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No Formal Kindergarten?


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My 4yo does lots of educational games and activities, is learning his numbers and letters informally, loves stories, and is highly self-directed. He is learning so well on his own, and is resistant to follow my lead.

I am thinking of skipping formal kindergarten for him and just continue doing what we are doing. We will jump into first grade when he turns 6. 

Has anyone else done this? How did it turn out?

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My only concern would be that most first grade curricula (even individually) assumes the child is reading and doing basic math (adding, subtracting, beginning to tell time, skip counting, etc). If he isn't reading by the end of kindergarten, you can certainly still "jump into" first grade, on a formal level, but you may end up having to use some kindergarten material.

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I agree that things are expected of students of a certain age, but who cares? (Unless you do). You can take the first few months of 1st to catch up, or use curricula that starts out lighter. Some people don't start schooling until their kid is 8. I feel that's a little extreme, but they obviously don't.

 

If he's having fun, I wouldn't spoil it. I've read too many forums and blog posts of moms who regret pushing too much too soon.

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I disagree that most first grade curricula expect a child to be already reading and adding and subtracting - there are many options that don't require that.  He should know his letters and numbers, but you said that's covered.  We did very little formal for "kindergarten" other than Handwriting Without Tears.  Everything else was games, projects, field trips, and books.  It was mostly just fun.  I'm aware of more of what's out there now, so I might have used some other resources, but I don't really regret any of our kindergarten "program" or lack thereof.

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I disagree that most first grade curricula expect a child to be already reading and adding and subtracting - there are many options that don't require that.  He should know his letters and numbers, but you said that's covered.  We did very little formal for "kindergarten" other than Handwriting Without Tears.  Everything else was games, projects, field trips, and books.  It was mostly just fun.  I'm aware of more of what's out there now, so I might have used some other resources, but I don't really regret any of our kindergarten "program" or lack thereof.

 

:iagree:

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I disagree that most first grade curricula expect a child to be already reading and adding and subtracting - there are many options that don't require that. He should know his letters and numbers, but you said that's covered. We did very little formal for "kindergarten" other than Handwriting Without Tears. Everything else was games, projects, field trips, and books. It was mostly just fun. I'm aware of more of what's out there now, so I might have used some other resources, but I don't really regret any of our kindergarten "program" or lack thereof.

Pure Waldorf curricula don't start until a student is 7 years old, and there is no previous formal instruction. Amish, Mennonite and Ambleside Online all start at age 6, with no formal kindegarten.

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I used no formal curriculum until 3rd grade for my older kids and by the time we started they were both advanced beyond grade level and took to the materials I chose very well, my oldest has been 2 grade levels ahead in math since.

 

I'm currently doing informal kindy with my just turned 5 yr old and he's taking to reading and math very well, often surprising me with how much he picks up and gets ahead of me. :)

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If he's having fun, I wouldn't spoil it. I've read too many forums and blog posts of moms who regret pushing too much too soon.

I started my first two at 3 and 4. I definitely feel like it was counterproductive to start so early.  That is certainly influencing my decision.

 

We start our school year only 4 weeks after his birthday. He's speech delayed, and just very young for his age.

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My 4yo does lots of educational games and activities, is learning his numbers and letters informally, loves stories, and is highly self-directed. He is learning so well on his own, and is resistant to follow my lead.

I am thinking of skipping formal kindergarten for him and just continue doing what we are doing. We will jump into first grade when he turns 6. 

Has anyone else done this? How did it turn out?

 

My parents did something very similar with me (35 years ago) and it worked Great.

 

This is particularly well suited to home schooling, though. Just teach him the next thing he needs to know and don't worry about the grade he is supposed to learn particular skills at.

 

If you are in a program like AWANAs, though, you may need to decide when to "call" him a Kindergartener to be sure he doesn't miss out on that year of Sparkies, etc.  We were not in such a program when I was that age so I never noticed but my son certainly would have.

 

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I disagree that most first grade curricula expect a child to be already reading and adding and subtracting - there are many options that don't require that.  He should know his letters and numbers, but you said that's covered.  We did very little formal for "kindergarten" other than Handwriting Without Tears.  Everything else was games, projects, field trips, and books.  It was mostly just fun.  I'm aware of more of what's out there now, so I might have used some other resources, but I don't really regret any of our kindergarten "program" or lack thereof.

I have Funnix for him. It's grades k-2, and covers everything from identifying letters and numbers to basic math and short stories. If he were more compliant I might let him start now, but I don't think he's mature enough.

He is learning basic addition already, as my older kids did at this age. I took that to mean they were ready for formal schooling, but now I doubt that.

