It was a memorable year of my life. It was joyful, satisfying, exciting and a very happy year on the one hand and it was tiring and very busy on the other hand. I hardly had time for myself but it doesn’t bother me because it was worth it in the end. I do not want to spend my year any other way. This is what we did during Kabir’s kindergarten.
Kabir did Horizons first grade mathematics. He did the lessons himself. All I had to do was explain and show him an example if he was learning a new concept and just check his work. That’s all.
Science was fun but a little too much. We would read a two-page lesson and then Kabir would answer some questions. I did allow him to look in the book and find the answer if he couldn’t remember it. Then he did related activities on the computer. This was really fun for him and I think this is the reason why he says he loves science. Also, the hands-on experiments were fun to do. That is the other reason for loving science. This year, I will do only 4-day rather than 5-day curriculum for science.
We loved the read aloud section of the curriculum. Sonlight has such an amazing list of books to read. This is the most important reason that I love this curriculum. Actually, I made Kabir write a short review of almost all the books I read to him during the year. To make this interesting, I started an online book journal for Kabir. He wrote it on paper and then I posted it on his journal for him. He was excited each time there was a new posting on his journal. This is the reason that he wrote the book review happily each time.
The best part of the read aloud is I took all the opportunity to teach him lessons on life. For me, this is one of the best parts of homeschool. For example, if the kids kept a secret from parents like in the story “The Family Under the Bridge,” I told him that I promise to trust him and not scold him if he promises that he will never keep a secret from us. Share it with either his father or me as secrets can be dangerous because if you are in trouble we will not know that you need help. Also, once Kabir made an observation that it seems from all the stories that rich are not as generous, kind and helpful as poor. I agreed that we need to be generous, kind and helpful in every situation but at the same time we need to be careful and not get tricked. To prove my point I gave him the example of the book he read to me, “The Sword in the Tree” where the rich elder brother is kind and generous to his poor younger brother and overlooks the fact that this younger brother is just partying with his friends and not working. The elder brother ignores his wife’s request that he should ask his younger brother to leave. Then the younger brother throws the elder brother in the dungeon at an opportune time and the elder brother’s family has to escape and suffer. So, just kindness and generosity is no good without the power of discretion.
One of the books we read was “In Grandma’s Attic.” We learnt how grandmother made a quilt where each square in the quilt had a story. Then we contacted my dear friend, Denise Backstrom, who is an amazing quilter and she demonstrated the art of quilting to Kabir. He got to design his own little pillow and stuffed it too! He is so proud of it!
We visited Charleston Museum where we saw different quilts and Kabir and his cousin made quilt designs with the magnetic squares over there. They really enjoyed it.
After reading “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, we enjoyed watching the movie. As far as spiritual education is concerned, we enjoyed reading the Children’s Bible. This year maybe we can read child versions of Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita together. Some of the suggested developmental activities were really fun such as making a papier mache ball, making play dough, painting with invisible ink (lemon juice which darkens when ironed), painting with fruit or vegetable color, and vegetable printing and so on.
History came alive when we did hands-on activities such as making a ruff and then Kabir wore it and walked the neighborhood.
Once Kabir dressed up as a Roman boy and we had Roman dinner where he ate his dinner lying down. He doesn’t want to try that again.
We enjoyed a factory worker’s supper during 1800s. Once we made potato pie which we actually didn’t enjoy but it was fun. Also, I took a construction paper for each era we read about. For each, we wrote how people lived and traveled, and what did they eat and wear during each era. Then we taped them on the wall. So, I tried to give him an idea how we have evolved with respect to our homes, food, clothes and travel over time. I noticed that each time he spoke to his grandparents in India, he will discuss this with them. At Charleston museum, we saw clothes from middle ages and he tried them on including a hoop skirt. He tried to pass through a door with his hoop skirt on as we had read in our little lesson. He realized how cumbersome it was and he tripped on it. This is how history became interesting to us. Kabir loves Magic Tree House books and this series has helped reinforce some of our history lessons.
After reading about how houses have changed over time and how they are different in other countries, we made a cardboard house for Kabir. After much discussion, I found out that he actually wanted the exact copy of the house we are living in. So, we started making one with a diaper box. It was getting too crowded to replicate our current house plan. So, he learnt that it’s better to make it simple and to start over. He really didn’t want to start over as we had done a lot of work. But I grabbed this opportunity to teach him that we cannot get our plans right the first time. If we are industrious and not scared to redo, we will do a better job. So, after much protests and crying, we started again from scratch. When we finished, he was really happy with the finished house and was proud of it. He said he is happy he started again because this one is so much better than the previous one. Also, he loved the fact that we could do late nights while making the house. We had small kitchen appliances but we made the furniture for the rest of the rooms with lego. He was so proud of this house that he showed it to everyone visiting us.
