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Help me decide -- need to know TODAY--which option for K?


Which curriculum to plan for DD's kindergarten next year?  

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  1. 1. Which curriculum to plan for DD's kindergarten next year?

    • Calvert K (no ATS), complete curriculum including math
      7
    • Alternate below (HOP, FIAR, HWOT, Singapore, Explode Code, etc.)
      23
    • The alternate but with a few substitutions (please explain which)
      4
    • Something entirely different (please explain what you'd recommend)
      3


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Our daughter has a vision impairment and is currently in a integrated SN preschool, next year K would be 1/2 day in our school system. We are planning to pull her out next year and homeschool.

 

We just started homeschooling this year, with her brother who is in 4th grade. Have been using Calvert 4 but been very happy supplementing this with online, SOTW, additional reading, and two co-ops.

 

We're in a bind today. There is a 30% sale on Calvert which ends today. We were considering their K program for her, which is pretty cost effective, and supplementing with a few additional materials.

 

BUT...

 

Here's an alternative option, would like to get opinions from folks if this would be a pretty inclusive K year for her.

 

Here's the option:

 

FIAR (a person at our co-op is selling about $100 for 1-3 plus holiday plus cookbook)

Hooked on Phonics K Learn to read set (we actually have the complete K-2 set already, bought unused at a library sale for $5, has everything)

Handwriting Without Tears (HOT) -- we have wooden set already and comklete letter pages, she is working on these)

and then the additional materials are ideas to complete her curriculum:

 

Handwriting --

HWOT K - Letters and Numbers for Me ($11.64)

 

Phonics -- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons ($12.73)

Explode the Code Vol. 1 ($9.05)

 

Math --

Singapore Early Bird Textbook A & B ($24 and $29 respectively)

 

Science --

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2 ($22.34)

Science Arts ($12.89)

 

*************

 

(I'd appreciate any alternatives to the above, I got from a great post on web site For Love of Education)

 

***************

 

Anyway, it looks like if I bought all the above it would come to about $121.65. And then if I bought the FIAR books too the total might come to $200. Is this a fairly complete curriculum? This would be less than 1/2 what the Calvert would come to even on sale.

 

Please help me decide. I like the idea of having things laid out and how to work with the teaching materials with the Calvert. But something is pulling me to go the other way (now that I'd decided last night on the Calvert, am having second thoughts.) HELP!

 

Amy

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Can you explain why you would choose Calvert over the alternate? Is it the materials themselves, or the teaching manuals, or what?

 

I do very much like Calvert 4 with our son, especially the teacher's manuals. But when I was looking through the Calvert materials for K, it looks like a lot of it are phonics readers and then phonics instruction. Was thinking that I do have that with the HOP, so wondered if I could substitute.

 

Do you like the structure of having the days planned as in the suggested schedule? I haven't actually done this as our son is on a number of different lessons in the different areas of his manual. But the flexibility to do this is actually something I like.

 

So many people have also recommended FIAR. I borrowed the books and like them, it would be nice to use them, although I do think that my daughter might not go through 5 days of a book -- maybe 3. And it skips around a bit more than I know Calvert would.

 

Any comments or thoughts would be very helpful, am really wondering what to choose.

 

Amy

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I don't know anything about Calvert, so I feel like I can't vote. But I just wanted to say that the alternative that you listed sounds pretty comprehensive to me. I was thinking about doing something very similar with my DD for next year.

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Maybe I misunderstood. Do you already have all of the materials in your alternate plan? If you do, maybe you should use those. We absolutely loved FIAR and ETC is a great program too. I'm not a fan of 100EZ lessons but you can easily substitute several other cost effective programs like Phonucs Pathways or The Reading Lesson if 100EZ doesn't work out. I will say that 100EZ moves extremely fast and stressed both my kids out.

 

I love having everything planned out with Calvert but I hated their second grade program and I would have hated first grade too, as they are extremely text bookish, tons and tons of sight words, tons of busy work.

 

But K was really nice, there are finger plays, nursery rhymes, lots of hands on activity ideas, and the read aloud books are cute. My dd loved it and got a good start learning to read and then moved into Advebtures in Phonics A after she finished Calvert K.

 

But it's expensive so if you already own or borrowed the alternate plan you should use that. The alternate materials you listed are just as good and in dome ways better.

