Kindergarten of the Good Shepherd

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I’ve got less than two weeks until our little kindergarten begins for the year (Miriam is preschool age, and we call it preschool for her because they both like to differentiate between their ages lately, but I like the Waldorf and Montessori idea of “kindergarten” being ages 3-6, so in my planning it’s all one and the same, with James just doing a little extra skill-based work).

I’ve thought for years about whether we’d give our homeschool a name. I think it’s a nice way to identify yourselves and take ownership of a learning community at home. There are many saints that I consider patrons of our education – St. Bede (a true Renaissance man), St. Sergius of Radonezh (who was taught to read by God himself), the Three Holy Hierarchs (Ss. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, for their great wisdom and the use of their classical educations in the service of God), St. Katherine of Alexandria (also classically educated, and used her gift of rhetoric to convert the philosophers to Christ).

But I don’t really want to name our homeschool St. [name] Academy. I thought of our most basic goal in educating our children - to order their affections towards truth, beauty, and goodness, which of course guides them toward the source of all truth, beauty, and goodness. I thought of using the Greek word for one of these, such as Aletheia (truth) Academy, but you can’t really elevate one of these virtues above the other. Holy Wisdom, or Agia Sophia, is what we are ultimately trying to guide our children toward, but that’s our parish school’s name and it seemed silly to steal it :) And, you know, we have a baby named Sophia.

Naming our homeschool has become too much of a commitment, and I was stymied with too many ideas, so I decided to dedicate just our kindergarten, just this year, to Someone. And for our little ones, my most basic goal is to help lead them to the Good Shepherd, whose love will ultimately guide them in all good things. And so for this year, we are the Kindergarten of the Good Shepherd.

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Sophia’s 1st Birthday

What a lovely year it has been, the first year of our lives with our sweet little Sophia Catherine.

I took these photos on her birthday while she happily played outside. She loves crawling around outside more than anything. Except maybe dog water.

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She had a very unattractive but still delicious lemon-yogurt cake for her birthday.

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She got a couple of board books and a ball that I knit, felted, and stuffed with wool and an egg shaker.

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Her big present was this little dolly. Miriam named her Dolly-a, and we decided that therefore she could rightly be Dahlia, the companion of Miriam’s dolly Rosie.

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But, as happens with so many things in little sister life, Dahlia was totally appropriated by Miriam!

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I have a feeling Sophia will have to get another dolly for her second birthday since I’m not sure we can wrestle Dahlia away from Miriam now.

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September Booklist

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I spent some time making up a list of books for September. They include autumn books, books for our autumn nature study unit, fairy and folk tales, and books for some of the feasts of the Church in September. Our subject for nature study for this autumn is trees – identifying, learning the life cycle, lots of art projects with the leaves, and more. We’ll especially focus on identifying the trees in the forest we visit each Friday. In September specifically, we’ll also learn about apples like in previous years, along with apple picking with friends and plenty of apple art and baking. The apple books will only be on September’s list, the autumn and tree books will stay on the lists for October and November as well. This list does not include the chapter books we’re reading through, since I don’t really plan ahead with those or chose them seasonally. We just finish one and then pick up another. Maybe I’ll post our chapter book list somewhere else.

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Below is attached a PDF of my booklist for September. They do not all have the author’s listed. I’m sorry if that’s confusing. If I get around to it, I will come back and edit this posts with Amazon links. We own some of these (or have them on the way) and I’ve marked the ones I intend to request from the library. I’ve had all those Elsa Beksow books pretty much permanently checked out from the library because I’m so annoyed that Amazon does not sell the full-sized versions and I have no interest in buying “mini” editions. So far I’ve been too cheap to pay shipping to buy from another seller. Ah, well. I’ll get them someday.

September Booklist

As for sources, some of these I pulled from a few booklists that I’ve found helpful.

Anna’s Reading Through the Year of Grace
Katherine’s Picture Book Read-Aloud List
Delightful Children’s Books’ 9 Children’s Books About Trees

And I always look to the Ambleside Online booklists when looking for good book suggestions (the link is to “Year 0,” which is for children under age six or so).

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Excuse Me While I Overshare Kid Pictures

I’m their Mama, of course I think they are beautiful.

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Them curls though!

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One year old now, still all sweetness and light.

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All that sweetness and light can get her feelings hurt though :( See that little tear peeking out?IMG_3560 All better. IMG_3569

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Fourth of July

I just realized I forgot to post photos from the 4th of July. My grandmother’s house is on Vashon Island. My parents grew up here (within walking distance of each other), I lived here as a young child, and my siblings, cousins and I have spent many, many summers and holidays at this house, which serves as the gathering place for the extended family and many friends. There has always been a big 4th of July party here, since there is a giant fireworks display that happens directly in front of the house, so close that we can sometimes get ash raining down on us and floating in the pool. The house just went on the market, so we knew there was a chance this could be the last big 4th of July at the family home.

This 4th was a bit different, since some cousins and my sister were not able to make it due to recent moves and other obligations. Those missing included everyone else with kids. I was worried that my kids would have no one to play with, a first for our family gatherings that would normally include their eight cousins on my side. Luckily, our longtime friends the Wells came with their sweet kids Finn and Anouk and they were fast friends. 4th of July is saved!

Be forwarned: there are 37 pictures in this post :) Mostly for the benefit of the absent family members who want to see what they missed.

