For Little Bear, today was just another day of life and learning. For me, however, it marked the bittersweet end of our prekindergarten adventures. On Monday, my little girl will celebrate her fifth birthday. And on Tuesday, we’ll officially transition to kindergarten.
The logical part of my being knows that our day-to-day routine really won’t change a whole lot. Sure, some of the trappings will change. We’ll replace our bedraggled Earlybird Mathematics book with shiny new copies of Mathematical Reasoning and Miquon Math. We’ll add formal handwriting to the schedule with A Reason for Handwriting. We’ll pull a new set of Primary Phonics readers off the shelf and will encourage Little Bear to apply her phonics knowledge in written form with the addition of Explode the Code. But much will continue on, just as it did today. We’ll start each day’s planned learning with a story or two from The Child’s Story Bible for Little Bear and a selection from The Big Picture Story Bible (Book with CD) for Baby Bear. We’ll sing a couple of songs. We’ll do a bit of calendar math, then share a story or two (or several!). Baby Bear’s interest will eventually wane, and she’ll wander off to play. Then, Little Bear and I will tackle the day’s formal work.
As we move into kindergarten, we’ll continue to work at Little Bear’s pace and pursue her interests. We’ll use our textbooks to lend structure and support to core academics, without being bound to them. We’ll continue to make games, crafts, videos, “real” books, and real life the foundation of our learning. We’ll continue learning together, and we’ll continue to have fun in the process.
But, oh, how hard it is sometimes to accept the reality that my “little girl” is growing up. I love watching her grow, change, and develop. I’m delighted with the person she is becoming. Yet each new milestone takes us a bit further away from her precious baby days, from the wonders of toddlerhood, and from the thrill of our earliest home learning adventures.
So how did we spend this, her last day of prekindergarten? Quite unremarkably, by most people’s reckoning.
Our day started at the pediatrician’s office, where Baby Bear was scheduled for a follow-up check on her ears. I’d brought along a couple of I Spy board books to help keep boredom at bay, so Little Bear read the text while Baby Bear hunted for the hidden objects. When the girls tired of these, Little Bear pulled out this month’s copy of Kids Discover magazine and listened as I read about the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. Baby Bear soon tired of listening passively and reached for a new-to-us Elephant and Piggie book I’d stuck in our book bag. About that time, though, the pediatrician came in and I thought Elephant and Piggie had been forgotten.
Our appointment over, we headed to the van, where Little Bear immediately asked if she could read There Is a Bird On Your Head! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) to herself on the way home. I was a bit surprised because she usually prefers to listen to books before she attempts to read them, but I wasn’t about to discourage her from trying. So I handed the book back to her, and she rose to the challenge — much to the delight of a listening Baby Bear.
Once home, we ate an early lunch, played for awhile, cleaned up, then officially started our school day. Little Bear breezed through five pages of The Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons, fulfilling her personal reading goal. The lesson she’s currently working through introduces long vowel sounds, a skill area she’s largely mastered while reading “real” books. She noticed, however, that several words in the lesson were pronounced the same, but spelled differently — see/sea, be/bee, etc. So today’s phonics lesson turned into an introduction to homophones. She has also noticed the textbook’s annoying insistence upon putting an end mark at the end of every phrase, regardless of whether it’s an actual sentence. So after reading through today’s phrases, she went back through them in search of subjects and actions to determine which were “real” sentences.
Next, the girls watched an episode of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That and Clifford. Little Bear soon lost interest in Clifford and chose to use the rest of her discretionary screen time playing Dinosaur Train games on PBSKids.org. (Yes, as a matter of fact, we do love PBS!)
Active play followed screen time. Then, Little Bear and I sat down to do a bit of math. We spent about five minutes practicing number recognition with flash cards, practiced addition and subtraction with a couple of quick games of ThinkFun Math Dice Jr., and worked through five Zoologic task cards while Baby Bear entertained herself with Play-Doh. Finally, at the pleading of both girls, we pulled The Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! off the shelf for a little bit of reading, a little bit of recall, and a whole lot of giggles and active fun — all in all a fitting end to this chapter of our adventures in home learning.