Sunday, April 26, 2015

The In-Between


We are entering a season of In-Between.

People ask me if I’m ready to leave Kosovo, for my time here to end. My answer confuses even me: “I’d be happy to stay in Kosovo for another year. I like it here. But we aren’t staying; we’re leaving. So I’m ready to go. I’m tired of preparing to leave; I just want to leave already.”

I’m tired of preparing to leave. I’m tired of not knowing if this is the last time I’ll see this particular friend or visit this particular restaurant. I’m tired of hearing of newcomers arriving and shrugging my shoulders and saying, “If they need anything, I’m happy to help—but they’ll be better off hanging out and making friends with people who don’t have one foot on the plane.” My body and my stuff are still here, but my heart is in the process of disconnecting and my head is already gone. I am no longer fully here but not yet fully gone. I’m In-Between.

In roughly three weeks, this part of the In-Between will be over, and we’ll move into the next phase. We’ll be done with the mental preparation and on to the real, tangible sign of our impending move: packout. Our stuff will disappear into boxes and crates. We’ll have one week of living in our house that is no longer our home, with no pictures on the wall, no beloved treasures to remind us of past homes or adventures, no imprint of our family on this house. Alexa will play only with the five toys we allow her to take in her suitcase, I will cook only with borrowed pots and pans, and we will eat only off borrowed dishes. I’m glad we’ll have only one week of that this time—the time after packout is by far my least favorite time at any post. The empty house is not a symbol of possibility and anticipation like it is at the beginning of our time at post; instead, it’s a symbol of endings and loss. After the end, but before the beginning: the In-Between.

Then we’ll be in the most easily recognized In-Between: in between posts. No longer living in Kosovo, not yet living in Greece, just visiting in the United States. Wanderers who can answer the question “Where are you staying?” but not “Where do you live?” Don’t get me wrong; it should be a good summer. We have plans about which we’re excited—attending our first homeschool convention, going on a cruise with friends, renting a townhouse not far from our extended family. It will be a good summer. It’s probably the part of the In-Between that we’ll enjoy most. But it will be a summer of cramming in as much America, as much family, as much time with friends as we can, because it won’t last. It’s only In-Between.

The final stages of the In-Between will be in Greece. Hopefully they’ll be in our “permanent” housing (as much as any housing is permanent in this nomadic lifestyle), though they may be in temporary housing if our assigned quarters aren’t available yet. We’ll be back in an empty house, but this time, the emptiness will be waiting to be filled rather than waiting to be abandoned. We’ll start learning our new neighborhood, our new community, our new language. Eventually the boxes and crates will arrive and be unpacked. Our new house will become our new home. The In-Between will end, at least for a while, and we’ll be home again.

The Ending that is becoming the In-Between will lead to the new Beginning, which eventually will transition into another Ending.

It's a common experience. We all go through changes that include Endings, In-Betweens, and finally, new Beginnings. During these bittersweet times, we mourn the old and anticipate the new. Everyone experiences it as they make life's great transitions: from child to adult, from student to worker, single to married, childless to parent, worker to retiree.

The Foreign Service lifestyle, however, puts this rhythm on an endless loop and hits the fast-forward button. One of the great sacrifices of the Foreign Service lifestyle is the frequent mourning as we say goodbye; one of the great beauties is the frequent anticipation of new adventures, new experiences, and new friends. The In-Between is the transition between and intermingling of the two. Because the Endings and Beginnings happen so frequently in the Foreign Service, sometimes it seems that we live perpetually in the In-Between, that we just barely make it out of the Beginning before the End is back, and so the only part we experience fully is the In-Between. We don't have time to settle, to live, to abide in the comfort—or in the tedium—that we establish during the Beginning, because it so quickly becomes time to dismantle it all for the Ending. Life never becomes routine, at least not for long.

It's perfect for those who crave variety. It's difficult for those who crave stability. I am one of those who craves stability—but at the same time, I also love the adventure and variety of this lifestyle. I am beginning to recognize that I need to satisfy my need for stability not in long periods of time in one place, settled in and comfortable, but in the predictable pattern, the rhythm, the ebb and flow of hellos and goodbyes: the In-Between. 

