Homeschooling Preschool "Curriculum"
This is the central part of our schooling. Math, reading, writing, and Bible all spiral out from this first activity. With our calendar, we daily introduce the date (month, day, and year); make the date using money; review our bible verse, letter and number of the week; and determine the weather. A simple activity yet it gives the start of our school time it's needed structure. I made our calendar out of a file folder that I had laminated at Staples. Then I used a pocket with an adhesive back to hold our coins and weather cards. Post-it notes make it easy to swap out our weekly items, and a dry erase marker works great for the date.
LiteratureSince our priorities are introduction and play, our curriculum is basically the public library. We get lots of books out and read, read, read. We're reading picture books, easy readers, and a chapter book (during Family Time each evening). I'm in the process of compiling a booklist of must-reads for the year. Once that is finished, I'll be happy to share. However, the bulk of the titles is just a mash-up of K & 1st grade reading lists from various curriculums. See, many of the lower elementary grade curriculums are just a list of books with a teachers guide to explain how to enhance the reading, or a worksheet that goes along with it. For our family, that just isn't necessary. So we're saving our pennies and utilizing the library--just like we've always done!
A specific goal we have for the year is alphabet sequence. Sweet Potato recognizes her letters and can say the alphabet, but she isn't consistent is saying it correctly even though she knows the correct order. To help with this and general letter recognition/sound introduction, we're doing a letter of the week. Actually, we keep the same letter for two weeks, giving us ample opportunity to make word lists with words starting with the specific letter, coloring a letter work page, completing letter mazes, and going on letter hunts while at the grocery store.
One of our goals this year is to do master numbers 1-25. Much like the letter of the week, we have a number of the week. We use this number to help us count in various situations and to find while running errands. Additionally, Sweet Potato has exhibited a strong interest in money and telling time. We're incorporating her interests and our goals to create fun math play. For the money portion, we're using real coins (why buy play ones when you have the real kind?) and a simple book I found at a library book sale.
To help with teaching time, we'll be using two clock manipulatives I found at the PA Curriculum Exchange for 75 cents! The beauty of having two is that I can set my clock and then have Sweet Potato copy. Monkey see monkey do is a very important part of our teaching.
As for learning number sequence, we're doing a lot of counting during math time and throughout the day. Of course with many things at this stage of development, we're also sorting and playing with patterns as well. Games like Skipbo make teaching number sequence, pattern, and sorting fun and easy. We're not playing the game, simply playing with the cards.
I do have Saxon 1st grade math which we'll start getting into more come January. No, I am not attempting to have a crazy smart math child. However, Saxon is a spiraling math curriculum and there are elements that she can do now. Further more, working through some of the exercises also helps me prepare for the future when we really are doing a more curriculum heavy schedule. Even though that is several years down the road, it's nice to easy very slowly into the concepts and rhythm of it all.
My only goal for this area is to have Sweet Potato learn to hold a pencil. When she is coloring, wants to write a list, etc. I reinforce the correct way to hold a pencil. It seems like a small thing, but it is so foundational.
I'm all about keeping it simple. Since Sweet Potato attends Sunday school and a Wednesday night kid's club, we are using our home Bible time to reinforce the things they are discussing in her church classrooms and to memorize scripture. We read a Bible story, pray for friends and family members, and say our memory verse. It's simple, but again, it's about laying a solid foundation. Occasionally I'll swap a Bible story out for some reading from Big Truths for Little Kids. It's a great early catechism.
How Much Time?
All told our daily schooling takes about an hour. I'll reinforce various ideas throughout the day and during play times, but the whole point of school at this life stage is introduction and fun. Tabitha loves to cross off her assignments and the quick pace means her attention stays focused on the activities at hand. The real trick to all of this is consistency and repetition. Every morning we have a routine which allows new things to added slowly and then practiced again and again until they become familiar. Additionally, we talk about our learning with Daddy each night and regularly with grandparents. This provides additional concept reinforcement and helps me gauge what is clicking outside of the school context.
As for planning, I plan a week's activities (worksheet printing included) in about 30-45 minutes each Sunday. Not bad when I consider all the prep time I used to put into a day's lesson. :-)
While we're not using a set curriculum, I have found the following resources tremendously helpful.
- The LIBRARY
- Mr. Printables -- Alphabet cards, number cards, coloring sheets, etc. all with cool designs
- GoalForIt -- great for chore charts and Tabitha's school routine
- 1+1+1=1 -- worksheets, games, idea gathering
That is our curriculum for now! Sweet and simple and 100% manageable. Not to mention, a heck of a lot of fun!! To close, I leave you with some homeschooling humor.