Miss Paige with Finn, Anouk and James.

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Sophia trying to climb down the stairs headfirst. She did that a lot.

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Miriam was very proud of her “trick.” We had to keep a close eye on her because the water on either side was definitely way over her head! I love how she holds her arms out for balance.

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Boys and their bugs.IMG_3144 IMG_3147 IMG_3152 IMG_3153 IMG_3154 IMG_3156 IMG_3158 IMG_3159

James trying the “trick,” a little more cautiously with a life jacket :)

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Auntie Rosie! AKA Jenny Rose Wilson, who earned her DOCTORATE in Nursing Practice and her certification as a Nurse-Midwife just weeks before. She is now Dr. (and Midwife) Wilson!

IMG_3185Auntie Rosie is an excellent babywearer and scoops up Sophia in a sling or wrap whenever she can. Sophia is very happy about it. We decided a lovely wrap would definitely be a good baby shower present someday. Paul said we should cut to the chase and just get one as a wedding present, whenever the wedding might happen. Ahem. :)

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Some aunties having a chat. IMG_3191

My parents!

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Uncle Jonathan and his epic hair.

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My Uncle Bob.

IMG_3200A copy of a family picture two years ago, where we are wearing almost the same things and Miriam was a two month old baby. IMG_3214

All my kids loved my Uncle Jack. James was so attached to Uncle Jack and his games that he insisted over and over that Uncle Jack had to come have a sleepover at our house “for ONE HUNDRED DAYS!” and he cried in bed at night because Uncle Jack had to leave the next day. Uncle Jack had to come in and console him himself.

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The kids spent hours and hours a day in the hot tub.IMG_4446 IMG_4448 IMG_4451

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Kindergarten – the Daily Rhythm

IMG_4575Every Sunday I go to a new coffee shop nearby and plan. I plan our menus for the week, I write out the grocery list, I plan cleaning and activities for the week, and lately, I do a lot of planning for our upcoming year of learning at home. Our first year of kindergarten! We’ve done two years of on-and-off preschool, and while kindergarten will look very similar to what we’ve done previously, this year I think we are ready for just a little more. And “a little more” simply doesn’t happen unless I plan and prepare for it. I was just telling my husband last night that one of the great perks of homeschooling from the very beginning is that I can start with a very little and just add a very little bit more each year. I think it would be much more overwhelming to all of a sudden start out with, say, the fifth grade. We just take what we’ve done before and add one or two more things at a time.

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I missed my weekly planning session yesterday, and when thinking about how to catch up, I realized it is now August. And at the end of August comes September 1st, the first day of the new Church year and our first day of kindergarten and preschool. I really have to get moving finalizing plans, acquiring a few more things for our learning room, and buying supplies! And when planning for our first day, I found it very helpful to revisit this post by veteran homeschooler (and someone I consider a mentor) Elizabeth Foss.

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Doing two years of preschool has really helped me in planning for kindergarten, because I am very familiar with the natural flow of our family’s days and where pockets of intentional learning fit most easily. In planning this year, I tried to look very carefully at that natural rhythm and made up a daily schedule for our days, one in which there are times for learning, lots of time for reading aloud, time for normal homekeeping, and plenty of margin. The beauty of home education is that I don’t have to cram all of my “learning plans” into one block of time from 9 am to noon, nor do I think that would be the best plan for my little one’s attention spans.

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I’ve been working on writing out our projected daily rhythm, a process I started with this post a few weeks ago. I’ve attached a PDF of what I’ve come up with below. I’m sure it looks ridiculous to some to see life written out in blocks like this. I assure you, I am not overly attached to this schedule, and there is a lot more margin in there than it looks like, as I’ve allowed far more time in each block than I expect to fill up. The kids will need plenty of “expansion” time in between planned activities, and I’m open to adjusting for more of that if they need it. And I worked very hard to make it match our natural family rhythm, so most of it is descriptive rather than prescriptive, meaning I just wrote down what we do normally and added general times to it. I also planned it so that if one part of the day falls to pieces, the rest can still march. For instance, if I do not get up early and have time to myself, that is my loss, but morning time can still happen as planned. If we don’t get through our chores, I’ve got more to do during quiet time, but our read-aloud time can still happen. It also doesn’t reflect the days where we are not at home all day, such as Fridays where a big chunk of the morning is spend in the forest, or the many field trips I have planned for the year. It helps me to have this written out in great detail, because otherwise I make grand plans just to find there is actually no place in the daily puzzle to fit all the pieces.

Daily Rhythm (click to open PDF).

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I am also working on writing out the actual learning plans for our fall term (I find it works best to plan out one season at a time and no further, since these children change too fast and too unpredictably to plan further ahead than that). Once they are a bit more filled in, I will post that as well.

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I still revisit this post on our basic priorities for home learning with little ones before I do too much planning and get ahead of myself. I think sometime this week I will also gather up some links to posts or talks that I revisit again and again when considering what learning at home will look like over the long haul. I’m expect that inspecting slugs and snails on our nature trail will always be a part of it :)

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Shale Baby Blanket

Finally finished. The baby blanket that was meant to bring Sophia home from the hospital in will be for her first birthday.

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First time blocking with blocking wires. I didn’t do a great job with them, but good enough.

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Patter: Shale Baby Blanket, by Jared Flood
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers
Started: 3/5/13
Finished: 7/21/14

Ravelry notes here.

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