 

I don't know about your dd's learning disabilities but I will add that Calvert K is extremely gentle and would be a HUGE confidence booster to a child with learning issues.

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Hoping to get more comments, am feeling very mixed about the decision. Perhaps it is better to use a planned curriculum so that I can focus on enrichments and special projects, rather than spending all of my time and energy on planning assignments.

 

My energy today is at a real low, and realizing that I do get a bit scattered and having the planning done might help me focus...

 

Amy

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Ok I re-read your original post. And I read your last post.

 

I still say Calvert K. I wouldn't say the same for their first and second but in this situation, at this time, for your dd...I really think it'll work!

 

I hope I'm not wrong as I know it's a big $ outlay but I just think you will like it and use it. You may need to supplement mid-year on the reading but that can be done very inexpensively.

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I wouldn't use 100EZ and ETC, but that may be a personal thing. Looking at 100EZ drove me nuts and DD retained nothing with ETC. I preferred using the materials from Promethean Trust (they have Bear Necessities and Dancing Bears, as well as Bearing Away).

 

I used Calvert Pre-K and was completely unimpressed. I felt it was far too expensive for the materials. Their kindergarten program didn't look much better.

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It all depends on how comfortable you are.

 

For K, we use Phonics Pathways (I have used HOP for a change, and it's complete and easy to use), math (we use Saxon 1), and penmanship (we use A Reason for Handwriting K).

 

Anything beyond that is gravy. FIAR is good, and a lot of people like it. We've used ETC and/or Plaid Phonics. We're using Magic School Bus kits for science, and SOTW for history (since I've got older boys, my current K'er sits in).

 

Really, there isn't much to plan for K. Read aloud, and read some more. Play, and play some more.

 

But if you think you need the plan, then go with Calvert (we did a BJU for preschool before I started piecing everything together).

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Yes, she'll be an early 5. She doesn't turn 5 until mid-August.

 

She actually doesn't have learning issues. She has a vision impairment (low vision). She is in a SN classroom now b/c she gets a teacher of the visually impaired to come in and recommend ways to adapt the classroom to her vision needs. No light in eyes (she is very sensitive to light), needs things really up close, etc. For example any picture books she brings up practically to her nose. Even with glasses, her vision is around 20/200. One of our biggest fears is that when she gets older, and the print gets smaller and the reading needs increase (1st-2nd grade) she'll suddenly have a reading issue -- only because she can't keep up b/c of the size of print and also b/c her eyes might tire more easily. Right now she gets a second book because in story time she can't see the book even if it is 2-3 feet away. She needs things very close.

 

She is very bright and quick to pick up things. She's only in pre-K and 4, but she is writing many sight words (she loves to draw and fills her drawings with many words she knows). So she is really on the cusp of reading.

 

Part of our issues are with the education system itself. Too many students in a classroom. Although next year if she stayed in public school she would be in a class of 20 with a general K teacher, SN teacher, and an aide. So this would be a better ratio. But I really think she would benefit by more one-on-one attention (every kid would, I think). And we are finding that the TVI (visually impaired teacher) only visits a couple times a year and aren't really providing a great deal of hands-on assistance.

 

The other consideration we have is although we con't have a learning issue per se, she is very very active and especially when she can't see up close becomes very impatient. She was always very busy and impulsive so I'm not sure if we are looking at attention issues at some point down the road...

 

Thank you to everyone who is giving suggestions. We really appreciate them!

 

Amy

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Something entirely different. Phonics Pathways or Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, a writing tablet, some math manipulatives (blocks, counters, and such), and a library card. Focus on learning to read, forming letters, read to her frequently, and show her the wonder of numbers as you go about living. :)

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I should think Calvert grade 1 and up would have too many worksheets for your daughter.

 

I'd skip Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Explode the Code because you already have HOP. Use that extra money for art supplies. Get a chalk board for the "wet, dry, try" method in HWT. That is easy on the eyes, and it works. If you do choose Teach Your Child to Read anyway, you could write the words she is supposed to read on a white board. The pages in the book are very busy.

 

When she gets older I bet there will be even more books available on e-readers. I hear that you can make the font large on them.

