Year Zero

I didn’t do a very good job of posting last year, but don’t let that fool you.  We were busy bees!  We read a ton of books, went on trips, and learned all kinds of things about counting and properties of matter and gravity and other big, fun science topics.  We gardened.  We harvested.  We traveled by plane, train and automobile (and stroller and foot and bicycle, too).  We baked, cooked, cleaned and crafted.  We danced, made music, and learned to play soccer.  We did so much stuff, that I couldn’t even keep up with writing it all down.

Sam’s kindergarten year is starting on Tuesday, September 8.   I have most of our materials together and am all ready with a 36-week outline of things to learn and do.  We are using a loose Charlotte Mason-style curriculum, largely hodge-podged together from online sources, the library, Netflix, and other books already on hand.  I’ve spent a lot of time at Ambleside Online (please google, since I’d rather not link this blog there) getting ideas and resource suggestions.  It has been very fruitful, and I’m eager to start.  The Ambleside folks refer to Kindergarten as “Year Zero”, since Charlotte Mason didn’t really encourage formal schooling for children until they were six.  S is just 5 1/2, and O is almost 4, but they are voracious readers.  We have already gone through many of the books on the year Zero list, including the original Winnie-the-Pooh books (yes, the poetry, too!) and Aesop’s Fables.  But we liked them so much that we just might read them again.

If you follow the Ambleside curriculum, you spend much of the early years reading, reading and reading.  But I like that.  Pretty much everything I know that doesn’t involve practicing a skill (like piano or knitting) I learned from reading.  There is also a strong emphasis on being in the natural world and observing nature at work.  Charlotte Mason encouraged her students to read a lot and then to get their butts outside.  She thought nature was so important that, along with memorizing a poem, a psalm and a hymm, she felt every six-year-old ought to know several native birds by sight and to recognize their calls. We’ve found several – of course – books to help facilitate learning about our own backyard and the surrounding woods.  In the next few days, I’ll post a list of the texts we’re using for general reading as well as specific topics.

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