Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Showing off my future student

A few weeks ago I posted a list of "get ready for kindergarten" ideas presented at our church's Sunday School classes on education. Today I captured of video of this list in action that I thought I'd share. 

My daughter-in-law-friend, Kathy, is great at teaching "school" concepts to my granddaughter Amara as they go along with everyday life. Amara will be two next month and has recently started counting from 1 to 11 independently. I think she's brilliant, of course! Today she even made it to 20 with me saying every other number - when she got to eleven I said 12, expecting her to repeat it. Instead she said, "13" and so on up to 20! 

I can't wait to homeschool this girl!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Apostolic and Church Age Terms

At Zera Hall, we use a year-round educational calendar based on the traditional church year. This calendar was created by a homeschooling family at our church and is being used and developed by a group of us educator-moms. The year begins with Advent and ends with what I call Confession Term. The first four terms follow the life of Christ as the church year does with Advent, Epiphany, Lent and Resurrection & Ascension terms. After Ascension day we enter what is known as "ordinary time" in the church year. 

In using this calendar, I try to match our memorization, history and class projects to the term we are in. This was easy to do for the first four terms, but harder once we got to ordinary time. So, to continue following the work of Christ with our classwork, I gave the ordinary-time terms themes that continued to follow the history of Christ's church: Apostolic Age, Church Age and Confession Terms. We are currently finishing up Apostlic Age Term and will be entering Church Age Term in a couple of weeks.

During Apostolic Age term we follow the work of the early church from Pentecost through the lives of the Apostles. This looks a little different every year. This year we worked on memorizing the names of the Apostles in song and learned the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 in keeping with Pentecost.

I love using the church calendar for our school year as it focuses our minds on following Christ in everything we do. Since we do not follow a secular educational model, we are not limited to a secular school calendar. I appreciate many aspects of this calendar - working year-round, regular rest and work routines, etc. - but especially that it gives me a focus for each term. Each year as I use this calendar, I develop a bit further ways in which to tie each of our subjects into the period of the church year we are in. I enjoy having a tool that trains both the girls and myself to think of all we do in light of Christ's work in our lives. 

I am excited to take up Church Age term this year and begin the girls' study of Christ work in history - Veritas Press History Cards here we come!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

In our Sunday School class last week, Connie Meyerdierk gave an excellent talk on how to prepare your little one for kindergarten. Our church just wrapped up a 10-week class on Christian education. At the final class, Connie gave wonderful direction on child-rearing in the early years and preparation for school from birth to kindergarten. Below is a list of suggestions she offered as preschool goals. This list includes more than I would expect from students entering Zera Hall; although, I would love it if every little girl had all these skills! I thought her list an excellent resource for parents looking forward to school as they teach and train their baby daughters from infancy through the preschool years. 

For our Zera Hall friends out there - if any of you missed Connie's presentation last Sunday, she will be giving the same information more informally at my Ladies' Fellowship Breakfast August 12th. 


Goals for Preschool: by Connie Meyerdierk
These are mostly gleaned from recommendations by Michele Lewis, Abecedarian Academy Home Preschool, and it is in no way exhaustive…you can also google Preschool or Kindergarten Benchmarks for more ideas.

