The ABCs of Our Not Kindergarten Year

by ChristinaPilkington on June 9, 2012 · 9 comments

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 This afternoon I had a few quiet hours to write while the kids when to their grandparents’ house to earn some money. Right now they’re very interested in things they can do to earn money, so their grandparents offered to give them a few jobs to do.

So, as I started to write, it hit me as I looked out my back kitchen window, across the vacant lot beyond our backyard fence, and into the school playground.

Today would have been the kids’ last day of Kindergarten if they had gone to school this year.

I remember the first day they would have gone in the fall. I had wanted to take the kids down to the beach that day, but it was too cold.

Today, I almost missed realizing this would have been their last day of school.

What would they have learned there?

I have some idea from conversations I’ve had with other parents who have sent their children to school. No doubt they would have had some fun days and learned some interesting things.

But I also have no doubt they never would have received the incredibly customized education they experienced this year.  They wouldn’t have had such a wide range of experiences and they wouldn’t have been able to decide all the types of things they wanted to learn about.

I don’t think any school curriculum would have listed most of the things on our list either.  Most importantly we wouldn’t have built so many incredible memories.

So, I thought it would be fun to create an ABC list of some of the things we did this year during the time the kids would have gone to school.

I call it the ABC’s of our Not Kindergarten Year because we don’t have grades or grade levels in our family.

Some might argue when they read this list that most of the things here other children could experience or learn about outside of school hours, too.

That’s true, but this is just a tiny glimpse of what we have done. I’ve purposely made this list to include those things we did only during “school hours.” I didn’t include things we did late afternoons or evenings, weekends, or during regular school holidays. Traditional school hours and other hours all look the same here.

This lifestyle of learning means that we can have adventures and interest-led learning all the time instead of small pockets of time.

The ABC’s of Our Not Kindergarten Year

A     Archery, Aquariums, & Apple Orchards

    Balancing Scales, Beluga Whales, & Beehives

C     Climbing Ropes, Caves, & Conner’s Prairie

    Dressing Up, Doctor Dreadful, & Dogs

E     Egypt Exhibits, Encyclopedias, & Eagles

F     Feeding Goats, Floating, & Field Museum

G     Gymnastics, Greek Myths, & Gravity

   Hikes, Helen Keller, & Horned Owls

I       Indiana, Indians, & Insects

    Junior Monopoly, Jumping, & Jackie Chan

K     Keelboats, Kaleidoscope, & Kissing Sculptures

     Legos, Lakes, & Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

    Microscopes, Molds, & Mazes

N     Nursing Homes, Ninjas, & Norse Myths

   Occupy Chicago, Oil, & Oxen

P     Parks, Pottery, & Photography

    Quipu, Queen Ants & Quarters

R     Roosters, Riding the El, & Reptiles

S     Sand Dunes, Slides, & Scavenger Hunts

T     Toy Soldiers, Theater, & Tree Tapping

U     Underwear (on their heads for dress up!), Underwater Creatures, & Uncovering Fossils

V     Volleyball, Vinegar, & Vegetable Growing

W   Wigwams, Water Tables & Wrestling

    Xylophones, X-Rays, & Xerox Copies

    Yahtzee, Yarn & Yolk

Z     Zip lines, Zoos & Zoo Tychoon 2


Photo Credit: Double–M

What were the highlights from your year?


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  • Natalie

    Well, my daughter went to a public school K. She loved every minute of it except school assembly mornings. Memories are not only made at home, and it’s hard for me to give her up, but she was ready for it.

    • christinapilkington

      You’re exactly right, memories are not only made at home. In fact, most of our most powerful memories were not made at home – they were made while traveling, visiting a new town, or getting outside and discovering new things. Memories can definitly be made in school, too, but the memories we want to make could not be made within the confines of a school, either public or private. I think it’s usually a matter of priorities. These priorities are highly individual- they’re neither right or wrong. We highly value being able to set our own schedule and change it often, being able to get outside and explore new places a lot, be able to travel a lot and whatever time of the year we’d like. My kids also highly value being able to make their own list each week of the things they want to learn about and do – something they would not be able to do in any school.

      School probably works fine for some kids. But for us, it doesn’t match our priorities or values at all. I’m not at all trying to sound snarky when I say this, but I really don’t think my kids will ever be ready for school. I’m really, really glad your daughter was happy this year and built good memories for herself there. Her happiness, freedom and joy is what is most important.

  • Susan

    SO much fun learning! Aren’t you glad you didn’t miss any of it?!

    • christinapilkington

      I’m so, so, so thankful!

  • Kelly @ The Homeschool Co-op

    This is beautiful. I hope our Kindergarten year (coming up!) is amazing as this one.

    • christinapilkington

      I know it will be! Can’t wait to read about your up-coming adventures :)

  • Monica Vandeventer

    I really appreciate your blog. Such a good reminder every few days that what we are choosing is the right path. Especially in these early years it is so fun to watch the kids explore and learn. They are figuring out the world and there is nothing more important than that.
    My best unschooling moment this year came when I got stressed out because I read one of those “what your 4 year old should know” lists. They had on there recognize patterns among other things. I started thinking that Jackson had no idea what a pattern was, even though I have tried to point them out to him. I started being consumed by this. It was really bothering me. I shared it with my husband, who is so good about these things. He is not phased at all by our kids progress. He has complete faith in our kids being able to learn all they need at their own pace.
    So I gave it up. I stopped worrying about it. Literally that night we had on Sesame Street and there was a section about patterns. He got it. He loved it. That really strengthened my faith too. It’s the little things.

    • Tereza Crump

      oh, my!! that has happened to me too so many times!! God is so good and faithful and QUICK to answer our prayers … sometimes! hahaha

      PS I got a DH like yours too… with a complete faith in our kids being able to learn all they need at their own pace. Thank you Jesus for these wonderful men!!

    • christinapilkington

      I love those moments! I used to pour over those lists too all the time, especially when the kids were really young. I think it was especially hard for me not to fret over those lists because the kids were born two months early. I’d be so scard that they weren’t developing properly. I’d question every little thing they were doing. And then when Alexa started to read well when she was 3, I’d pour over gifted lists, too. I literally made myself sick over trying to evaluate how they were doing compared to other kids. It really became toxic for me. Now I stay away from them as much as possible. I don’t think all those lists are bad, but I think you just have to watch if you become too attached to placing a lot of value in them. For me, it took my attention away from seeing my kids as individuals.

      Things really do just click for kids most of the time. That’s how it’s been for Jared’s reading lately. Just three months ago he had a hard time blending sounds together to make a three letter word. Last night at 9:30, he brought over some books to me and asked if I’d listen to him read. He then read for over a half hour, reading pages with four sentences on it and words 5 to 7 letters long. He now asks if he can read me two books every day. Some days I’ll ask him if he wants to read to me (he always says yes), but he usually asks on his own. It’s such a joy to experience!

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