He's also starting to tell time. He seems to be learning everything he should with very little instruction.

 

My 2yo is on a similar level. If they hold steady, I might keep them together. I don't know.

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I have Funnix for him. It's grades k-2, and covers everything from identifying letters and numbers to basic math and short stories. If he were more compliant I might let him start now, but I don't think he's mature enough.

He is learning basic addition already, as my older kids did at this age. I took that to mean they were ready for formal schooling, but now I doubt that.

He's also starting to tell time. He seems to be learning everything he should with very little instruction.

 

My 2yo is on a similar level. If they hold steady, I might keep them together. I don't know.

 

You're already "doing kindergarten." Well done. :-)

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Yep, my youngest is pretty much just doing what I fondly call App School.  She *hates* workbooks, so all my plans/purchases have gone out the window.  We're loosely working through OPGTR with a whiteboard and letter tiles.  Then she gets to "play" on the iPad while I work with her sister.  We do Bible together and informal science.  That's it.

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I did no formal Kindergarten with any of my kids. We played a lot at math and science, and they each learned to read from storybooks when we read aloud. This worked very well for us. Very cozy stuff. 

 

The one kinda-sorta problem/regret I have with this mostly pertains to my oldest. Like your child, oldest DS was resistant to direct instruction. Still is, actually, LOL (not really LOL most of the time... :lol:). So doing no formal K worked great. But basically I just postponed the issue of his resistance to the following year, when it "mattered" more than K. If I could go back in time, I still would not do formal K with anyone, even him. But I would purposefully work much harder than I did on habits and respect. I would do some kind of organized but fun activity on a daily basis to get him used to...um...how to put this nicely...bending his will to my own?  :laugh: We had a routine, not a schedule, and we still do...pretty much. But I needed him to get used to the idea that school was going to start taking some of "his" time. I wouldn't formalize math or reading. I would do it with something that excited him anyway. Love science? Let's set aside 30 minutes a day to do science. Anyway, I wish I had established the habit of setting time aside daily to work. I was very unschooly in the beginning, which I don't regret. But I do wish I had baby-stepped from unschooly to more scheduly a little more thoughtfully. (And we're still a bit unschooly even today. :D) 

 

In short, I would make an effort to get him used to the idea of engaging in something educational that isn't 100% his idea. I want my kids vested and engaged. But I also want them to have good attitudes when they are learning something I must teach them. And, again, I am a pretty relaxed sort of homeschooler, but these things do happen... :lol:

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We didn't do any academic stuff in K. Sometime after 6, I did some casual HWOT and Leapfrog Letter Factory. We worked into full school slowly. It worked out just fine. I've always felt early academics are less valuable than play, read alouds, and similar at the young grades. I would feel differently if my kids might have been headed to public school in early elementary.

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I don't do any formal pre-K ever.   I do very basic K with most of my kids.   I didn't, however, with our Aspie b/c sitting still was akin to torture for him.   He started first grade not knowing his letters or recognizing written numbers (he could count and did basic math just from life, but not in written form).   He ended up reading Charlotte's Web by the end of first grade and flew through Horizons 1st grade math book.   So it is definitely doable with certain kids.

 

That said, I love K.   It is one of my favorite times with my kids.   But "formal" for us may not be "formal" for others.  We read, play games, do basic handwriting/math/phonics, but most of all, it is a time of pleasure for both of us.

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Remember that kindergarten is a recent invention, and first grade has its name for a reason!

 

If signatures like mine are making you think everybody is sitting 5YOs down for the whole morning, don't be deceived: we are normally at the school table less than half an hour. Kids absolutely can learn to read, write, and do math in a few minutes a day.

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I think it's fine to skip it.  We're doing it for similar reasons to Alte Veste, though - just to kind of get in the habit.  But we do K twice a week and for a total of maybe 1.5 hours per week.  And at least half of that is games.  I just moved her up to Singapore Math 1st grade, and it pretty much assumes that they can count to 10 and not much else.  We're skipping stuff because she can add and subtract a bit.  It would be totally fine for most 6yos who have never had any formal education.  It doesn't assume the child can read. (DD does not read yet)  

 

I haven't decided what I'm doing with the twins (now 3) but I don't plan to do anything formal until the year they turn 6 (in November), unless I think it will help keep them occupied while I teach big sister.  Then I will just work with wherever they're at, whether that's kindy or 1st or what not.  They're exceptionally wiggly, even for 3yos, so I really don't want to try to pin two of them to a chair at not-quite-5.   They're in a preschool this year (to give me one-on-one time with sister) and it's pretty silly to see them with the other kids who "should" be in their grade (my state has a late cutoff - they can go to Pre-K next year and Kindy at 4.  Most parents do this.)