I need to accept that I live, always, in the In-Between. It is my home, as much as any house ever will be. I need to put pictures on its walls, carpets on its floors, and memory-keepers on its shelves. At times it's more noticeable than at others, but the In-Between is always there. I need to create my stability in routines and traditions that hold up well in all the phases of transition—in the Ending, in the Beginning, and in the In-Between: Friday night pizza, daily devotions with my daughter, evening cups of tea. We need to take the advice I've seen on several expat blogs and create traditions around the Endings and the Beginnings, traditions that create stability, no matter if we're in Egypt or Cambodia or Kosovo or Greece.

I was wrong. The In-Between is not a season we're entering: it's the life we live.

Welcome to the In-Between.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Catching Up



We are almost 5 months into 2015 now … and I haven’t written a single blog post this year. Pathetic, I know. Rather than explaining and justifying and apologizing, let’s just catch up, shall we?

January started off with a bang—we’re in Kosovo: the New Year is celebrated with countless not-so-mini family fireworks displays. I continued enjoying our last true winter for the next few years, while Jeff continued looking forward to its end. (I can’t blame him; he has to drive in the snow and ice, whereas I stay home and enjoy the winter wonderland.)

Toward the end of January, we finally made it out to Gadime Cave, not too far from Prishtina. The Community Liaison Office organized a trip. We decided not to go with the large group—caves plus large groups equals lots of echoing noise, which would not be a great introduction to caves for our sensitive girl—but we did take advantage of the reservation to go a little early with a smaller group. It can be difficult at times to know when the cave will be open, so this opportunity was not to be missed. It was a great morning! The caves were much larger than we anticipated, and Alexa loved exploring them. She didn’t even notice that she also was learning, as she asked question after question about the cave, its features, and the life it contains. I found myself wishing I had an age-appropriate book about caves that we could have read before or after the trip. I’m hoping to correct that oversight and then find another fun cave to explore with her within the next few months.

We spent most of February in the United States. We traveled to Washington, DC, for some appointments and to see some friends. Unfortunately, we only saw about half of the friends we wanted to see—as we landed, my ears grew pillows where my ear drums should be; the next morning, my ears were better but my sinuses were awful, and it only got worse from there. I became so congested that my entire face hurt, even my teeth! After a week, I gave in and went to an urgent care doctor, because I was afraid of what would happen if I flew again 10 days later without treatment. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and a double ear infection. The antibiotics started helping immediately, so I felt much better for the rest of the trip, but we’d already missed out on visits with a few friends. We hope to see those friends this summer instead.

We arrived back in Kosovo on schedule in late February, but a week later, Alexa and I were back on a plane. There was a medical situation back home with a close family member, and my help was needed. Jeff was needed at work, especially since he’d just returned, so he remained in Kosovo. I am thankful that the medical situation was not as bad as it easily could have been, and my family member seems to have made almost a full recovery. Alexa and I spent our time in the United States helping with everyday tasks and transportation, but we also were able to do fun “America” things like celebrate my sister-in-law’s RN pinning, go to my niece’s football soccer games, and entertain random passersby with Alexa’s TCK questions and comments (for example, “Does everybody in America know the name of that store is Wal-Mart?” and “Why is there more than one McDonald’s?”). We returned to Kosovo just after Jeff’s birthday, at the end of March.

After our second return to Kosovo this year, I realized just how close we are to the end of our time here. I spent a few days getting over jet lag, then dove in and finally started preparing for packout. So far, we’ve rid ourselves of almost all of Alexa’s baby clothes, most of our “we severely overestimated how much Kleenex we’d use” consumables, and several bags of my ill-fitting or unflattering clothes. We’ve sold the elliptical machine for which we expect to have no room in Greece, and we’ve made arrangements to sell our second vehicle once we can get the paperwork in order. I’ve organized several full drawers of small items into labelled gallon-sized Ziploc bags. Now I need to start focusing heavily on my list-making, which has been sadly neglected due to all the travel earlier this year. We’re leaving in less than a month, and I’ve never been so far behind on my preparations.

At some point during and between all these other activities, we completed the Sonlight P4/5 preK curriculum. We ended up dropping a couple of workbooks that were too advanced for Alexa at the time, and there’s still one book in which she has shown no interest whatsoever. I left that book in South Carolina back in March, assuming we could try it again this summer and see if she’s interested then. She’s still working through her Mathematical Reasoning workbook, which she does not do every day—but when she does do it, she wants to keep going and often does 10 or more pages! That is quite the change from when I required her to do it daily, when she resisted and often did no more than 2 pages. We intend to continue working through this book over the summer until it’s done, as well as continuing to “play” Reading Eggs and Math Seeds. I’ll have to do another post about our plans for homeschool next year, as I never finished that series, and we’ve changed our plans for language arts. 

