Homeschooling: Preschool Goals

[In my state, compulsory school attendance begins at age 5, with kindergarten (unless a kindergarten waiver is submitted). You can research your own state’s laws through the HSLDA’s website, here.]

My daughter is 3 years old. In the past 5-6 months, I have noticed a lengthening of her attention span and an eagerness to learn academic subjects (writing, phonics). I knew I would do preschool at home, so I began researching options. I quickly found that the approach highly depends on the goals of the parent. Do I want my kid to regurgitate facts? read or write at an early age? learn exclusively through play? study through “unit” plans?

Well… this is what I want for my child in the next two years:

I want her to spend as much time outdoors as possible, so that she can practice her developing gross motor skills. I want her to hang from the swing set, learn to swing herself, run around the yard, try to climb a tree, find rocks shaped like houses and triangles and hearts, lay in the grass and look at the clouds.

I want her to enjoy “school,” whatever it happens to look like for us. If she isn’t enjoying it, if it is just a chore to her, then it is wrong.

I want her to have some structure and rules around schooling, such as days and times when we will “do school,” working in a particular order and in a particular way. Doing things the right way (working page by page in a workbook, tracing letters in order left to right) is enjoyable. Kids don’t need to partake in reckless abandon in order to have fun.

I want her to practice and develop her fine motor skills for pencil-holding, page-turning, coloring with precision.

That’s it. If she comes out of the next two years writing or reading or doing any arithmetic, that would be great. If not? That’s alright, too. There are benefits to delaying formal schooling that resonate with me.

What were/are your goals for preschool at home?

Advertisements

Homeschooling: Introduction

We have always intended to homeschool. As Sprout approached age three, we discussed how we wanted to go about this. I decided to write about our process here, in case it would be useful for someone else. I am not telling you that you ought to homeschool or that you need to do it this way. I am certainly no expert! And I expect our approach and even goals to change over the coming years.

This is just me sharing my decision making process, progress, and such. ☺

As with other topics, this will be an on-going series. I hope to share updates every month, at least; more often if I make adjustments or have something particular to address.

She Knits: Portobello Shawl

I was sent this yarn and pattern kit in a recent swap I participated in with a group on Ravelry. It came all the way from the U.K. 🙂

Progression Info
Started – April 17
Completed – May 6
Duration – 19 days = 2.7 weeks

I really must be a “fast” knitter… 🙂

Pattern Info
Portobello by Clare Devine
Ravelry

This is different than most lace shawls I have knit. For one, it is mostly garter stitch. And for two, the body is mostly a solid fabric.

The shape is interesting. It is a sort of spiral type of thing, achieved by adding in “wedges” from time to time. The border is lace that was easy to knit.

This would make a great beginner lace pattern. 🙂

I don’t enjoy knitting garter stitch. And this yarn made it more cumbersome, I think. But it obviously wasn’t enough to deter me. I think this would be more enjoyable to knit in a less fuzzy, perhaps even a heavier weight (sport weight, maybe) yarn.

I learned a new bind off with this project: the Icelandic bind off. It is the bind-off called for in the pattern. It is supposed to be a stretchy bind off, but it doesn’t seem so to me. I would have rather used JSSBO, but wasn’t sure about the yarn usage, and was running so low, I didn’t want to chance it.

Yarn Info
Ginger’s Hand Dyed Wensleydale 4ply
100% Wensleydale wool
Colorway: porto (dark green)
2 skeins = 371.8 yds used
Colorway: bello (light green)
1 skein = 186.0 yds used

I used every bit of this yarn. Actually, I had to change colors a little over one row earlier than called for because I ran out of the dark green. I think this pattern and yarn were designed together, so I’m not sure if the designer intended it to be such a close call with the yarn or if my gauge was slightly off (I believe the latter). At any rate, it did make me wonder if I would then used up the light green too soon, since I had started it a row early. And I nearly did! I think I have 1-2 yards left. It worked out in the end, though, and I don’t think the early color change is noticeable.