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I don't do any formal pre-K ever.   I do very basic K with most of my kids.   I didn't, however, with our Aspie b/c sitting still was akin to torture for him.   He started first grade not knowing his letters or recognizing written numbers (he could count and did basic math just from life, but not in written form).   He ended up reading Charlotte's Web by the end of first grade and flew through Horizons 1st grade math book.   So it is definitely doable with certain kids.

 

That said, I love K.   It is one of my favorite times with my kids.   But "formal" for us may not be "formal" for others.  We read, play games, do basic handwriting/math/phonics, but most of all, it is a time of pleasure for both of us.

My son was similar, although not an Aspie, he was not ready and pushing would have been a huge mistake.

 

I did more w/ my daughter, although it was still low-key and not daily, probably averaging around 3x a week or so. She is the type that loves workbooks. I did/do a lot of work through games though w/ her. 

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We don't start anything formally until legal first grade age.   I don't have a curriculum.  I don't even plan on educational websites.  I just continue with basic parenting.  My elder two kids are now 2nd and 5th grade and I am so glad I did that.  It did not hurt them at all - and greatly helped the eldest who simply wasn't developmentally ready for formal work.  In first grade, the only formal subject we did was math - though we did the other subjects less formally and had to document them. Both of those kids went through 3.5 levels of math in first grade.  It wasn't an issue!  My 4 year old likes to ask us math word problems.  We never sat him down and taught him.  It's like teaching letters or colors, they naturally fall into life.  As for reading, my first wasn't ready until first grade - and that's okay!  He struggled to read mat sat at the start and was reading Harry Potter by his 7th b-day.  My second taught herself to read at 3.  At 7, her reading level was the same as my eldest!  So, there's a range of when kids learn things and it's okay to be on both sides of that range.   Some parents like doing formal work quite young.  I remember kindergarten being a half day of play, with the learning being already stuff I knew without teaching.  So we just do unstructured play - and learning still manages to happen quite easily.  (My middle child did want a workbook.  So I bought her a generic one and she used it like another toy.  She might do 10 pages, and then not touch it for a month.  They were always random pages.  She just wanted to feel like big brother so it allowed her to do that without doing it like a curriculum).

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I'm not sure what the definition of "formal" would be here?

 

In my mind "formal" homeschooling is adhering to your state's basic homeschooling laws, and anything else you do is just gravy. 

 

If by formal you mean planned lesson plans and a school schedule to be completed in 34 weeks, then no I don't do any formal K.

 

What I do is basic phonics/letter sound association, handwriting, math (some workbooks, some games, lots of manipulatives to play around with), fun science experiments, learning a little about our world, life skills, sensory play, lots of read alouds and arts and crafts, investigating their interests etc.(My 6 year old spent most of Kindergarten last year learning every single thing he could about dinosaurs and evolution and the Ice Age)

 

I have books and even some preK- K curriculum type products and resources to help me do that and to glean ideas from. But it's definitely all in a spirit of play and no pressure to finish a curriculum of K program. Follow their lead at these young ages. 

 

I just really don't like the idea of "grades." In my mind it's more helpful to think in terms of developmental phases. Ages 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, 15-18. Most of the time, kids will be ready to tackle certain learning goals in these age ranges. 

 

Saying 1st grade or 5th grade is just a peg other people can hang assumptions on, and gets you out of a conversation in the store with a stranger quickly. So I think you could just continue doing what you do, and say he's in Kindergarten anyway, if asked!!! ;)

 

 

 

 

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I just really don't like the idea of "grades." In my mind it's more helpful to think in terms of developmental phases. Ages 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, 15-18. Most of the time, kids will be ready to tackle certain learning goals in these age ranges. 

 

Saying 1st grade or 5th grade is just a peg other people can hang assumptions on, and gets you out of a conversation in the store with a stranger quickly. So I think you could just continue doing what you do, and say he's in Kindergarten anyway, if asked!!! ;)

 

ITA, but you'll notice the huge number of posts here that refer to children by grades instead of ages. :huh:

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Kindy here looks like this:  SM Essentials (math), learning to read (with program of choice) and a beginning handwriting book.  We do read alouds for history, literature and science but consider it gravy.  Lots of free play, both indoors and outdoors.  Fun, interesting "enrichment" class at co op if one is offered.  (Fun art, messy science, etc.  These are for fun and making friends only, not for academics.  We are already at a co op.  I would not join one just for these classes.)