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Something entirely different. Phonics Pathways or Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, a writing tablet, some math manipulatives (blocks, counters, and such), and a library card. Focus on learning to read, forming letters, read to her frequently, and show her the wonder of numbers as you go about living. :)

 

:iagree:

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I'd do the build-your-own thing, but I would *skip* the used FIAR set. *Just* buy volume 1. If you finish it and love it, buy the others. If you finish it and loved it but are ready for something else, or if you finish it and hate it, or if you don't even use all of it, you'll have saved money over buying the whole set. ... Not to mention that once you've done one volume, you'll have a good idea of *how* to do FIAR and you may just decide to do something similar with books of your choice. FIAR v.1 will keep you occupied for a nice long time anyway -- you don't need all 3 to start with.

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I wouldn't spend big bucks on Kindergarten. You don't know how a curriculum is going to fit a child until you use it, and, imo, K is too early to make a huge financial commitment to a program.

 

I'd go piecemeal if I were you.

 

Tara

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So you are not planning on teaching her to read Braille? I don't know what Braille curriculum is out there, but that's the way I would personally go with a visually-impaired child.

 

This looks like a neat way to teach early Braille literacy skills.

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I think both of your plans, and those suggested by other posters, are all good. It's kind of hard to mess up Kindergarten, as long as you keep it fun. If she enjoys it and learns some, great!

 

Calvert and HOP are going to teach reading in very different ways. HOP is just a lot of lists of words, and endless reading/flashcards/etc. Very few workpages. Calvert, otoh, has work pages and activity suggestions and approaches literacy and numeracy in many different ways. Of course it's textbook-based, obviously, but the textbooks aren't the whole picture--as you know from Calvert 4.

 

I enjoyed Calvert Pre-K enormously oh-so-long ago, and I thought Calvert K was a good program, too. My problem was that it turned out that my oldest boys were way ahead of the curve and the whole K program was far too easy for them. I think they finished it in 3 months. For those boys I had to ditch Calvert. I still think it's a very solid program, and I've picked it up again for my K-er, but now I'm using Calvert 1 with him. I'm more experienced now, so it doesn't freak me out that several portions of it are too easy for him. Instead I just enjoy what works, and am using it to make sure he gets lots and lots of writing practice. I love the little games & activities suggestions.

 

So I voted Calvert. I've also never been drawn to FIAR, so that influences my vote. I didn't like the samples, and I know the program would drive me nuts. I don't need every activity or learning experience to tie in with a picture book I'm reading. I just like to select my own hodgepodge of reading as I go along!

 

Good luck!

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If she's showing signs of moving more quickly than many children, you might not get much return on a Calvert investment. I did K, 1 and 2 in 6 mo with ds, and was out a lot of $$ and still had to buy curriculum that we could get longer use out of. Piecing together allows much more customization, the ability to compress or adapt to materials that might better suit her visual needs (by 1st or 2nd, the print was getting a good bit smaller -- using something more lit-based, you may be able to find large print and/or audio versions to adapt), so to start, I picked your piecemeal plan -- I've used most of those materials, and it was pretty easy to compress the material while still keep to a budget.

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Love the support for Braille. :)

 

Actually, with low vision kids like my daughter our state commission for the blind does not support braille instruction. They believe that since she sees, she learns primarily visually. So they won't support Braille instruction. And that is another reason we would like to opt out of the system. We do support it. Even if she does see and is a very visual individual, we see it as an option she should have. For instance, she is very photophobic and wouldn't be able to read outside if there is glare. If she knew Braille she would have that option open to her, even if she read print most of the time. It seems to make sense that she could learn both.

 

So we indeed would like her to learn Braille as well. That would be in addition to her curriculum. I am learning it so that I can help her learn it. Right now she is only learning pre-Braille skills.

 

Amy

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Love the support for Braille. :)

 

Actually, with low vision kids like my daughter our state commission for the blind does not support braille instruction. They believe that since she sees, she learns primarily visually. So they won't support Braille instruction. And that is another reason we would like to opt out of the system. We do support it. Even if she does see and is a very visual individual, we see it as an option she should have. For instance, she is very photophobic and wouldn't be able to read outside if there is glare. If she knew Braille she would have that option open to her, even if she read print most of the time. It seems to make sense that she could learn both.

 

So we indeed would like her to learn Braille as well. That would be in addition to her curriculum. I am learning it so that I can help her learn it. Right now she is only learning pre-Braille skills.