After a few days, he had to write a story for language arts. He did well but there was a lack of logical flow. So, we discussed and he could see that this is not the story he intended. He just wanted to leave it as it is but I reminded him of how we started making the house again and it was so much better second time. So, he re-wrote the story because now he knew that trying again will make it better. Also, I gave him an incentive of a treat. This time the story was a worthy contribution to his project folder. Then one day, we were hearing Magic Tree House audio tape and this one had a short interview of Mary Pope Osborne in the end. Mary Pope Osborne mentioned that she re-writes her stories a number of times before she is done. So, it reinforced our little lesson.
Spellings, Explode the Code workbooks, Wordly Wise workbook, Reading – all were easy and Kabir enjoyed it. As far as grammar is concerned, he got the hang of it but I didn’t stress too much as he is just a kindergartner doing 2nd grade language arts. As far as composition part is concerned, this was the singular topic that stressed him a bit. The thought of writing a story or an essay stressed him. So, I decided that he can dictate some notes for the story and then next day he had to write the story himself. Still he didn’t jump at the assignment with excitement like he used to previous year. He was facing inertia of writing. He said that this would be his favorite assignment in school if he could dictate because he loves making up stories. I just explained to him: write whatever comes to your heart and doesn’t have to be long. Keep it simple and do it with a smile and happy feelings so that the reader will feel happy too. Just start and then we will see. Once he started, he had no problem going forward and he does tend to write long stories, sometimes chapter stories. With his permission, I took few of his stories to the retired English teacher working in the library for her opinion. Her praises encouraged Kabir and he was enthusiastic when he wrote the next story/essay.
Once the assignment was to see a picture and make a story. I told him that let’s forget about writing a story, just tell me one. He was very happy and he made a story on the spot. Then I told him now make one more completely different story for the same picture. So, he made up another story. I asked him which one is his favorite and he chose the second one. I told him I love the second one too. If he writes it then we can add it to his project folder. He said he wants to add it to his project folder and so he wrote it happily.
Other than school, Kabir did swimming, soccer and kindermusik. We don’t plan to do soccer anymore. We will continue with swimming and kindermusik. We had started with Kabir making a lunch/dinner once a week but then Arjun wanted to help and it got too much for me. So we stopped. I hope I can do it again with Kabir because he really enjoys it. Also, he did five art classes this spring which he really enjoyed. At home, I did art and craft with Kabir and my two year old once a week. My friend came over with her three year old and we did art and craft together. This was really fun. Art & craft and kindermusik were the only planned activity that I did with my two year old. The rest of the time was free play. I have not read as many books to Arjun as I did for Kabir. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pay more attention to him now and during the next school year. One of the highlights of the year was when Kabir read “Llama Llama Red Pajama” on the stage at Gumtree Festival in Tupelo.
Overall, it was a good year in which all of us learnt new things and developed further in life. Kabir worked really hard. I’m not a very patient person and because Kabir amazes me I expect a bit too much from him sometimes. It’s hard for me to remember that he is only five because of his capabilities. Hopefully, I will be more centered the next school year. Hopefully, I will be able to manage time better next school year and devote more attention to Arjun compared to now. I know I will be a better mother, wife, householder and a teacher next year if I devote more time to meditation. That’s the only thing that brings balance in all aspects of life. I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to homeschool Kabir so far. As soon as we completed kindergarten I have been sending him for week long camps one after the other. Hopefully, these camps will take care of socialization aspect. The only issue I might have with homeschool is the risk of getting isolated especially in our case. I plan to homeschool him for first grade starting September. I don’t know what future holds for us. I’m going to take one year at a time. It has been great so far! I am thankful to Roan Johnson, my homeschool mentor, for introducing me to homeschool and guiding me whenever needed.
Above all, I am grateful to Shri Mataji for guiding us to go to Mississippi. I really didn’t want to come back to Mississippi but I accepted it happily. Now I can see that it is in Mississippi that we have had quality family time that we couldn’t have had anywhere else. It is here that we could do homeschool. Shri Mataji is the guiding light in every aspect of our homeschool. It is Sahaja Yoga Meditation that is shaping my children’s character, personality and education.
With Kabir’s permission, I’ll end with a poem Kabir wrote during the school year about his house.
Poem on House
I love my house because of homeschool.
I love my house because of toys.
I love my house because of my blue bedroom.
I love my house because it has happy feelings.
And I love my city because of swimming.