This is a different wool for me. I have only used Peruvian highland and merino wools before. This Wensleydale seems to have a shorter staple length. The yarn is so fuzzy, it is nearly impossible to separate the plies — the yarn just falls apart. I did manage to do it in order to join the two dark green skeins with a braided join, but it was tedious. I should have joined them by felting (I use the braided join essentially every time). Also, it is not as soft as a merino, but seems comparable in softness to a Peruvian highland wool.

Photos

She Knits: ‘First Snow’ Baby Set

This was a fun project — I enjoyed every stage. Choosing the pattern, yarn, and colors. The plain, quick knitting. The more challenging, tedious colorwork. Even the sewing up/finishing. I was a little sad to be finished, actually. It is not often I enjoy a project so much.

This set is for a new nephew due in May.

Progression Info
Started – January 17
Completed – February 1
Duration – 15 days = 2.1 weeks

I knitted on the sweater from January 17 – 23 (just 6 days!). Then the socks for 3 days (Jan 27 – 30). And the hat for 2 days (Jan 30 – Feb 1). So fast! And I was sad it went so quickly.

Funny story — I actually knit this hat twice. The first time, I used the size in the pattern I had used for the other two pieces. I knit the entire hat, had woven in all those tails/ends, and finally realized… it was way too small. I think I knew this as I was working on it, but foolishly hoped my mind was tricking me. Anyway, I measured it, and it measured closer to a preemie size than a 6/9 month! I was frustrated, so I put it aside and made the socks. Then began the hat again before ripping out the first too-small one. I ran out of green yarn with just a few rounds of the top crown to go on the new hat. So I had to rip out the too-small one, which took about an hour, just for maybe a half-dozen yards of yarn to finish the new hat! Lesson learned: check gauge and sizing throughout the project, not just at the end!

Pattern Info
B19-2 First Snow by DROPS design

I knew I wanted to do something “fancier” than a plain baby sweater, so I searched specifically for ones incorporating stranded colorwork. I loved this one the moment I saw it. It is simple, yet charming, and so cute.

Many people don’t care for DROPS design patterns, but I keep returning to them. I guess I am a fan, now, having knit 6 of their patterns. They are challenging because the instructions are not line-by-line, they are concise. There is a lot of instruction that happens “AT THE SAME TIME”, decreasing/increasing is not spelled out (the pattern may say “decrease 14 stitches evenly across the row” instead of “K2,*K2tog, K7* repeat * to * 13 more times, K2”, for example), and there are no (or few) row numbers given (everything is worked to some given measurement, like 2 inches from the cast-on edge, for example). The patterns are written in paragraph form, instead of list-form as is more common, and so the knitter is faced with a huge block of text with lots of numbers and words and CAPITAL LETTERS and — whew! it is daunting.

However, these are the reasons I like these patterns! Concise instruction, no hand-holding, and lovely finished garments.

do find their sizing labels to be somewhat off from what I would expect. And it is is crucial to check gauge. The needle size is always far off from what I need to use to make gauge (which just means the designer knits with a different tension than me). Also, matching yarns can be difficult — the patterns are designed to use DROPS brand yarns and it is sometimes a challenge to find a similar weight of yarn that knits to the same gauge and gives a similar-looking fabric. Sorry if that sounds like gibberish. 🙂

This pattern, however, was very good. I think anyone familiar with knitting and stranded colorwork could easily knit this pattern. Some of the stranding does happen on the purl side because the sweater is knit flat. That may be new even for experienced stranded knitters because most stranded knitting is done in-the-round so that the right side is always facing the knitter and no purl stitches have to be worked in the contrasting color.

