This is our first year homeschooling, and we’re doing pre-K. So we’re not homeschooling hard core, especially since I’ve got a major book writing deadline in January 2010.
But I want to do something, because Chickpea is more than ready for it, and because, well, I want to. Good enough reasons, I think.
The thing I like about starting school a year “early” is that we can ease in to it, it can be pretty laid-back and flexible (if we need to take a week — or three — off, we can), and we can make sure and lay a decent foundation for the more formal school years.
So this said, here are our current educational goals for Chickpea, who is 4 1/2 (she’ll be 5 in February):
• to lay down a solid foundation for a spirit of lifelong learning
• to learn how to read independently
• to count to 20 verbatim and to visually recognize those numbers
• to write decently in lowercase (she currently sticks with just uppercase)
• to tell time on an analog clock
Here’s what we’ll do to meet these goals.
We’ll continue with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, since that’s going well with us. Chick will start independent reading with our set of I Can Read! Phonics books probably later this fall, and in the spring, we’ll start using our Sight Word Readers set from Scholastic. And of course, we’ll do lots and lots and lots of reading together, just for fun.
We’re keeping it simple here. We’ll continue to work through our My Very First Number Book by DK, and our fancy-schmancy manipulatives will be a variety of rocks I collected at the beach this past weekend. I made sure to get some of different sizes and colors, and we’ll use these to practice sorting and grouping. We’ll also keep playing with tangrams, and we’ll make some fun art books for number recognition. Whatever to keep it fun for us. And we’ve got a number of basic manipulatives we’ll use for telling time, and we’ll focus first on learning to read her wake-up time. In other words, she’ll soon be accountable for not getting out of bed until 8 o’clock.
Lots of free writing time, since she already loves to “write” letters to her friends and create books with stories. Part of her Scripture memory will be to trace her memory verse, which will incorporate lowercase letters. I’ve got a cool font that allows me to create my own tracing letters. We’re not going to emphasize handwriting too much, since I don’t want that to overwhelm her with the main goal of learning to read. And I also don’t want to squelch the fun of writing just for kicks, which she enjoys anyway.
1. Art, Applied Math, Literature, Geography, History
I’ve decided to go with Five in a Row as our main curriculum, and I couldn’t be more excited. It fits really well with Chick’s interests, and because I’m excited about it, I hope she’ll be, too.
I was going back and forth with what “style” we would approach academics. I love the Charlotte Mason emphasis on living books and twaddle-free literature, and I also love the classical method’s structure of history, going through the major epics of time every four years. I also like the unit study approach, where you take a topic and incorporate different subjects into each topic.
It was this last style that seemed to best fit us best, and one that seemed to mesh well with the early childhood years in our family. But I wanted to combine a unit lesson style learning approach with quality literature, making those the foundation for our units.
Enter Five in a Row. You can read more about it on their website, but in a nutshell, you read a selection of literature — you guessed it — five times in a row, once per day. Each day, you angle your lesson a bit differently to cover a different subject.
For an example, when we do The Story about Ping — on Monday, we’ll study geography, where we’ll do a lesson on China and perhaps map skills, marking the Yangtse River. On Tuesday, we’ll cover language arts, discussing the book’s language style and use of vocabulary. On Wednesday, we’ll study art, looking at the book’s illustrations, and perhaps doing an arts-and-crafts activity involving that style of drawing. On Thursday, we’ll work on math, where we’ll count all of Ping’s relatives and cousins, and work on sequencing as the ducks line up to enter the boat. And on Friday, we’ll focus on science, where we’ll look at ducks, or perhaps bouancy, discovering how things sink and float.
It’s more detailed than that, of course, and the curriculum is well laid-out, so that there’s not a ton of planning on the parents’ part. But I love the holistic approach to learning, helping lay a foundation of discovery, life application, and creative synergy with each of life’s academics. It’s how I would have loved to be educated.
Whew, I went longer than I thought. Anyhoo… Here are the books we’ll start on with Five in a Row. I have both volume 1 of FIAR and the Before Five in a Row, and I might also draw from the (free!) resources available at Homeschool Share.
• Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
• The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack
• Lentil, by Robert McCloskey
• Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton
• Katy and the Big Snow, by Virginia Lee Burton
• Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey
• The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss
• The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
• Katy No-Pocket, by Emmy Payne
• Caps For Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, by Esphr Slobodkina
• A Pair of Red Clogs, by Matsako Matsuno
• The Glorious Flight, by Alice and Martin Provensen
• How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, by Marjorie Priceman
• Cranberry Thanksgiving, by Wende and Harry Devlin
• Papa Piccolo, by Carol Talley
• The Clown of God, by Tomie DePaola
• Storm in the Night, by Mary Stoltz
• Night of the Moonjellies, by Mark Shasha
• Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost
2. Bible and Character Development
I’ve also ordered FIAR’s Christian Character & Bible Study Supplement, and this coincides with their unit studies on particular books. I don’t know much about this book yet, but hey, it was a freebie when I ordered the other FIAR books on eBay. It sounds good, so we’ll see.
We’ll also continue with Scripture memory and good ol’ reading from the Bible and doing that whole Deuteronomy 6 thing.
3. Additional History and Geography
I’ve got some of A Child’s Geography: The Holy Lands, and we’ll be using that to take advantage of the historically-rich location where we live. I’d kick myself if I looked back on our time here and realized we didn’t make enough use of it in our learning.
We may also do some traveling in Europe this fall (just a bit — we’ll see), and if we do, I’ll put together some fun curriculum for us to do as a family during our travels. Just for fun.
In Wagen-esque fashion, we’ll also do a timeline on the wall, adding things as we learn about them in our books.
4. Music & Art Appreciation
Mostly, we’ll listen to a lot of it and look at a lot of it. We have music on most of the day around here, and Chick loves art in general, so we’ll just keep on doing lots of art projects. She’s begging me to teach her to sew, so we may do something with that.
I’m going to look into a local community center here that’s rumored to have free ballet and gymnastics lessons. If that’s true, I’ll be jumping all over that. There’s two other expat girls we know who take gymnastics there, and they’re having a great time.
Overall, I want to keep learning natural, fun, and a group effort. I want to be a student right alongside with Chickpea, and we’ll possibly even get into some stuff all together as a family. Kabob is interested in doing some science stuff with her, like when we’ll get into aerodynamics and flight during our reading of The Glorious Flight.
There’s lots of good ideas on homeschooling plans for this upcoming school year over at My 3 Boybarians, where Darcy is hosting a blog hop with a not back to school theme. Every Monday in August, it’s a homeschool-themed blog hop, and it sounds fun.