That’s for another time, though.

Right now I have some lists to make.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our Year in Ornaments: 2014 Edition



It’s that time again—the week after Christmas Day but before New Year’s. The time when we reflect on the year that is about to end. The time when we make plans and goals and resolutions for the year that is about to begin. The time when, as longtime readers know, I write about our little family’s participation in a tradition begun many years ago: The Ornie Competition.

Jeff and I have participated in this competition every year since our marriage in 2006 (though I didn’t begin the blog until 2008, and even since then there has been one year in which I did not blog about our ornaments). We have included Alexa every year since her birth in 2010.

This year was no different—we participated. Yet, this year was different—two of the three of us had a very hard time deciding what ornament best represented our year, or indeed, what theme the ornament should represent at all.

Let’s start with the easy one, shall we? Alexa’s ornament was so easy to pick out this year that she picked it without ever thinking about the competition or her year or anything other than her love for and excitement over it.

Alexa's 2014 Ornament: Disney Cruise Ship

It was September, and we were on our R&R: a 14-night transatlantic Disney cruise, aboard the Disney Magic. We planned this R&R almost a year in advance, and Jeff started talking it up to our timid girl right about the time the flowers started to grow in the spring. She was excited from the first time he mentioned it. She spent the spring and summer talking about meeting Mickey Mouse and his friends, looking at pictures of the Magic’s Oceaneer Club online, and convincing herself that she wanted to experience all the ship has to offer—including the parts that were offered to her alone, in the kids-only zone, without the security of Mama or Daddy’s presence.

On the very first night of the cruise, we visited one of the onboard stores. We’d heard from veteran cruisers that the good stuff sells out quickly and that it was wise to hit the stores on day one, as soon as they opened. As we looked around, I saw a small display of Christmas ornaments. My mind immediately went to the Ornie Competition, so I called Alexa over “just” to show her—and she immediately exclaimed that she wanted one. She picked out a relatively realistic depiction of the Disney Wonder, the Magic’s sister ship. As there was no Magic ornament, I was thrilled with her choice. We bought two—one for our Christmas tree, and one to leave with my mother-in-law as Alexa’s ornament for 2014.

The rest of the cruise did not disappoint. I have intended to write a blog post gushing about how amazing the cruise was, about the friendliness and dedication of the cast and crew, the beauty of the ship, the comfort of the cabin, the extreme deliciousness of the food, the stellar performances that were the shows, the fun and interesting people we met, the relaxation of temporarily forgetting the world outside the ship … but life has happened, and I never wrote that post. Rest assured, however, that Alexa has not forgotten the cruise: it inspired many of her requests for Christmas gifts, it provided the “happy thoughts” upon which she relies as she falls asleep to avoid nightmares, and it has spurred countless askings of the question “When will we go on our next cruise?”

It is safe to say that although Alexa’s (and Jeff’s and my) first Disney cruise lasted only 14 nights, it has been the theme for her entire year: excitedly anticipating it, thoroughly enjoying it, and longing for a repeat of it. She picked the perfect ornament to represent her year, and she did it without even trying.

Jeff's 2014 Ornament: Chewbacca

Jeff’s ornament was a bit more difficult to pick out this year. It was not because he couldn’t decide what theme he wanted to represent—it was because he wasn’t allowed to steal Alexa’s ornament. As he conscientiously prepared Alexa for the cruise, as he showed her pictures of the kids club, as he talked up the opportunity to meet the characters, as he introduced her to the idea of playing in the pools and going down the water slides (well, the one slide for which she was tall enough), he built the anticipation for himself as well as for her. When the time came to leave for the airport, to leave the hotel for the port in Barcelona, and finally to board the ship for the first time, he was as excited as she was. After a day or two onboard, he told me that he hadn’t realized just how much he needed that vacation, that time away from work, that ability to relax and have fun for an extended time, without being on call, without knowing that he had to be back in the office in a day or two. He anticipates our next Disney cruise as eagerly as Alexa does. Unfortunately, however, he could not simply point at Alexa’s  ornament and say “That one. Me, too.” He had to pick a different one.