I used my finger yarn guide (for keeping the colors evenly tensioned on my left hand) while working the right side rows, but I could not purl with it on. So for the wrong side rows (all purl stitches), I used a two-handed colorwork technique. I purled the main color with my left hand (Continental/picking style; this is how I usually knit) and the contrasting color with my right (English/throwing style). It was awkward at first, and more difficult to achieve even tension across the row (my floats were tighter on wrong side rows), but it did work. I should work more flat stranded colorwork so I can practice the two-handed technique more. 🙂

Sweater Notes

  • I omitted the shawl collar (most babies don’t have enough room between chin and chest for a shawl collar!) by working the ribbing decreases, then binding off.
  • I didn’t think to do it this time, but if I knit this again, I would add 2-4 stitches to the cast-on in order to have a main color “buffer” of 1-2 stitches on each side of the button band. The colorwork butts right up against the band and those edge stitches are tricky to tension properly. I think it would be even better to omit the button band stitches from the cast-on, but add 4 stitches, so that there are 2 “edge” stitches on each end of the work. When the knitting is done, I would pick up and knit the button bands, which would use up one of those edge stitches per side, and would leave a one-stitch “buffer” between the colorwork and the button bands. You know, if I ever knit this again… 😉
  • I used this website for calculating how to decrease evenly across the row. It is excellent, and I can’t believe I didn’t look for something like that before!

Sock Notes

  • When knitting the heel flap, I slipped the first stitch of each row to create a slipped-stitch selvedge for easier picking up later on.
  • On the second sock, I moved the heel stitches to the last 17 stitches of the round to make them symmetrical. There is a slight jog in the colorwork at the start of the round, so I wanted those round beginnings to be able to go “inside” the leg.
  • I wish the leg were shorter. If I knit this again, I would only knit one repeat of the diamond “snow” colorwork design on the cuff and would omit the few plain stockinette rounds between the colorwork and the start of the heel flap.

Hat Notes

  • The shape of the hat is a little weird when laid flat, as in the pictures. The decreases are broken up by the colorwork. But I expect it will look fine on a baby’s head. 🙂
  • I didn’t knit as long a cuff of ribbing as the pattern indicated. It asked for 2″ and I only knit 1″. I was trying to conserve the green yarn to avoid having to rip out the too-small hat… but my efforts were futile. I think it looks OK with a shorter rib, though.

I made the “6/9 months” size, but my gauge was slightly tighter, so I think it came out to be closer to a 6 month size. I was aiming for having it fit next winter, but with all the sizes babies come in, who knows. 😀

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Swish DK
100% superwash merino wool
Colorway – Marble Heather (gray)
2.4 skeins = 295.2 yds used
Colorway – Marine Heather (blue)
0.68 skeins = 83.6 yds used
Colorway – Green Tea Heather
0.4 skeins = 49.2 yds used
Colorway – White
0.08 skeins = 9.84 yds used
Total yards used = 437.8

This yarn is wonderful. It is very, very soft and vibrantly colored. It is superwash wool, meaning it can be run through the delicate cycle of the washing machine and even machine dried on low heat. I have heard some horror stories of projects made with superwash wool yarns needing to be machine-dried, otherwise they stretch terribly out of shape and grow several inches, if air-dried. I “tested” these items by running them through the washing machine on a cold delicates cycle in garment bags, then laying flat to dry on a towel. They did not become at all misshapen or over-stretched. I am very pleased about this and would use this yarn again, especially for baby items.

I enjoyed the process of choosing the colors for these projects. I only bought yarn for the sweater, but had enough of the contrasting colors to also do the hat and socks, provided I used a CC for the main color of the accessories. I think it makes the set very fun, with the different colors emphasized in the accessories. I chose these colors based on a board from the expectant mother’s Pinterest page. 🙂 I love Pinterest. I did not find exact matches to the paint swatches she had pinned there, but the overall scheme is very similar. I hope she likes it.

Photos

She Sews: Small Project Set

I have wanted a small, sock-sized project bag and DPN cosy for a long time — and I finally made a set for myself!

Progression
December 14

These little pouches are a 2-hour project. The DPN holder was about an hour of sewing.

Pattern Info
Double-Pointed Needle Keeper Tutorial by The Nome Knitter

I made the 6″ size DPN keeper. I made one mistake — the snaps are about 1/2″ closer to each edge than the tutorial specifies, but the keeper works just as well this way.

I don’t use a tutorial or pattern for these zippered pouches anymore!

Fabric Info
quilting cottons

These are all random pieces of cotton fabric I have bought from remnant bins, except for the shiny fabric on the outside of the DPN keeper. That one came in a fat quarter bundle.

Photos