11.05.2013

Preschool "Curriculum"

When I posted about what a normal day looks like for us, which included our homeschool preschool, I received some requests to give more detail about the curriculum that I am using for preschool.  So, that is the purpose of this post.  Last year, we dabbled in some preschool activities at home, but we did not stick to a set schedule or have much in mind in the way of goals, etc.  This year, I am more dedicated to it, because C enjoys it so much, and as a preparation for Kindergarten next year.  C is learning constantly throughout the day as she plays and explores and tags along with and helps me, but two days a week for about 3-4 hours, we focus specifically on learning.  As I was thinking about the year, I wanted to have lesson plans in place and themed units for each month...  While those are both great things, I realized that this is just preschool and it is primarily about setting a tone for next year and having fun through learning.  I also realized that I had plenty of materials without needing to purchase a curriculum.  I did some research and made a list of things that I would like to focus on based on what a child should know going into Kindergarten, and based on what others were doing in the preschool years.  This was my starting point.  I decided to keep it simple, so I made a list of nine "subjects" or activities and decided that we would spend 20-30 minutes on each one on our school days.  We don't do them in the same order usually, and I often let C choose what she wants to start with and/or do next.  The only thing that I do try to do is to alternate writing with non-writing to give her hands a break, and also something more active with something less active so she has plenty of opportunity to move around and wiggle.  Also, on our non-school days, she is still doing several of these and actually spends more time on them on those days.  The nine things that we choose from are:

  • Calendar Book
  • Cutting & Pasting
  • Reading/Phonics
  • Worksheets
  • Picture Books
  • Reading out Loud/floor play
  • Games/Outside play
  • Sensory
  • Art/Crafts

Calendar Book
I learned very quickly that google and pinterest are a homeschooling mom's best friends and great resources that I'm sure those that have gone before us wish they had!  As with anything online, you can find more information than you could possibly process, but narrow it down and it is really helpful.  So, a quick search will give you lots of ideas for a calendar book.  This is something that we will probably do for most of the elementary years and continue to build on it as she grows and learns.  For now, we have a 3-ring binder with the monthly calendar page and she traces today's date, and then I have various worksheets for each day where she records the numerical date, what day it is today/tomorrow/yesterday, the weather for the day, her mood for the day, the time, etc.  There are lots of ideas out there for this, so you can make it as much or as little as you want to.  We are also working on identifying the US states, so I found a blank map of the states on google images and we color in a few states each day to learn where they are.  

THIS is a link to some of the pages that we are using for our calendar book.

Cutting & Pasting
Not on the computer...at least not yet.  We are doing actual cutting with scissors and gluing with glue-sticks, usually.  Learning to use scissors is a great motor-skill activity for preschoolers and they think it is great fun.  Cutting with adult supervision is preferred.  (spoken from someone who cut her own EYELASHES with scissors as a child...)  For beginners, these are great scissors for little hands, and using a hole-puncher is a good activity as well.  Creating a Paper-Cutting box is on my to-do list...  We mostly use printables that I have found from searching for preschool cutting/scissor activities on pinterest.  We also have a book similar to this that is fun and colorful.

Click HERE for more information

Reading & Phonics
C has enjoyed playing games on the computer since she was 2, and I have been amazed at how quickly she has picked up using the mouse and navigating her way around on the computer.  I really like the Starfall website and I think the $35/year fee is worth it for all of the programs and printables that are available.  There are a lot of things available for free, but there is SO much more with the membership.  In addition to beginning reading, there are lots of songs that teach things like days of the week, months of the year, etc.  Kids at this age memorize so quickly and learn so fast through music.  My parents gave me this book...

More information here
I am very pleased with this program so far.  Each lesson is short and easy and simple.  The thing I like most about it is that there are NO pictures.  NONE.  Personally, I think this is great for a reading program, because anytime there are pictures, it makes it easier for the child to guess rather than have to work to sound out a word.  Even without pictures, it still holds C's interest and I can tell that she is using her imagination to form her own illustrations for what she is reading.  Every 14 lessons or so, there is a booklet for the child to read, and we just got through the first one.  Let me tell you, C is SO excited that she can read a real book!  And I am excited too because I know that she IS actually reading it and not guessing based on pictures.  We usually spend however long it takes to get through one lesson each school-day...some lessons are longer and some are shorter.