  • Read daily...choose from variety of styles (poetry, nursery rhymes, stories of various length)
o   Discuss story to build comprehension skills
§  Feelings of characters
§  Choices that were made
§  Look at pictures...can you guess a little bit about the story from the pictures?  Extract as much detail out of the pictures as I can to help develop their power of observation (color, sizes, where are things located, etc)
§  Ask them to retell me the story
o  Let them see me reading (Bible, magazine, books of interest, etc)
o  Encourage good care of books...may look at as long as you handle gently
o  Understand reading is downward from left to right and is able to turn the pages in the correct direction for me
  • Say alphabet without singing it
  • Make counting a game...count everything in sight.
o   Count out loud to 20 (age 3: to 50...age 4: to 100)
o   Count objects to 20 (counting objects is a completely different skill than counting out loud)
o   Age 4 – writes numbers to 20 from memory, recognizes numbers to 100...can read addition equations using proper terminology (five plus one equals six)
  • Recognizes different coins (names and their value)
  • Learning to tell time (age 3 by the hour, age 4 by the half hour)
  • Understands simple comparisons (bigger/smaller) and special relationships (under, on top of, beside).  (Mom: use a lot of descriptive adjectives when speaking)
  • Science instruction through observations and explorations / encourage good stewardship over everything God entrusts to our care:
o Spend time together outside and explore it using all five senses to the degree it is appropriate.  Pick up a pinecone, watch an ant...observe various creatures (tactile and visual); Take a deep whiff of a fragrant flower...explore scents (smell); Watch and listen to a rainstorm together (hearing); Pick and eat a variety of garden foods and berries to distinguish tastes (taste)
o Understand that God made everything...Creationism should be the foundation of science instruction.
o Recognizes a variety of domestic and wild animals as well as the sounds they make...and where they live (ex: cows on farm)
o Knows the names of outside objects (trees, sky, grass, sun, etc)
o Age 3: Understands that animals need food, water and shelter to live and plants need water, sunshine and soil to grow
o Age 4: Understands the concept that seeds grow into plants, babies grow into adults (animals and humans)
  • Start to understand basics of good health, hygiene, exercise, sleep...teach by example, routine and instruction so good habits will form early on
  • Start to understand basic safety principles...look both ways before going out on street, do not touch stove, etc
  • Social studies...familiarize them with surroundings via conversation/observation...informally quiz periodically...Family member names (immediate and extended known to you); Names of common foods; Names of articles of clothing; Names of things around house (rooms, furniture, supplies); become familiar with a variety of occupations and parts of the community (bank, fire station, hospital, etc); familiar with different modes of transportation.  Age 4: Understands concept of rules/consequences within a community (no littering, obey stop signs, etc); familiar with several different countries; knows a little bit about the state you live in (name, where located on map).
  • Bible and Spiritual Growth
o   Familiarize with major stories from old and new testaments...emphasize doctrinal truths and character traits
o   Memory Verses, Sing Songs and Pray daily, encourage confession of sin, thankfulness (provision and protection), petition (prayers for self and others) and praise (adoration of God’s power, goodness, etc)
  • Readiness skills
o  Identifies colors red, blue, green, yellow, purple, pink, orange, brown, black and white
o  Remembers colors from memory (example, what color are peas?)
o  Identifies following shapes: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, oval, star, arrow, cross, moon (crescent).  [Cookie match game]
o  Sits still and quietly while listening to stories without interrupting...patiently train her (tell her she may comment at the end or when Mommy stops to let her interject something, but she is not to interrupt)
o Sequencing...listen carefully and obey a list of up to 3 commands given at once
o Age 3 – cuts along straight line with scissors, uses tape and glue stick, draws straight line with ruler, beginning computer skills, understands concepts of same/different, understands simple opposites (hot/cold, wet/dry)
o Age 4 – colors in lines, draws shapes from memory, can fold paper in half correctly, can draw simple pictures from memory like houses, people, trees, flowers (good enough to recognize), can line objects up in order of size, recognizes patterns, recites full name/full address/phone number/parents full names.
  • Arts/Crafts...have fun with creativity...get messy...use bold colors and distinct textures
  • Music...instill a love for music...listen to a variety of styles
o   Keeps simple time and rhythm by clapping hands
o   Uses simple instruments
o   Growing familiarity of different instruments (what they look like and the sounds they make)
  • Physical Education...focus on coordination and balance...runs, jumps, hops, chases, dances, etc...age 3, plays games like Duck, Duck Goose and understands proper use of playground equipment (care of equipment and safety rules)...age 4, increased coordination (hopping on 1 foot, walking along balance beam, increased tumbling skills), understands taking turns and sportsmanship.