice.
++Use a stick in the dirt or the snow to practice handwriting
++Add a treat to the end of a row of handwriting practice instant motivation!
(Some kids have moved beyond the need to identify the beginning sounds of words, it can become frustrating to have to do the same exercises over and over when they have mastered the skill. So drop those worksheets if your kids are getting frustrated. Do the ones on level. Drop the ones that aren’t on level! You are creating margin for more time to connect! As a word of comfort if they start losing the skill you can always add it back in later. No educational decision is permanent).
- Celebrate accomplishments. As they move through the blend ladder and start putting more and more sounds together make sure you give them a chance to show off their skills to daddy, a grandparent or a friend!
- Don’t neglect the extras. The strength of this curriculum isn’t just the phonics (although it is great) it is totally in all the activities and the fantastic book basket. As the seat work gets easier, downplay it and start adding more hands on activities. And moms I know this is the time when you want to just bust it out. But don’t. Choose to connect.
- Tweak the Seat Work/ Worksheets
++If you add something to seat work/worksheet time, take something else out. I know you bought this curriculum and there is a temptation to do it all no matter what. In all honestly it doesn’t serve the student to do that. More is not better. Instead find where your child is academically and meet their needs. Leave out the things that are no longer serving you.
++Attention spans = a student’s age plus one. That is brain research so adding a bunch of seat work doesn’t truly add to your child’s education and it does put your youngster at risk for burnout later on.
++Walk the line of finding the educational sweet spot where your child is being challenged but not being overloaded.
++And err on the side of too little over too much.
Weeks 23-32 Finish well
This is the home stretch. Ramp up your field trips and hands on activities. Focus on being consistent. Start talking about the break ahead be it summer or holiday. We love paper chains for counting down to the end of school or a break.
Cherish these final units. The whole year flies so quickly. It is such a sweet year. Start to marvel at just how much they have learned! Even if you tweak nothing (which with my middle son we didn’t) marvel at just how much you and your child have learned. Spend some time snuggling close on the couch during read aloud time.
Consider planning a final celebration where you can show off just how much your child has learned. Invite friends and family. Put out samples of your kiddos work. Show them just how proud you are! I think this is a part of homeschool that is missing. We have found that our friends and family love to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of our children! And it is a blast for our kiddos as well!
As I start this curriculum for the third time, I am so thankful for the investment I made in it. The years I have spent teaching my children the Biblical concepts right alongside super fun units is something we already cherish as a family. I love that MFW provided a foundation for me to build upon and really grow as an educator. It is worth the time you are spending on it. And please let me know why you chose MFW and share any questions below in the comments! I truly want to know I would love to get to know you!