Worksheets
This one is pretty random for us.  Both of C's grandmothers have given us workbooks for her as they have seen them at good prices or just thought they looked interesting.  I'm very thankful for a mother and a mother-in-law who have walked this road of homeschooling before me and have experience to share with me.  I won't list all of the workbooks here, but they vary in subject from math/numbers, colors/shapes, reading/letters, reasoning skills, etc.  One day we might focus more on reading and one day on math or it may be a balanced mix.  I usually just go through and pull out several or if C sees one she is interested in, we pull that one out and do it.  I mainly want her to get familiar with completing a worksheet, learning to write letters/numbers, and following instructions.  These books can be found anywhere, really...Sam's/Costco usually have them, and of course any kind of bookstore or educational store.  There are also LOTS of free printables available on-line and pinterest is a good resource for that.  You will pay for the cost of ink to print them, but even if you use an entire cartridge, you will probably have a book's worth of pages and the ink probably costs about the same price as a book would.  I have printed several from Confessions of a Home Schooler's blog.

Picture Books
Reading to your preschooler (and baby and toddler) is one of the most basic things you can do in teaching them to read.  We normally read books to C in the mornings and before bed and sometimes during the day, but on school days we set aside 20-30 minutes to read what I call picture books.  These are her choice and usually books from the library or some that we have at home.  Currently her favorites include: Franklin the Turtle, Frances (Bread & Jam), and the Berenstein Bears.  I wrote a post awhile back about resources for finding good books for various ages of children...

click for more information

Reading out Loud/floor play
Reading out loud to your children is another good exercise for them and one they will LOVE.  I remember my dad reading The Chronicles of Narnia to me and my brother and we never wanted that time to end.  Sometimes we would sit outside on nice Sunday afternoons while he read, and I remember having several neighborhood kids come and join us.  Kids LOVE to be read to.  We are currently reading The Little House on the Prairie series, and while I read, C plays on the floor either with puzzles, or legos/blocks, or coloring.  Children at this age tend to listen better if they have something to occupy their hands. :)  Usually a chapter takes me about 15-20 minutes to read, so we just read one a day.  Some other read-aloud books I have planned are Charlotte's Web and other E.B.White books, The Boxcar Children, The Indian in the Cupboard series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many others.

Games/Outside play
This is a chance for us to take a break...if the weather is nice, we will go outside for a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood or to play on the swingset for a bit.  If it is too cold or rainy, we will play card or board games.  C loves games as most children her ago do.  So many card games are teaching games but the kids don't even know that they are being taught.  Some of our favorites are UNO, solitaire, clock, go fish, and match/concentration.

click here to learn how to play CLOCK

Sensory
This is another one that is key to growth and learning at this stage.  For more information, just google it or look it up on pinterest.  For us, this usually involves playing at the sink -- I fill the sink up with water and C plays with her dishes and teapots and teacups...pouring, measuring, exploring, learning.  Or sometimes, playing in the sandbox...more pouring, measuring, scooping, learning about textures.  We also play with finger-paints, play-doh, or dried beans/rice...  again, pinterest has lots of creative idea for this.

click here to read this post -- it's good!

Arts/Crafts
Girls in particular at this age (but boys too!) enjoy making crafts and they are able to make simple ones on their own and more complicated ones with limited help/supervision.  Pinterest again is a huge resource for these.  We tend to make seasonal crafts, so last month we made a jack-o-lantern and focused on pumpkins, and this month we will do some Thanksgiving projects and some things with turkeys.  

Whew!  That was a LOT of information -- not sure that ANYONE is still with me at this point!  This is just an overview of what is working for us, but there is probably a lot that I have left out.  A huge part of learning at this stage is learning through play, so providing lots of time for children to play and explore and imagine and create is what helps them to learn.  They remember things well and learn quickly, so even just basic conversations are teaching tools.  C is learning all day long, but the subjects listed above are just when I am specifically focused on "book learning."  She is learning personal hygiene when she dresses herself, washes her face, brushes her teeth, about health and nutrition when we discuss food choices and when she helps me cook...math when she helps me measure ingredients, science when she stirs, more science when we discuss plants and animals, history when we talk about stories, and the list goes on and on.  Every opportunity is a teaching opportunity. :-)

One last thing -- at this age, children memorize so easily and the best thing to fill their little minds with is Scripture!!  We are working through the Children's Catechism with C as part of a program at church, and she has verses to memorize each week for Sunday School.  Teaching these questions/answers and verses, as well as hymns/spiritual songs is good for the mind, and good for their little souls as well.  Most of us still remember the children's Bible songs we learned as a kid, right??  A good book to use for teaching Scripture to preschoolers is this one...

click for more information

Okay, one MORE last thing -- all kids learn at different levels.  What we are doing is probably more like beginning Kindergarten.  I have adjusted what we do so that it is at the level that C needs to be at...where she is learning new things but it is not too hard that she is getting frustrated.  So, the things that I have suggested may be too hard or too easy for your child, even if they are the same age.  Adjusting to each individual child's need is one of the great things about homeschooling.

Done.  Wanna talk more?  Contact me -- it's one of my favorite subjects. :)

2 comments:

Rachael said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lauren Washer said...

This is extremely helpful! Thanks for taking the time to write it all out.

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