 

Kindy at my house takes about an hour or less per day, four days a week for the three subjects we do.  The two kids I have done kindy with (my two youngest) have been ready for these three subjects at "kindy age" so I did them then.  If I had a child who was not ready or for whom this basic plan did not work, I would feel free to postpone it or change it.

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I just really don't like the idea of "grades." In my mind it's more helpful to think in terms of developmental phases. Ages 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, 15-18. Most of the time, kids will be ready to tackle certain learning goals in these age ranges. )

I disagree. Those are broad ranges. What a 9 turning 10 yr old is typically capable of achieving is not typical of most 11 turning 12 yr olds, even in terms of broad goals. Ditto to a 12 and 15 yr old. I think grade levels are more helpful in quantifying some sort of skill level goal in theory. (Though how one defines those goals will differ)

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I disagree. Those are broad ranges. What a 9 turning 10 yr old is typically capable of achieving is not typical of most 11 turning 12 yr olds, even in terms of broad goals. Ditto to a 12 and 15 yr old. I think grade levels are more helpful in quantifying some sort of skill level goal in theory. (Though how one defines those goals will differ)

 

I'm a pretty heavy reader of Montessori philosophy and that's where I get that info. It works for me. The Montessori idea of 3 year cycles in development makes a lot of sense to me. It's not for everyone. <shrug>

 

I only use grade level ideas to communicate to the rest of the world certain assumptions about my child.

 

Basically I feel that there isn't any rule as to what the OP ought to be doing in a year of her child's life and call it K. We've all experienced children from approximately 3-6 being at various different places in terms of what they are learning, but regardless of calling it preschool, K, or 1st---they're learning to read, write, and do beginning math as well as showing readiness for some other things. 

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ITA, but you'll notice the huge number of posts here that refer to children by grades instead of ages. :huh:

 

My state requires I put what grade my child is in the forms. I used age-based grades for now.  So when I say we don't do anything formal for kindy, I mean I don't do anything until legal first grade age.  So the year after they turn 6 before Sept 1st.  If I was asked what grade level my child is working on, then that's a much more complicated answer.  It's much easier to say what grade my child would be in if in public school.  And since I have to put a grade level on the yearly form, I can't just call my child no grade. 

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My state requires I put what grade my child is in the forms. I used age-based grades for now.  So when I say we don't do anything formal for kindy, I mean I don't do anything until legal first grade age.  So the year after they turn 6 before Sept 1st.  If I was asked what grade level my child is working on, then that's a much more complicated answer.  It's much easier to say what grade my child would be in if in public school.  And since I have to put a grade level on the yearly form, I can't just call my child no grade. 

 

I don't have to do forms in my state, but yes--- that's exactly the main reason I say 1st grade, 5th grade. It's just soooo much easier. :)

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What about formal k for an older student? We started my ds on "formal" k work the September he was 6, having just turned 6 at the end of July...I feel like he should be doing "formal" work in some capacity. Maybe it doesn't make a difference?

 

See, I think you should work with a child at his academic ability regardless of his age, but *I* would not refer to a 6yo as being a kindergartener. Your ds would have been in first grade in September; *I* would refer to him as that (when it's necessary to put a grade-level label on him, such as for Sunday school or other activities which group children according to their grade levels instead of their ages). I say this as someone with a July birthday, married to someone who has a September birthday (Mr. Ellie grew up in California, where the cut-off date was December 2) and so wasn't 18 until three months after he graduated from high school.

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None of our materials are strictly grade levelled, and none of their activities are categorized by grade. We don't file any paperwork until age 7, and then it's just my information and a student count. 

What grade I put him in when is completely arbitrary.

I am feeling just fine with the decision to hold off for a year. 

Thanks!

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None of our materials are strictly grade levelled, and none of their activities are categorized by grade. We don't file any paperwork until age 7, and then it's just my information and a student count. 

What grade I put him in when is completely arbitrary.

I am feeling just fine with the decision to hold off for a year. 

Thanks!

 

See, you aren't "holding him off for a year." :-)

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K at our house is comprised largely of learning to read. We do no formal work until the child is well on tr way to reading, and that's very much cuddle up and enjoy.

 

By state regulations, my oldest son is kindergarten-aged child. With the exception of writing, he's doing first grade or more. When asked, he is still kindy.