He settled on Chewbacca. Chewie, as Jeff affectionately calls him, is a more subtle representation of the cruise than the ship would have been, but in my opinion, he represents Jeff’s year more fully. Disney recently purchased the Star Wars franchise, so despite Chewie’s absence from the ship, he now is a representative of Disney … as Alexa puts it, “Chewbacca works for Mickey now.” In addition to the Disney tie-in, though, Chewbacca represents hard work, and strength, and the provision of protection, things that represent my husband’s personality in general and this year in particular.

Deborah's 2014 Ornament: School Time

I am the loner in the family this year—the only one who did not even consider the cruise as a theme for my year. Although I thoroughly enjoyed it, heartily recommend Disney cruises to anyone and everyone, and am excitedly anticipating our next Disney cruise, I refrained from getting excited about it until just before we left. I allowed Jeff to do the preparatory work with Alexa, and he did all the planning for the trip in general—the flight and hotel reservations, the car rental arrangements for the week we spent in the United States afterward, finding and joining the Facebook group dedicated to the cruise. He did all that. I did not become emotionally invested in the cruise until a week or two before we left. I was too overwhelmed with what really defined my year: school.

We finished up Alexa’s preschool year in the spring, then began almost immediately working through the curriculum for pre-kindergarten. We schooled year-round because I knew we’d be taking a long break for R&R and a shorter one for Christmas, and I also knew that we need to be done with her preK year by mid-April 2015, before our lives get hectic with next year’s move. While working through her current curriculum, I also busied myself researching and making plans for her next curriculum—the one we’ll begin for kindergarten in fall 2015. I knew that I did not want to continue with Sonlight; I knew that I did want to purchase or create a classical curriculum; and I knew that I will have no time for researching curriculum during the most typical planning time—the spring and summer before the curriculum is used. So my attention was divided among teaching Alexa for preK, planning for Alexa’s kindergarten year, and fitting in my regular household tasks as I could.

Luckily, preK was mostly about reading quality books aloud, but there also have been some workbooks: math and handwriting (both of which Alexa loves), the preK Explode the Code phonics series (which she does not love), critical thinking (which Alexa loved until we finished the age-appropriate book and the next one was too advanced for her), and the Developing the EarlyLearner series (a mixed bag of activities—some loved, some hated, and all put aside for now since they’ve progressed to the point of being too difficult for her). I also began teaching Alexa to read, using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, which has been shelved temporarily in favor of a subscription to the online Reading Eggs program.

Throughout the year, there have been times when I was excited to “do school” and teach Alexa new and wonderful things, times when she was excited to do school and learn new and wonderful things, a few blessed times when we both were excited, and too many times when neither of us was excited. Thus, this ornament with an excited-for-school Chip and a less than enthusiastic Dale seemed like a good fit … and the nod to Disney does help my ornament fit in with Jeff’s and Alexa’s, as well. And I did really enjoy the cruise.



In our family, it was a Disney kind of year, though there also was plenty of hard work. Next year promises to hold new adventures, with all the stresses, joys, and uncertainties that tag along with any new endeavor. One thing is for certain, though: next year, we will NOT be schooling year round!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kindergarten Curriculum Choices: Math Edition



In a previous post, I droned on and on about our search for a science curriculum. Today, it's time to discuss math.

There are so many options for homeschool math curricula that I cannot possibly describe all of them—not even all of the most popular ones. I will, however, talk briefly about the main ones we considered before I tell you what we chose. First I’ll talk about the mastery curricula (those in which the goal is for the student to master a concept before moving on to the next concept); then I’ll talk about the spiral or incremental ones (those in which information is presented in very tiny pieces, with new topics introduced and reinforced or elaborated upon slowly over time, so that topics are mastered gradually and concurrently with each other).


MASTERY-BASED CURRICULA


  • Kindergarten through Calculus
  • Primer (K) level would be $91; subsequent levels should be less expensive because the manipulatives set would not have to be purchased again—however, the cost of the curriculum itself goes up in subsequent levels, so the price only drops by around $20.
  • Uses manipulatives, DVDs, and songs to teach concepts and aid in math fact memorization
  • The scope and sequences is nonstandard, so standardized testing scores do not always reflect students’ learning—the student may not have been exposed to all “grade-appropriate” material but may have mastered “advanced” material that is not yet being tested.

