Friday, February 10, 2012

Kindergarten Update

We've been "de-schooling" of sorts for the past month and its going really well! I've eliminated all worksheets and writing assignments for the time being since it nearly always brings tears. We have been working on the "school is fun" concept and using the word "lessons" instead of "school" to disassociate the bad memories. (But sometimes I forget and call it school)

I haven't been focusing on reading, just remembering the alphabet and sounds of the letters. She had some sight word work in Kinder but she couldn't remember the words she'd learned if we skipped a day practicing. I made what I call "Word Gems" using glass vase gems and printouts of the Dolche sight words. I had several colors of glass gems so I used clear for the Pre-Primer list, yellow for the Primer list and lavender for the First list. I found the idea on Pinterest (LOVE Pinterest for school ideas!). I glued the word to the flat side of the glass gem and then painted it with clear nail polish after it dried so it would hopefully be waterproof. It has been so great! Its a way that she can hold onto the sight word in her hand and its a visual cue of how much she already knows. I even used some scrap fabric to make a bag to keep them in. We take them out and review, make sentences, make longer sentences and play recall games. She doesn't get to "keep" a gem until she knows it, not just by sounding it out, but automatic. We've been doing other things to help her learn new words: stamping the word, saying the word, writing the word, and highlighting the word in a photocopied nursery rhyme. No flashcards needed.

As for Math, she already counts to 20 pretty well, so I've incorporated some Montessori methods using base ten. She helped me make base ten rods using chenille sticks and pony beads we had on hand, then we used loose pony beads as the ones. She picked up counting by tens and 1:1 matching of numbers almost immediately. I then showed her how to determine place value and she understood that as well. We've also been taking advantage of the conversation hearts in stores now to do estimation and graphing lessons. Very tactile (and sweet) activity.

I've ordered a handwriting book called Cursive First and its designed to help kinetic learners, lefties and dyslexics write better. (How could I resist that?) For the beginning at least, I will have her do the exercises with both hands and then later she can choose which feels more comfortable for her.

I'm finding now that the pressure is off, she is recalling information that she learned earlier but was unable to retain. I think she really needs to have time for new concepts to sink in which is why we have backed up to basics and will take our time moving forward.