This year marks the last of the preschool year for the Big Nona. Come January, she is starting her first year of elementary education. I get a mixture of excitement and slight sadness in welcoming the “Primary-1 with Mommy” — excited because we are embarking on a new level in the pursuit of knowledge, a little sad because it felt like only yesterday I was holding my first newborn and now she is a preschooler no more!
Being mindful of that, we made it a point to spend this year with plenty of outdoor play and nature exploration. I hope the Big Nona will remember her preschool years as nothing but full of play and wonder from observing God’s awesome creation.
What follows in this post is our K2 lesson plan based on the specific focus of the year mentioned above. I document the teaching/learning materials in this blog for future use with the younger siblings.
Similar to last year’s K1 with Mommy, our learning subjects consist of:
- Memory training
The aim was that at the end of the year, the child would master:
- fluency in counting 1 to 100,
- addition and subtraction of numbers up to 20,
- analog clock reading,
- the 26 alphabet letters in manuscript, and
- reading and writing simple sentences using manuscript.
Following Singapore’s January to November school calendar, our school-time began at 8.30 and ended at 10 in the morning, four days a week (we have weekly community day with our Classical Conversations’ homeschooling community every one of the weekdays). We started with marking the calendar, followed by morning devotion and then the lesson.
1. Memory Training
I shared in last year’s post that we believe memory training is crucial to developing the mind of the child in order for it to be capable of higher thinking. We did this by memorizing one hymn and one Bible verse every week, and by reciting certain works of literature. This year we continued with the second paragraph of the 三字经 (Three Characters Classic) and two poems by 白居易.
For numeracy, we did not do anything new this year but continued to hone the child’s fluency in counting from 1 to 100. However, the frequency of this exercise was reduced to once a week. She seemed to have picked up a few tricks to make the otherwise boring exercise interesting by filling up the boxes in random order with the correct numbers. I believe the child has gained a better sense of numbers too through this kind of game.
Similarly for basic arithmetic, we continued with the addition and subtraction of numbers up to 20, and then slowly moving up to 30. We also continued doing addition/subtraction of three numbers to strengthen the concept of number bonds. The exercise was done every school-day for the first semester, then two days a week in the following semester. The goal, again, was for the child to over-practice the basic arithmetic so much that it became intuitive.
This year we also added Saxon Math 1 into our curriculum. It provided daily guide for homeschooling parents to teach grade-1 mathematics and daily assignments for the students. The Big Nona was required to complete two assignments every school-day.
On clock reading, we moved to identifying the clock and the minute that each number represents. We did so first in Mandarin (because Mandarin goes by the number itself i.e. 一个字, 两个字, 三个字, and so forth) and then in English. She was also taught how to identify “a quarter past…” on the clock.
Picking up from where we left last year, we carried on with writing a-z in manuscript (cursive). Once the child was fluent in these letters, we practiced writing (Indonesian) words from words starting with “a” all the way to those starting with “z”. The writing exercise was done every school-day until the end of the school year. Towards the end of the year, having been done with the last z-letter word, we practiced writing simple sentences. The objective for all these exercises was to train the muscle memory of writing in manuscript.
As for reading, we routinely had story-time when all the children were being read to before naptime and at bedtime. We would pick books of different types and levels, from manga such as Doraemon to chapter books such as The Chronicles of Narnia, or from baby’s picture books to encyclopedias. The Big Nona also practiced her reading-aloud by reading to her younger siblings. And when they were napping, she would read on her own.
Now it looks like I can tick off all the objectives we jotted down at the beginning of the year. But looking back, I am made to see that the true learning that has taken place was so much more than just a list that I could tick off. This is true not only for the Big Nona, but especially for me and all of us in the family.
Earlier this May, we welcomed a new baby into our home. And the arrival of a new member has undoubtedly changed the dynamics of the family in significant ways. Sticking to the normal schedule was harder and school-time often got disrupted. With a newborn clamoring for most of Mommy and Daddy’s attention, the girls couldn’t help feeling left out and we began to have discipline issues, and often. Ticking off a list of lesson objectives seemed like the most impossible thing to do.
That was the moment when God convicted me and helped me regain my focus on what we believe was the purpose of education: to pursue wisdom and virtue, to the glory of God. Until then I had always rushed through our morning devotion in order to finish the lesson on time and keep up with the day’s demands, even as the children asked for longer Bible time. But God through His Word in Luke 10:38-42 showed me how I, like Martha, was anxiously preoccupied by the wrong things.
It’s not that the academics are not important, it’s just that they are not the most important. I had to learn again and again that, indeed, the beginning of wisdom is to know and to fear God. I also had to learn to put my trust in Him instead of in my own ability, to get my peace and rest from Him and then teach with that peace and restfulness.
We had since spent longer time for the morning devotion and shifted some parts of the schooling to the afternoon. We also reserved one school-day solely for reviewing our weekly growth in character, giving encouragement for any virtue we saw in each other and addressing the vices we needed to repent of. We called it Hari Ngobrol (Heart-to-heart Day), the girls were loving it so it is here to stay! And did we get plenty of time to play outdoor and explore the nature? You bet! 😉
In the end, alongside her soon-to-be first grader, this momma, too, has learned many things this year. Thanks be to God for His faithful and loving hands which have guided and upheld us year after year. May His mercy and grace continue to shadow us as we embark on yet another year of homeschooling.