I watched a series of videos that illustrate the way in which mathematical concepts are taught using this program, and I admit to having a light bulb moment or two as the videos showed me new ways of thinking about and understanding math (a subject in which I’ve never felt particularly confident). This program’s unique way of explaining concepts drew me to it, as did several reviews that said that less than confident teachers were able to use this program to learn along with their children and become much better at math than they’d ever been before. However, Jeff and I both had concerns about reviewers’ almost universal assertion that this curriculum is not as rigorous as other math curricula.


  • Currently, grades K-12 are offered, though it was announced recently that this company is discontinuing the courses above 8th grade.
  • It is difficult to determine the exact pricing of this program, as each level requires 2 textbooks, 2 workbooks, and 2 instructor’s guides, and there are a myriad of supplemental materials (advanced word problem workbooks, review workbooks, etc) that some users find critical and others find unnecessary. The consensus among members of homeschool forums tends to be that this is one of the most, if not the most, expensive math curricula available.
  • Complicating matters further, there seem to be two kindergarten math programs offered by Singapore: Essential Math and Earlybird Math. I’m not totally clear on all the differences or why we should choose one over the other, other than that Essential is less expensive than Earlybird because it does not require a separate teacher’s manual.
  • Based on the national curriculum of Singapore, this curriculum emphasizes mental math and application of mathematical concepts, using a highly sequential, logical progression.
  • Singapore Math seems to be widely viewed as the most advanced math curriculum available.

I was drawn to this program because of the glowing reviews it received. From all accounts, students who use this program understand math concepts well, know their math facts cold, and can apply any number of mathematical principles to solve problems that are quite dissimilar to the ones they’ve seen before. Students who are gifted in math can be challenged with a quicker pace or with advanced workbooks. Students who are less gifted in math still learn … unless they get too frustrated with the advanced pace, or unless their parent-teacher is unable to decipher the instructor manual’s often inadequate information on how to teach the concept under study. That last one was a sticking point for me. As a parent-teacher who does not feel confident in my own mathematical ability, I prefer a curriculum that will teach me how to teach the concepts; I’m prepared for Jeff to take over Alexa’s math instruction at some point if necessary, but I’d rather it not be before high school. I worry that Singapore Math, with its alternative methods and focus on conceptual understanding, may be a bit on the advanced side for me, the teacher.


  • Complete curriculum for grades 1-6; the company also offers supplemental workbooks for grades 1-12.
  • $36/year for CD or download of the complete curriculum, or $70 for 3 grades. The digital version also comes with the ability to make as many unique worksheets as needed for review. A printed version also is available for a bit more money.
  • Worktext system—all the instruction is provided in the workbook, with no separate teacher’s manual required.
  • More advanced than many math curricula, though not as advanced as Singapore
  • Singapore-style instruction, using multiple methods with a progression from concrete to conceptual understanding within each lesson.
  • Focus on mental math and on word problems that require multiple mathematical processes—deliberate, systematic review is built in to the word problems.

Several reviews described Math Mammoth as a significantly less expensive, slightly less advanced version of Singapore Math. Multiple reviews also indicated that this curriculum worked well for their advanced, average, and struggling students—several reviewers claimed to have one of each in their family and said that all did well with this curriculum.  Most reviewers claimed that although students could do this program independently, it was better if the parent-teacher goes through the lesson with the student. Jeff initially had some concerns with the use of multiple methods of instruction (which historically do not have good results in the United States), though those concerns were mitigated somewhat after he read this article.


SPIRAL-BASED OR INCREMENTAL CURRICULA


  • Complete curriculum for students in grades K-12
  • One of the most popular homeschool math curricula, it receives high reviews and also is used in many public schools—which could make for an easier transition if we ever decide to put Alexa in a traditional school
  • Relatively traditional math program
  • It describes itself as “incremental,” and some users are very adamant that it is incremental, NOT spiral. I’m not quite sure what the difference is, but since it seems to be important to them, I mention it in the interests of fairness.

Saxon is either loved or hated; it never is viewed with ambivalence. It’s been a staple in the homeschooling community for an incredibly long time—many who were taught using Saxon now are teaching their own children. Reviews of the program from parent-teachers are stellar: their students memorize math facts, demonstrate outstanding performance on standardized tests, and can do math independently beginning sometime around 4th grade. However, reviews from former students are much more mixed—while some enjoyed it, many describe a program that they dreaded every day and that killed any love they may have had for math. Tellingly, many also report encountering problems once they entered college: they had learned to apply their algorithms to a series of similar word problems, but they had not learned how to determine which algorithm was needed to solve unique problems or problems that required the use of multiple algorithms. In short, they reported that they had learned to use algorithms, but not to apply mathematical concepts to real world situations. On the other hand, some reported that they were prepared just fine for college math, they understood the concepts well, and they went on to thrive in STEM careers.