 

Amy

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I would not buy Calvert for a K'er. Here's what I probably would do:

 

Phonics/Reading

Start with HOP, since you have it. If you use OPG, have the spine cut off at Kinkos or Staples, have the pages trimmed & 3-hole punched, and put it in a 3-ring binder. You can then pull out individual pages, so she can hold one page up close for reading lessons. Research, select, and save up for a magnifier. Teach yourselves and your daughter Braille. [My husband's cousin has low vision and is photophobic (due to albinism). She can NOT open her eyes in bright sunlight, let alone read.]

 

Picture Book RA

There are great FREE lists of Good Books -- here and here and here. IMO, you don't need a guide for Kindergarten. The FIAR selections are wonderful, but you can compile your own list. What simplifies life for me is to buy the books themselves, instead of relying on the library to have what we want when we want it. :tongue_smilie:Buy TWO copies of the picture books you like best. I like to get them from Rainbow Resource (they have FIAR Literature Packages) or from Amazon ($25 at a time with free shipping).

 

Audiobooks

When I tutored, I required my students to listen to full-length chapter books on CD. Check your library for audiobooks and cultivate the habit of listening to them. We're listening to Pollyanna. :D Other favorites are: Mary Poppins, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Peter Pan, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, The Water Horse, The Chronicles of Narnia (all 7 volumes), Pinocchio, The Railway Children, Black Beauty, The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six, The Five Little Peppers & How They Grew, Charlotte's Web, D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables, The Cricket in Times Square, James Herriot's Treasury for Children, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, and anything by Jim Weiss.

 

Handwriting/Copywork

HWOT is the only program the OT at my old school would use with any student. She thought it was perfect for so many situations. How will you do copywork with your daughter? Perhaps you will need to type selections and print them out in a larger font?

 

Math

Anything you choose

 

Science

We have BFSU, and I like it for my own education, :001_smile: but it's a pain to implement. Instead, you might want to look at the Let's Read and Find Out About Science series of books, along with Nature Study. Some snuggly read alouds and lots of hands-on exploration are plenty of science for K.

 

On a personal note, I can't believe your state commission for the blind! Imagine, not supporting Braille instruction! That sounds like not supporting ASL for the deaf/HOH. Hello, this is a language. Everyone needs a language. Anything that can help a person communicate and thrive should be supported. HTH. :grouphug:

Edited by Sahamamama
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to go with the alternate option (but will look at all the suggestions and tweak it to fit).

 

I really appreciate Calvert 4 and it has worked well. They have lots of supplemental activity suggestions. But the Calvert K program sample pages on the site looked like some might be too easy for her next year, especially if she could almost do them now. It was a hard decision and I hope it will work out.

 

I like the idea of the alternate too and it would be easy to substitute in if she needs more challenge or if the book style does not hold her interest. And our alternate plan, is so much less than the Calvert (less than 1/2).

 

Unity when your sons were ahead, and the Calvert K was too easy for them did you ever go back with them at a higher level?

 

Amy

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Cool! There's so much good curriculum out there and it's fun to make a custom program. Can be a lot of trial and error, but you can resell some of it if it doesn't work out for you. Not Calvert, of course, so that's a real negative.

 

For the boys I never went back. I actually was toying with the idea for 8th grade, but the problems from K are still there. The boys are way out there in terms of math and science ability, so the math/science/technology component of Calvert 8 would be useless to them. I doubt the English would challenge them either. I know you can opt out of math, but not science or the rest. I did like the lesson guides and all the suggestions, etc...but I don't think a boxed curriculum will work unless a child is mostly on grade level with all subjects. That hasn't described my older boys since...well, ever.

 

But, I do still think it's a comprehensive, well-done program, so I check in periodically when planning another year's curriculum for other children. I have thought of using it for my daughter, and particularly might pick it up in 6th grade for her, since I don't like TOG 1 and I know that's the year they do ancients. She is a big box-checker, and I know she would respond well to the IG.

 

And, as I've said, I'm using Calvert 1 with my 5 yo (afterschooling) but I'm tweaking...for example, I just bought the Maps, Globes book level B off of Amazon when I realized that the level A was far too easy for him. That means, of course, that the IG is no longer useful for Maps, Globes, but I just use it to remind me to work in that book a little with him. It's a drag, but I'd rather do that than waste time with a book that's too easy.

 

Best of luck finding great curriculum choices for your daughter! Don't forget to have fun with her. :-)

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