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I have no problem withholding lessons until the kid is ready, but mine was ready long before first grade. We have done a staggered start for most everything. He was ready for reading first, so we started that at 3 (very relaxed). He wasn't ready for formal math until his 5th birthday, so we started it then, but slowly. He wasn't ready for handwriting until he was a few months older, so we started it then. He zoomed ahead in reading and then hung out at a 1st grade level for a few months, so we stayed there for a bit. Then he zoomed ahead to 2nd and stayed there for a couple months, then 3rd, then 4th .. kind of in steps. When he was ready to start spelling at almost 6, we started with a few words at a time, and now he does a formal spelling program BUT we combine days or take longer as needed. It's kind of formal because I do use regular curricula, and we do work every day. But it's not like I'm using a KINDERGARTEN CURRICULUM whether he's ready or not. Most of his stuff is actually above grade level.

 

If I had held back on doing anything until 1st grade, it wouldn't have been a good choice for this kid. He thrives on schoolwork - he loves the interaction, the challenge, and the accomplishment. He doesn't get that same feeling from building legos or drawing pictures (which he also likes to do, but it's just different). I compare him to a border collie. He really needs a job to be happy. Let him get bored and he will chew up the furniture (ok, not really .. but he will whine and mope). He also USES what he learns through our schoolwork. He recognizes contractions and quotations. He splits things into equal pieces. He counts out money. He writes notes. He didn't just pick that stuff up through play, he learned it through curricula. So I would essentially be withholding information that he was ready for and could use if I didn't do formal work with him.

 

I realize other families probably teach some of those things through their daily lives, so I'm not saying my way is the only way. I'm a big believer in the idea that different things work for different families. But this works for us.

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That's what I told people about kindy too - that we were unschooling it.  People have it in their heads that you must start at kindy with formal education since that's what the school districts do.  Most people with kids in public school here actually think that 4K is essential now!  I'm still fine not calling my almost 5 year old in anything this year.  And next year, we only say kindy if someone asks.  I've found it's much easier to say kindy with a kindy aged child than to say we're not schooling.  With a younger student, I would still call it kindy at public-school kindy age in most cases.  And then the next year I'd likely call first grade on my forms if I wasn't sure.  My eldest child would have not been ready maturity-wise for public school kindy at that age.  He's the reason we unschooled kindy to start with.  But by the end of first grade, he had caught up and more.  I'm glad I didn't start him officially late.  

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Andrea- Though I wait to start, I fully understand that not all kids and all families are the same.  In most cases, I don't think kindy is necessary.  But of course, there are going to be cases where having more formal lessons are what works for the child and family.  That's the best thing about homeschooling - we can tailor it to our kids instead of to the system! 

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Finding this very interesting. I'm required to put my 5 year old in "Grade Primary" here, as the province does not allow you to just skip it. So we're working on letters/phonograms and that's good enough. I'd planned to do math games, but he loves to do math like the  big kids. He didn't like the kindergarten math book I got for him (he screamed until I got him a "real math book with numbers and NO PICTURES") :-}  BTW, we do about 20 minutes of "school" with him/day. But lots of play time, read aloud, etc. He's mostly learning from watching his siblings, as kids tend to do. 

 

I really wan't in a rush because my second child did Primary in PS, and actually learned next to nothing that year. She just wasn't ready. We redid the same material at home the next year and gradually rolled it into grade 1 material, and she's working at or beyond grade level now. 

 

As for grade levels, I tell them their grade level by age. Makes no difference what they are actually doing. Much easier that way. 

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I do formal K starting at age 5, but I keep it short and sweet. My middle son is a late bloomer, and he is also wiggly and has focus issues. I'm glad I started him learning to sit still for a few minutes (NOT an hour!) at age 5 when he was more willing to please. We did phonics, handwriting, and math. It took about 30 minutes total. Then we did read alouds. That's it. This year in first, he's doing very well, but I still keep things on the short side, and I have limited his subjects. He does phonics and reading (separate workbooks from R&S), math, and tags along for history and science. I incorporate handwriting into his phonics and reading instead of doing a separate subject. I'm not doing grammar or composition (not even copywork) right now, as our focus is learning to read. He has a longer day than his k day, but he's handling it wonderfully. I think if I had waited until this year to start sit down school, he would have resisted sit down school completely.

 

My youngest will be K next year. He likes sit down school and has been teaching himself this year with workbooks. Totally different critter from my middle child. His K year will still just be reading, handwriting, and math. And since he's going to be doing the same phonics/reading program DS2 is doing now, I'll just incorporate handwriting into that as I'm doing for DS2. The main difference between reading in K between the two boys will be that youngest is able to do written work for phonics/reading, whereas middle child used completely oral methods (that was necessary that year). I also scribed a lot in math for middle son, and I probably won't need to do that with youngest (he likes to write).

 

Even the K recommended in WTM is very gentle and not much seat work - OPGTR (oral phonics), a handwriting book, and Saxon K (hands on, no worksheets), plus read alouds.

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