  • Complete K-8 curriculum that uses manipulatives, memorization, and drill
  • Developed for homeschoolers—it does not assume a traditional classroom environment
  • Reportedly an advanced curriculum, though the spiral format causes students to feel like it is not as difficult as similarly advanced mastery programs would be—they learn things in small enough chunks that they don’t realize how much they’re learning.

This math program also is popular among many homeschoolers. Overall, it receives positive reviews, though I don’t recall seeing many that specifically mentioned how good the program is for conceptual understanding or for memorization of math facts. There were several reviews that indicated that children enjoy this program for its variety—each lesson introduces something new, provides practice with that new concept, and then also provides practice with a lot of different types of problems encountered in the past—though an equal number indicated that children felt lost because there were so many different topics encountered in each lesson that students were never quite certain what they were supposed to be learning. Many reviewers also say that the program is good for grades K through 3, but that the 4th grade level suddenly begins moving more quickly through the concepts, and their students begin to struggle.


  • Complete K-12 curriculum
  • Available for free online, or a printed version can be purchased for Year 1 and up.
  • This British curriculum is funded by charitable and educational organizations in an attempt to improve mathematics instruction. Because it is British, some modification would be necessary for use with American students (money, for example).
  • The program emphasizes logic and critical thinking skills—students are not told how to solve new problems, but are guided in figuring it out for themselves.
  • Designed for classroom use, so significant modification is needed for homeschool use.

I first heard of this program while reading in a discussion group related to the science curriculum we’ve chosen—someone asked if there was a particular math program that worked well with Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, and the resounding answer was that any math program could be used, but that MEP is the natural complement. It seems to be a spiral curriculum that otherwise is very similar to Singapore: a systematic and logical curriculum that is heavy on mathematical reasoning and application and that encourages students to use a variety of methods to solve problems. Unfortunately, though, it also can be difficult for teacher-parents: it requires significant modification for homeschool use and is highly teacher-intensive, which could be a problem for me given my discomfort with math and the amount of preparation required by our science curriculum.


OUR CHOICE

After discussing all the options with Jeff, we agreed that we would try a mastery curriculum first. I prefer to learn—and therefore also to teach—using a mastery orientation, and if Alexa learns well in my preferred teaching style, that will make things easier for all of us.

However, we also believe in contingency planning, so we agreed that if it turns out that Alexa needs a more spiral curriculum, we’ll switch to one. Neither of us were interested in Saxon, with its mixed reviews. Horizons seems fine, but did not excite us. MEP is a better fit. It emphasizes the things we want to emphasize and would give Alexa the best chance at developing a real understanding and appreciation for math. Therefore, if at some point we realize that Alexa needs a spiral math program, we will try MEP, though it is not our first choice.

That left the three mastery curricula under consideration. Although I loved the presentation of Math-U-See, and it would provide the most assistance to me as the teacher, we quickly eliminated it. We simply aren’t interested in a program that often is described as “not rigorous.”

We were down to two very similar curricula. From that point, the choice was easy, at least for next year: Math Mammoth does not offer a kindergarten level, and Singapore does. We’ll be using Singapore Math for kindergarten—most likely Essentials rather than Earlybird, because it is less expensive and I have not heard of any other major differences between them. We have delayed the decision on first grade and beyond, contingent on how well Alexa does in kindergarten. If she loves doing math and does well at it, we may continue with Singapore under the assumption that we shouldn’t try to fix what isn’t broken. If she does well enough but we get the impression that the more advanced Singapore Math may be too much for her, we will try the slightly less advanced Math Mammoth. We may err on the side of trying Singapore rather than Math Mammoth if there is doubt, because it would be easier to switch from the more advanced to the less advanced option rather than the other way around, but we won’t make any final decisions until toward the end of her kindergarten year.

Now we have all the fundamental subjects covered: phonics, handwriting, math, and science. It’s time to move on to the fun stuff: history, literature, religion, art, music, and physical education. Stay tuned, as I’ll eventually write about those as well.