In my last homeschool post, I talked about our family’s decision to start kindergarten for Jack to try it a year early. Since he is only 4, we are keeping the option to scale back to preschool stuff if it doesn’t work out. Today, we started this plan. It was Jack’s first day of kindergarten homeschool. It definitely looked different than most other kindergarteners’ first day.
We started this morning with a meltdown over cleaning-up the toy mess he made the day before. Not ideal but reality. We talked about responsibility. If he wants to make a giant mess, it is his job to clean up. When I trash the kitchen cooking, I never expect anyone else to clean it for me (even though he pointed out that Daddy does clean the kitchen often for me, and if Daddy cooks I often clean-up for him). So, the same applies for his toys. He can absolutely ask for help, but I am not doing it all for him. And, it is okay to be upset over having to clean it all up. But, being upset doesn’t get him out of doing it. It took half an hour, including tears, but he did do it.
Then we did about 15 minutes in Star Wars ABC workbook. He sometimes struggles with sitting still for workbooks, but the Star Wars really interested him today.
We also do small themes each week. This week is “All About Me.” We did some coloring/drawing All About Me worksheets and talked about his favorite things. He didn’t get it at first, he kept saying he wanted to be done. But once he realized he got to talk about his favorite things, he was happy to keep going.
Then, we decided to do something special for his first day. We went on a morning hike at Hagg Lake, a reservoir not far from us. It gets crowded on the weekends, but today, the day after Labor Day, it was empty! We pretty much had a whole lake to ourselves.
We parked at a trail head and walked down to an dry, exposed part of lake bed. We guessed the animal tracks we found in the mud along the way. We spotted several dog tracks, a couple cougars, what we think are elk tracks, and a lot of bird tracks. Jack wants to come back and makes casts of them before it gets too rainy.
Then we headed over to the creek flowing into the lake. We caught a few frogs to talk about their features (and released them quickly). Michael pointed out their eye shape and how slimy their skin is. It was a good way to tie in the “All About Me” theme, since we discussed physical features too. Then we talked about how water flow shapes the area. The creek carved its path to the shore, making the creek bed lower and lower from erosion over time. We found a little crap apple in the water, so Jack tossed it into the flow. We watched it tumble and roll down. It was great to explain water power and turbulence.
Then Michael and Bear drove the car to the next trail head over, while Jack and I hiked along the lake shore. We had a problem solving issue of crossing the creek. Our boots got stuck in the mud so Jack had to think quick on how to get out before he sank more. He did a great job realizing pulling on me for leverage up the shore got him out fast.
We walked along the lake shore, exploring along the way. Jack found a blue heron feather, and we talked about how it was light so the bird would be light enough to fly. And we found great sandstone chunks so I explained to Jack how the lake sand formed the rock overtime. Jack also spotted a rare butterfly on the trail! He was so excited that we needed to call Fish and Wildlife to report the spotting.
Then we drove over to a picnic area for lunch. The boys played while we cooked and relaxed a bit before we headed home. It was the PERFECT way to start kindergarten for Jack. I really like this format for Jack. A little workbooks, a topical short activity, and then play or adventure time. Day hikes will not be possible everyday this year since Michael and I both work. But we will definitely add more outdoor adventures when possible.
This is the educational experience that works wonderful for Jack and our family right now. I am so excited for this year! You can see our daily adventures on Instagram @VeganBabymama.